The Evil God Challenge and the "classical" theist's response

On another blog, FideCogitActio, some theists of a "classical" stripe (that's to say, like Brian Davies, Edward Feser) are criticisng the Evil God Challenge (or I suppose, trying to show how it can be met, or sidestepped). The main post includes this:

In book I, chapter 39, Aquinas argues that “there cannot be evil in God” (in Deo non potest esse malum). Atheists like Law must face the fact that, if the words are to retain any sense, “God” simply cannot be “evil”. As my comments in the thread at Feser’s blog aimed to show, despite how much he mocks “the privation theory of evil,” Law himself cannot escape its logic: his entire argument requires that the world ought to appear less evil if it is to be taken as evidence of a good God. Even though he spurns the idea that evil is a privation of good, his account of an evil world is parasitic on a good ideal; this is no surprise, though, since all evil is parasitic on good (SCG I, 11). Based on the conclusions of several preceding chapters, Aquinas contends that ”God is goodness, and not simply good [Deus autem est bonitas, non solum bonus]. There cannot, therefore, be any non-goodness in Him. Thus, there cannot possibly be evil in God.” He adds that

“since God is His own being, nothing can be said of Him by participation…. If, then, evil is said of God, it will not be said by participation, but essentially. But evil cannot be so said of anything as to be its essence, for it would lose its being, which is a good (Sic autem malum de nullo dici potest ut sit essentia alicuius: ei enim esse deficeret, quod bonum est)….”
This exposes one of the other key defects of Law’s notion of an evil God: insofar as that “god” would be the cause of all lesser evils, it would be the most evil thing, but the more evil a thing is, the less substantial, the less existent it is, and thus the less potent it is. If Law wants to take seriously the theological terms which he’s trying to hoist by their own petard, he would have to agree that a maximally evil god is not only ontologically incoherent, but also the worst possible candidate for being The Creator of All (though I am anticipating the upcoming argument). God could not be essentially evil, and thus could not be the exemplary evil which grounds the evil of all created things. As we already knew, Law is just blowing smoke.



My responses thus far:

You have missed the point, just as Feser did, which is that it makes no difference to the EGC whether or not an evil god is an incoherent concept. As I spelt out repeatedly (on both Feser’s bog and also in my original paper): if you would rule out an evil god *in any case* just on the basis of the amount of good that exists notwithstanding any conceptual incoherence involved in the concept (which was not even established, but hey ho) then you should rule out the good god on the same basis. At least deal with my argument rather than a straw man.

Feser’s response to the EGC is probably the weakest I have come across – it’s actually dealt with in my paper, which he clearly did not even bother to read properly. A better response, thought still inadequate, is to try sceptical theism (as Craig, in effect, did).

I wonder which “classical” position you personally have in mind, given I’ve come across several variants. Perhaps something like this one: if your God can unleash vast and horrific suffering for no good reason whatsoever (other than it’s God’s non-personal nature to do so) and yet still qualify as “good” as you define the term, then the problem of evil is solved!

To this I now add:

The "evil is a privation" move might appear to solve the problem of evil at a stroke - define "good" such that what God creates - the cosmic cheese, as it were - is always "good", and define "evil" as holes or "privations" in that cheese, and voila: no problem of evil! "Hey that young kid's slow and horrific death by cancer is just a privation of good, so no evidence against theism there!" But of course this does not really deal with the problem. The holes in the cheese clearly exist, and were created by God, and we might ask why the cosmic cheesemaker made them, and indeed made them so horrifically large.

What if "good" is defined thinly, such that "good" applies trivially to God plus whatever God creates, no matter how horrific and agonizing it might be. This suggestion deals with the problem of evil, though in a way that will probably leave a lot of Christians, etc. somewhat perplexed (and perhaps concerned about  questions such as: (i) Why should an impersonal cosmic sluice through which all stuff pours - all of which qualifies by definition as "good" no matter how agonizing and pestilential much or even all of it happens to be - deserve our worship? (ii) Would someone's [e.g. Jesus] having gone round behaving like Caligula [or Satan] be any evidence at all against his being divinely "good" [apparently not!]).

We should be on the look out for some "moving the semantic goalposts" here. As defined above "good", is a pretty thin notion. Once the theist attempts to give more substance to the concept of divine "goodness" (beyond saying e.g. "good" = God and whatever he does), the evidential problem of evil is likely to re-emerge.

E.g. is God's "goodness" a sound basis for supposing he won't constantly lie to and deceive us for no benevolent reason"? If not, how can the theist reasonably believe any divine pronouncement or revelation? If so, why is God's "goodness" not similarly a sound basis for supposing God won't unleash untold agony for no benevolent reason [which re-introduces the problem of evil])?

The temptation for the theist caught in this dilemma will be to assert the content when it suits them ("But of course God doesn't lie regularly - he is good!") but then whip it away whenever the problem of evil raises its threatening head ("Oh how unsophisticated of you - you fail to realize I refer to God in the classical sense!")

Comments

Platonic Anon said…
- that should have been the discussion that followed .

I should add that I don't deny there are those who use jargon to obscure. There are also genuine situations where complex language is needed to describe complex issues. It is a common rhetorical tactic to try and lump the latter in with the former. In order to show that it isn't just a rhetorical evasion, and that jargon is being used to obscure, there needs to be some work done to prove this, really. Otherwise, we could neve differentiate between those who just make such claims the moment long words and complex words appear to score cheap points, and those of mature and serious intent.

I note that no real attempt to back up the claims of word salad was made in this thread.
Platonic Anon said…

Not at all. I said that you just appear to be saying what I said right at the beginning is what classical theists say, which I already knew, and which I said avoids the evidential problem of evil (though at a cost, as I pointed out).

I suppose, but, as you often seemed to do, you added some habitual caricature and distortion to the Platonic position. Exactly why you felt the need to do this, I'm unsure.

Platonic Anon said…
Philip Rand,

I do not see how what you describe shows that nothing - pure negation, the opposite of all that is or ever could be - exists.



Philip Rand said…
Platonic Anon...

You can make the Platonic system work.

You state that in this system, there exists Form and Matter.

Well, lets look at a simple example, say a "spring".

So, what is the "Form" of a spring...essentially this takes the form of "a thing that offers pliable resistence to movement".

So, how does this Form of a spring manifest itself as Matter?

It can only give up some of it's Form if for example you grab one end of the spring and pull on it, so when you do you feel a "Force of resistance to your pulling" this is the Matter.

This is how the "Form" of the spring manifests itself as "Matter".

You can just as easily come up with examples of how the "Form" of God manifests itself as the "Matter" of God if you want.
Platonic Anon said…
Philip Rand,

I was trying to show how Platonism - one branch of Classical Theism - is not troubled by the so called problem of evil. I wasn't aiming to give a full defense of Platonism.

Philip Rand said…
Well Platonic Anon...

I would say that you haven't succeeded...mainly, because Socrates himself admitted to himself and those around him that life is Evil with these words:

"Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius; will you remember to pay the debt?"
Platonic Anon said…
I think you are exploiting ambiguities there Philip, indeed on several points.

Philip Rand said…
I never exploit...I am not opportunistic...and nothing I have written is ambiguous.

Socrates words confirm that for him Death was a cure for a disease called Life.

Nothing ambiguous in his words.

Life would then appear to be for him a privation of what?
Platonic Anon said…
By life Socrates (as Plato portrays him at least) meant the world of becoming. For him life was a reflection of higher realms of being, but under more privative, separative, and limited conditions.
Philip Rand said…
Well...

The world of becoming implies a world where there is a "purpose", i.e. to become something

Doesn't his quote then suggest to you that Socrates at the end of his life had come to the conclusion that life had no purpose?

He effectively became a nihilist?

Which means he came to the conclusion that all his searching for knowledge in the world was pointless?
Philip Rand said…
And isn't this the reason that Athens had good reason to kill him?
Philip Rand said…
Dr Law

If you have not, I recommend that you read Steven Pinker's "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined"

His book is quite empirical (though very wordy and way too long...perhaps an indication of a weak position?).

You needn't read the whole book...simply read the chapter about the 1/x power law as it applies to violence.

The thing is the 1/x power law appears to be a universal mixed-phenomena law.

He doesn't exactly describe the 1/x power law in his book properly but essentially this law can be used to describe why violence is declining...because small "goods" are always more probable that great "evils"

I think that the Platonic theist view of Evil is deeply flawed.

But, if one wished one could "reasonably" use instead the 1/x power law to support a Good God view over an Evil God view.
Platonic Anon said…
No. But your comments suggests to me you don't know much about Plato. Read the Phaedo and then make the same speculation about Socrates at the end of his life.
Philip Rand said…
What!

And you do! Pull the other one...
Platonic Anon said…
What? Do you mean I don't know much about Plato? Well, I admit I never personally met the man, but I would dare to say I know quite a lot about his thought. What I do know is that a quick read of works like the Phaedo would show this particular speculation you are putting forward is nonsense. That work is set in the lead up to Socrates' death and shows his belief in life after death, God's Goodness, and so forth.
Maria Lester said…
Platonic anon:
As everyone has pointed out, a god who has limited control over the nature of what he can't help but create is not subject to the problem of evil. The Christian god is not such a god, however. The Christian god is literally human, miracle-working, resurrecting, deliberate, in control, omni-omni-omni, and personalized as father/husband/ruler. He is vulnerable to the problem of evil, which, in his case, comes down to deliberately shirking proper responsibility toward his children/wives/subjects.

btw, that problem was, I suspect, a little less troubling in the past. Once upon a time, rulers could torture criminals, and still be considered wise and merciful. Griselda's patience and obedience to her husband were once (sorta kinda) exemplary. Things change. Today, good rulers do not torture. People can no longer emulate Griselda and still be considered sane.

Has nothing to do with classical theism, but classical theism in turn has little to do with Christianity.
Philip Rand said…
Look Platonic Anon

The Phaedo is a pretty confused piece of work for starters...

The other is that if you want to consider the circumstances of Socrates death, you have to consider:

1/ How a polis operated
2/ The Greeks had no hermeneutic religion but were very secular
3/ Though they were very secular they were also very religious, i.e. it was intrinsic to the operation of the polis...most citizens would be priests at some time or other.
4/ They held a perfectionist attitude towards life

Greek religion is an extremely complex topic that has used up the total life of many a classics scholar...and still no answers.

Socrates was guilty of corrupting the youth because he undermined Greek religion...in a comical way, a bit like Dawkins does, i.e. isn't it strange that Thracians worship red-headed gods, etc.

Religion cohered the polis...Aristotle recognised this, and felt religion was vital for a cohesive polis (this is why he got away with his life).

Socrates did not...he could have given himself ostracism and then everything would have been forgotten in Athens...but he did not...instead he played a silly game and lost...

Actually, I am sure Socrates at this very moment is still re-thinking his position...

Rabbie said…
Steven Carr quoted above the following verses

Isaiah 45:7
I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the Lord, do all these things.

The King James translation has this

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

Now, if anyone wants to demonstrate how the above verse is compatible with "privatio boni" please do so and we shall all profit from the subsequent enlightenment.

The way in which the Catholic church has hermeneutically mangled the Hebrew Bible reminds me of Leninists and Stalinists reinterpreting Marx for their own ends.

In fact, the KJV is more accurate here - the Hebrew word 'ra' carries the sense of moral evil, and is in fact used to describe that notorious tree of good and evil in Genesis, the one the talking snake persuades the naked lady to eat of, you know that fatal tree "whose mortal taste brought death into the world/and all our woe/till one greater man restore us".

I see that not one classical theist in the above cites Eve's disobedience as the source of human evil. Fellas, if it was good enough for John Milton, that great "justifier of the ways of God to man" it should be good enough for you.

Isiaih 45:7 - the proof text that God can't understand classical theism either. Perhaps Feser should explain it to Him and tell Him what He should have said.

Philip Rand said…
And of course a Theistic God is just as prone to the Evil that a Christian God is liable to...

Your torch light metaphor doesn't wash...yes, it explains why Evil as information becomes inaccesible to human senses...but you forget that Evil is still not lost to the universe...it still exists...Unitarity assures this...

So no escape for you I am afraid...
Philip Rand said…
Well Robbie

I think Hereclitus was spot on in describing the universe (much like you Isiah quote) when he wrote:

"Opposition brings concord. Out of discord comes the fairest harmony."

Amounts to the same thing...don't you think?

Why do you think these ideas are so persistent in Man?
Stephen Law said…
Platonic anon - earlier you said: "God does not want us to suffer. He offers us comfort and does all he can to prevent suffering. The God of Classical Theism isn't impersonal. He is simply not."

Here, you seem to think of God in very personal terms, offering us comfort and so on, striving, etc. This God is good in a much "thicker" sense than is your "torch" God, whose brand of classical "goodness" is entirely compatible with his creating millions of babies whom he then kills horribly.

Here, of course, is the real problem for your kind of "classical" theism, as Maria points out. It's the problem I was alluding to in the original post.
Rabbie said…
No Phillip, it doesn't amount to the same thing.

Alzheimer's is not the Tristan chord.

I don't think much harmony is going to come out of radical Islam with nuclear weaponry, do you?

It may well add to the strength of the evidential argument from evil though.
michael fugate said…
"It was not PlatonicAnon. But you are the second atheist (after Carr) to appeal to the dictionary when confronted with unfamiliar words. What ever happened to the principle of charity?"

Huh? What words did I claim were unfamiliar? I was making fun of his random capitalization of words. An annoying habit that adds nothing to his comments other than a certain pretentiousness. And what the hell does atheism have to do with dictionaries? You might want some more examples that are actually related before you start making sweeping generalities.

Platonic Anon
Really? You believe all that is true? Platonists don't get out in the real world much? You do realize that our knowledge base has changed greatly since Plato's time.

"Man is essential, virile, active whereas woman is substantial, nurturing, and passive. They come together to reproduce the whole."

How do you know this is true? How does this combination of trait make a whole? Since the Platonic form is ideal and never actualized, we can never know what the ideal is, can we? It is whatever people like you are willing to believe. It must be a great feeling to know you can never be wrong because no one can ever know what is right.


Oliver Sudden said…
This thread is highly amusing:

Philip Rand - "I don't really have a position on this, I'm just happy to tell the rest of you that you are wrong, while I name-drop a few great philosophers that I have read"

Mr X - tl;dr

Various Anons - "A good god is totally coherent but an evil god is totally incoherent even though the arguments and evidence for each are the same" God is good because an evil god would be a total bummer. Just admit it.

Thomas McCabe - "God is real and good because we can't be certain about anything otherwise". I'm certain this argument is nonsense. Wow, I've just proven God is real!
Platonic Anon said…
Maria and Law,

It is certainly correct that in traditional Christian dogmatic theology God creates the world because he chooses to.

However, the claims that the Platonic vision of God is that much less personal than the Christian is incorrect. Traditional Christianity has never subscribed to what Feser and Davies refer to as Theistic Personalism and what David Bentley Hart less charitably calls monopolytheism (or akin to belief in the Greek Gods, but only one of them). Traditional Christianity has always believed in Classical Theism.

God transcends our ordinary human personality. But he is Goodness and he is Love. We are also a reflection of him. That is, not only is the world, the macrocosm a reflection of him in Platonic and Christian thought, but so is Man directly, the microcosm. God is alwats at work in the world. As the Koran says, God is closer than our jugular. Paradoxically, despite God's Infinity and transcendence, we are completely able to relate to him personally - he watches us, cares for us, loves us.

It is true that the strict Platonist would have a hard time accepting the full doctrine of the Trinity as understood in traditional Christianity, but he can certainly accept something very close.

Philip Rand,

I can't believe you compared Socrates to Dickie Dawkins.

Michael Fugate,

I wasn't aiming to show that Platonism was true. Anyway, your attack on it is simply question begging.

Platonic Anon said…
And yes, it does seem Law has paid no attention to(and indeed seems to have no other knowledge of) Platonic metaphysics. This is why he gives such a distorted view of the Platonic explanaton of creation. Or maybe he is just trying to score points.
Platonic Anon said…
I will also say that Law's last comment to me is simply question begging. It assumes things about the nature of evil and the nature of a truly Good and Omnipotent God that are in dispute. It attempts to hide this blatant question begging behind distortion and emotive language.
Platonic Anon said…
I will also say that Law's last comment to me is simply question begging. It assumes things about the nature of evil and the nature of a truly Good and Omnipotent God that are in dispute. It attempts to hide this blatant question begging behind distortion and emotive language.
Son of Anonymous said…
Sorry about the lateness, been busy with work the last couple days.

I still think the best way to think about this Platonic multiple-worlds suggestion (I didn't know anybody still believed in Platonic forms and essences in the post-Darwin age, but hey) is in terms of the possible-worlds approach I was trying to nail down in my last comment.

Recall when I asked Platonic Anon if he was saying that God actualizes every possible world. What he ended up saying was that no, no every possible world was actualized, and gave as an example that you couldn't have a world that was either all good or all evil, since in the first case such a world would simply be identical to God (who is identical to the Platonic ideal of goodness), and in the second case it would constitute a complete privation of the good, which I guess couldn't happen either since it wouldn't be a "reflection" of God in the way you guys were describing.

So my question is, are these the only possible worlds that are disallowed, or are there other ones that don't get actualized too? If there are, how we can tell which ones are allowed? Is the possible world consisting of a billion babies being tortured by a billion demons plus one happy puppy actual? If not, what non-ad-hoc reason to you have to disallow something like that? If so, doesn't that stretch the notion that God is all-good a little too thin (to put it mildly) for your taste?

My overarching thought on this whole approach to the EGC/POE is that it's basically caught between a rock and a hard place. Sure, you can claim that a certain amount of evil is somehow metaphysically necessary and beyond God's ability to avoid creating, but the more you deploy that excuse, the more you have to bite the bullet that the supposedly all-good God creates some really, truly awful things and is powerless to do otherwise. Which is pretty damn far from most people's conception of a supremely powerful, supremely good being.

By the way, I think it's pretty funny how you guys capitalize random words in the middle of sentences too. I was assuming that anytime you do that you mean you're referring to the Platonic form of the thing referenced as distinct from the property as it might be instantiated (i.e. Goodness = Platonic goodness, goodness = the degree to which some finite entity is good). Is that right or is it just an annoying stylistic habit or form of pseudoprofundity as others have suggested?
Son of Anonymous said…
Godel's second incompleteness theorem says (oversimplifying, but not in a way that should affect the discussion) that no sufficiently complex, consistent formal theory can prove its own consistency. Just because something is not provable does not mean it is false, though--ZFC may well be consistent, we just know that if it is, we will never be able to prove it within ZFC (if we could, that would demonstrate its inconsistency). So I don't see how this is supposed to show that a maximal self-consistent set of propositions is not a plausible candidate for a possible world.
Son of Anonymous said…
Whoops, that top of that last comment got cut off somehow. I was responding to Philip Rand when he criticized my definition of a possible world as a maximal set of self-consistent propositions (which is the standard definition in the literature) by arguing that mathematics is one such system, and yet contains statements that are unproveable.
Platonic Anon said…
Son of Anonymous,

There is a smugness in your posts which I feel is misplaced. I have so far seen nothing to vindicate it. So try and be civil and polite.

I gave you the reasons why the sort of worlds you talk about cannot exist in the Platonic framework: they go against what the Platonist takes to be the structure of all possible worlds (for the reasons given). The worlds you talk about are no possibilities inherent in God's Infinite possibility; rathey are, one eventually finds, simply impossible.

I have given reasons for suggesting this framework does not stretch the notion of God's Goodness too thin - to suggest so is question begging, as it implies a nature of evil and a nature of what a Good God is that is just what is in dispute. Indeed, paradoxically, God is more Good for the existence of privation. This is because privation manifests his absolute Good in a relative and separate existence. It turns it into a relative Good that mirrors and participates in the absolute Good, and which means there is a relative evil the more one draws away from God. Though there is relative evil, there is no absolute evil, however. This means that even that bit of creation furthest from God, with all its privation, does not see the Good destroyed entirely. All creation adds to God's Goodness.

You have done nothing to really criticise the Platonic position in a fundamental way and your summing up of your views on the privation of evil is just question begging.
Son of Anonymous said…
One last thought since I am apparently committed to procrastinating now:

I think it's worth putting all this back in the context of the original post. What the EGC says is, look, regardless of whatever metaphysical commitments you hold about the nature of God, good and evil, etc., you should still be able to see immediately--as most people do--that the sheer amount of good stuff in the world alone is abundant evidence the hypothesis that an all-powerful, maximally evil conscious being is responsible for the creation of the universe. Even if you have an argument that you think rules out an all-evil God for some other reason (e.g. evil being a privation, or some sort of moral argument), you should also be able to acknowledge that the amount of good in the world provides an, independent line of evidence that strongly disconfirms that hypothesis in addition to whatever other arguments might be on the table.

Think of it like a lawyer arguing for a defendant in court: "Even if you don't believe my client's alibi of being in the Bahamas at the time of the killing, those still aren't his hands on the murder weapon."

Now, the "classical theist" line on this issue seems to be that they have a theodicy available to them that isn't supported by other forms of theism and can't be flipped into a reverse theodicy--that's where all this talk about God's infinite goodness being like a torch whose light spreads out over all possible worlds comes in.

But understand: in order for this to have any bearing on the EGC, it has to be claimed that this theodicy peculiar to "classical theism" is the only successful one, whereas all the more conventional ones fail to explain gratuitous evil (or else you're just biting the bullet on the whole issue, which is one option but is not one on which the "classical theist" claims have any bearing). And to my mind, one of the main purposes of the EGC is to pump a perfectly rational intuition about the nature of theodicies in general: that they are ad-hoc, gerrymandered, or other varieties of motivated reasoning in service of a view that the proponent desperately hopes to be true, but in reality faces clear and convincing evidence of its falsehood and is not at all reasonable to believe.

From that perspective, the EGC neither requires nor would particularly benefit from the ability to use the "flipping" move on every single theodicy one might imagine. Rather, it exposes the specious nature of the enterprise in general.
Platonic Anon said…
It should be obvious, for one with some familiar with the history of traditional Western philosophy, that Platonism specifies particular structures to the existence of worlds. It is well know that Platonism posits the existence of the realm of Forms and an elaborate ontology and cosmology.
Son of Anonymous said…
I gave you the reasons why the sort of worlds you talk about cannot exist in the Platonic framework: they go against what the Platonist takes to be the structure of all possible worlds (for the reasons given). The worlds you talk about are no possibilities inherent in God's Infinite possibility; rathey are, one eventually finds, simply impossible.

