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…
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.

Please explain how this follows from what I said. You make no attempt to show how your dismissals are justified - the sign of evasion.

Please explain how the Platonic perspective I have detailed does not account for th suffering we experience. Before you try evasion like claiming the burden is on me, remember I have shown this and you are supposed to be critiquing me.

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.

Please explain how such a world would be situated in the Platonic schema. Please explain how it would be structured according to Platonism.


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.

Then you should be able to explain why Platonists have been wrong in their understanding of the corporeal and why the corporeal should be understood, in Platonism, in the sense necessary for this worse world.


And I tell you--directly and unambiguously, which is more than I can say for you--every time you ask.
No you don't. You make reference to other vague and question begging terms, like reasonably explainable evil, but this is just to be left in the same situation.

It means the same thing that "reasonable" means for any sort of explanation. This isn't very technical stuff. So, what you're saying is that before assessing an argument about whether a particular perspective can explain evil in the world, you have decided the evil in world seems to lack reasonable explanation?

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. This is just question begging. Whether or not plausible explanations can be offered for the evil of world is just what is in question. Unless you can show that the Platonic perspective cannot account for the suffering of the world, then you are just begging the question. Besides, your explanation here, flawed as it is, even then is vague and unclear. How are we to assess just how much suffering is allowed in the world.

Philip Rand said…
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Philip Rand said…
Chap's one can indeed make a Platonic model work...

Again, using Rowe's example of gratuitous Evil:

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).

This issue Rowe is pointing at is the suffering of the fawn in the fire, i.e. it serves no purpose.

But, is this true...look at the problem from the forest fire perspective...

Now, fire does fulfill a definition as a "form" of life, i.e. it is born, it reproduces, consumes food, etc.

Now, natural forest fires donot occur often, in comparison to deer births...

So, in a Platonic sense it would be "unjust" for a God to interfere with the life of the forest fire...it does have a right to live and exist for a time.

From this perspective the issue of gratuitous Evil disappears.
Stephen Law said…
Platonic anon said:

"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."

Yeah this is sceptical theism.

Platonic anon, said: "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.

Gratuitous evil has been explained many times. Gratuitious evil = evil for which there is no adequate good reason.

You have no "classical" theistic response to the evidential problem of evil. You switch to sceptical theism to deal with it.
Platonic Anon said…
Law,

I like the way you took one small piece of what I'd written and then claimed I was just abandoning Classical Theism for what you call skeptical theism. That is just disingenious in the extreme. And then you have the gall to talk about the rudeness of others....

Again, I have never seen Feser act anywhere like so sophistically as you do.

Anyway, I don't buy these neat categories you are talking about. Even in the comments you are talking of I don't think I'm quite doing what seems to be meant by skeptical theism. I'm questioning the very nature of the problem being set out, whereas the skeptical theist seems to think it might be a problem, but he has a solution. And actually my perspective is perfectly consistent with Classical Theism, even in what you quote - it is implied by it because Classical Theism naturally disagrees with the basic framework of the what you call the evidential problem of evil.
Platonic Anon said…

Gratuitous evil has been explained many times. Gratuitious evil = evil for which there is no adequate good reason.

But this is vague. It does nothing to explain whether or not there is gratuitous evil in the world. But what is implied by those advancing this EPOE is that it is somehow obvious that evil is gratuitous.
Stephen Law said…

"But this is vague. It does nothing to explain whether or not there is gratuitous evil in the world."

Correct. It is a definition. it is at points like this when your lack of various basic philosophical skills becomes apparent.
Stephen Law said…
If you are going to rely on sceptical theism (a position that, while consistent with sceptical theism, is nevertheless *entirely unreliant upon it*) to deal with the EPE , I suggest you actually read up on it. At least educate yourself about what "gratuitous evil" means, how the arguments for its existence go, and how sceptical theism attempts to block them, before declaring victory.
Platonic Anon said…
It is at point your sophism becomes clear.

I did not rely on skeptical theism at all - you took one small part of what I wrote and claimed this was my whole point.

I'm well aware it is a definition, but you brandished it like an argument: you invoked the term gratuitous as if it was transparently obvious that there is gratuitous evil and the framework of the EPOE is valid. I don't think you are even aware how parochial your intellectual horizon is.

You are no philosopher, no descendent of Plato or Aristotle or Aquinas, you are a a descendent of the sophists.
Platonic Anon said…
I see you made no defence of your taking my comments out of context, yet again.

Feser will eat you alive, one more time.
Platonic Anon said…
Oh, and God Bless.
Philip Rand said…
Dr Law

I would be truly interested if you could explain to me what logical rule underpins the proposition:

"Gratuitious evil = evil for which there is no adequate good reason"
Anonymous said…
I think that anon is our dear bill craig himself
Johan Viklund said…
Philip Rand,

Though I am not Stephen Law, I would like to suggest a logical rule. What about "Identity". As it is a definition you should be able to replace the words "gratuitious evil" with the words "evil for which there is no adequate good reason".
Philip Rand said…
Hello Johan...Thanks for your suggestion...