I have given reasons for suggesting this framework does not stretch the notion of God's Goodness too thin - to suggest so is question begging, as it implies a nature of evil and a nature of what a Good God is that is just what is in dispute. Indeed, paradoxically, God is more Good for the existence of privation. This is because privation manifests his absolute Good in a relative and separate existence. It turns it into a relative Good that mirrors and participates in the absolute Good, and which means there is a relative evil the more one draws away from God. Though there is relative evil, there is no absolute evil, however. This means that even that bit of creation furthest from God, with all its privation, does not see the Good destroyed entirely. All creation adds to God's Goodness.


Okay so how do I tell whether a possible world has enough good and/or too much evil to be actualized? If it's just that "absolute evil" can't be actual, then what disallows the world with a billion tortured babies in addition to also one happy puppy? I read all your comments and didn't see anything that addresses that issue, but if I missed it I apologize.
Son of Anonymous said…
I gave you the reasons why the sort of worlds you talk about cannot exist in the Platonic framework: they go against what the Platonist takes to be the structure of all possible worlds (for the reasons given). The worlds you talk about are no possibilities inherent in God's Infinite possibility; rathey are, one eventually finds, simply impossible.

I have given reasons for suggesting this framework does not stretch the notion of God's Goodness too thin - to suggest so is question begging, as it implies a nature of evil and a nature of what a Good God is that is just what is in dispute. Indeed, paradoxically, God is more Good for the existence of privation. This is because privation manifests his absolute Good in a relative and separate existence. It turns it into a relative Good that mirrors and participates in the absolute Good, and which means there is a relative evil the more one draws away from God. Though there is relative evil, there is no absolute evil, however. This means that even that bit of creation furthest from God, with all its privation, does not see the Good destroyed entirely. All creation adds to God's Goodness.


Okay so how do I tell whether a possible world has enough good and/or too much evil to be actualized? If it's just that "absolute evil" can't be actual, then what disallows the world with a billion tortured babies in addition to also one happy puppy? I read all your comments and didn't see anything that addresses that issue, but if I missed it I apologize.
Platonic Anon said…
Son of Anonymous,

Well, most Classical Theists would claim privation of the good is the supreme theodicy. However, many, like the Church Fathers, accept, in lesser positions, certain other, more limited explanations of evil. Specifically they accept evil occuring as a result of free will and evil helping to teach man. Now, these lesser theodicies do not serve the role, in Classical Theism, of explaining the ultimate existence of evil, but they have a role to play in explaining some of its operation.

Anyway, your last thnoughts would seem to be question begging. Not only does the Classical Theist suggest the privation of evil is indeed the only fundamental theodicy, but youyr critique boils down to just asserting things about the nature of evil, our experience of it, and what the nature of a Good God should be which are in dispute.

The EGC is not serious. It is a thought bubble of Law's meant to score points and distract theists. It collapsed before it got off the ground. Hence Law's repeated savaging at the hands of those like Feser.
Platonic Anon said…
Son of Anonymous,

None of the worlds you referring to exist to be actualised. They are impossible. From the Platonic perspective we may entertain them vaguely as thought bubbles, but upon closer examination they melt away as illogical and impossible, as sensible to talk about as married bachelors.

In addressed all this when I talked about how the Platonist takes Form and Matter to be the primal duality and building blocks of worlds and that he takes all worlds to progress from a closeness to God in an ideal realm to the furthest infernal realms from God - in a way analogous to the Great Chain of Being of our world.
Son of Anonymous said…
Anyway, your last thnoughts would seem to be question begging. Not only does the Classical Theist suggest the privation of evil is indeed the only fundamental theodicy, but youyr critique boils down to just asserting things about the nature of evil, our experience of it, and what the nature of a Good God should be which are in dispute.

The EGC is not serious. It is a thought bubble of Law's meant to score points and distract theists. It collapsed before it got off the ground. Hence Law's repeated savaging at the hands of those like Feser


It's question-begging in the sense that yeah, you can bite the bullet and claim that the reverse theodicies actually do adequately explain the amount of good in the world and render it no evidence at all against the claim that an evil God exists. Or you can pick out a theodicy that isn't easy to flip and say "well those other theodicies fail, but this one actually does explain all the evil in the world." If that's what you sincerely believe then more power to you, but it's hard for me to see anyone coming to that conclusion for any other reason than that they wanted to believe it.

Really, though, because I'm having a hard time understanding: why is a world with a billion tortured babies and one happy puppy (or make it 999,999,999 tortured babies and one happy baby) not a part of this Platonic multiverse? The only criterion I've heard so far is that worlds can't be all good or all evil, so I'm at something of a loss.
Son of Anonymous said…
None of the worlds you referring to exist to be actualised. They are impossible. From the Platonic perspective we may entertain them vaguely as thought bubbles, but upon closer examination they melt away as illogical and impossible, as sensible to talk about as married bachelors.

Why is "there are 999,999,999 demons torturing 999,999,999 babies, and one happy baby" a logically impossible situation?
Platonic Anon said…
Son Of Anonymous,

Aside from the fact you don't really show why one couldn't just believe in one theodicy, you forget that Classical Theists are necessarily Classical Theists simply because of its theodicy. There is a lot more to Classical Theism than that. As privation of the Good fits ClassiCal Theism very well then this would seem to explain one way in which one can choose this particular theodicy and reject the rest.

Anyway, to put the question of possible worlds yet another way, all worlds begin as reflections of God - who is the Supreme Good - under certain conditions (for example, in our world the primal duality of Form and Matter is represented by quality and quanity - in other worlds it would not be). At the highest realms of this world they are very close to God but, through the duality of Form and Matter, all the worlds experience the same progressive privation, separation, and relativisation. In our world the Great Chain of Being was the traditional image of this process. All worlds hacve an analogous content.
Platonic Anon said…
- that should have been Classical Theists aren't necessarily Classical Theist simply because of its theodicy.
Son of Anonymous said…
Anyway, to put the question of possible worlds yet another way, all worlds begin as reflections of God - who is the Supreme Good - under certain conditions (for example, in our world the primal duality of Form and Matter is represented by quality and quanity - in other worlds it would not be). At the highest realms of this world they are very close to God but, through the duality of Form and Matter, all the worlds experience the same progressive privation, separation, and relativisation. In our world the Great Chain of Being was the traditional image of this process. All worlds hacve an analogous content.

Again: why aren't the many tortured babies and one happy baby one of these realms? Make it one of the ones that's really separated, deprived, relativized, etc. It seems like by taking this view you're committing yourself to endorsing a God who creates some really awful places (indeed as awful as you like, so long as there's a bit of good in them that reflects God's essential Goodness). I don't disagree that this avoids the EGC and the POE, but it also yields a state of affairs with some really terrible things in it (and hence a very implausible-sounding notion of "good").
Stephen Law said…
Platonic Anon

It would help me understand where you are coming from if you answered Son of Anons excellent question: is the billion-horribly-slaughtered babies plus one happy puppy world actualized? If not, why not?

I observed you say God "is Goodness and he is Love" and that God "cares" for us. However, to dodge the problem of evil in "classical" style, his "goodness" must be such his creating millions of babies and killing them horribly because that's his nature is "good".

My other question is: How can a being be described as "caring" and "loving" if its nature is such that it produces millions of horribly killed babies? What do you mean by these terms, exactly?
Philip Rand said…
Hello Maria Lester

Dr Law consistently brings up this as an example of gratuitous Evil:

"billions of babies being tortured over hundreds of millennia (the actual situation)"

If I alter the statement to read:

"billions of babies being medically aborted over hundreds of millennia (the actual situation)"

Why would Dr Law not consider equally this as an example of gratuitous Evil?
Philip Rand said…
Son of Anonymous

I am not saying your maximal goodness model isn't true or doesn't exist.

I am simply saying that though you believe your model is absolutely true...there is no way you can be certain that it's true.

So why bother?

Chess is another example of an absolute consistent system.

But, say you are left outside of a room while two people are playing chess...and let's say during the course of their game they stop playing and ask you to come into the room and look at the positions of chess pieces on the chess board...and they ask you the question:

"Can you discern whether an illegal move has been made?"

You might be able to determine if an illegal move has been made or you may not be able to determine this...

The thing is you will never be certain of your conclusion.
Philip Rand said…
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Philip Rand said…
Actually Maria Lester

When you write that the theistic God is not prone to the problem of Evil you are wrong.

It is prone to the problem because in the theistic model God is a boundary condition.

Mathematically, boundary conditions always affect the domain space. They don't go away and are a part of the calculation space, in fact they drive the soloution.

Just think of boundary conditions like Dirichlet and Von Neumann types.

But, in many ways one does not require recourse to show this because most likely the theistic model is entirely wrong.

For simplicities sake we can say that the universal constants we use to describe the world are the "boundary conditions" of the world.

Now, in the theistic model these constants were set up at the inception of God creating the universe...he set their values and then held a hands-off approach...so they never change because, well he can't change them.

The problem with this is that most likely the constants in the universe have changed.

And we can use the different value of the fine structure constant at the Oklo natural nuclear fission reactor from what it is a present to say that God is not hands off with respect to his interaction within the universe because the value has changed.

This empirical result would seem to indicate that the Theistic God model is as Wolfgang Pauli (this is for you Oliver Sudden):

"It's not right...it's not even wrong"
Philip Rand said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Philip Rand said…
Now, it is pretty clear that the reason the Atheist faction are willing to say that the Theistic God is not liable to the Evil God Challenge is because here the target is not God...but Final Causation.

The strange thing is that Atheist's seem to believe that "Final Causation" is a religious concept...it isn't.

It is a valid scientific question to ask "what is something for".

It simply has been jettisoned in our scientific model at present...at sciences cost...

I mean, when a clever chap like Steve Jones (the biologist) says things like:

"Evolution is the science of the success of mistakes."

I cringe...what the hell has happened to science...
Platonic Anon said…
Son of Anonymous,

When I say realms I mean like the realms of being - ideal, imaginal, Psychic or subtle, corporeal, and those below the corporeal - which are all part of one world, and are the successive layers of descent from God.

I think I have already answered why the worlds you think are not possible as worlds - they do not have the appropriate structure - they are not reflections of God descending in privation and separation.

An extra point though is there is, to the Platonist, only one possible world for each set of conditions, because there is only one of any particular possibility and it doesn't repeat itself. There are not multiple worlds like ours but slightly different. The other possible have different conditions (I mentioned the primary conditions of our world are quality and quantity) meaning we can't even imagine what they might look like, beyond some basic parameters.

It is certainly true there are realms of great privation in all possible worlds. Not only, to take our world, is there the corporeal realm, but there are infernal realms below these. I simply deny that this means God is not Good. It is simply the nature of privation and, in fact, God is the more Good for it, as I explained, because privation of the Good is never total, privation increases God's Goodness.

This is my answer to Stephen Law's queries as well. And, in response to them, I'd also underscore that privation of the Good means that evil itself is a lack of a quality, not a positive quality. Therefore, in one sense God's nature contains no evil. It is simply the case that, by reflecting his own essence into creation God expresses the possibility for that which is distinctionless unity in his essence to exist under relative and separated conditions - which means privation.

The point about what this means for God's Goodness is just question begging - it is using emotive insinuations to imply things about the nature of Good and of God which are what is in dispute.
Philip Rand said…
Platonic Anon

What you have written in the above to describe your position is quite good actually. I think I have cottoned on to what you mean now about privation with respect to God...and you know what?

I think it does actually work!

For example if I model the creation of the universe with Entropy=0 (complete order, this is why it is "Good" because it is creative, therefore God is Good).

And say, I model this situation as a clay container with no exterior forces acting outside it and imagine small point masses colliding with each other elastically inside it (measuring the amount of Good). What I want is a smart level of Good in the universe at this time, i.e. t=0. Now, let's say Good is the mean horizontal position, "p" of a point mass inside the clay container.

So, the level of Good: y=p+x

Where:

y=the measured horizontal position of a particle, i.e. a level of Good
x=a random fluxuation of this position, i.e. Good or Evil

So, initally at the time of creation of the universe the particles are within the clay container (the container say has the dimension of a point). This means, that any observed position of a particle "y" has to be close to "p". Which means that any estimate of God's Goodness is y(p) of p and will be close to p, i.e. the Goodness of God.

So God starts out Good, i.e. entropy=0

Now, what happens when Evil occurs? To do this, we do the simplest thing...we break the container's walls at a later time (t, t+dt)...now, this will allow the particles to move away form the container randomly, let's say they follow a Brownian motion.

Now, for Brownian motion we know that the probability density function is Prob(x¦t) is Gaussian with a variance of sigma^2=Dt, where D is a constant and D>=0.

This means, that for a Gaussian probability density function the degree of disorder (entropy) increases, which means that the measured value of "y", "I(y)" reduces in accuracy, i.e. I(y)=1/sigma^2.

This means then, that I(y)=I(y,t)=1/Dt....which means that I(y), i.e. the level of Evil...decreases with time.

Which means, you are right!!!!!!!!!

Dr Law's model isn't symmetric at all!!!

Thanks...I have learned something...
Son of Anonymous said…
It is certainly true there are realms of great privation in all possible worlds. Not only, to take our world, is there the corporeal realm, but there are infernal realms below these. I simply deny that this means God is not Good. It is simply the nature of privation and, in fact, God is the more Good for it, as I explained, because privation of the Good is never total, privation increases God's Goodness.

Okay, so regardless of this business about other worlds being somehow fundamentally metaphysically different from ours, you are saying there are in fact possible (and therefore actual) worlds with lots and lots of evil in them and little good. Even if you couldn't literally have a world with a billion tortured little babies and one happy puppy, you do appear to be endorsing worlds that are morally equivalent to something like that--in any case containing a grossly greater amount of bad stuff than good stuff.

From there the move seems to be to simply claim that the existence of these worlds is a good thing--no matter how "privated" (i.e. chock full of suffering, despair, or other bad things) they may be. As keeps being pointed out, it's not in dispute that this avoids the problem of evil as long as you're willing to bite the bullet on this incredibly strained notion of the good. As Dr. Law said, it comes at a cost.

Some questions, then:

1. Is a world whose balance of good and evil is roughly morally equivalent to a billion tortured babies plus one happy puppy one of your "realms"? If not, why not?

2. If a world like the above exists, do you claim that it would not be better for it to have never existed? (Note I am not asking whether you think this fits with your notion of metaphysical possibility, but rather whether you think its nonexistence in any case would be preferable. If you could snap your fingers and get rid of a horrible world like that, would you?)

3. Is a God who creates a world that is morally equivalent to a billion tortured babies plus one happy puppy deserving of our worship? If so, why?
Platonic Anon said…
No,I did not mean there are worlds like that. I meant there are realms of being - that is levels within worlds - that are further away than our from ours from God and subject to more privation - these are the sub-corporeal realms, or the infernal realms as many of them are essentially Hades sort of realms. Traditionally, these are not inhabited accept by those who have deserved it. I'm not really an expert on what is in them or what makes them. This is not the equivalent to creating an evil world, however.

There are complicating factors we haven't discussed, because those here clearly have little knowledge of Platonism and it would have probably just added confusion to bring them up.

The rest of your post is just question begging. You and Law have been given a reason why God creates worlds that must have privation and that this privation can be considerable. You have been shown that even this privation adds to God's Goodness, and therefore the assertions about this notion being hard to square with God's Goodness understood in a traditional sense is nonsense. You haven't replied properly to any of this. All you or Law have done is beg the question by essentially saying "come on, can a God that must create privation really be Good". This appears to be what the evidential problem of evil amounts to - start with the claim that significant evil cannot squared with a truly Good God and assert this, no matter what argument and evidence is shown to the contrary. When I have pointed out the question begging and lack of really dealing with the arguments, you and Law seem to have just doubled down on the question begging.
Platonic Anon said…
The Platonist Frithjof Schuon has something useful to add, I think.

http://www.studiesincomparativereligion.com/public/articles/The_Question_of_Theodicies-by_Frithjof_Schuon.aspx

If God cannot eliminate evil as a possibility, it is because in this respect evil is a function of His Nature and, being so, it ceases as a result to be evil; and what God cannot do, on pain of contradiction or absurdity, He could never will. However, the Divine Will opposes evil inasmuch as it is contrary to the Divine Nature, which is Goodness or Perfection; in this relationship of opposition—and in this alone—evil is intrinsically evil. God fights this evil perfectly since, on all planes, it is the good that is finally victorious; evil is never more than a fragment or a transition, whether we are in a position to see this or not.
Son of Anonymous said…
No,I did not mean there are worlds like that.

Okay, why not? Is there some criterion to determine at what level of preponderance of good and evil "realms" stop getting made? Like, for example, when the net balance of good stuff and bad stuff turns negative?

If not, do you believe in realms that have a lot more bad stuff than good stuff? That's what I'm getting at by the notion of a world being morally equivalent to the world with a billion tortured babies and one happy puppy.

I'm basically trying to figure out the basis for your claim that each "realm" "adds to God's goodness." Is it that there's on balance more good than evil in all of them and they're thus "worth creating" or "better to exist than not to exist"? Or are you claiming that no matter how much bad stuff there is in a "realm," it's still good as long as there's a bit of good in it since all that bad stuff is really just a privation, failure to fully instantiate the Platonic ideal of the good, etc? Or some other reason?
Platonic Anon said…
I'm not sure how I can explain this to you. I have done it again and again and you seem to not be able to get it.

There are no evil worlds. There are realms of being that are below ours and that can be referred to, in part, as infernal. But they are not inhabited in the same way our world is, so we should perhaps just set them aside.

Your questions rely on evil being a positive quality, rather than just a lack thereof. There is, in one sense (the deepest sense) no evil, and all creation adds to God's Goodness.

One of the complicating factors I left alone, since you are having trouble following even what I have described, is that privation only has any meaning if creation is viewed within itself. If creation is seen completely within its divine place, its contingency recognised for what it is and its grounding in God fully apprehended, then even privation ceases to properly be so. What is more, from the Platonic perspective (as for the Christian) man is a created microcosm whose layers of being reflect God in a way completely analogous to creation as a whole. God is at the root of our being and we ascend to him at any time, if we would.
Son of Anonymous said…
There are no evil worlds. There are realms of being that are below ours and that can be referred to, in part, as infernal. But they are not inhabited in the same way our world is, so we should perhaps just set them aside.

Okay--if the "lower realms" aren't inhabited then what exactly makes them "good"? Are you saying there's some feature of these places independent of the experiences and desires of conscious beings (maybe some other way in which they reflect God's goodness) that has intrinsic value and that's why they get instantiated?

It's hard for me to see how that could be the case--a world like that seems value-neutral to me--but suppose I grant that. Why, then, does it stop there? Wouldn't an even "lower" (more separated, more privated, more relativized, etc.) realm be one in which conscious beings do exist but experience a great deal more suffering and evil than they do good? What is it about that sort of world that you think is impossible?

Your questions rely on evil being a positive quality, rather than just a lack thereof. There is, in one sense (the deepest sense) no evil, and all creation adds to God's Goodness.

I don't think so. I'm certainly exploring the implications of such a view (combined with the theodicy you're giving where God is forced to create all of these successively more evil realms), but there's nothing about my questions that gets dissolved if you assume a privation theory of evil. For example, you could answer that a world with more bad stuff than good stuff is impossible because you can't have a greater than 100% privation of a thing.
Platonic Anon said…
It is not for us to discurisvely know exactly why the basic principles of creation are given form in a certain way, nor am I knowledgeable enough to always explain what the Platonic tradition says best on some of these points. Suffice it to say I'm aware of no Platonist who suggests that privation should take the course you're suggesting.


The lower realms are inhabited, by evil spirits and the like, but not in the same way our realm is inhabited. These are traditionally beings who are seen as having deserved their place there, or who have made essentially decided to reside there by fleeing God (these for the Platonist are basically identical). The lower realms are generally held to be less substantial and solid, if you will than the higher realms. The infernal realms, to speak figuritively, begin to crack and splinter as they move away from God. But God is immanent as well as transcendent, and his creation is never truly separate from him.

But you are interpreting the privation too one-dimensionally. The point of privation is not simply to manifest greater and greater suffering. Rather, the point of privation is to reflect the divine in a relative way, making its all-possibility exist in the separate, determined realm of creation and showing off the lustre of the Good, as it were, a contrario against a negation that it finally overcomes.

There is properly speaking no bad stuff, that is my point about your questions and their language. To talk of more bad stuff than Good stuff, apart from being a strange and clumsy way to speak of Platonist structures of worlds, implies a positive quality to evil.

God is forced to create nothing. It is God's nature. You might as well say God is forced to be Infinite and Absolute.
Platonic Anon said…
In fact, your entire way of discussing this is wrong. You are taking a decidedly anthropomorphic perspective and applying it to questions of the highest metaphysics - which is deeply against the Platonic perspective.

The point of privation is not to manifest the equivalent of millions of babies dying, or any such thing. Rather, privation is God's reaching out towards nothingness - his relativising of his own Absoluteness as an aspect of his Infinity, in which he extends the reach and glory of his Goodness and finally triumphs over any privation in unity.
Son of Anonymous said…
The way you're laying this out it seems like you're trying to have your cake and eat it too. On the one hand, you're offering up the privation theory of evil as a reason why God can't just create a world without, e.g., 500 million years of continuous, worldwide animal suffering, or 100,000 years of 50% childhood mortality rates--the reason being that any actualized world has to have some degree of privation of good, i.e. evil, in it, since apparently the nature of an actualized world is that it doesn't fully instantiate whatever Platonic forms it reflects.

Then, when one asks why God doesn't just create a world with a very minimal amount of evil in it to satisfy this requirement (e.g. a dust speck in someone's eye), the reply is that necessarily God creates a whole hierarchy of worlds ("realms"), each more separated from God and therefore imperfectly instantiating the forms (which include good) than the last. We happen to live in one of the worlds that is very far down this hierarchy, which is why we observe the enormous degree of suffering and other evil that we do.

But then, when it's pointed out that this view seems to have the uncomfortable implication that God creates all sorts of worlds that are even worse than this one and contain ever-greater amounts of suffering/evil (or the moral equivalent thereof), you appear to backtrack on this very justification. Yes, you say, there are "infernal realms" further down the hierarchy than our world, but this need not imply that there's anything morally bad about them--they can be uninhabited, or inhabited by evil spirits who choose or somehow deserve to be there.

The trouble is, the moment you make that sort of move, you invalidate almost the entire basis that your theodicy had to begin with. Either morally bad things like the suffering of conscious beings are metaphysically required to exist at each level of this hierarchy of realms--in which case you can explain as much suffering and evil as you please, but at the cost of implausibly declaring each of these realms, no matter how horrendous, to be "good"--or morally bad things of that sort are not required to exist in a given realm, as in the case of a realm that doesn't have any conscious beings in it (or maybe only has evil spirits whose suffering may not count because they deserve or choose to be there). If the latter, then that undermines the original reason you gave for why our world couldn't only have a minimal amount of evil in it--God could simply put all the conscious beings into one of the highest-up realms and leave the lower-down ones uninhabited, eliminating the need to have so much suffering.

I think you can make this sort of theodicy work as long as you're willing to accept the implications of the former viewpoint (that worlds with arbitrarily large amounts of suffering or the moral equivalent of suffering are still in some sense "good"). But as soon as you start hedging on this issue by saying that no, actually the realms in my hierarchy don't really need to be so bad just because they get farther and farther away from God, you're back to square one as far as your ability to answer the problem of evil goes.
Son of Anonymous said…
There is properly speaking no bad stuff, that is my point about your questions and their language. To talk of more bad stuff than Good stuff, apart from being a strange and clumsy way to speak of Platonist structures of worlds, implies a positive quality to evil.

"More bad stuff than good stuff" for a given situation means to me that it would be better for that situation not to obtain at all than to obtain in the form that it does. For example, not existing at all is preferable to existing in a state of unmitigated eternal torture.

God is forced to create nothing. It is God's nature. You might as well say God is forced to be Infinite and Absolute.

That's exactly the sense in which I meant it--in your model, God is "forced" to create (the same thing as saying "does create") all these realms as a matter of metaphysical necessity.
Philip Rand said…
Well Son of Anonymous

You write:

"3/ Is a God who creates a world that is morally equivalent to a billion tortured babies plus one happy puppy deserving of our worship? If so, why?"

If you look at my analysis the problem is that to have tortured babies what is required first is:

The babies have to be created in the first place!

This is what reveals the anomaly in Dr Law's model.

My "privation" model shown above (yes, I know quite simplistic) demonstrates that the privation idea of evil is quite reasonable and that it does answer the question.

It effectively finds the anomally in Dr Law's thesis...his anomally is found in the word "creates"...

Even the Evil God creates...and it is impossible for even an Evil God to remove this Goodness.

What you have to do from here is analyse the word "creates".

What is also interesting is that if you extend my model (I haven't done this...but I can see the consequences)...it means that one could logically formulate that this world is the maximally good world you refer...

Here, I think I should look at the work of Liebnez...and see what his ideas amount to...

But, the fact is Dr Law's model is easily defeated...which is a good thing because it shows that his model is a good model...
Son of Anonymous said…
Philip Rand, try as I may I really have no idea at all what you're getting at with any of that (or your previous post). Are you biting the bullet and saying that the situation with a billion tortured babies and one happy puppy would indeed be good?
Platonic Anon said…
The most obvious flaw in your response is the term implausible. This is just question begging. It simply implies that a Good God would not create this sort of privation - which is what is in dispute. You haven't really done anything to show the Platonic position is wrong on this - that all creation is Good, even as it includes the infernal, which is of course not separate from the rest of creation but a necessary part of it, you've just really given your own private sentiments as if that wasn't begging the question. This is essentially what the evidential problem of evil seems to mean, as I observed to Law long ago now, question begging talk of intuitions of gratuitous evil.

You also use the term morally bad in a rather strange way. Suffering need not be morally bad, per se. It will be less Good, but morality is a more restricted aspect of the Good pertaining to moral agents.

As for the rest of your comments, it is hard to see what your main objection seems to boil down to, unfortunately. You'll have to run that past me again.

You also don't seem to have really grasped the Platonic perspective (it is unfortunate, I think, that it is clear both you and Law seem to have little pre-knowledge of Platonism, despite Plato being the greatest of Western thinkers and Platonism one of its most enduring currents of thought).

The worlds, for example, are not realms of being. Realms of being are a hierarchy within worlds. The realms of being in our world are the Ideal, Imaginal, Subtle or psychic, corporeal (our realm), and various infernal realms.

In this progressive descent the distinctions inherent but unified in the higher realms become more and more separate. So, for example, the animal form becomes the form of a dog; and the form of a dog then becomes individuated, corporeal dogs. God could not place all the corporeal beings in the Ideal realm, as this makes no sense. This would also reduce God's Infinity, by removing the corporeal, and hence make God less Good, paradoxically.

In a sense evil only has even a relative being so far as creation is viewed as separated from God and in its contingency alone. When it is viewed in its proper place, as a reflection from God and within God - once, to use our example, the individual, corporeal dogs are seen as existing as particularities yet being contained entirely within the dog form and the animal form and God, then even the shadow of evil disappears. Evil is cosmically quite transient and marginal than those advancing the problem of evil seem to recognise.

Platonic Anon said…
It should perhaps also be underscored that the realms of world (for clarity lets just leave it at our world) are not unrelated. The lower realms reflect the higher realms, and the lower realms play out distinctions inherent but unified in the higher realms. They are metaphysically connected and not connected in an ad hoc fashion. So the possibility and necessity of the corporeal follows on from that of the Ideal. I think it is worth making doubly sure this is understood, as what real substance there is in your reply seems to be built around mistakes about the nature of the different realms of being.

And forced is the wrong word. There is a difference between necessity and constraint. It follows from God's nature that he creates, but to call that forced is like saying God is forced to be God.
Platonic Anon said…
- that should have been the realms of the world.
Son of Anonymous said…
Platonic Anon:

On the question-begging issue, like I said you're free to take the first horn of the dilemma I laid out. If I give you a world/realm/whatever with loads and loads of horrible suffering and little compensating good--like the world with the billion tortured babies--you're free to go ahead and stick to your guns by saying "my privation theory of evil tells me that world is actually good, and you're just begging the question by simply asserting based on intuition that it's not." I would take an implication like that as a reductio ad absurdum of the theory of evil that produced it, but if you really want to bite that bullet then have fun with that. I suspect that even you have some trouble endorsing that position since otherwise you could have just responded straightaway to the billion-tortured-babies-plus-one-happy-puppy scenario with "yeah sure, if God created that then that would be good too."

In this progressive descent the distinctions inherent but unified in the higher realms become more and more separate. So, for example, the animal form becomes the form of a dog; and the form of a dog then becomes individuated, corporeal dogs. God could not place all the corporeal beings in the Ideal realm, as this makes no sense. This would also reduce God's Infinity, by removing the corporeal, and hence make God less Good, paradoxically.

Okay, but why is it so important that these particular beings exist and not others? If God knew that putting conscious beings in the corporeal realm would necessarily entail vast amounts of suffering like we know has taken place over Earth's history, but he wanted to create conscious beings anyway, he could leave the corporeal realm uninhabited and instead put some other beings at a level of your hierarchy that didn't entail there would be so much suffering. They wouldn't be the same ones that would have existed otherwise, but why should that matter? If I can create a being in a situation where it's able to exist in a state of relative happiness instead of creating one that will have to suffer a lot, then I should do that.

In a sense evil only has even a relative being so far as creation is viewed as separated from God and in its contingency alone. When it is viewed in its proper place, as a reflection from God and within God - once, to use our example, the individual, corporeal dogs are seen as existing as particularities yet being contained entirely within the dog form and the animal form and God, then even the shadow of evil disappears. Evil is cosmically quite transient and marginal than those advancing the problem of evil seem to recognise.

I think this paragraph here might be where the disagreement is really happening. You think adopting a privation theory of evil allows you to simply deny that any of the abundant evils in the worlds is really something we should care about--it's all a part of God's cosmic goodness as it manifests in our imperfect "corporeal realm," after all, in fact it doesn't even exist if you think about it. Like I said, there is nothing logically contradictory about defining "good" to encompass scenarios with arbitrarily large amounts of suffering. The cost is that when you talk about goodness you cannot be claiming to talk about the same thing that almost everyone else is talking about when they talk about goodness.

I have to ask, by the way, do you really believe there's such a thing as the "ideal form" of a dog or are you just using it as an example? In one sense I can't believe I'm discussing this idea at all since it just seems ludicrous to be talking about actually-existing Platonic forms and essences knowing what we know about how biology actually works.
Philip Rand said…
Well Son of Anonymous...

Look up Dr Law's idea's concerning evolutions...I believe it is the EAAN link on his blog page...

Think about the idea that "True Belief" is adaptive in his model...meaning essentially that "knowledge" has a purpose...

Then link it with my model that Evil disappears with time...like false belief.

And then you may gain some understanding...of the gist of what I am stating...granted if you are not mathematically or scientifically trained I do realise what I am saying (in abridged form) may seem unclear...
but it isn't really...what you have to remeber is in truth we are dealing with "relations".
Philip Rand said…
Son of Anonymous

What we are discussing is complex...

There are answers...but, it requires one to look at things from a different aspect.

For instances, when you write:

"do you really believe there's such a thing as the "ideal form" of a dog or are you just using it as an example?"

There is,

a dog -> a "Form" of Life.

Similarly, let's use the LHC as an example...i.e. two protons collide with each other.

two babies -> two protons
two tortured babies -> proton collision and destruction

Now, think about what happens through this process and what is in the end of such a result.
Platonic Anon said…
Son of Anonymous,

As for your first paragraph, there is no world of tortured babies, as you have been shown again and again.

The question begging point is valid if you are just to rely on intuitions.

The corporeal is inherent in the Ideal, so it must have its chance to exist in a separative way.

I do not deny that evil has an effect from one perspective, so I need not deny the common idea of Goodness. From the fallen perspective evil there is true privation. I simply deny that even at the level there is evil that it is the full picture.

You ignored my follow up post. I think that is because it pretty much destroys the foundation to the only substantive objection you are really trying to make - one that ignores Platonic metaphysics and cosmology and treats God's creation, its realms and worlds, as abitrary. I suddenly realised this was where your main points were coming from.

Once it is recognised that the corporeal is a reflection of the Ideal; and that it plays out distinctions inherent but unified in the ideal in a separative and individuated way; and that this exhibits God under relative and separative and determined conditions, showing his Goodness a contrario , adding to it thereby, and its glory through its triumph over evil (which is but marginal and transitory), and making even evil serve the greater good, then there is nothing left in your searching for objections. We might add, again, that even at the most privative levels of being God is there, if we remember to see them in their proper place and then even the shadow of evil is lifted. We might also add that our being reflects God in the microcosm, just as creation does in the macrocosm, meaning that again we may ascend to God any time we wish, if we would, and escape, again, evil immediately.

I think that is Game; Set; Match.
Son of Anonymous said…
Platonic Anon:

As for your first paragraph, there is no world of tortured babies, as you have been shown again and again.

The question begging point is valid if you are just to rely on intuitions


You're missing the point. If there were such a dramatically horrendous world like the one with the tortured babies, your view of good and evil as you've articulated it would commit you to the position that yes, that actually would be a good state of affairs since it adds to God's goodness, evil is just a privation, and such. If it's an appeal to intuition to observe that this is an absurd implication, then so be it. You are free to bite the bullet and deny it.

You ignored my follow up post. I think that is because it pretty much destroys the foundation to the only substantive objection you are really trying to make - one that ignores Platonic metaphysics and cosmology and treats God's creation, its realms and worlds, as abitrary. I suddenly realised this was where your main points were coming from.

No, I get what you're trying to do. You're saying that the whole taxonomy of worlds/realms/etc is something that's metaphysically necessary, and necessarily contains a certain amount of evil, in order to dissolve the question of "why does an all-powerful, all-good God allow so much evil". What I'm saying is that taking this line commits you to one of two positions: either God has the ability to determine which conscious beings inhabit each one the worlds/realms (or otherwise intervene in them), or he doesn't.

If God does have such an ability, then you still have the problem of evil because the question simply becomes, why is our world/realm inhabited at all if allowing it to become inhabited would necessitate 500 million years of global animal suffering, 100,000 years of 50% childhood mortality, war, disease, natural disasters, and every other form of seemingly gratuitious evil we observe? Furthermore, if you want to claim that God has the ability to intervene in our "realm" (not sure what your position is on this but it's hard to see how this could be squared with any form of Christianity if you think he can't), then we once again face the standard problem of evil: why doesn't he intervene to reduce or eliminate some of these instances of grossly horrendous suffering? (e.g. miraculously wiping out malaria, preventing earthquakes, or bringing about human beings by a method other than hundreds of millions of years of unabated animal suffering.) Of course you can make another move here by deploying any of the traditional theodicies, but at that point we aren't talking about anything that "classical theism" or your brand of Platonism is able to address.

On the other hand, if the claim is that our "realm" has the amount of suffering and other evil that it does as a matter of metaphysical necessity, i.e. it is beyond God's ability to miraculously intervene to lessen the suffering here or else make it not inhabited at all, then you're once again back to endorsing this very thin conception of a "good" God, the kind of "cosmic sluice" that Law was talking about in his original post. I agree that this kind of God sidesteps both the POE and EGC, but I can't see how it's possible to square that notion with anything that Christians tend say about God (he cares about us, he answers prayers, he incarnated himself as Jesus, he deserves our worship, etc).

So like I said, you can make this conception of God and reality avoid the evidential problem of evil, but not in a way that preserves any of what Christians and other theists mean when they say things like "God is good." You can't have it both ways.
Son of Anonymous said…
I do not deny that evil has an effect from one perspective, so I need not deny the common idea of Goodness. From the fallen perspective evil there is true privation. I simply deny that even at the level there is evil that it is the full picture

The bottom line, though, is that evil is bad and requires an explanation regardless of your views on its status as a privation, lack of ultimate significance, or whatever else. One possible explanation is that God cannot prevent evil because it's metaphysically impossible for him to do so, but as I explained above this commits you to a "cosmic sluice" view of God that is not really recognizable as a form of theism.
Son of Anonymous said…
Philip Rand:

Look up Dr Law's idea's concerning evolutions...I believe it is the EAAN link on his blog page...

Think about the idea that "True Belief" is adaptive in his model...meaning essentially that "knowledge" has a purpose...

Then link it with my model that Evil disappears with time...like false belief.

And then you may gain some understanding...of the gist of what I am stating...granted if you are not mathematically or scientifically trained I do realise what I am saying (in abridged form) may seem unclear...
but it isn't really...what you have to remeber is in truth we are dealing with "relations".


Yeah I don't know what you were trying to show though. You said something about what happens to the error in measurement of a randomly moving particle over time but I haven't the foggiest idea what that has to do with the problem of evil or the EGC. It seems like you're making a very poorly formed and loosely argued analogy that even if true, wouldn't even address the problem at hand.

For instances, when you write:

"do you really believe there's such a thing as the "ideal form" of a dog or are you just using it as an example?"

There is,

a dog -> a "Form" of Life


What I was getting at there is that there's really no such thing as an "ideal" dog that we can get by carving nature at the joints. At some point in its evolutionary history, there was a dog that shared a number of characteristics with the gray wolf (its immediate common ancestor)--or was it a gray wolf that had dog-like characteristics? Is there a separate "form" for this creature too? At one point was the first creature born that was a particular of the "Dog" form? Was its mother a particular of the "Gray Wolf" form? Same goes for mammals and theraspids, protists and animals, even life and non-life. They're ultimately different gradations along the continuum of ways you can put molecules together, which makes this talk of forms and essences doubly absurd. But I digress...

Similarly, let's use the LHC as an example...i.e. two protons collide with each other.

two babies -> two protons
two tortured babies -> proton collision and destruction

Now, think about what happens through this process and what is in the end of such a result


I don't know what those two things have in common that's at all relevant to this discussion.
Platonic Anon said…
Son of Anonymous,

I'm sorry, but I don't see how your main objection has much substance left in it, if we match it against the actual Platonic perspective.

That is, to start with we must remember that the corporeal exists as a necessary reflection of the Ideal, Imaginal, and the Subtle and brings out distinctions latent but unified in these - to use my rather crude example, individual, corporeal dogs reflect the dog and animal forms and bring out possibilities latent but unified within them - reflecting God's Infinity. Then we must remember that creation as a whole reflects God's and extends God's glory a contrario in a relativised and separatised and determined form, whereby God triumphs over evil (which is far more cosmically transient and marginal than you make out) and makes use of it for the greater Good: even in creation the Good far exceeds the evil and God arranges things to maximise the Good. To talk of God moving all conscious being to the Ideal realms is therefore nonsense.

Under this schema it is simply hard to understand where your objections find any space?

You can hardly maintain, if you properly take into account what I've said, that a Good God can allow no evil. Nor can you suggest that there is gratuitous suffering - you have given no reason to suggest that the suffering and pain in the world is not consistent with the Platonic model - and the liberal use of question begging adjectives like horrendous is no help alone.

Finally, the Platonic perspective shows that God is Good and Loving: he might not be exactly like the Christian God in all respects, but he is very close to the traditional Christian perspective and certainly no cosmic sluice. I haven't really seen anything in your comments to suggest otherwise. Yes, God must create because of his Infinity, but that is simply his nature. God still Loves his creation and does all he can to maximise the Good in creation, triumphing over evil. To ask God to create a creation without any privation would be to ask him to create another God; to ask him to not create would lessen both his Goodness and his Infinity. One can always debate about God's relationship to our ordinary personality, the degree to which he is transpersonal, and so on - but these are debates in all Classical Theism, including Christianity. What can be said is God is the ground of our personality and we are the image of his. We can relate to him as a person, although we must always remember the limits of any human mental concepts or images of God (one need look to no less a Christian authority than St. Augustine to second this). Essentially, you seem to be under the misapprehension that Christianity believes in what Feser calls Theistic personalism and what David Bentley Hart calls monopolytheism (akin to the believe in a Greek God but only one). In almost all respects the Platonic vision of God is nearly identical to the traditional Christian.

To try up some loose ends in your post:

God can prevent particular evils, but he cannot remove evil, because of all we have said of the nature of creation.


Therefore, I'm not sure where you can go with your objections, except to simply beg the question by asking can the amount of suffering really be consistent with a Good God.
Philip Rand said…
OK Son of Anonymous

Let's apply the POE to the evolution of the "ideal" dog.

The ideal dog no longer exists, right?

One could consider this an Evil, right? And does this Evil still exist?

In fact, did it ever exist?

But, what now exists is an abundance of different types of dogs, right?

One could consider this to be a Good, right?

So would it be fair to say that Evolution is Evil?
Platonic Anon said…

So like I said, you can make this conception of God and reality avoid the evidential problem of evil, but not in a way that preserves any of what Christians and other theists mean when they say things like "God is good." You can't have it both ways.


Really, this sums up the problem with your main objection - it simply relies on the hidden assumption that you can't have it both ways from the beginning.

You have been shown how God can both be Good, not differ very widely from the conception of God held by any Classical Theist (including all traditional Christians from the Fathers to the great Protestant divines), and there still be the evil we experience in the world.

It is hard to see that your objections to these points are more than focusing on each in turn and claiming that "can it really be so?"

By the way, the animal realm has not true consciousness and self-awareness. It is, in a sense, a collective soul assimilated to God. As God knows even the contingent in its proper place, he knows no true evil or suffering. I'm not sure, but I think the Platonist would suggest the suffering of the animal world is slight or not meaningful real at all. I'm not sure though.

Stephen Law said…
Platonic Anon: “Finally, the Platonic perspective shows that God is Good and Loving: he might not be exactly like the Christian God in all respects, but he is very close to the traditional Christian perspective and certainly no cosmic sluice.”

You still miss the point. Your response to the problem of gratuitous evil was never made clear but I supplied the following gloss. There is no “gratuitous” (reasonless) evil because whatever God produces is not just “good” but grounded in his nature, which is its reason. Thus any amount of observed horror will be “good” and won’t be “gratuitous”.

This trivially solves the evidential and logical problems of evil, God’s killing millions of babies is “good” and not a “gratuitous” evil.

BUT this solution relies on sticking to a “thin” conception of good and gratuitousness. As soon as you switch to a “thick” conception on which God is "caring" and "loving" in any substantial sense, you simply reintroduce the evidential problem of evil, for how can one describe as “loving” and “caring” a God who brings about untold horror - horribly killing millions of babies for no benevolent reason (other than that's his nature!), for example.

You supply no answer to this question other than to say God cannot create a perfect, evil-free world as it would be, impossibly, be another God. Thus, “You can hardly maintain, if you properly take into account what I've said, that a Good God can allow no evil.”

But even if this move were successful in accounting for some evils (which I doubt, because to create a perfect world, God does NOT have to create another God – a perfect world does not have to possess every perfection, as God does, but just those perfections that are relevant; a perfect world’s lacking omnipotence would be no evil/privation, just as a brick or a mole lacking sight is no evil/privation) it fails to deal with the evidential problem of evil. It fails to explain why a “caring”. “loving” God would horribly slaughter millions of babies for (apparently) no benevolent reason. Which is the problem we are discussing, and which at this point you are simply ignoring.

BTW you can attempt to deal with the evidential problem using e.g. theodicies, sceptical theism, etc. But then we’re just back to bog-standard theistic responses, not some special “classical” theist response which somehow renders your God immune to the problem.

BTW Whether there’s more good than evil is entirely irrelevant to both the evidential problem of evil and EGC.

You need to come off your current script to deal with this objection, not just endlessly repeat bits of it irrelevantly and then claim victory.
Stephen Law said…
Oh yes I forgot - at this point you say the objection is "just an intuition". No, it's an argument that has received an enormous amount of attention from theists, and has spawned some exceptionally sophisticated philosophical responses. Which ultimately don't work. But at least bother to find out what they are, FFS.
Platonic Anon said…
Actually my response to the problem of gratuitous was made clear, repeatedly. It also drew from the Platonic tradition, which apparently, despite being a professional philosopher, you seem to have little knowledge of.

You say I should bother to read some recent apologists and dryasdust analytical philosophers (though they often seem to look more like the sophists than the ancient philosophers like Socrates, Plato, or Aristotle). I think you should bother to come to find out what the great voices of Western theism has actually said.

There is no “gratuitous” (reasonless) evil because whatever God produces is not just “good” but grounded in his nature, which is its reason. Thus any amount of observed horror will be “good” and won’t be “gratuitous”.

I did not say this. I did not say that, from its own level of reality and from one perspective evil is evil - though always being a lack of a quality rather than a positive quality.

BUT this solution relies on sticking to a “thin” conception of good and gratuitousness. As soon as you switch to a “thick” conception on which God is "caring" and "loving" in any substantial sense, you simply reintroduce the evidential problem of evil, for how can one describe as “loving” and “caring” a God who brings about untold horror - horribly killing millions of babies for no benevolent reason (other than that's his nature!), for example.

You supply no answer to this question other than to say God cannot create a perfect, evil-free world as it would be, impossibly, be another God. Thus, “You can hardly maintain, if you properly take into account what I've said, that a Good God can allow no evil.”


You do not show how the Platonic perspective relies on switching to what you call a thin of Good.

God is Good in all this means, in all its thickness. God loves us and cares for us and does all he can to maximise the Good of creation. The evil in creation comes not from God directly but from the nature of privation, which dissolves one side of the so called problem of evil: God is entirely Good and always acts for it.