Yes, I agree identity is the normal approach in philosophy...and you are right "definition" can play a role in some problems.

Thing is does it work for "Gratuitous Evil"?

Here, I think what emerges are some deep problems with conformity of the proposition with the world as it has been so far presented.

I would say in your example:

"gratuitious evil" <- "evil for which there is no adequate good reason", i.e. E<-E&x

E is a name, i.e. a point

E&x is an object, i.e. it is an arrow that points to the name E.

The problem here is that this proposition as it stands is simply internally related and not externally related to the world...so does it say anything?

I think the only way to make it externally related to the world and therefore make it possible to relate it to the world would be to formulate it thus:

E<-E&(x)&(nothing else)

But, I can't see how this can be done logically.
RussellB said…
I believe good or evil befalls each of us randomly, as Jesus taught, those whom to tower fell upon in the Gospel and were killed were no better or worse than anyone else.

Yet those who do suffer more will be rewarded more. God or the angels cannot intervene to save good people in an observable way, because in doing so proof of God is given to others by extension and our moral autonomy and free will is destroyed.

Let me use the example of a baby, all babies are innocent, they have not yet sinned, so if God intervenes to save just one baby from death, then He has to intervene to save all babies from death. If He then does intervene to save them all, which would then prove the existence of God, then we then lose our moral autonomy, as the moral burden of responsibility would move from man to God, in other words, whatever bad happened to anyone it would be Gods fault for not intervening to save them.

To use the example of humpty dumpty sitting on the wall, if he falls of the wall and no one bothers to catch him when they could, because we expect God to intervene and catch him, then the moral burden of responsibility moves from man to God and our moral autonomy is destroyed.

I believe this short life is a test, a birthing ground for potential angels, that is also why moral autonomy really matters.
Philip Rand said…
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Philip Rand said…
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Philip Rand said…
A wonderful post RussellB!!!!!

In manny ways your post points to the answer to this "Evil God Challenge" and highlights the philosophical confusions of both the Atheist faction and the the Theistic faction (let's take a Platonic position).

I mean:

Is it that the Good is Good because God wants it.

OR

Is that God wants the Good because it is Good.

I think the former is more powerful an explanation because it cuts off the way to an explanation "why" it is good.

And the second explanation is the shallow rationalist one which precedes "as if" you could give reasons for what is good.

Using the former,

"You ought to behave better."

"What if I don't?"

"What more could I tell you?"

I like this...we have undermined both the Atheist position and the Theist postion here...

People...remember, we are only animals
RussellB said…
Without a (contrast) of experience there can be no true experience. Without pain and sorrow we cannot know love and joy.

Michael Fugate said…
Russell & Phillip,
Russell's comment solves nothing. If there were no gods, then there could be no sin. The idea that we have all sinned is a non sequitur.
Also according to the Bible, Jehovah Yahweh etc. has intervened multiple times. What Christianity tries to do is take the burden off their god and place it on individual humans -it makes their god passive and frankly useless - why bother.
All of these conceptions of god and 2 dollars or pounds will get you a cup of coffee.
RussellB said…
" If there were no gods, then there could be no sin. The idea that we have all sinned is a non sequitur. "

Neither the word "sin" or the idea we have all sinned is required to support my argument.

Change the word sin for "evil" then, but we first need a moral framework to "know good and evil".

Again, if you object to the words "Good" and "evil" just make up your own replacements, it makes no difference to this POV.

To borrow the Genesis allegory, mankind did not know what evil was until eat from the tree of knowledge, which metaphorically seems to mean, before he read the Bible. As the imagery of eating in the Bible is usually associated with consuming and internalising Gods Words.

If you had an atheistic system it would still have its own moral system, probably very similar to the Judeo-Christian one so my POV would still apply.
RussellB said…
" If there were no gods, then there could be no sin. The idea that we have all sinned is a non sequitur. "

Neither the word "sin" or the idea we have all sinned is required to support my argument.

Change the word sin for "evil" then, but we first need a moral framework to "know good and evil".

Again, if you object to the words "Good" and "evil" just make up your own replacements, it makes no difference to this POV.

To borrow the Genesis allegory, mankind did not know what evil was until eat from the tree of knowledge, which metaphorically seems to mean, before he read the Bible. As the imagery of eating in the Bible is usually associated with consuming and internalising Gods Words.

If you had an atheistic system it would still have its own moral system, probably very similar to the Judeo-Christian one so my POV would still apply.

Could you explain why you think my reply does not solve the problem?
RussellB said…
Sorry I misunderstood, I thought you were objecting the terminology used. Yes, if you want to debate good and evil in the context of the Christian God then you will have first accept our beliefs to do so. You say, "-it makes their god passive and frankly useless - why bother."

Not useless if you believe you are going to be redeemed from the grave at the end of this life.