Now, the other side is to claim that God lacks power because he cannot prevent evil. In this context it will be because his Infinite nature means he must manifest a separative and relativising creation. But this side of the so called problem also dissolves when we recall that God's omnipotence flows from his nature and not the other way around; God has not the power to do what is against his nature. Just as God cannot but be God, he cannot but be Infinite and Absolute - and being Infinite means manifesting a relativised and separated reflection of himself in creation. Indeed, if God were not able to create he would be less Infinite, which would make him less powerful, as well as less Good.

Platonic Anon said…
All you are doing, as I said, is essentially begging the question. You have it as a basic assumption that a Good and omnipotent God cannot produce a world with significant evil, and you are just taking the time to say "really , how can God be like that" again and again.

This is what the problem of evil has always been, however. It is one of the prototypes for those questions badly put (to quote a wise man) , which plague modern philosophy and thought, and which seem insoluble because their fundamental flaws make them so. To quote the Platonist Frithjof Schuon:

http://www.studiesincomparativereligion.com/public/articles/The_Question_of_Theodicies-by_Frithjof_Schuon.aspx

"Epicurean reasoning is the classic example, as it were, of a logical operation that works impeccably in the absence of information required by its content: one speaks of “evil”, but fails to realize that evil is by definition evil only in one respect and not in another, which is proven at the outset by the fact that there is no absolute evil and that evil is never a substance; one speaks of “God”, but fails to realize that God, being infinite, carries in His Nature the cause of an unfolding that necessarily contains an element of contradiction by reason of His very Infinitude; and one speaks of “power” and “willing”, but fails to realize that the Divine Nature is the Subject of these and not the Object, which amounts to saying that these two faculties, while being unlimited by virtue of Divine Unlimitedness and in the direction of contingency, are limited at their “peak” by Divine Absoluteness, which no will and no power could ever act upon."

But even if this move were successful in accounting for some evils (which I doubt, because to create a perfect world, God does NOT have to create another God – a perfect world does not have to possess every perfection, as God does, but just those perfections that are relevant; a perfect world’s lacking omnipotence would be no evil/privation, just as a brick or a mole lacking sight is no evil/privation) it fails to deal with the evidential problem of evil.

This, firstly, ignores the Platonic perspective on what it takes to make a world. But more importantly - or in some sense just to rephrase this first point - it ignores the nature of God's Infinitude and the privation this includes - that is, separation of distinctions and particularities inherent but unified in the Ideal and the Divine itself. To create a perfect realm, even in the sense you mean (and that sense is based in the sentimental and not strictly metaphysical), would deny the possibility of the unfolding of possibilities inherent in the Divine, limiting God's Infinity (and before you start dreaming up any old though bubble and asking why this "possibility" must not exist, try and link any such notion of possibility to Platonic metaphysics).
Platonic Anon said…
-this should read: "I did say that, from its own level of reality and from one perspective evil is evil - though always being a lack of a quality rather than a positive quality."
Stephen Law said…

More of the same:“You only fail to agree because you don’t understand!” rhetoric from you, then.

You’re right I am a professional philosopher (one very familiar with both Platonism and the work of Davies, Feser et al. and certainly the sort of move made in that quote), and I come across sort of blather every now and then from first year undergrads who’ve read a couple of books and convinced themselves they’ve it got all sorted. They spout irrelevancy and poor arguments but fail to realize they are doing so because they are arrogant and largely ignore or misunderstand what’s being said to them, ironically. Anyhoo...

You say: START QUOTE “God is Good in all this means, in all its thickness. God loves us and cares for us and does all he can to maximise the Good of creation. The evil in creation comes not from God directly but from the nature of privation, which dissolves one side of the so called problem of evil: God is entirely Good and always acts for it.

Now, the other side is to claim that God lacks power because he cannot prevent evil. In this context it will be because his Infinite nature means he must manifest a separative and relativising creation. But this side of the so called problem also dissolves when we recall that God's omnipotence flows from his nature and not the other way around; God has not the power to do what is against his nature. Just as God cannot but be God, he cannot but be Infinite and Absolute - and being Infinite means manifesting a relativised and separated reflection of himself in creation. Indeed, if God were not able to create he would be less Infinite, which would make him less powerful, as well as less Good.”END QUOTE

So, evil is just a privation and God must create some privation. Right, got that. Really. Absolutely understand that is what you are saying. There must be some evil. So no logical problem of evil then, if you are right. Understood.

But this goes no way at all to answering the question I asked: how can one describe as “loving” and “caring” a God who brings about untold horror - horribly killing millions of babies for no benevolent reason (other than that's his nature!)

Given the sheer scale of “privation” in the form of pain and suffering - e.g. millions of babies slaughtered horrifically - that would appear to excellent evidence that if there is an omnipotent creator, he is not loving and caring.

Were you to say, “But my God is necessarily good, loving and caring!” you’d just play right into my hands at this point. Exactly! So this really is evidence that there’s no God like that, then."

Were you to say, “But though he is loving and caring, he can’t do otherwise than produce *some* privation,” just entirely misses the point – it’s the quantity/quality that matters here, not the existence (that’s the logical problem of evil – a completely different problem you still seem fixated on – understandably as it’s the easy problem!)

To say, “God cannot do otherwise than produce such extreme privations as millions of babies killed horribly for no benevolent reason (that’s just his nature)”, just ignores my question which is: how can a being whose nature is such as to slaughter millions of babies for no benevolent reason be described as loving and caring?

Hoping to get a relevant, non-question-begging answer to this question this time round.
Philip Rand said…
That Epicurean quote of yours Platonic Anonymous was quite interesting...it seems to me to amount to the following (sorry, but I can only do philosophy with examples).

Say, there is a wooden stick upright in a river...when you look at it you note that the portion of the stick above the water surface is vertical, but the portion of the stick below the water surface is at an angle to the surface portion...

You find this odd...and so wade out into the river and run your hand along the surface of the wooden stick...and to your surprise you find that to the touch the stick is in fact straight!

The thing is, would it be fair to say that when you first looked at the stick in the water and took it for a crooked stick...you were being lied at...i.e. something evil?

I love chess...and I find it an extremely useful metaphor....

Now, the rules of chess exist "out there" whether a game of chess is played or not in the world...one could think of this "chess space" in a Platonic way, i.e. Form of chess, or a Kantian way, i.e. the Noumen, or even a scientific way, i.e. Holographic Universe, or a God way....there are many other ways of interpreting this space...and they all amount to the same thing, but simply use different "names" to describe this space.



In anycase, the existence of this chess space, i.e. "rules of chess" must be thought of as a Good...because, well nobody would be able to play chess without them...and chess is fun, i.e. a pleasure. Now, if this chess space didn't exist, well then nobody would miss them...because they wouldn't exist...and so this would not be a bad thing, i.e. an evil thing.

What is clear is that within this chess space a myriad of chess matches are potentially available.

But, the rules of chess are only activated in our world when a game is played...this is where they become "real".

Now, when you play chess...pieces get taken off the board...we could say this is evil...but only at the moment the piece is taken...once it leaves the board this evil is gone, i.e. it doesn't exist. The game is still played...and so is still a Good.

Now, say one of the players in a fit of rage...wipes all the chess pieces off the board (gratuitious evil)....what happens?

That particular game of chess no longer exists in the world....so if the game no longer exists can one say that the evil exists?



Dr Law,

A "loving" and "caring" God depends on how one interprets the words....one could think of "love" as a "test"...which it is in truth....one could think of many examples of how this test manifests itself in the world....

One way, would be to think of this test as "marriage"...a marriage is after-all a test of love don't you think?

If we think of love like this (as a test)...then one could say that you are so far succeeding in this test, i.e. you have been married once and still are married....

But, we could say that Richard Dawkins has failed this test twice....but, this is where the "caring" aspect of God comes into it....Dawkins can try again, i.e. he can marry for a third time and try the test again!

By the way Dr Law a good title for a book on Kantian philosophy that you could write would be:

"Kant Play Chess?"
Philip Rand said…
Dr Law

Have you noticed that your main point is slowly evolving?

It first started out as:

"billions of babies being tortured over hundreds of millennia (the actual situation)"

And is now:

"slaughter millions of babies for no benevolent reason be described as loving and caring?"

I sense a touch of "teleology" entering your position with the lastest...is this a wise move?

Or is it an inevitable outcome of the evolution of these "strife" driven posts?

And does this perhaps point to a solution as to why Evil and Good exist in the world?
Platonic Anon said…
Law,

If one reads this thread impartially one would discover it is you who, despite being a professional philosopher, who has relied upon misunderstanding and sophistry to prosecute his case in this thread, not I.

It is patently clear you have little knowledge of the Platonic tradition or that of any branch of Classical Theism.

If Feser decides it is worth his while to reply to you he, he will wipe the floor with you, again.

Anyhoo, your response is just to repeat your errors.

Let us, again, frame the discussion in terms of the soc called problem of evil. Your response simply doesn't show why there is gratuitous suffering.

The one side of the problem is the Goodness of God. As we have seen, God does not create evil, per se - he does not produce evil, as evil is simply a lack of God's being; this part of your assertions fails entirely and you show no sign of addressing it. Nor does God wish there to be evil. And God does all he can to elimate evil and maximise the Good, ultimately triumphing over it (and it is far more transient and marginal, cosmically, than the likes of you make out). This would seem to collapse this side of the problem.

The other side of the alleged problem is God's power. But as we have seen his power flows from his nature and not the other way around, and God's Infinite nature demands he relativise himself by projecting his essence in a relative, separate, and determined way - which is necessarily privative. So, not only does creation not affect God's power any more than the fact he cannot but be God or cannot make 2+2=5, but it increases his power, so to speak, by increasing his Infinity.

Your response simply does not deal with why the evil we experience cannot fit in perfectly well within this scheme, leaving God both perfectly Good and loving and personal (although God is transpersonal in all Classical Theism - not reducible to a Zeus-like figure) and as powerful and God-likeas Classical Theism always asserts God is.

All you do is beg the question by implying again and again, with colourful use of language, can God really be Good and powerful and allow the evil we see. Well, I personally think this is best discovered not by repeating the implication in a question begging way, presuming one answer, through the use of loaded language, but by actually addressing it and my response to it.
Stephen Law said…

Just lots more irrelevancy from you, Platonic anon.

You said: “The one side of the problem is the Goodness of God. As we have seen, God does not create evil, per se - he does not produce evil, as evil is simply a lack of God's being; this part of your assertions fails entirely and you show no sign of addressing it.”

This is evasive semantic sleight-of-hand. God, if he exists, clearly has created situations in which millions of babies die horribly.

You said: “Nor does God wish there to be evil. And God does all he can to eliminate evil and maximise the Good, ultimately triumphing over it (and it is far more transient and marginal, cosmically, than the likes of you make out). This would seem to collapse this side of the problem.”

Why? God’s later eliminating evil obviously doesn’t explain or justify his allowing it in the first place - especially not on such a vast scale: if God kills millions of babies horribly and then later stops doing so, that very obviously does not explain or justify his killing millions of babies horribly.

You said: “The other side of the alleged problem is God's power. But as we have seen his power flows from his nature and not the other way around, and God's Infinite nature demands he relativise himself by projecting his essence in a relative, separate, and determined way - which is necessarily privative. So, not only does creation not affect God's power any more than the fact he cannot but be God or cannot make 2+2=5, but it increases his power, so to speak, by increasing his Infinity.”

Here you seem to want to say God must create "privatively" – in a way that allows evil/privation. Fine, that solves the logical problem of evil, perhaps (well, actually, it probably doesn't, for the reasons I mentioned in previous comment). But so what? You are now addressing the logical problem of evil, which I never raised and indeed never suggested was a problem for classical theism (indeed you will remember that I pointed out that even the evidential problem can be vaoided by classical theism, though at a cost).

You say: “Your response simply does not deal with why the evil we experience cannot fit in perfectly well within this scheme, leaving God both perfectly Good and loving and personal (although God is transpersonal in all Classical Theism - not reducible to a Zeus-like figure) and as powerful and God-likeas Classical Theism always asserts God is.”

Again you appear to be discussing the logical problem of evil – of how the existence (or however you like to put it) of evil “fits” - i.e. is *logically consistent with* - the existence of God. That’s the logical problem of evil. I have never raised or discussed that that problem. I have never claimed a lack of logical consistency.

At no point in your last comment do you even attempt to answer my question: How can one describe as “loving” and “caring” a God who brings about untold horror - horribly killing millions of babies for no benevolent reason (other than that's his nature!)

Rather than answer this question, you keep explaining how you can solve the logical problem of evil – a problem I have never raised or discussed or even suggested was a problem for classical theism.
Brian Vroman said…
I'm jumping in rather late here, and I have not read all the comments so I apologize if this has already come up, but the argument that an Evil God is an incoherent concept (and I understand Professor Law's point that it is irrelevant to the ECG in any case, so this is a bit of a tangent)because existence is part of God's essence and evil is a privation and thus is incompatible with that essence rests on an ontological argument, does it not? And wasn't this point firmly established by Kant? If this is the case, then all one has to do is refute the ontological argument and Classical Theism with its privation theodicy collapses. Or am I missing something?
Stephen Law said…
Incidentally Platonic anon, what does this mean:

"And God does all he can to elimate [sic] evil and maximise the Good, ultimately triumphing over it."

How does God eliminate evil? Does he later eliminate evil he initially allows? If so, how much does he eliminate? What does "triumph" mean? Total elimination of evil? Something else? This is currently all very cryptic.

Son of Anonymous said…
Here you seem to want to say God must create "privatively" – in a way that allows evil/privation. Fine, that solves the logical problem of evil, perhaps (well, actually, it probably doesn't, for the reasons I mentioned in previous comment). But so what? You are now addressing the logical problem of evil, which I never raised and indeed never suggested was a problem for classical theism (indeed you will remember that I pointed out that even the evidential problem can be vaoided by classical theism, though at a cost).

Yeah thanks, this is essentially what I was getting at although you've expressed it far more succinctly than I did (which is probably what allowed the discussion to get sidetracked into all that talk about forms and realms and such).

Platonic Anon's basic move here is to suggest that God can, as a matter of necessity, only create privatively. I'm also skeptical that this is a legitimate point (are there any instances of evil that aren't contingent?), but supposing we grant it for the sake of argument, it does indeed solve the logical problem of evil--it answers the question "why is there any evil at all?".

The problem is that Platonic Anon wants his privation theory to do much more than that--he wants it to answer the much harder question, "why is there so much evil on such a grand scale like we know has taken place throughout history?" As you correctly point out, this includes the seemingly pointless slaughter of millions of babies, although even this vividly horrific image greatly understates the case to be made (the number of conscious beings in general, and human babies in particular, who have been made to suffer and die over the eons is many orders of magnitude greater than a million).

And for all his obfuscation and repeated insistence of "ah, you just don't understand Platonic metaphysics, how unsophisticated of you!", he has yet to provide anything resembling an answer to that question, except to insist that it's somehow begging the question against him to suggest that the unfathomably large amount of evil observed in the world is even a problem that needs explaining (it isn't).

To his credit, he has finally committed himself to the view that God has in fact arranged the world so that things go as well as possible ("God does all he can to eliminate evil and maximize the good"), so maybe he will finally address the issue of why things like a 50% childhood mortality rate for over 100,000 years would appear to be excellent evidence against that proposition.
Platonic Anon said…
Law,

I see you repeat your sophistry.


Why? God’s later eliminating evil obviously doesn’t explain or justify his allowing it in the first place - especially not on such a vast scale: if God kills millions of babies horribly and then later stops doing so, that very obviously does not explain or justify his killing millions of babies horribly.

It isn't supposed to justify it. It occurs because of the nature of privation and the nature of God's Infinity. It is not God who creates the evil. This paragraph of yours is therefor irrelevant.

Next.


Here you seem to want to say God must create "privatively" – in a way that allows evil/privation. Fine, that solves the logical problem of evil, perhaps (well, actually, it probably doesn't, for the reasons I mentioned in previous comment). But so what? You are now addressing the logical problem of evil, which I never raised and indeed never suggested was a problem for classical theism (indeed you will remember that I pointed out that even the evidential problem can be vaoided by classical theism, though at a cost).

You have yet to show that what you call the evidential problem of evil has any meaning, except as an excuse for you to making vague and question begging assertions about there just being too much evil in the world.

This paragraph of your's therefore adds nothing. Next.

How can one describe as “loving” and “caring” a God who brings about untold horror - horribly killing millions of babies for no benevolent reason (other than that's his nature!)

This is simply not true. I have done this over and over. The problem is that you and Son of Anonymous don't seem to be able to understand anything but the very narrow perspective of modern analytical atheism. It is patently obvious you have a very clusmy and vague definition of the Good and make no attempt to even try to understand any theistic perspective but Theistic Personalism.

Anyway, God is not bring about evil. Evil is simply a lack of a quality. God cannot help but manifest privation - this would not seem to affect God's Goodness at all. And I see no reason in your post for thinking otherwise.

It would make more sense for you to pursue the other side of the so called problem of evil: God's omnipotence. The reason you don't is clearly because this would make it harder for you to rely on your question begging use of emotive language and unargued implications that after can a Good God really allow this. This is, after all, the real core of your argument, if it can be called such.
Platonic Anon said…
Son of Anonymous,

There is nothing obscurantist at all about my claims of your lack of understanding. It is important to understand why God must create, why creation must experience progressive privation, and why God cannot simply remove all privation.

And if you look at my posts you will see that from the beginning I made mention of God arranging the world to maximise the Good.


The problem is that Platonic Anon wants his privation theory to do much more than that--he wants it to answer the much harder question, "why is there so much evil on such a grand scale like we know has taken place throughout history?" As you correctly point out, this includes the seemingly pointless slaughter of millions of babies, although even this vividly horrific image greatly understates the case to be made (the number of conscious beings in general, and human babies in particular, who have been made to suffer and die over the eons is many orders of magnitude greater than a million).

Please show, with reference to the Platonic perspective on God and creation, how the evil of the world cannot be squared with both God's Goodness and his power - the so called problem of evil.

Why does the fact God is the Supreme Good, creates no evil, does all he can to maximise the Good in creation mean that God is not Good, and brings about more Good because creation extends his Goodness not show that God is Good?

Why does the fact that God's omnipotence follows from his nature, that he must create because of his Infinity nature, that therefore to expect God not to create would be like expecting him not to be able not to be Infinite, and that creation increases God's Infinity and therefore in fact increases his power show that God is all powerful?

Why doesn't the evil we see fit perfectly into this framework?

You have done nothing to show any problems with the Platonic perspective. All you do is make question begging comments like this: "that the unfathomably large amount of evil" . Such comments simply rely on the notion that a God Good and omnipotent couldn't create the evil we experience in the world, which is just what is in dispute and which you have done nothing to back up.

And no, evil is not a problem. The existence of evil is a question. But to make into the sort of problem some in the Western tradition do is simply to construct a question that is wrongly put, and whose problematic nature dissolves the moment it is examined properly and its basis sought for. This is why the so called problem of evil in anything like this form has bothered only the Western tradition and the most sophistical elements of it (it original form would seem to be not even Epicurean but New Academic), although unfortunately many Christian thinkers have given too much ground to their opponents, rather than examining the question in its entirety.

Platonic Anon said…
This section should read:

Why does the fact God is the Supreme Good, creates no evil, does all he can to maximise the Good in creation, and brings about more Good because creation extends his Goodness not show that God is Good?

Why does the fact that God's omnipotence follows from his nature, that he must create because of his Infinity nature, that therefore to expect God not to create would be like expecting him not to be able not to be Infinite, and that creation increases God's Infinity and therefore in fact increases his power not show that God is all powerful?"
Son of Anonymous said…
Platonic Anon, I just don't follow when you say that you endorse a conception of the good that's in line with the everyday use of the term (i.e. would fit with commonsense judgments like killing is wrong, suffering is bad, etc), but you also deny that a million babies being slaughtered without any apparent purpose appears to be something that an all-powerful, all-good God wouldn't do.

I think I could get a better picture of the logical structure of your position if you answered yes or no to whether you agree with the following statements:

1. All else equal, it is worse for a million children to die than it is for those children not to die.

2. It is worse for a million children to die than it is for a those children not to die, unless their not dying would cause something even worse.

3. A person who could prevent a million children from dying without causing something even worse but did not do so would not be all-good.

4. A God who could prevent a million children from dying without causing something even worse but did not do so would not be all-good.

5. God can prevent a million children from dying.

6. God can prevent a million children from dying, but doesn't because doing so would cause something even worse.

7. God can prevent a million children from dying without causing something even worse, but does not do so.

8. Our world--the physical world that human beings and other conscious beings on Earth inhabit--is the best of all possible such worlds.
Platonic Anon said…
You would get a better picture if you followed the argument and did not constantly try and fit the discussion into the narrow straight jacket that has led you astray.

This is related to the basic question begging which is behind your argument. You have decided that a Good and All-Poweful God cannot be squared with the evil we experience in the world beforehand - and no doubt you have become habitually wed to his viewpoint. When faced with an argument that shows how a Good and All-Powerful God can truly be squared with the evil we experience, you are unable to make much of a response.

I don't think answering your questions will help the discussion. It will in fact take us away from the core of the issue.

I will say that your first paragraph is vague and flawed. God is not responsible for evil, which is not itself a positive quality at all. So I do deny God slaughters millions of babies.
Son of Anonymous said…
When faced with an argument that shows how a Good and All-Powerful God can truly be squared with the evil we experience, you are unable to make much of a response.

No, I don't see that you've made any such argument. At best you have an argument against the logical problem of evil which was never introduced in the first place.

Really, just try answering those questions. I'm really not trying to trap you or anything, I just want to try and understand what the hell it is you're trying to say that could be relevant to the evidential problem of evil because I'm quite perplexed.
Son of Anonymous said…
When faced with an argument that shows how a Good and All-Powerful God can truly be squared with the evil we experience, you are unable to make much of a response.

No, I don't see that you've made any such argument. At best you've made an argument against the logical problem of evil which was never introduced in the first place.

Really, just try answering those questions. I'm really not trying to trap you or anything, I just want to try and understand what the hell it is you're trying to say because I'm quite perplexed.
Platonic Anon said…
Really, respond to my posts before your questions. Here I'll repost the main substnace:

"Please show, with reference to the Platonic perspective on God and creation, how the evil of the world cannot be squared with both God's Goodness and his power - the so called problem of evil.

Why does the fact God is the Supreme Good, creates no evil, does all he can to maximise the Good in creation mean that God is not Good, and brings about more Good because creation extends his Goodness not show that God is Good?

Why does the fact that God's omnipotence follows from his nature, that he must create because of his Infinity nature, that therefore to expect God not to create would be like expecting him not to be able not to be Infinite, and that creation increases God's Infinity and therefore in fact increases his power show that God is all powerful?

Why doesn't the evil we see fit perfectly into this framework?"

This is my argument and neither you nor Law has said a word against it.

All you have done is make question begging insinuations that, after all, evil is just too much to square with a Good, All-Powerful God, despite my argument to the contrary.
Platonic Anon said…
Anyway, the evidential problem of evil appears to just be nonsense. It appears to just be an excuse for atheists to go around saying there is too much evil in the world for a Good and All-Powerful God to exist, without defining why; and for them to dismiss attempts to show how these two things can be reconciled by a priori ruling it out.

If you don't understand the Platonic perpsective by now, I despair. But it is there is my posts: reread them. Otherwise, you will have to try elsewhere. A good introduction is here.

http://www.studiesincomparativereligion.com/public/articles/The_Question_of_Theodicies-by_Frithjof_Schuon.aspx
Son of Anonymous said…
Please show, with reference to the Platonic perspective on God and creation, how the evil of the world cannot be squared with both God's Goodness and his power - the so called problem of evil.

Because there are instances of evil that appear to gratuitous--they do not appear to be consistent with the world being as good as it could possibly be made. An example of a gratuitous evil is a million children dying, when their survival would not bring about something even worse than a million children dying.

Why does the fact God is the Supreme Good, creates no evil, does all he can to maximise the Good in creation mean that God is not Good, and brings about more Good because creation extends his Goodness not show that God is Good?

Because the existence of gratuitous evil is inconsistent with the good being maximized, and some evils appear to be gratuitous.

Why does the fact that God's omnipotence follows from his nature, that he must create because of his Infinity nature, that therefore to expect God not to create would be like expecting him not to be able not to be Infinite, and that creation increases God's Infinity and therefore in fact increases his power show that God is all powerful?

I didn't say God couldn't be all powerful. The evidential problem of evil is that he is unlikely to be all-powerful and all-good because those two things are inconsistent with the existence of gratuitous evil, and some evils appear to be gratuitous.

Why doesn't the evil we see fit perfectly into this framework?

Because some of it appears to be gratuitous.

This is why it would be helpful if you answered yes or no to those questions--I don't even know what your stance is on whether there is gratuitous evil, or whether God is able to prevent it, because you've been exceedingly unclear and unwilling to define your position--perhaps intentionally, I'm beginning to suspect.
Platonic Anon said…
Because there are instances of evil that appear to gratuitous--they do not appear to be consistent with the world being as good as it could possibly be made.

How do you not recognise this is just is question begging?

I shall rephrase what you have written:

Because there are no instances of evil that appear to gratuitous--not instance that do not appear to be consistent with the world being as good as it could possibly be made. million children dying.

You don't seem to realise it is not okay for you to simply rely on some sort of vague intuitions about these issues and present them as both premise and conclusion - without any attempt to support them.

Because the existence of gratuitous evil is inconsistent with the good being maximized, and some evils appear to be gratuitous.

Who says? Back this up with reference to the Platonic perspective or it is just blatant question begging.


I didn't say God couldn't be all powerful. The evidential problem of evil is that he is unlikely to be all-powerful and all-good because those two things are inconsistent with the existence of gratuitous evil, and some evils appear to be gratuitous.

The Platonic perspective allows for a significant amount - at least from the corporeal, human perspective - of privation. You haven't explained why this isn't enough to account for what you refer to as gratuitous. That is the point and is also why the attempt of you and Law to say my argument only accounts for what you call the logical problem of evil is obviously wrong.


This is why it would be helpful if you answered yes or no to those questions--I don't even know what your stance is on whether there is gratuitous evil, or whether God is able to prevent it, because you've been exceedingly unclear and unwilling to define your position--perhaps intentionally, I'm beginning to suspect.

This is utter nonsense. Anyone reading the thread can see that I have defined my position over and over and over again. I know I'm not the best tutor, especially in a combox, but it hard to see how I could explain my perspective any better. Just reread my posts. It is there. I have long thought your claims of not understanding were deliberate, although some of it clearly has to do with a sorry lack of knowledge of pre-modern Western thought and the, shall we say, gratuitous narrowing of your perspective (you immediately tried to fling Platonic metaphysics into the sordid perspective of analytical possible worlds speculations, for example).
Platonic Anon said…
Oh, and as at times you have clearly understood what I was saying in large parts, as indicated by your responses and queries, this makes it seem even more likely this claim of not understanding is just a rouse.
Son of Anonymous said…
I shall rephrase what you have written:

Because there are no instances of evil that appear to gratuitous--not instance that do not appear to be consistent with the world being as good as it could possibly be made. million children dying.


Then you would need to explain why those million children dying is not gratuitously evil, when our everyday notion of good certainly seems to suggest it is. I do not know why you think that is. Your answers to my questions, in particular (5-7), would be helpful here.

Who says? Back this up with reference to the Platonic perspective or it is just blatant question begging.

That's what the word gratuitous means.

The Platonic perspective allows for a significant amount - at least from the corporeal, human perspective - of privation

You haven't shown this in any way.

This is utter nonsense. Anyone reading the thread can see that I have defined my position over and over and over again.

No you haven't. You refuse to take a stand on very basic questions so you can keep vacillating between two contradictory notions in the good. Your protestations that I'm trying to stuff your philosophy into some kind of limited "analytical" bin is really lame, by the way. You're merely being asked to be clear and precise about what you are claiming.
Son of Anonymous said…
I'm reposting my questions. I need to know whether you think at least no's 5-7 are true or false before we continue.

1. All else equal, it is worse for a million children to die than it is for those children not to die.

2. It is worse for a million children to die than it is for a those children not to die, unless their not dying would cause something even worse.

3. A person who could prevent a million children from dying without causing something even worse but did not do so would not be all-good.

4. A God who could prevent a million children from dying without causing something even worse but did not do so would not be all-good.

5. God can prevent a million children from dying.

6. God can prevent a million children from dying, but doesn't because doing so would cause something even worse.

7. God can prevent a million children from dying without causing something even worse, but does not do so.

8. Our world--the physical world that human beings and other conscious beings on Earth inhabit--is the best of all possible such worlds
Platonic Anon said…

Then you would need to explain why those million children dying is not gratuitously evil, when our everyday notion of good certainly seems to suggest it is. I do not know why you think that is. Your answers to my questions, in particular (5-7), would be helpful here.


I have given you a reason for thinking significant privation must exist and yet this can be squared with a Good and All-Powerful God. You haven't responded to this.

I'm also not going to start over again at this point in giving my own top to bottom expositions . I have repeatedly made my position clear. Reread my posts if you wish to double check.

I will answer your two of these questions (question five and seven seem superfluous given the answers I provide for these two questions), but I will only engage with the process if you respond to my points here (ie., I will immediately stop if your next post to me ignores all or most of what else I have written here but the answers to questions) in such a way that you do not veer the discussion away from the important points again.

Also, you must answer my question:

Given the Platonic metaphysics, which shows that the progressive privation, separation, and individuation from the realm of the Spiritual or Ideal to the corporeal, why is this process not consistent with the level of evil we experience within the corporeal realm?

Anyway, to your questions I would say:

(6.) I'm not sure if he can prevent it per se. But the amount of privation that is behind such deaths would remain - so it would seem to follow a similar evil would have to occur.

(8.) Yes. Our realm of being (despite not understanding what I'm saying, apparently, you have managed to realise the distinction I made between worlds and realms of being), making allowances for human freedom, is as Good as it could be.


That's what the word gratuitous means.

The way you have been using the term gratuitous is to mean evil that is hard to reconcile with a Good and All-Powerful God. You have been given a perspective that purports to do just that, therefore it is just blatant question begging to talk about what appears to be gratuitous evil without in any sense responding to the arguments given against you.

No you haven't. You refuse to take a stand on very basic questions so you can keep vacillating between two contradictory notions in the good.

Nonsense. How many times have I explained the Platonic position again and again and again, despite your inability to understand and prediliction to bring up irrelevancies and try and force the Platonic perspective into your own narrow viewpoint.

These posts, in varying degrees, all make clear important or all relevant parts of the Platonic perspective:

December 4, 2013 at 12:01 AM
December 4, 2013 at 12:17 AM
December 4, 2013 at 6:47 AM
December 4, 2013 at 8:47 AM
December 4, 2013 at 9:35 AM
December 5, 2013 at 2:04 AM
December 5, 2013 at 2:11 AM
December 6, 2013 at 5:42 AM
December 7, 2013 at 9:46 AM
December 8, 2013 at 2:53 AM
December 8, 2013 at 4:08 AM
December 8, 2013 at 4:19 AM
December 8, 2013 at 9:07 AM
December 8, 2013 at 9:15 AM
December 8, 2013 at 10:21 PM
December 9, 2013 at 7:05 AM
December 9, 2013 at 10:36 AM
December 9, 2013 at 10:37 AM
Platonic Anon said…
"Epicurean reasoning is based on ambiguities regarding the very notions of “evil”, “willing”, and “power”. First of all: will and power are inherent in the Divine Nature, which is Absoluteness and Infinitude; this means that God can neither go against His nature nor will anything that is contrary to it on pain of contradiction, hence of absurdity. It is impossible, because absurd, that God would have the power to be other than God, to be neither absolute nor infinite, or not to be at all; and He cannot will what lies outside His power in that it is contrary to Being. God is all-powerful in relation to the world, His creation or His manifestation; but Omnipotence can in no way act on the Divine Being Itself, given that this Being is the source of Omnipotence and not conversely.

Now Infinitude, which is an aspect of the Divine Nature, implies unlimited Possibility and consequently Relativity, Manifestation, the world. To speak of the world is to speak of separation from the Principle, and to speak of separation is to speak of the possibility—and necessity—of evil; seen from this angle, what we term evil is thus indirectly a result of Infinitude, hence of the Divine Nature; in this respect, God cannot wish to suppress it; likewise, in this respect—and only in this respect—evil ceases to be evil, being no more than an indirect and distant manifestation of a mysterious aspect of the Divine Nature, precisely that of Infinitude or of All-Possibility.

One could also say that Infinitude engenders Possibility, and Possibility engenders Relativity; now Relativity contains by definition what we could term the principle of contrast. Insofar as a quality is relative—or is reflected in Relativity—it has ontological need of a contrast, not intrinsically or in virtue of its content, but extrinsically and in virtue of its mode, thus because of its contingency. Indeed, it is the relative or contingent character of a quality that requires or brings about the existence of the corresponding privative manifestation, with all its possible gradations and as a result, its defect, vice, evil. Evil is the possibility of the impossible, since relative good is the Possible approaching impossibility; for it is from this paradoxical combination of Possibility with impossibility—impossibility becoming real only in and through Possibility—that Contingency or Relativity originates, if one may be allowed an ellipsis that is complex and daring, but difficult to avoid at this point.

If God cannot eliminate evil as a possibility, it is because in this respect evil is a function of His Nature and, being so, it ceases as a result to be evil; and what God cannot do, on pain of contradiction or absurdity, He could never will. However, the Divine Will opposes evil inasmuch as it is contrary to the Divine Nature, which is Goodness or Perfection; in this relationship of opposition—and in this alone—evil is intrinsically evil. God fights this evil perfectly since, on all planes, it is the good that is finally victorious; evil is never more than a fragment or a transition, whether we are in a position to see this or not.

The foundation of any theodicy should thus essentially be: first, that Divine Omnipotence does not extend to the Divine Nature, which could never be the object of the former; second, that the Divine Will accords with Power and could never, as a result, oppose the Divine Nature, which is the source of its faculties or functions; third, that evil is evil only insofar as it opposes the Divine Nature, but not insofar as it results indirectly from It as an instrument of separativity or diversity, both of which issue from Divine All-Possibility and thus, ultimately, from Infinity itself.
"- Frithjof Schuon
Platonic Anon said…
The above is the Platonic theodicy in brief. As you are having such a hard time following my own explanations, perhaps this will help you. And this quote, again from Schuon, should make more clear the progressively descending nature of creation:

"Possibility [in creation that is] has so to speak two dimensions, one
"horizontal" and one "descending," or one "qualitative" and one "quantitative," analogically or
metaphorically speaking. The first contains the indefinitely diverse qualities and archetypes,
whereas the second projects them in the direction of "nothingness" or impossibility. In drawing
away from its source — namely pure Being — the second dimension on the one hand coagulates
the qualities and archetypes, and on the other manifests their contraries; whence ultimately the
phenomenon of contrastive manifestation, and consequently of evil. Being, which coincides with
the personal God, cannot prevent evil because, as we have said, It cannot abolish, and could not
wish to abolish, the Infinitude of the pure Absolute.
And this resolves the following difficulty: if God is both.
Son of Anonymous said…
I have given you a reason for thinking significant privation must exist and yet this can be squared with a Good and All-Powerful God. You haven't responded to this.

No, you said *some* privation must exist. You haven't said anything that would justify an *arbitrarily large* amount of it. That is the difference between addressing the logical and evidential problems of evil.

Given the Platonic metaphysics, which shows that the progressive privation, separation, and individuation from the realm of the Spiritual or Ideal to the corporeal, why is this process not consistent with the level of evil we experience within the corporeal realm?

Because there are physically possible worlds that appear to be better than this one (I'll give you one--see below).

(6.) I'm not sure if he can prevent it per se. But the amount of privation that is behind such deaths would remain - so it would seem to follow a similar evil would have to occur.

All right, thank you for that. That helps me conceptualize your position. In a sense you're saying that our physical world has some kind of "conservation of evil" law that even God can't violate because it has at least that amount of evil as a matter of metaphysical necessity.

Here's the problem with that: you haven't said anything to suggest that this "minimum level" of evil can take any value you want it to take. All you've argued for is that it should be *some* amount. That's the logical POE, not the evidential POE.

I also think I can show that there are possible worlds with less evil than ours--I'll sketch one below.

(8.) Yes. Our realm of being (despite not understanding what I'm saying, apparently, you have managed to realise the distinction I made between worlds and realms of being), making allowances for human freedom, is as Good as it could be.

I think I can show that this isn't true. Here's a possible world: take our world and choose some conscious creature that is currently suffering--say, a gazelle in Africa being eviscerated and eaten alive by a lion. Now, holding all other physical facts constant, make it so that the c-fibers in the gazelle's brain don't fire while it's being eaten alive, so that it doesn't experience pain. It still gets eaten, and the course of history goes on exactly as it would have had it experienced pain.

This alternative world is physically possible. And I think it is inarguably a better world than our world: it has exactly the same features, except for one less instance of suffering--hence less total evil.

Given that there are physically possible worlds that are unambiguously better than ours, this falsifies the hypothesis that God is all-powerful and all-good.
Platonic Anon said…
No, you said *some* privation must exist. You haven't said anything that would justify an *arbitrarily large* amount of it. That is the difference between addressing the logical and evidential problems of evil. No, actually I argued repeatedly that there is progressive privation - and given the reasons why. Why is the progressive privation, the privation I have talked about in the corporeal world, not consistent with what you are calling arbitrarily large amount of evil? You haven't answered this.

Because there are physically possible worlds that appear to be better than this one (I'll give you one--see below).

But are they possible accorinding to the Platonic perspective or are they thought bubbles?

Here's the problem with that: you haven't said anything to suggest that this "minimum level" of evil can take any value you want it to take. All you've argued for is that it should be *some* amount. That's the logical POE, not the evidential POE.

This is just plain wrong. We spent ages and ages discussing progressive privation. Do I need to quote the times of my posts in which we discussed this?



I think I can show that this isn't true. Here's a possible world: take our world and choose some conscious creature that is currently suffering--say, a gazelle in Africa being eviscerated and eaten alive by a lion. Now, holding all other physical facts constant, make it so that the c-fibers in the gazelle's brain don't fire while it's being eaten alive, so that it doesn't experience pain. It still gets eaten, and the course of history goes on exactly as it would have had it experienced pain.

This alternative world is physically possible. And I think it is inarguably a better world than our world: it has exactly the same features, except for one less instance of suffering--hence less total evil.

Given that there are physically possible worlds that are unambiguously better than ours, this falsifies the hypothesis that God is all-powerful and all-good.
This bears no resemblence to Platonic metaphysics, as I have explained it. It is just a thought bubble.

I think it would be better to say that the corporeal realm, for the Platonist, is the world of individuation and change. It is the realm where individuals are manifested from the lesser, specific Forms and given determined bodies limited (in our world) by the conditions of the spatio-temporal world. So rather than the timeless and unchanging Form of a dog, individual dogs exist with their individual properties and accidents, imperfectly In this world there is change: growth and decay insubstantiating the Form in particular way and in a world of flux. This is the world of change and becoming; waxing and waning, excess and defect. Now God can eliminate individual examples of privation at times, but he cannot change the fundamental conditions of the corporeal world, which includes its capacity for privation. So, there is a sense in which this must stay equal.
Platonic Anon said…
Damn it, I never proof read. My last paragraph should read:


I think it would be better to say that the corporeal realm, for the Platonist, is the world of individuation and change. It is the realm where individuals are manifested from the lesser, specific Forms and given determined bodies limited (in our world) by the conditions of the spatio-temporal world. So rather than the timeless and unchanging Form of a dog, individual dogs exist with their individual properties and accidents, imperfectly insubstantiating the Form in particular way and in a world of flux. This is the world of change and becoming; waxing and waning, growth and decay, excess and defect. Now God can eliminate individual examples of privation at times, but he cannot change the fundamental conditions of the corporeal world, which includes its capacity for privation. So, there is a sense in which this must stay equal.
Philip Rand said…
Platonic Anon

Couldn't the Neo-Platonic perspective on God and creation simply be an example of a Platonic Noble Lie, i.e. read your "Republic".
Son of Anonymous said…
This is just plain wrong. We spent ages and ages discussing progressive privation. Do I need to quote the times of my posts in which we discussed this?

I know, you think there are other "realms" above ours that have a lower minimum level of evil. That doesn't show that you can set the minimum level of evil in our world at just any value, though. What's the argument that it's specifically high enough to account for things like a million children dying?

This bears no resemblence to Platonic metaphysics, as I have explained it. It is just a thought bubble.

Okay--why isn't that world I sketched possible?

I think it would be better to say that the corporeal realm, for the Platonist, is the world of individuation and change. It is the realm where individuals are manifested from the lesser, specific Forms and given determined bodies limited (in our world) by the conditions of the spatio-temporal world. So rather than the timeless and unchanging Form of a dog, individual dogs exist with their individual properties and accidents, imperfectly In this world there is change: growth and decay insubstantiating the Form in particular way and in a world of flux. This is the world of change and becoming; waxing and waning, excess and defect. Now God can eliminate individual examples of privation at times, but he cannot change the fundamental conditions of the corporeal world, which includes its capacity for privation. So, there is a sense in which this must stay equal.

The problem is, the actual physical world seems manifestly not to be best possible such world that meets those conditions. Why can't God change whether the c-fibers in the gazelle's brain fire while holding the other physical facts constant (i.e. without otherwise changing the natural history of the world)?
Platonic Anon said…
What's the argument that it's specifically high enough to account for things like a million children dying?

The argument is that the nature of corporeal privation, as demanded by the Platonic perspective, is consistent with the privation we experience in the world (and this perspective, as we have seen, is in turn consistent with a Good and All-Powerful Good).

The problem is, the actual physical world seems manifestly not to be best possible such world that meets those conditions. Why can't God change whether the c-fibers in the gazelle's brain fire while holding the other physical facts constant (i.e. without otherwise changing the natural history of the world)?

Why, according to the Platonic position, is the actual corporeal realm (the physical realm refers to something different: a mathematical abstraction from the corporeal) not the best it can be?

The point about the gazelle is God could make the change you take of in a particular case. He cannot, though, do this for all gazelles because, presumably, because part of their manifesting as individual, separate, determined gazelles in the realm of time and space- change and becoming, excess and defect, that is the corporeal realm - means they have nervous systems and can feel pain when attacked. To take away this completely would be to deny what follows from the conditions of the corporeal world and prevent its proper manifestation.
Son of Anonymous said…
The argument is that the nature of corporeal privation, as demanded by the Platonic perspective, is consistent with the privation we experience in the world (and this perspective, as we have seen, is in turn consistent with a Good and All-Powerful Good).

That's not an argument, it's a statement. You've given no argument that privation explains any given amount of evil we might observe. And in any case it's not enough to say your notion of evil is consistent with the evil we observe--that's the logical POE. The evidential POE is that the amount of evil we observe is unlikely given an all-powerful, all-good God.

Why, according to the Platonic position, is the actual corporeal realm (the physical realm refers to something different: a mathematical abstraction from the corporeal) not the best it can be?

Because it's elementary to imagine fully consistent states of affairs that would be clearly better.

The point about the gazelle is God could make the change you take of in a particular case. He cannot, though, do this for all gazelles because, presumably, because part of their manifesting as individual, separate, determined gazelles in the realm of time and space- change and becoming, excess and defect, that is the corporeal realm - means they have nervous systems and can feel pain when attacked. To take away this completely would be to deny what follows from the conditions of the corporeal world and prevent its proper manifestation.

I'm not saying take it away completely from all gazelles, just one gazelle in that that one circumstance will do for my purposes. (Obviously the possible world I'm putting forward isn't intended as a candidate for the best possible world, just an example of one that's in any case better than the actual one.) At the moment when the gazelle is caught by the lion and can no longer engage in a meaningful struggle, God makes it so the gazelle's c-fibers don't fire and it doesn't experience pain as it's being eviscerated. Then the world goes on just as before, no compensating evil appearing anywhere else because no other physical facts were changed. Why can't God do that?
Philip Rand said…
Son of Anonymous AND Platonic Anonymous...

You chap's are so lost in the woods...

The basic reason the things you wish to change concerning the gazelle is because the world works through INVARIANCE!

For example...you see a mug on the table with a certain geometry...you pick up the mug and rotate it and then place it back on the table...

THE MUG STILL HAS THE SAME PHYSICAL GEOMETRY AFTER YOU HAVE ROTATED IT, i.e. the shape is invariant!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Philip Rand said…
For example Son of Anonymous

I really don't think you have a clue concerning the all possible world's model...

Let's take my rotating a mug on a table example...

What the Many-Worlds model states is this:

Say, I leave everything in the world unchanged...except for you observing the mug and rotating it and then placing it on the table again...

Everything else remaining the same in the world...when you first look at the mug...BANG...you have created a NEW UNIVERSE...you pick up the mug..BANG ANOTHER NEW UNIVERSE...you rotate the mug...MORE NEW UNIVERSES CREATED...as you rotate it within our space...which for arguments sake is a continuum....

Do you understand how many new universes you have created by simply rotating a mug on a table?
Platonic Anon said…
That's not an argument, it's a statement. You've given no argument that privation explains any given amount of evil we might observe. And in any case it's not enough to say your notion of evil is consistent with the evil we observe--that's the logical POE. The evidential POE is that the amount of evil we observe is unlikely given an all-powerful, all-good God.

No. I have argued again and again that the privation of the corporeal realm can be sigificant from the ordinary human perspective. I can quote the post times again, if you wish.

Why is the privation of the corporeal realm that I have disccused again and again not consistent with what you think is gratuitous suffering? You haven't begun to answer this.


Because it's elementary to imagine fully consistent states of affairs that would be clearly better. No it isn't. It is elementary that one can name particular evils of the corporeal. You haven't shown what this means though. You haven't shown that, from the Platonic perspective, God should be able to eliminate all such evils or all those which fall under this exceedingly vague designation of gratuitous that you and Law are fond of.


I'm not saying take it away completely from all gazelles, just one gazelle in that that one circumstance will do for my purposes. (Obviously the possible world I'm putting forward isn't intended as a candidate for the best possible world, just an example of one that's in any case better than the actual one.) At the moment when the gazelle is caught by the lion and can no longer engage in a meaningful struggle, God makes it so the gazelle's c-fibers don't fire and it doesn't experience pain as it's being eviscerated. Then the world goes on just as before, no compensating evil appearing anywhere else because no other physical facts were changed. Why can't God do that?

God can act miraculously and avert some particular evils. He cannot, however, as explained, remove the general privation inherent in corporeality. He can't, therefore, remove all the pain from gazelles if attacked - and really the implication is there is only a limited amount God can intervene to miraculously avert an evil inherent in corporeality itself. I think it would be wrong to make the process sound too much like cosmis accounting, but in a crude sense if God intervenes in this instance he can't in another. This is why it is very hard to see what is your ultimate point with your example.
Philip Rand said…
Well Platonic Anon

If Christ rose from the dead, not sure about you...but I would have thought that this is a pretty BIG intervention within corporeality...don't you?

Which suggests can God avert this disaster?

"Can the Higgs Boson Save Us From the Menace of the Boltzmann Brains?"

by Kimberly K. Boddy and Sean M. Carroll

You can get it on-line.
Philip Rand said…
Now, if you say...Christ's resurrection is a particular case of a God miricle where he could intervene...

Then you have to ask yourself the question why doesn't he then want to intervene in the pain of the Gazelle?

Surely, it is within his remit?

Answer the question why doesn't he intervene?

Obviously, it's not because he can't because he has demonstrated that he can with Christ...

Which means, that your corporeality solution really doesn't answer anything now does it?
Philip Rand said…
By the way...if you do answer, please keep it short...

The answer is really quite simple...that is if you do understand the work of Plato.

It can be done in a single sentence.
Philip Rand said…
Actually...

It can be done with a single word...

Man after all was created in God's image (BIG HINT)
Stephen Law said…
Platonic anon

Two things:

FIRST.

Son of Anon said: “Here's the problem with that: you haven't said anything to suggest that this "minimum level" of evil can take any value you want it to take. All you've argued for is that it should be *some* amount. That's the logical POE, not the evidential POE.”

You replied: “This is just plain wrong. We spent ages and ages discussing progressive privation. Do I need to quote the times of my posts in which we discussed this?”

You never accounted for the depth of suffering etc. Yes, you offered a torch/shadow analogy. By making light, God allows shadows, and those shadows deepen as one gets progressively further away from the torch. But why is it necessary for God to allow the enormously large and deep shadows he does? Why, if God is “loving” and “caring”, would he create in such a way as to allow such shadows as millions of babies slaughtered horribly for no benevolent reason? Your analogy does not explain this. You have not explained it.

You have become so enamored of your torch/shadow analogy that you think it explains and supports what you claim (explains horrific suffering on a vast scale), when all it does is illustrate what you claim.

SECOND:

You say: “Now God can eliminate individual examples of privation at times, but he cannot change the fundamental conditions of the corporeal world, which includes its capacity for privation. So, there is a sense in which this must stay equal.”

How then does God “triumph” over evil/privation, as you put it? Given he can’t get rid of it (other than by destroying his creation)?
Son of Anonymous said…
No. I have argued again and again that the privation of the corporeal realm can be sigificant from the ordinary human perspective. I can quote the post times again, if you wish.

The only argument I've seen you make is that there has to be some amount of privation. I don't believe you've justified anywhere that the amount of privation has to be greater than any particular amount--if you have, go ahead and show me.

Why is the privation of the corporeal realm that I have disccused again and again not consistent with what you think is gratuitous suffering? You haven't begun to answer this.

Because there's nothing about the privation theodicy that allows you to justify arbitrarily large amounts of evil.

Is there any amount of observed evil that you would find to be unexplainable by the privation theodicy? For example, if everything we observed consisted of everyone in the world being constantly tortured for all eternity, would that make you go "hmm, I guess I was wrong about this being the best of all possible worlds," or would the privation theodicy cash out just as well?

God can act miraculously and avert some particular evils. He cannot, however, as explained, remove the general privation inherent in corporeality. He can't, therefore, remove all the pain from gazelles if attacked - and really the implication is there is only a limited amount God can intervene to miraculously avert an evil inherent in corporeality itself. I think it would be wrong to make the process sound too much like cosmis accounting, but in a crude sense if God intervenes in this instance he can't in another. This is why it is very hard to see what is your ultimate point with your example.

So in this example, God's action consists of miraculously changing the world to remove one instance of suffering without changing any other physical facts. What is it about having removed that instance of suffering that limits his ability to intervene further?

Put another way, call our world W and call the world where God prevents the gazelle's suffering W*. After the gazelle's death, W and W* share all the same physical facts, yet you claim that somehow W* has to manifest some compensatory evil as a result of having one fewer instance of suffering in its past. How can that be if W and W* are identical at this point?
Platonic Anon said…
Philip Rand,

These are complicating factors that are best left out of the discussion. Indeed, the topic of miraculous intervention is probably best left aside and we should stick to the fact that God cannot intervene to remove the privations inherent in the corporeal realm itself. This would seem to serve us fine for the current purposes and prevent us going off on any more irrelevant tangents.

It is true I am a Platonic Christian, but I'm offering here the strict Platonic perspective and to a lesser degree Theism. The specifically Christian is not relevant to most of my comments. I would only bring up Christianity to fend off any claims that the Platonic perspective is very far away, despite small but impotant differences, from the traditional Christianity.
Philip Rand said…
Here is another hint for you Platonic Anon...the solution of which gives you something that is Platonically related to the answer I am seeking from you.

I'll put it in a riddle (you being a Platonist should realise the answer quickly)...

Riddle:

You see a bee flying around in front of you...you grab the bee, and hold it in your hand.

The question is this:

What do you see?
Son of Anonymous said…
These are complicating factors that are best left out of the discussion. Indeed, the topic of miraculous intervention is probably best left aside and we should stick to the fact that God cannot intervene to remove the privations inherent in the corporeal realm itself. This would seem to serve us fine for the current purposes and prevent us going off on any more irrelevant tangents.

I disagree. If your claim is that this is the best possible world, then you need to know why the alternative world I sketched (which is clearly better) isn't possible.
Son of Anonymous said…
Sorry, "need to know" should be "need to explain." (I guess I don't proofread either haha)
Philip Rand said…
My view is that within the Christian model it is not an irrelevant tangent...the Christian model works perfectly fine with the answer...in fact it makes it more reasonable to believe in it...that is, if you want to believe in the Christian model.
Son of Anonymous said…
...And apparently I don't read either. I didn't realize you were addressing Philip Rand, my bad.
Platonic Anon said…

The only argument I've seen you make is that there has to be some amount of privation. I don't believe you've justified anywhere that the amount of privation has to be greater than any particular amount--if you have, go ahead and show me.


Nonsense. I have shown that the corporeal realm must be as it is and why this is inline with the privation we see. I have shown that this privation is perfectly consistent with the evil in the corporeal world.

For what feels like the hundredth time, please explain why the corporeal realm, according to the Platonic perspective, cannot include the evil we experience in it?


Because there's nothing about the privation theodicy that allows you to justify arbitrarily large amounts of evil.


Well, firstly, there is nothing in what you have said to show there is arbitrary amounts of evil in the world. The term arbitrary is just a question begging use of an adjective. Secondly, what I said just above seems to deal with what you say here.

Is there any amount of observed evil that you would find to be unexplainable by the privation theodicy? For example, if everything we observed consisted of everyone in the world being constantly tortured for all eternity, would that make you go "hmm, I guess I was wrong about this being the best of all possible worlds," or would the privation theodicy cash out just as well? The world doesn't consist of this. Anyway, here you are trying to foist your argumentative responsibilities on to me. It is up to you to give some sort of meaning and clarity to your talk of gratuitous and arbitrary evil. It is up to you to show that the Platonic perspective, which certainly does not say there can be the hellish world you describe, contains gratuitous or arbitrary evil, such that it must undermine either God's Goodness or his omnipotence.

So in this example, God's action consists of miraculously changing the world to remove one instance of suffering without changing any other physical facts. What is it about having removed that instance of suffering that limits his ability to intervene further?

Well, it is important to remember we are talking very crudely here, things are not quite so reducible to the sort of cosmic accounting we are setting forth. But, anyway, the point is simply that the corporeal realm is subject to the conditions, and privation, I described above. God cannot intervene to over turn these basic conditions. He has the ability to make good some particular evils, but not to not manifest the possibilities of corporeality itself. I think it is probably best, as I said to Philip Rand, to ignore the question of miracles anyway, as it adds superfluous and perhaps diverting materials to the discussion.
Philip Rand said…
Son of Anonymous

"After the gazelle's death, W and W* share all the same physical facts"

This is not true...Unitarity (here I am assuming it is valid in the W universe and the W* universe) means that at the time of the Gazelles death.

In the W universe: with pain
In the W* universe: with no pain

This different information is still contained within each respective universe but is now simply inaccesible.

Which means...both universes are still distinct universes and ARE NOT THE SAME.


Platonic Anon said…

I disagree. If your claim is that this is the best possible world, then you need to know why the alternative world I sketched (which is clearly better) isn't possible.

My point is that it is whether the evils of corporeality are consistent with a God both Good and omnipotent which is at the heart of our discussion. The subject of miracles and divine intervention seems to introduce unnecessary complications.

THere are all sorts of complicating factors at work, but suffice it to say the Platonic perspective still says that progressively descending privation must exist, whatever else might be said of creation.

Stephen Law said…
Platonic anon

You said "For what feels like the hundredth time, please explain why the corporeal realm, according to the Platonic perspective, cannot include the evil we experience in it?"

What does "cannot" mean here? Are you are asking us to explain why the existence of evil is logically incompatible with the existence of God?

For the hundred and oneth time: Irrelevant. That's the logical problem of evil.

Or are you asking: why suppose that the amount of evil we see is evidence against the existence of a caring and loving omnipotent deity? That was done yonks ago. If you really don't understand then I suggest you read a good online resource:

http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CC8QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.iep.utm.edu%2Fevil-evi%2F&ei=6ummUsLdA4irhQffroHQBg&usg=AFQjCNHUaIvc_gehEuQrnxG1ovO__P02Tg&sig2=6WhEkUUmx5ec5hJiZH_8vw
Platonic Anon said…
Law,

The amazing thing is that a random poster, who I believe mentioned he was not a professional philosopher, is a far more sensible contributor to this discussion than you are.

And yes, I was asking just what I asked, including the adjectival dependent clause "we experience in it".

By the way, I stumbled upon this article which I feel underscores the sheer question begging nonsense which is the evidential problem of evil. If you cannot respond to my previous comments on your question begging, maybe you should check this out:

http://theosophical.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/tied-at-the-hip-the-logical-and-evidential-versions-of-the-problem-of-evil/

The author covers all that has struck me: the emotive circularity inherent in it and the fact it is essentially based on the fact those advancing it have decided from the beginning that the evil in the world cannot be squared with a Good, All-Powerful God. Indeed, as the author shows, those using this argument basically are implying that a Good and All-Powerful Good is in tension with evil full stop.
Platonic Anon said…
By the way, the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy shows the closed intellectual world of contemporary analytical philosophy. Though the so called problem raised is spacious, it does touch on questions that have preoccupied the best minds of Western - indeed, all - civilisation for millenia; yet those featuring prominently largely voices of contemporary analytical philosophy - Rowe, Alston, Mackie, Hicks - obsure now and soon to be entirely and rightly forgotten.
Platonic Anon said…
Indeed, at a closer look at that article one may exclaim what kind of theism is being talked of? Where are the Fathers and their views of God? Where is Plato and his view of God? Where Aristotle and his view of God? Where are the Schoolmen and the Protestant divines are their view of God? That it actually refers to its truncated and modern theism as orthodox theism is surely a joke?
Stephen Law said…
Platonic anon said: "By the way, I stumbled upon this article which I feel underscores the sheer question begging nonsense which is the evidential problem of evil. If you cannot respond to my previous comments on your question begging, maybe you should check this out:

http://theosophical.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/tied-at-the-hip-the-logical-and-evidential-versions-of-the-problem-of-evil/

The author covers all that has struck me: the emotive circularity inherent in it and the fact it is essentially based on the fact those advancing it have decided from the beginning that the evil in the world cannot be squared with a Good, All-Powerful God."

Oh dear. The linked article presents sceptical theism as a response to the evidential problem. We said ages ago that of course there such bog-standard responses to the EPE. They have nothing to do with "classical" theism, per se. The leading expononets are not "classical" theists. So, by employing sceptical theism, you are not showing that "classical" theism has some special immunity to the evidential problem of evil. Indeed, the "classicalness" is no advantage at all.

I also note, btw, that the article is obviously written by an amateur, and contains various muddles.

You don't like the proper, reputable professional-philosopher produced entry on the EPE to which I linked - apparently because it doesn't cite enough "classical" theists. Yet it gives a nice clear presentation of sceptical theism - the very strategy you yourself are employing!

The reason it doesn't cite "classical" theists, perhaps, is that the vast majority of philosophers realized a long time ago that they don't have much to offer on this problem. Which you inadvertently confirm by switching to sceptical theism!
Philip Rand said…
Dr Law

That sight was very interesting...I don't entirely agree with the approach of evil they take...for me it is much too myopic.

Take for instance Rowe's

E1: the case of Bambi
“In some distant forest lightning strikes a dead tree, resulting in a forest fire. In the fire a fawn is trapped, horribly burned, and lies in terrible agony for several days before death relieves its suffering” (Rowe 1979: 337).

The problem with this is that some species of trees require a forest fire to take place to reproduce, i.e. they use the evil to create, I mean, bad for the poor fawn...but good for the forest.

I really can't help but feel that there is a lot of philosophical cherry picking and confusion with this Evil/Good problem.
Philip Rand said…
I mean, is a super-nova an evil thing?

May wipe out a few solar systems...but without them you and I wouldn't exist.
Platonic Anon said…
No, the author notes that the evidential problem is question begging, vague, and really relies on the presupposition that a Good and All-Powerful God just can't be squared with the evil we experience.

You have, incidentally, done nothing to show how this is not a correct summing up of this so called problem. You have, though, despite your dismissive talk of amateurs, shown you are not willing to properly debate such topics but will resort to rank sophistry such as question begging, evasion, and just plain disingenuous tactics (like quoting me deliberately out of context). Son of Anonymous, for all his flaws, has been a far better contributor than you. This is why I realise that Feser will eat you alive if he deigns to reply to you. I'm a Platonist and not an Aristotelian, and I think Feser himself worries far too much about ephemeral debates within contemporary analytical philosophy, but he is a true philosopher, wise and astute.

the vast majority of philosophers realized a long time ago that they don't have much to offer on this problem.

Which philosophers? Most today have little knowledge of questions of religion at all. Besides, I simply deny that analytical philosophers (is philosophers the best term) have much to contribute on this or any other issue: obsure now and soon to be entirely forgotten.

A wise man once noted that all down the ages to philosophise was to think, but it was left to the twentieth century not to think and to call it philosophy. Your comments and that article seem to show this applies as much to this century as the last.

I'm not a professional philosopher like you Stephen, but I do have a reasonablde grasp of the Western theistic tradition, especially that of the Platonists, Aristotelians, and Christians. It is patently obvious the author of that article has done little to deal this tradition. He mentions these perspectives hardly at all - the privation of the Good, the centre of all traditional Western theodicy gets only the briefest of mentions. What the author of hopes to prove against theism as believed in by traditional Christianity, or Platonism, or Aristotelianism is hard to imagine.
Platonic Anon said…
Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Origen, Boethius, Aquinas, Hooker, Butler on the one hand, Rowe, Plantinga, Alston, Mackie, Hicks, Trakkis, and Law on the other hand: yes, I can see which group to take seriously and treat with authority, which will pass the test of time.
Philip Rand said…
And what about the fawns that do get away from the fire?

Could be they are stronger, faster, etc. than the one that burnt to death...so, the fitness of the deer group will most probably increase...

So, for both the forest and the species of deer...the forest fire in the end was probably a good thing!
Son of Anonymous said…
Nonsense. I have shown that the corporeal realm must be as it is and why this is inline with the privation we see. I have shown that this privation is perfectly consistent with the evil in the corporeal world.

No, you absolutely have not. You've said (not that you've even shown this, I've just been granting it for the sake of argument this whole time) that the privated nature of the world necessitates *some* amount of evil. You've said that there's a hierarchy of realms/chain of being/whatever that gets successively more privated and which we happen to be near the bottom of. What you haven't shown is that this explanation is evil to accommodate whatever quantity of evil you please. You need an argument to establish that the "minimum metaphysically possible level" of evil in our "realm" is specifically greater than or equal to what we observe. You cannot just assert that it is.

For what feels like the hundredth time, please explain why the corporeal realm, according to the Platonic perspective, cannot include the evil we experience in it?

Once again: because it's trivial to show that there are possible "corporeal realms" that are better than the actual one. This isn't the best of possible worlds where all is for the best, not by a long shot.

Well, firstly, there is nothing in what you have said to show there is arbitrary amounts of evil in the world. The term arbitrary is just a question begging use of an adjective. Secondly, what I said just above seems to deal with what you say here.

You're missing the point. You haven't said anything whatsoever to quantify the amount of evil the privation theodicy is able to deal with. You just seem to assume that it will allow you to explain away any amount of evil you're confronted with, no matter how large and how seemingly senseless. You cannot assume that.

The world doesn't consist of this. Anyway, here you are trying to foist your argumentative responsibilities on to me. It is up to you to give some sort of meaning and clarity to your talk of gratuitous and arbitrary evil. It is up to you to show that the Platonic perspective, which certainly does not say there can be the hellish world you describe, contains gratuitous or arbitrary evil, such that it must undermine either God's Goodness or his omnipotence.

Okay, you say the world where we see everyone being constantly tortured would be too much evidence for the privation theodicy to explain away. Why is it that this is more evil than it account for but the amount of evil in the actual world isn't?

Well, it is important to remember we are talking very crudely here, things are not quite so reducible to the sort of cosmic accounting we are setting forth. But, anyway, the point is simply that the corporeal realm is subject to the conditions, and privation, I described above. God cannot intervene to over turn these basic conditions. He has the ability to make good some particular evils, but not to not manifest the possibilities of corporeality itself. I think it is probably best, as I said to Philip Rand, to ignore the question of miracles anyway, as it adds superfluous and perhaps diverting materials to the discussion.

No, I think it's extremely relevant to the discussion. You say God can intervene to overturn particular evils. So in the example I laid out, he can turn off the gazelle's c-fibers as it's being eaten alive, then set the physical facts afterward to be identical to if he hadn't intervened. This is a better world than the actual world because it contains one fewer instance of suffering and is otherwise identical. By your own admission it is a possible world. Therefore our world is not the best possible world, so Good cannot be all-powerful and maximizing the good as you claim.
Son of Anonymous said…
(The exact details of that example aren't very important BTW. It's only intended to show unambiguously that creating a better world than this one would be no trouble for an omnipotent being, privation-theoretic constraints or no. If I were to give suggestions on how to create something that might actually be a candidate for the best possible world, I would start with much bigger things, like doing something about the fact that 50% of all humans born over a 100,000 year period died in childhood.)
Son of Anonymous said…
Philip Rand: the thing about unitarity might be true if we were saying only naturalistic physical processes are involved, but I was pretty clear that God intervenes miraculously to achieve that outcome.
Platonic Anon said…
Law,

Let us repeat important criticisms of the so called evidential problem of evil in a different way.

What the author of the article I quoted and myself are asking is why the evil that exists is gratuitous. Neither that article nor you have properly answered this question. Now you might not think any particular theodicy can properly explain the evil in the world, but there is very little proof going on. At all times there is a very heavy leaning on the intuition that God, after all, cannot be Good, All-Powerful and allow the evil experience. In many ways there is a basic tension set up that presumses some unargued for - indeed, abandoned - between God's Goodness and omnipotence and evil.

Similarly, you seem to mistake skeptical theism, in the sense that acknowledges the advocate of the so called evidential problem of evil might have a point about whether there is gratuitous evil, with one who asks for basic clarification and support for the terms you use, such as gratuitous. This is just basic sophism and ambiquity here, which conflates quite different queries of your assertions.
Philip Rand said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Philip Rand said…
Actually...that John Hick chappy has one particularly interesting concept...not sure what you make of him...

But his idea of:

“epistemic distance” could have a scientific equivalent which would be the Uncertainty Principle (which in reality is not an Uncertainty...but rather a tolerance, i.e. similar to epistemic distance

It is interesting as I read that site...that the one thing that really differeniates the atheist philosophers from the religious philosophers...is that the atheist approach is in particulars while the theistic philosophers approach the problem holistically.
Philip Rand said…
Son of Anonymous

You did write physical facts in your W and W* model.

Whether God interact miraculously in one world and not the other doesn't change the one most important thing.

At that is the W universe and the W* universe have different histories...therefore they can never be equivalent.
Philip Rand said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Platonic Anon said…

No, you absolutely have not. You've said (not that you've even shown this, I've just been granting it for the sake of argument this whole time) that the privated nature of the world necessitates *some* amount of evil. You've said that there's a hierarchy of realms/chain of being/whatever that gets successively more privated and which we happen to be near the bottom of. What you haven't shown is that this explanation is evil to accommodate whatever quantity of evil you please. You need an argument to establish that the "minimum metaphysically possible level" of evil in our "realm" is specifically greater than or equal to what we observe. You cannot just assert that it is.


This is nonsense. Yes, of course, I haven't been arguing for the truth of Platonism. It is no point against me to suggest that. That would be quite a different argument. But I have shown that Platonism can account for significant privation, again and again and again.

What is your argument that Platonism cannot account for the privation we experience?


Once again: because it's trivial to show that there are possible "corporeal realms" that are better than the actual one. This isn't the best of possible worlds where all is for the best, not by a long shot. It is quite clear that you have reached this by advancing a perspective quite contrary to the Platonic perpsecitve I have been advancing. How your claim here has meaning in the context of the Platonic perspective of successive privation and the conditions of the corporeal world is hard to see.

You haven't said anything whatsoever to quantify the amount of evil the privation theodicy is able to deal with. You just seem to assume that it will allow you to explain away any amount of evil you're confronted with, no matter how large and how seemingly senseless. You cannot assume that.


No, I don't do this at all. I simply do not wish to enter into such discussions because they are likely to sidetrack us - and we have the record of our discussion to show how easy such a path of distraction is. All that seems important is that the evil we experience can be explained by the Platonic perspective. You assume that this evil cannot be so explained, but you give no real reason why.

No, I think it's extremely relevant to the discussion. You say God can intervene to overturn particular evils. So in the example I laid out, he can turn off the gazelle's c-fibers as it's being eaten alive, then set the physical facts afterward to be identical to if he hadn't intervened. This is a better world than the actual world because it contains one fewer instance of suffering and is otherwise identical. By your own admission it is a possible world. Therefore our world is not the best possible world, so Good cannot be all-powerful and maximizing the good as you claim.

I said God can intervene to do the equivalent of sparing this gazelle pain, let us say for a simple example. The Platonic perspective assumes God does always intervene to his utmost, although it affirms the necessity of the basic conditions, and privation, of corporeality. Therefore, this is still the best possible way the corporeal world can be. Your conclusion doesn't follow from your premises; that God doesn't intervene to spare this gazelle pain is not proof he has not intervened all he can.
Platonic Anon said…
Let me put it this way. Why can't the successive privation of the Platonic perspective and what it believes is the necessary privation of the corporeal account for the evil we experience? You haven't answered this at all, though I have explicitly asked you repeatedly and it has been implicitly at the centre of our discussion sinc early on.
Son of Anonymous said…
But I have shown that Platonism can account for significant privation, again and again and again.

That just isn't true. You have never given an argument to quantify the amount of evil your theodicy is able to account for.

What is your argument that Platonism cannot account for the privation we experience?

Not that I have to--it's your theodicy and your responsibility to show that it can--but the world could trivially be better (in fact it could be a whole lot better) than we observe it to be without violating any of the "Platonist" constraints you've mentioned, therefore God can't be maximizing the good and those constraints won't save him.

By the way, how about answering this part that you skipped over? It seems to be a real inconsistency in what you're saying about what your privation theodicy is and isn't capable of accounting for:
"Okay, you say the world where we see everyone being constantly tortured would be too much evidence for the privation theodicy to explain away. Why is it that this is more evil than it account for but the amount of evil in the actual world isn't?"

No, I don't do this at all. I simply do not wish to enter into such discussions because they are likely to sidetrack us - and we have the record of our discussion to show how easy such a path of distraction is. All that seems important is that the evil we experience can be explained by the Platonic perspective. You assume that this evil cannot be so explained, but you give no real reason why.

The problem is, it's central to your claim. You can't use the privation theodicy to explain away all the evil in the world unless you specifically justify that it's able to handle that particular amount of seemingly inexplicable evil (and actually you further need to justify that it's likely to be the real explanation for it, as it's a theodicy and not a defense, but one step at a time I suppose).

I said God can intervene to do the equivalent of sparing this gazelle pain, let us say for a simple example. The Platonic perspective assumes God does always intervene to his utmost, although it affirms the necessity of the basic conditions, and privation, of corporeality. Therefore, this is still the best possible way the corporeal world can be. Your conclusion doesn't follow from your premises; that God doesn't intervene to spare this gazelle pain is not proof he has not intervened all he can.

Okay, hold all of God's other interventions constant. Keep the world exactly the same as it would otherwise be except for this gazelle's pain. Why can't God remove the pain and keep everything else unchanged?
Mark Jones said…
This is like reading Candide; Dr Pangloss lives.
Son of Anonymous said…
Philip Rand: the point is that they're identical from the time of the gazelle's death going forward, so it can't be claimed that eliminating the gazelle's pain necessitated some equal or greater compensatory evil later on.
Son of Anonymous said…
Mark: Ha yeah, very much so. I was actually thinking that before, note the earlier reference. :P
Philip Rand said…
Son Anonymous

The Platonic explanation for:

"Why can't God remove the pain and keep everything else unchanged?"

Because this would be "unjust".

A bit like Kant would say about a criminal...the criminal has a just right to be punished.
Son of Anonymous said…
Philip Rand: I don't think it's very plausible to suggest that an innocent gazelle is somehow deserving of being eaten alive... (in any case it certainly contradicts everyday notions of the good that Platonic Anon says his view is consistent with)
Philip Rand said…
Son of Anonymous

But they are not identical from the time of the gazelle's death going forward because they have different histories.

The past information is not lost in either universe...it still exists...and the past information is different.

They may superficially look the same in the way you couch your model...but believe me they are not the same.

Philip Rand said…
Son of Anonymous

"I don't think it's very plausible to suggest that an innocent gazelle is somehow deserving of being eaten alive..."

Doesn't a lion deserve a meal?
Son of Anonymous said…
The past information is not lost in either universe...it still exists...and the past information is different.

Again missing the point. The reason I arranged it so God puts the two worlds in the same physical state after the gazelle's death is to avoid an objection along the lines of "preventing the gazelle's pain would bring about a greater evil later on." If the universe is humming along in the same physical state afterwards in both worlds, that can't happen.

Doesn't a lion deserve a meal?

The point is that it's a bad thing, ceteris paribus, that the gazelle suffers.
Philip Rand said…
Son of Anonymous

The only way you could make the two universe equivalent after the gazelles death would be to paradoxically have God erase from both universes his memory of the death of the gazelle...

Which would effectively mean, that for the new universe the death of the gazelle never existed!!!!
Son of Anonymous said…
The only way you could make the two universe equivalent after the gazelles death would be to paradoxically have God erase from both universes his memory of the death of the gazelle...

Again that's not the point. The point is the two universes are physically identical going forward. The sole purpose of that stipulation is to avoid the objection that the gazelle's not feeling pain would leave physical traces that might evolve in a Butterly Effect-esque fashion, eventually causing some greater evil.
Stephen Law said…
Why is it, incidentally, that the internet's self-styled "classical" theists are such a bunch of arrogant arseholes? People who, when cornered, resort to ad hominems, insults, constantly going on about having "bested" others, how so-and-so will "make mincemeat" of critics, etc.? I am thinking of Ben Yacob, whom I kicked off this blog being such an prat, but it seems to be a part of their general culture.
Philip Rand said…
Son of Anonymous...

I think the Butter-fly effect is the least of your worries...

Most probably your manipulation of the two universes has most probably destroyed the universe that was to go forward in any case...
Philip Rand said…
Dr Law

My view is that they are not arrogant arseholes because they are classical theists.

I would say they are arseholes because they most probably drive an Audi...I once was an Audi driver and I am an arsehole...

Still, it's better than being a BMW driver...on account BMW driver's are short!

p.s. I would say that this John Hick model is the model you should attack...it appears on quick inspection cohesive.
Platonic Anon said…

That just isn't true. You have never given an argument to quantify the amount of evil your theodicy is able to account for.
What do you mean quantify? Of course I haven't given an exact scale, but what I have done is show there must be significant privation at the corporeal level. You have made no proper reply to this.

Not that I have to--it's your theodicy and your responsibility to show that it can--but the world could trivially be better (in fact it could be a whole lot better) than we observe it to be without violating any of the "Platonist" constraints you've mentioned, therefore God can't be maximizing the good and those constraints won't save him.

You have to show how the suffering is gratuitous - that burden is on you. Not only do you have to make a proper critique of my perspective, which you haven;t attempted properly, but you have to back up you own nonsense about gratuitous suffering.

Anyway, you haven't shown the world could be better.

The Dr. Pangloss reference is useful for showing the sheer question begging behind your perspective: you have decided from the beginning that there is gratuitous evil - without arguing for it - and judge the discussion accordingly.

Why is it that this is more evil than it account for but the amount of evil in the actual world isn't?"

Because of the nature of corporeality; because the corporeal reflects higher realms of being and what you are talking about in no sense does this. As How about you actually respond to that?

The problem is, it's central to your claim. You can't use the privation theodicy to explain away all the evil in the world unless you specifically justify that it's able to handle that particular amount of seemingly inexplicable evil (and actually you further need to justify that it's likely to be the real explanation for it, as it's a theodicy and not a defense, but one step at a time I suppose).

Firstly, I see your question begging again. Who says there is inexplicable evil? You have decided this from the beginning.

I'm not sure what you mean here. Let us get to bottom of your point. Why is the privation of the corporeal world not enough to account for the evil we experience?


Okay, hold all of God's other interventions constant. Keep the world exactly the same as it would otherwise be except for this gazelle's pain. Why can't God remove the pain and keep everything else unchanged?

He can.

Law,

The problem is your behaviour. You beg the question as the centre of your argument, you keep solidly to your own narrow intellectual horizon and critique theists with no real attempt to get to grips with what the great Western theists have believed, you act evasively, and you act disingenuously (like quoting people deliberately out of context - is it any wonder people get annoyed with you? You have from the start treated this discussion like some common Gnu trying to score cheap points and distract and befuddle his opponents. I have simply never seen a professional philosopher act in this way. Feser certainly does not.
Platonic Anon said…
Son of Anonymous,

Let us cut to the chase.

Why can't you answer the simple question of why the privation the corporeal world contains, according to the Platonic perspective, can't account for the evil we experience?

In what sense can you be said to be critiquing the Platonic perspecitve if you don't even attempt to answer this central question. It is beginning to look like you are just evading the central issue. It would seem you have convinced yourself that, gosh darnit, a Good and All-Powerful God cannot be consistent with the suffering we experience (by gratuitous use of question begging language until it overcame even you) and therefore are convinced I must be wrong, but can't work out quite why, so you are loath to concede this central point.
Platonic Anon said…
Besides, from the Platonic perspective at least, there is something quite absurd about even talking of the problem of evil. In our world good and evil are contrastive. When there is more of the one, there is less of the other. To cut a long story short, to the Platonist this is because evil is privation, a lacking, of the good. But the good of creation is but a relative good, it reflects the Supreme Good and is the more Good the more it does so, and the less it reflects this good the more evil, or relatively evil, it is. All creation reflects qualities that in Divine Essence are perfectly unified and without distinction. The Supreme Good is one of the qualities of the Absolute itself - the Supreme Reality is the Supreme Good.

For the atheist to then appeal to the Good, which is implied by his critique of the amount of evil in the world - he is appealing to what he sees as a greater Good than that which exists, is nonsense. He is appealing from he Supreme and illimitable Good and suggesting it is not Good enough. One might as well suggest Infinity is not Infinite enough or Red is not Red enough.

Son of Anonymous said…
He can.

Fantastic, I believe you've admitted that the privation theodicy can't account for all of the evil in the world then. Let's review:

1. W is the actual world; W* is identical to actual world except it contains one fewer instance of suffering.

2. W* is better than W (it has to be, since the possibility of a compensating evil is ruled out by the stipulation that W and W* are otherwise identical).

3. W* is possible--God can actualize W* (by your admission above).

Therefore, we conclude:
4. W (the actual world) is not the best possible world.

5. The gazelle's suffering is gratuitous.

6. God actualizes gratuitous suffering.

7. God cannot be all-powerful and all-good.

Note that this conclusion holds even if we assume that the privation theodicy allows us to stipulate a minimum metaphysically necessary level of evil. The thought experiment shows that whatever this level is, it is lower than the level of evil in the actual world. Thus God cannot be maximizing the good and minimizing evil.

If I were as snarky as you, I might say something like "game, set, and match"...
Platonic Anon said…
It is hard to see the point in your last post. We have discussed this for some time and I have forestalled the argument you are attempting. It seems that you are trying really, really hard to force the discussion into some narrow pathway.

Anyway, the argument fails because there still must be the privation within corporeality. If God intervenes in one area, to talk very crudely, he cannot in another. Although we certainly cannot always understand how, God intervenes to maximise the Good. If he does not save the gazelle from pain we can conclude, therefore, not only has he decided to prevent an equivalent evil elsewhere, but he has actually intervened to create more Good and less evil than would occur from saving the gazelle from pain.

This solution was implicit, and at times partly explicit, throughout our recent discussion. Why you insisted on pushing your argument to its doomed end is hard to see.
Son of Anonymous said…
Anyway, the argument fails because there still must be the privation within corporeality. If God intervenes in one area, to talk very crudely, he cannot in another. Although we certainly cannot always understand how, God intervenes to maximise the Good. If he does not save the gazelle from pain we can conclude, therefore, not only has he decided to prevent an equivalent evil elsewhere, but he has actually intervened to create more Good and less evil than would occur from saving the gazelle from pain.

I asked you whether he can prevent the gazelle's pain while holding all other interventions and features of the world constant. You said he could. Are you denying that now?
Platonic Anon said…
I took you to mean that in the abstract can he intervene to save the gazelle.

Within the basic parameters of the world (such as the basic conditions of corporeality), God intervenes to make it the best it can. If God doesn't intervene in an instance of evil, this is because he has intervened elsewhere to the greater Good.
Son of Anonymous said…
I took you to mean that in the abstract can he intervene to save the gazelle.

And the second part of that sentence is "while holding all else constant." I mean that he stops the gazelle's pain but does not change anything else, including whatever interventions he performs in the future. Is this possible or not?
Platonic Anon said…
There is an ambiquity in how you are using the term possible. You conflating abstract possibility with what was possible in a particular case.

God can, and does, intervene in the world for the greater Good. This includes miracles. So, in the abstract, we might say that God could save such and such a man from cancer.

But God cannot intervene to remove the basic conditions of corporeality - so miracles must be just that, miracles and not the general workings of the corporeal world. So we can say that if God doesn't save a man from cancer it was not possible in this instance.
Son of Anonymous said…
By "is the possible?" I mean "can God do that?". Can God remove the gazelle's pain without changing anything else, including whatever else he might do in the future?
Platonic Anon said…
You are being ambiguous.

If you mean, in the abstract, can God do things like intervene to spare a gazelle from pain, then the answer is yes.

If you mean could God have intervened to spare a particular gazelle from pain when he did not intervene to do so, then the answer is no.

God intervenes to maximise the Good according to his provedential design, whilst respecting the basic parameters olf creations (his interventions are in fact part of the parameters). If he didn't intervene in a particular instance, then we can conclude, though perhaps not completely understand why, that God's plan to maximise the Good (which, in a crude sense, exhausts his ability to intervene to compensate for privation) did not include saving the gazelle and couldn't have.
Son of Anonymous said…
If you mean could God have intervened to spare a particular gazelle from pain when he did not intervene to do so, then the answer is no.

OK, then what is the nature of the metaphysical roadblock that prevents him from doing this?

Say again that we have W (the actual world where God doesn't remove the pain) and W* (where he does spare the pain, then resets all of the physical facts to what they would have been had he not spared the pain). You're saying that having intervened to remove the gazelle's pain somehow "exhausts" God's ability to intervene to create good or remove evil elsewhere. How is that supposed to work? What is it about the historical fact that this gazelle didn't experience pain that lessens God's ability to intervene at some future time? Does God have a limited number of "miracle tokens" that he can spend, or something? That doesn't sound very much like an omnipotent being to me.
Son of Anonymous said…
If he didn't intervene in a particular instance, then we can conclude, though perhaps not completely understand why, that God's plan to maximise the Good (which, in a crude sense, exhausts his ability to intervene to compensate for privation) did not include saving the gazelle and couldn't have.

That sounds more like a standard appeal to mystery/skeptical theism than anything particular to "classical theism" or "Platonism." If you want to claim that a particular theodicy accounts for a particular instance of evil, it won't do to just say "we may not understand how, but trust me, it does!"
Platonic Anon said…
It would help if you tried to follow what I say. For the 157th or 158th time (I can't remember which, can you), God cannot remove the basic conditions of corporeality.

I said I was talking very crudely, but you seem to have missed that and taken my comments as if they were meant to express all that was pertinent to God's intervention. It does sometimes seem as if you are more interested in trying to score whatever points you can than actually seeking the truth.

Anyway, corporeality is part of creation and reflects God as part of creation. Part of reflecting God means reflecting both his freedom and his necessity. In the corporeal realm this duality is represented by the necessary conditions of realm and by God's freedom to intervene. The one cannot override the other. There is a limit to God's freedom to intervene, though we can hardly start drawing up the exact details of God's Providence.

Someone long ago suggested you need to take more notice of the principle of charity. So, try and read what I wrote and actually try and understand it, rather than immediately trying to distort it any which way to try and score cheap points.
Platonic Anon said…
Again, we're veering off here and risk going into issues that will just cause confusion and distraction.

The important point is the Platonic perspective affirms the necessity of general privation in the corporeal realm, whilst also affirming that in particular instances God can compensate for this privation. God must respect the general conditions of corporeality but can supplement them in some cases (indeed, the true conditions of the corporeal world include both the general possibility for privation and role of Divine intervention).
Son of Anonymous said…
You have to show how the suffering is gratuitous - that burden is on you. Not only do you have to make a proper critique of my perspective, which you haven;t attempted properly, but you have to back up you own nonsense about gratuitous suffering.

This is also flatly wrong, by the way. If you're offering a theodicy that claims to account for every evil ever, it is indeed your responsibility to show that it does so account for them. That's something you haven't done in any way. What you've said is:

1. God can't create our world without creating some privation, and evil is a privation.

2. There's a hierarchy of "realms" that are successively more privated, and ours is one of the more privated ones.

I've granted you (1) for argument's sake and pointed out that it only solves the logical problem of evil.

However, you seem to think that (2) does more for you than that. This is false. (2) again would only show that the amount of metaphysically necessary privation is *some* positive amount. It does *absolutely nothing* to establish the actual amount of evil that it's able to account for. It's entirely consistent with worlds that have a lot less evil than we actually observe.

Maybe this will make it more clear: suppose that we observed a lot less evil in the world--e.g. children almost never died from diseases, natural disasters almost never killed anyone, and animals were all born with a switch in their brain that turned off their pain perception if they were dying in agony and further struggle was futile.

Now, in that hypothetical world, why can't I just run your argument? Someone asks why we still sometimes observe instances of evil, and I say "well you see evil is a privation, there's this successive privation that occurs, and we end up with a minimum metaphysically possible amount of evil that's equal to what we observe."

From the "Platonic perspective," why can't the minimum metaphysically possible amount of evil be argued to be at this lower level, rather than at the level we actually do observe?

Conversely, suppose we lived in that world where all we observe is almost everyone around us constantly being tortured (and maybe the occasional person who's not being tortured and is in fact quite content)? Someone asks what the deal is with all this torture if God is all-powerful and all-good and I reply, "evil is a privation, and God does everything he can to maximize the good and minimize suffering, but this world is successively privated and what we see is really the minimum metaphysically possible amount of evil."

The problem, I hope I've made clear, is that your basic move is illicit: you assume that saying there's successive privation is a valid justification for whatever amount of evil you find it necessary to justify. That's not a valid assumption--you have to engage with the actual evil in the world, as it exists, and show *specifically* how this "Platonic perspective" necessitates *this* amount of evil *and not some other amount.*
Son of Anonymous said…
It would help if you tried to follow what I say. For the 157th or 158th time (I can't remember which, can you), God cannot remove the basic conditions of corporeality.

I said I was talking very crudely, but you seem to have missed that and taken my comments as if they were meant to express all that was pertinent to God's intervention. It does sometimes seem as if you are more interested in trying to score whatever points you can than actually seeking the truth.

Anyway, corporeality is part of creation and reflects God as part of creation. Part of reflecting God means reflecting both his freedom and his necessity. In the corporeal realm this duality is represented by the necessary conditions of realm and by God's freedom to intervene. The one cannot override the other. There is a limit to God's freedom to intervene, though we can hardly start drawing up the exact details of God's Providence.


All right, so if the total amount of evil is a necessary condition then what's the contradiction that occurs if God causes the world to have one fewer instance of suffering than it currently does? I don't see anything contradictory about a world where God intervenes N+1 times instead of N times, or anything that would make it not be a valid "corporeal realm" anymore.
Platonic Anon said…
I see you have decided, finally, your current tact was not working, so you have instantly switched to another.

This is also flatly wrong, by the way. If you're offering a theodicy that claims to account for every evil ever, it is indeed your responsibility to show that it does so account for them.

Perhaps, but what I don't have to do is jump all over the place trying to satisfy your vague, undefined notions of gratuitous evil, which, in the end, are just question begging because they rely on your a priori intuitions that the evil we experience cannot be squared with a Good and All-Powerful world.

The rest of your post repeats some basic problems in your argument.

Firstly, you are just shifting over your burdens onto me. You are the one who is arguing for some vague and unclear idea of gratuitous suffering, but instead of trying to define it you wish me to have to define how much suffering is gratuitous and how much is not.

Secondly, the Platonic perspective does take into account the actual world. It was not developed as a theodicy, it is a metaphysics and cosmology. It aimed to integrate our experience of the corporeal with higher realities, right up to the Supreme Reality, God. To the degree it succeeds in doing that, and in explaining the corporeal realm, then it does explain the actual corporeal realm and our experience of it.

Thirdly, the Platonic perspective does claim to have explained why the actual corporeal realm has the privation it does. You haven't really responded to this at all. This seems to be the central issue, but you keep evading it - and I even made a post dedicated simply to asking you this question. Why is the evil we experience not consistent with the Platonic view of the corporeal world?

Your thought bubbles are unhelpful. The better world ones simply take no account of what has been said of corporeality. The worse world ones do the same. They recast corporeality, this time, with more privation than is in the nature of corporeality. They also forget that all creation is a reflection of God, who is the Supreme Good. Privation exists because God's Infinite Possibility means that his Divine essence must be reflected into relativity so that his Possibilities, or those capable of manifestation, can be manifested in a relative, separative, and determined way. But there are complicating factors always - creation is knit with not just the progressive privation but compensations and mitigations. Worlds of unmitigated, undeserved, and pointless torture simply cannot reflect God properly - they are a gross simplification of the process of creation and privation.

To sum up. You give no reason whatosever that the Platonic perspective on privation and corporeality cannot account for the suffering of the corporeal realm. Given the Platonic account of corporeality, and its place in the wider Platonic metaphysics (which incidentally were not discovered by searching for a theodicy), why is the suffering of our corporeal realm gratuitous?
Son of Anonymous said…
Another way of putting the point in the second-to-last post would be: does Platonic metaphysics predict what the approximate amount of evil in the world should be? I.e., can you appeal to first principles and derive a statement like "there should (more or less) be more than this amount X, but less than some other amount Y?" Or is the minimum metaphysically necessary level of evil something you can only know after the fact, once you observe how the world has actually turned out?
Platonic Anon said…

All right, so if the total amount of evil is a necessary condition then what's the contradiction that occurs if God causes the world to have one fewer instance of suffering than it currently does? I don't see anything contradictory about a world where God intervenes N+1 times instead of N times, or anything that would make it not be a valid "corporeal realm" anymore.

The corporeal world, as you should know (I hope) and as I have said above, is, for the Platonist, an image of the Ideal world. But it is an image in the changing, shifting medium of time and space, where individuated, changing beings reflect their forms. In this realm there is excess and defect, growth and decay. It is these conditions of the world that create the possibilities of evil we experience in the world.

God cannot interfere to overturn these basic conditions, so far as they are basic conditions - that would be contradictory of the existence of corporeality as such.
Son of Anonymous said…
Splitting this into 2 posts since I'm over the character limit.

I see you have decided, finally, your current tact was not working, so you have instantly switched to another.

No, I see you declaring by fiat that the possible world I gave actually isn't something God would be able to actualize but you haven't actually given a reason for that besides "that would violate a necessary condition" without explaining how that is or what the condition is. Your position has multiple weaknesses.

Perhaps, but what I don't have to do is jump all over the place trying to satisfy your vague, undefined notions of gratuitous evil, which, in the end, are just question begging because they rely on your a priori intuitions that the evil we experience cannot be squared with a Good and All-Powerful world.

That's what the evidential problem of evil is: some of the evils in the world appear to be gratuitious, i.e. we can think of no reasonable way in which they could serve the greater good. If you refuse to engage with that then you're not offering a solution to the problem.

Firstly, you are just shifting over your burdens onto me. You are the one who is arguing for some vague and unclear idea of gratuitous suffering, but instead of trying to define it you wish me to have to define how much suffering is gratuitous and how much is not.

It's really not that hard to see what gratuitous suffering is. Suffering appears to be gratuitous if we can't think of a reasonable way in which is serves the greater good. The job of a theodicy is to provide such a reason for suffering/evil that doesn't otherwise have one. That's the sense in which you need to be arguing for how much evil your theodicy is able to explain.

Secondly, the Platonic perspective does take into account the actual world. It was not developed as a theodicy, it is a metaphysics and cosmology. It aimed to integrate our experience of the corporeal with higher realities, right up to the Supreme Reality, God. To the degree it succeeds in doing that, and in explaining the corporeal realm, then it does explain the actual corporeal realm and our experience of it.

That’s fair, but I don’t see you actually engaging with the observed world here.

Thirdly, the Platonic perspective does claim to have explained why the actual corporeal realm has the privation it does. You haven't really responded to this at all.

I haven't seen the argument for this. Why does Platonic metaphysics say we should observe *this specific* amount/pattern of suffering and other evil?
Son of Anonymous said…
Part 2:

This seems to be the central issue, but you keep evading it - and I even made a post dedicated simply to asking you this question. Why is the evil we experience not consistent with the Platonic view of the corporeal world?

I did tell you why I think it isn't, directly, every single time you asked. There are possible worlds that aren't ruled out at all by the way you've described the metaphysics to work, but are clearly better than our world.

But once again, it isn't my job to disprove every unsupported assertion you make. Before we even get to that point, you have to make an argument for your assertion that Platonic metaphysics accounts for the observed level of suffering, and then we can see if it's a good argument or not.

Your thought bubbles are unhelpful. The better world ones simply take no account of what has been said of corporeality. The worse world ones do the same. They recast corporeality, this time, with more privation than is in the nature of corporeality.

How do you know that? What determines the level of privation inherent in the nature of corporeality and how do you know what that level is?

They also forget that all creation is a reflection of God, who is the Supreme Good. Privation exists because God's Infinite Possibility means that his Divine essence must be reflected into relativity so that his Possibilities, or those capable of manifestation, can be manifested in a relative, separative, and determined way. But there are complicating factors always - creation is knit with not just the progressive privation but compensations and mitigations. Worlds of unmitigated, undeserved, and pointless torture simply cannot reflect God properly - they are a gross simplification of the process of creation and privation.

I'm assuming this applies to the worse world. In that case, why can't I point to the occasional people who are happy and content and say that the goods they experience metaphysically require that all those other people experience eternal torture? I'd just run the same argument you've been using and claim that if God relieved the suffering of one of the tortured folks he's have to introduce that privation somewhere else. What is it about that argument that doesn't work in this world but does work in the actual world?

To sum up. You give no reason whatosever that the Platonic perspective on privation and corporeality cannot account for the suffering of the corporeal realm. Given the Platonic account of corporeality, and its place in the wider Platonic metaphysics (which incidentally were not discovered by searching for a theodicy), why is the suffering of our corporeal realm gratuitous?

No, the proper summary at this point is that you still haven't made an argument for anything that would solve anything beyond the bare logical problem of evil.
Platonic Anon said…
No, I see you declaring by fiat that the possible world I gave actually isn't something God would be able to actualize but you haven't actually given a reason for that besides "that would violate a necessary condition" without explaining how that is or what the condition is.

Nonsense. I have explained the conditions of the corporeal again and again. You have singularly failed to deal with how they do not allow the evil we experience.

That's what the evidential problem of evil is: some of the evils in the world appear to be gratuitious, i.e. we can think of no reasonable way in which they could serve the greater good. If you refuse to engage with that then you're not offering a solution to the problem.

This is the height of question begging sophistry: I must accept your narrow perspective and proceed from there? I don't think so.

I deny there is gratuitous evil or an evidential problem of evil and have shown why.

It's really not that hard to see what gratuitous suffering is. Suffering appears to be gratuitous if we can't think of a reasonable way in which is serves the greater good. The job of a theodicy is to provide such a reason for suffering/evil that doesn't otherwise have one. That's the sense in which you need to be arguing for how much evil your theodicy is able to explain. What you don't realise is how narrow and prejudiced your perspective is. Yes, evil exists and there are questions that we ask about it, but to automatically problematise it and call it gratuitous and suggest it cannot be rationally explained is just to beg the question repeatedly.


That’s fair, but I don’t see you actually engaging with the observed world here.

I'm not trying to prove the truth of Platonic metaphysics.That would be a whole separate discussion.


I haven't seen the argument for this. Why does Platonic metaphysics say we should observe *this specific* amount/pattern of suffering and other evil?

Because of the nature of corporeality - dear me, is it really that hard to grasp this?
Platonic Anon said…
I did tell you why I think it isn't, directly, every single time you asked. There are possible worlds that aren't ruled out at all by the way you've described the metaphysics to work, but are clearly better than our world.

We have been through why they are not possible. Your attempt to go down this path ended in a train wreck.


But once again, it isn't my job to disprove every unsupported assertion you make. Before we even get to that point, you have to make an argument for your assertion that Platonic metaphysics accounts for the observed level of suffering, and then we can see if it's a good argument or not.
No, it is your job to deal with I actually say instead of constantly ignoring or distorting it.

I have suggested again and again that the Platonic explanation of corporeality - that is the image of the Ideal but in the world of change and flux, excess and defect - is an explanation of the suffering we experience in the corporeal world. I see no attempt on your part to respond to this properly.

How do you know that? What determines the level of privation inherent in the nature of corporeality and how do you know what that level is? The Platonic metaphysics of course, specifically that part which explains the corporeality - which we have been through hundreds of times, it seems.

I'm assuming this applies to the worse world. In that case, why can't I point to the occasional people who are happy and content and say that the goods they experience metaphysically require that all those other people experience eternal torture? I'd just run the same argument you've been using and claim that if God relieved the suffering of one of the tortured folks he's have to introduce that privation somewhere else. What is it about that argument that doesn't work in this world but does work in the actual world? Well, this argument, as you call it, doesn't respond to my main points. It is based on corporeality, but is not the conditions of the corporeal world being described but ones more privative. In other words, though the corporeal is by its nature a changing and imperfect copy of the ideal, it is more perfect than what is being described. So it fails in that sense. But even if you claimed just to be talking of a vague equivalence then it is not possible because the world you refer to is not consistent with it being a reflection of God. Creation is made of a complex warp and weft of different aspects of God being reflected. There is privation but there is God's everpresence as well. The world you describe or its equivalence is simply not reflective of God.

Now you can of course claim that perhaps our world has too much sufferng to be properly reflective of a Good God as well. The Platonic answer is there metaphysics, the explanation of the corporeal and its place in the whole scheme of existence. You have done nothing to suggest this answer is wrong.

Indeed, the Platonist can simply ask you why you accept evil, albeit less than that we actually experience. This would seem entirely parallel to the accusations you are making against me. The answer would seem to be that, as me and the article I quoted suggest, this evidential problem is really undergirded by an a priori assumption that not just is there too much evil in the world for the existence of a Good, All-Powerful God, but that the existence of evil as such is not compatible with such a God. You might grudingly accept it logically is compatible, but you don't really think it is.


Platonic Anon said…
No, the proper summary at this point is that you still haven't made an argument for anything that would solve anything beyond the bare logical problem of evil.
Nonsense. I have again and again shown that the Platonic explanation of corporeality and its place in existence is sufficient to explain the evil in our world. Your entire perspective is question begging. You talk of gratuitous evil as compared with just the logical existence of any evil, but you give not the slightest notion of what gratuitous evil means and where the distinction is between these two varieties of evil. You show no attempt to properly grapple with my explanation of the evil in the world.
Platonic Anon said…
As you won't listen to my explanations of the corporeal, maybe you will listen to those of Plato himself. From the Phaedo

Is that idea or essence, which in the dialectical process we define as essence of true existence-whether essence of equality, beauty, or anything else: are these essences, I say, liable at times to some degree of change? or are they each of them always what they are, having the same simple, self-existent and unchanging forms, and not admitting of variation at all, or in any way, or at any time?

They must be always the same, Socrates, replied Cebes.

And what would you say of the many beautiful-whether men or horses or garments or any other things which may be called equal or beautiful-are they all unchanging and the same always, or quite the reverse? May they not rather be described as almost always changing and hardly ever the same either with themselves or with one another?

The latter, replied Cebes; they are always in a state of change.

And these you can touch and see and perceive with the senses, but the unchanging things you can only perceive with the mind-they are invisible and are not seen?

That is very true, he said.
Well, then, he added, let us suppose that there are two sorts of existences, one seen, the other unseen.

Let us suppose them.

The seen is the changing, and the unseen is the unchanging.

That may be also supposed.

And, further, is not one part of us body, and the rest of us soul?

To be sure.

And to which class may we say that the body is more alike and akin?

Clearly to the seen: no one can doubt that.

And is the soul seen or not seen?

Not by man, Socrates.

And by "seen" and "not seen" is meant by us that which is or is not visible to the eye of man?

Yes, to the eye of man.

And what do we say of the soul? is that seen or not seen?

Not seen.

Unseen then?

Yes.


Then the soul is more like to the unseen, and the body to the seen?
That is most certain, Socrates.
And were we not saying long ago that the soul when using the body as an instrument of perception, that is to say, when using the sense of sight or hearing or some other sense (for the meaning of perceiving through the body is perceiving through the senses)-were we not saying that the soul too is then dragged by the body into the region of the changeable, and wanders and is confused; the world spins round her, and she is like a drunkard when under their influence?

Very true.

But when returning into herself she reflects; then she passes into the realm of purity, and eternity, and immortality, and unchangeableness, which are her kindred, and with them she ever lives, when she is by herself and is not let or hindered; then she ceases from her erring ways, and being in communion with the unchanging is unchanging. And this state of the soul is called wisdom?

That is well and truly said, Socrates, he replied.


As we can see. For Plato the realm of becoming, the corporeal, is based on individuated and determined images of the realm of Forms. But it is, therefore, a realm of change and excess and defect. This accounts for the suffering of the world. The ways in which we suffer are just particular instances of the change and excess and defect inherent in a realm of being which seeks after, always imperfectly and more or less so depending on the instance, to imitate the realm of forms.
Son of Anonymous said…
The Platonic metaphysics of course, specifically that part which explains the corporeality - which we have been through hundreds of times, it seems

This is basically the entire issue right here. You absolutely have not ever done this. You have never given an account of Platonic metaphysics, corporeality, or anything else in a way that yields any kind of prediction about how much evil we should expect to observe in the world, or allows us to say whether a given proposed world is or isn't compatible with the "Platonic perspective."

Say, for example, that I continued to mirror your argument from privation in the worse world I described. You answer that this world is too privative to be a reflection of God, but I reply:

"This is nonsense--you give no reason why the Platonic perspective on privation and corporeality cannot account for the suffering of this realm. I simply deny that the evils we see are gratuitous, you are begging the question."

Now, my challenge to you is to give a description of "the metaphysics, the explanation of the corporeal and its place in the whole scheme of existence" that establishes that the worse world is not metaphysically possible, but the actual world we observe is. And don't say you've already done anything of the sort--you have not.
Son of Anonymous said…
As we can see. For Plato the realm of becoming, the corporeal, is based on individuated and determined images of the realm of Forms. But it is, therefore, a realm of change and excess and defect. This accounts for the suffering of the world. The ways in which we suffer are just particular instances of the change and excess and defect inherent in a realm of being which seeks after, always imperfectly and more or less so depending on the instance, to imitate the realm of forms.

Once again, this has absolutely nothing to say about how much evil we should expect to see if an omnipotent being is maximizing good and minimizing evil. You still haven't gotten any farther than "some amount of evil exists."
Platonic Anon said…
Can you explain why the Platonic metaphysics, with its explanation of the corporeal and its place in existence does not explain the evil we experience in the world.

Let us take it from yet another angle, O Thou Who is Slow of Apprehension. Take a clubfoot. The Platonic explanation, in very crude terms (and this time try to remember this qualification, instead of skirting over it the moment you think you can score a quick point), is that in insubstantiating the form of a man in the imperfect medium of corporeal matter, the form is not perfectly expressed - this time the defect of imitation results in a clubfoot. All corporeal privation is similar.

How does this not work to explain corporeal privation and evil?

The Platonist situates, to speak crudely again, the reflection of the Ideal in the corporeal beneath the reflection of the Divine in the Ideal. He situates the whole of creation within God and as reflecting him. He notes that although creation must manifest privation of the Divine, there are many compensating and mitigating factors and argue that this means the sorts of pure hells you are talking of - even if it made sense to give them corporeal form as you do - are simply not possible.

But even before such discussions you have to give this objection you are trying far more clarity and meaning. You are trying to imply the Platonic perspective can be used to justify hellish worlds just as it can be used to justify the suffering in ours, but you also admit that there is non strict incompatibility between a Good, All-Powerful God and some evil. Before you can make this objection into more than a little aside, you need to show where and why suffering rises to the level of gratuitous. Otherwise one could just as easily ask you why you'll allow some evil but not enough as covered by the Platonic explanation of corporeality.
Platonic Anon said…


Once again, this has absolutely nothing to say about how much evil we should expect to see if an omnipotent being is maximizing good and minimizing evil. You still haven't gotten any farther than "some amount of evil exists." Nonsense. If you took the time to actually comprehend my points, you would see this explanation of corporeality explains why, for example, because of my imperfect insubstaniating of the form of man, I might have a weak heart. It explains, this way, all corporeal suffering. This shows that the some evil you talk of can be shown to be that of corporeality.
Son of Anonymous said…
Let us take it from yet another angle, O Thou Who is Slow of Apprehension. Take a clubfoot. The Platonic explanation, in very crude terms (and this time try to remember this qualification, instead of skirting over it the moment you think you can score a quick point), is that in insubstantiating the form of a man in the imperfect medium of corporeal matter, the form is not perfectly expressed - this time the defect of imitation results in a clubfoot. All corporeal privation is similar.

Once again that description makes no prediction whatsoever about how much privation we should be seeing. I can't tell from your account whether there should be 10 clubfoots or a billion clubfoots in the world, whether the childhood mortality rate should be 0.01% or 90%, or indeed whether there should be more than the slightest amount of evil in the world.

The Platonist situates, to speak crudely again, the reflection of the Ideal in the corporeal beneath the reflection of the Divine in the Ideal. He situates the whole of creation within God and as reflecting him. He notes that although creation must manifest privation of the Divine, there are many compensating and mitigating factors and argue that this means the sorts of pure hells you are talking of - even if it made sense to give them corporeal form as you do - are simply not possible.

It's not a pure hell, I told you there are a minority of people there who are relatively content and happy. Your account does not rule this world out--I can just as easily claim that the torture of the many is how privation manifests itself to allow for the comfort and happiness of the few, and this level of suffering is metaphysically necessary. Nothing you've said contradicts this.

But even before such discussions you have to give this objection you are trying far more clarity and meaning. You are trying to imply the Platonic perspective can be used to justify hellish worlds just as it can be used to justify the suffering in ours, but you also admit that there is no strict incompatibility between a Good, All-Powerful God and some evil. Before you can make this objection into more than a little aside, you need to show where and why suffering rises to the level of gratuitous. Otherwise one could just as easily ask you why you'll allow some evil but not enough as covered by the Platonic explanation of corporeality.

As I've said over and over, gratuitous suffering is suffering that doesn't have an explanation in terms of enabling a greater good. Apparent gratuitous suffering is suffering for which we can't come up with a reasonable explanation of that sort (or, some people will tell you, for which we have good reason to think no such explanation exists). There's a huge literature on the EPOE where I'm sure you can find even more precise definitions than that.

Bottom line, though, is that you're still not giving an account that would predict anything other than "there exists some evil."
Platonic Anon said…
Once again that description makes no prediction whatsoever about how much privation we should be seeing. I can't tell from your account whether there should be 10 clubfoots or a billion clubfoots in the world, whether the childhood mortality rate should be 0.01% or 90%, or indeed whether there should be more than the slightest amount of evil in the world.
Of course, it was an example of a particular privation. The amount of suffering would be that consonant with the imperfect insubstantion of all the Ideal forms and qualities in the corporeal world. You cannot quantify this, and I'm not even sure what your use of the term prediction here means, but as far as I can see the privation of corporeality is perfectly consistent with the Platonic perspective on the corporeal realm - indeed, the Platonic perspective on this realm is an explanation of it and its imperfection within reality as a whole.

It's not a pure hell, I told you there are a minority of people there who are relatively content and happy. Your account does not rule this world out--I can just as easily claim that the torture of the many is how privation manifests itself to allow for the comfort and happiness of the few, and this level of suffering is metaphysically necessary.

You are free to do this, but only if you can construct a proper metaphysics that could support it. From the Platonic perspective you can't because of the nature of creation. The world is not simply privation. Indeed, that is just one aspect of the world, though a necessary one.

What we can say is that, anyway, we can readily see, from the Platonic perspective, why the corporeal is latent in the Ideal and must be manifested. This is not the same with your thought bubbles - indeed, they make no sense because they warp the the corporeal, making it more privative than its basic conditions of reflecting the Ideal in corporeal matter should make it.

As I've said over and over, gratuitous suffering is suffering that doesn't have an explanation in terms of enabling a greater good. Apparent gratuitous suffering is suffering for which we can't come up with a reasonable explanation of that sort (or, some people will tell you, for which we have good reason to think no such explanation exists). There's a huge literature on the EPOE where I'm sure you can find even more precise definitions than that. I'm asking you what gratuitous suffering means. Anyway, I very much doubt that the irreligious as a whole have any more clarity than you do on this issue. Firstly, you have clearly read at least much contemporary literature on this issue and are unable to give any clarity on the issue. Secondly, from what I have read recently I have seen good reason to think there is no more clarity than you gave. Thirdly, even Law himself very quickly resorted to question begging intutions to back up his use of the term gratuitous.

The talk of reasonable explanations is question begging.

Anyway, for your objection about hellish worlds to have any meaning (even without its other problems) you need to show why I can't turn it on you and say why you allow some evil but not the amount in our realm of being.

Platonic Anon said…
Although the objection you are now trying to mount is confused and without clarity, I think it might be worth adding two more considerations.

Firstly, it is not just the Good which is progressively privative within creation. In a sense all God's qualities are, including Being. Not only does evil itself not actually have any positive quality, but even the more privative the world becomes the less it is, in one sense. The corporeal is already, despite the implications of those putting forward the so called problem of evil with their stress on how much suffering there is in the world, only a very small aspect of creation, but those more privative than corporeality would be even less.

Also, it is not just the individual realms of being but creation as a whole which reflects God. The world should be viewed as a whole as well as in its constituent realms. Although the world becomes more and more privative, it is also a reflection of God and therefore even its privation is made to reflect his Supreme Goodness. There must be privation in the world but it will never been allowed to be just unmitigated and pointless suffering. The Platonic perspective on the corporeal is consistent with that, but it is not consistent with the randomly hellish worlds you describe.
Son of Anonymous said…
Of course, it was an example of a particular privation. The amount of suffering would be that consonant with the imperfect insubstantion of all the Ideal forms and qualities in the corporeal world. You cannot quantify this, and I'm not even sure what your use of the term prediction here means, but as far as I can see the privation of corporeality is perfectly consistent with the Platonic perspective on the corporeal realm - indeed, the Platonic perspective on this realm is an explanation of it and its imperfection within reality as a whole.

So in other words, no, you can't derive from Platonic metaphysics that the world has to contain the amount of evil that it does. Once again you do not address anything other than the logical POE.

You are free to do this, but only if you can construct a proper metaphysics that could support it. From the Platonic perspective you can't because of the nature of creation. The world is not simply privation. Indeed, that is just one aspect of the world, though a necessary one.

I'm using your metaphysics as you've described it. The worse world isn't pure privation, as I said a minority of people are relatively content and happy. Nothing in that metaphysics rules it out.

What we can say is that, anyway, we can readily see, from the Platonic perspective, why the corporeal is latent in the Ideal and must be manifested. This is not the same with your thought bubbles - indeed, they make no sense because they warp the the corporeal, making it more privative than its basic conditions of reflecting the Ideal in corporeal matter should make it.

That's just begging the question against the worse world. I deny that it is "more privative than its basic conditions of reflecting the Ideal in corporeal matter should make it" and invite you to prove otherwise. Make reference to "Platonic metaphysics" as much as you like.

I'm asking you what gratuitous suffering means.

And I tell you--directly and unambiguously, which is more than I can say for you--every time you ask.

The talk of reasonable explanations is question begging.

It means the same thing that "reasonable" means for any sort of explanation. This isn't very technical stuff.

Anyway, for your objection about hellish worlds to have any meaning (even without its other problems) you need to show why I can't turn it on you and say why you allow some evil but not the amount in our realm of being.

Because some of it seems to have a plausible explanation in terms of enabling greater goods (e.g. falling off a bike in the process of learning how to ride), but a great deal of it doesn't. That was easy.