You say "Also according to the Bible, Jehovah Yahweh etc. has intervened multiple times. "

Yes, about once every 2000 years, at the "refreshing times", the rest of the time "God hides His face from sinners".

The only way God will reveal Himself is therefore on a personal level (not to infringe anyone elses free will). Which is if we first repent and then ask for the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13), which I believe is a personification of Gods great company of ministering angels (Heb 11:1).

Although God hiding from man is characterized as man hiding from God in the Genesis allegory. i.e when Adam becomes aware he has sinned (eat from the tree of good and knowledge), or read the Law/the Bible, then he hides from God.
RussellB said…
" What Christianity tries to do is take the burden off their god and place it on individual humans"

Do you accept that if God intervenes to save one innocent baby from evil, or from death, then He would be would be morally obliged to therefore save all innocent babies from evil, or from death?

Do you accept that if this happened it would by extension prove Gods existence?

Then do you accept that this would then destroy our moral autonomy? As the burden of moral responsibility would move from man to God?

Do you accept that as this miraculous act would by extension prove Gods existence, that you would therefore be under a compulsion to worship that God (insincerely), for your own self preservation? Knowing a judgement at the end of this life was coming?
Michael Fugate said…
Russell,
So all of those stories of intervention in the Old Testament are false? If not, then given your argument, one intervention is enough to take the burden off humans - so I guess we are off the hook.
RussellB said…
"Russell,
So all of those stories of intervention in the Old Testament are false? If not, then given your argument, one intervention is enough to take the burden off humans - so I guess we are off the hook."

I think it is possible to demonstrate that almost all of them in the OT are non literal metaphoric allegory, like the Exodus story, reads literal, but so does Hagar and Sarah and the apostle Paul says "such things are allegory". I dont really believe any of the OT Bible stories are meant to be interpreted literally and in the prophetic books, where God is sending droughts and famines etc, if you read carefully they seem to famines for the Word of God and people thirsting for righteousness etc.

I am not sure there if one would get you off the hook? Would it? There is the refreshing times, which is when the Christian God partially intervenes, such as demonstrations of miracles in the Gospels, but even that seemed to be designed to preserve the Pharisees free will in not believing, because they didnt. I am not convinced myself all this healing the blind stuff in the Gospels was not actually healing the spiritually blind.
RussellB said…
"So all of those stories of intervention in the Old Testament are false?"

I need to explain why I said this, there is something I need to explain to you about the way the Old Testament is written. It speaks to us from the perspective of putting God in first principles and ultimate's.

In other words, as God created everything and everyone, both good and evil, therefore everything that happens, that is good or evil, can in that sense be attributed to God, i.e "God causes the sun to shine on the good and the evil, the rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous." and "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things." Isaiah 45:7.

This is how God can then say, for example, that a random natural disaster, such as what probably happened to Sodom, is the wrath of God, I believe. Although it is only the wrath of God in as much as He did not intervene to stop it, (but I have already explained why He cannot intervene to stop all natural disasters etc previously).

If you read the Old Testament carefully, you will see that what is actually called the wrath of God, is more the result of mans own actions, God accuses the Israelites of "destroying themselves", likewise in that example I gave you of God smiting the horses or teachers of Israel to make them spiritually blind, i.e the Pharisees, so they would therefore not recognize Christ as the Messiah, it is infact their own mindset, or their own stupidity that has made them spiritually blind.

The New Testament is different, it does not speak in first principles and ultimate's like this, hence Jesus explains that certain events just randomly happen, God is not intimately involved in making bad things happen to people as punishment.

I believe the reason why the Old Testament puts God in first principles and ultimates is two fold...

1. To show that God is overall sovereign, i.e there is no dualistic evil competing god called Satan. This is very important as the ancients were always running off with the idea that there were many gods, or dualistic opposing gods, they got these ideas from the Babylonian captivity.

2. As the apostle Paul says, because the OT and the Law where "strict schoolmasters", i.e fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The ancient mindset just would not have respected a God, or obeyed a God that did not also put the fear of God in them, so to speak.
RussellB said…
Sorry I mentioned God smiting the horses in the OT thinking I had explained what I meant on here before....

Yes but the "smiting" is not how you are interpreting it.

Let me give you an example. In a prophecy attributed to the first advent, God says He will smite all the horses with blindness.

"In that day I will smite EVERY HORSE with astonishment" (Zech xii, 4); "and will smite every HORSE OF THE PEOPLE with blindness"

Obviously this sounds ridiculous in the literal sense. That is where you and most atheists would stop, happy in the knowledge that the Bible is nonsense and God is cruel to animals. But lets look a bit deeper...

In the Bible it is the teachers or priests of Israel who are called Gods horses, or the "horses of the people"...

"THE CHARIOT OF ISRAEL and the HORSEMAN thereof"; "Jehovah will make Judah a Godly HORSE". Ephraim signifies the understanding of the Word, because Elisha and Elijah represented the Lord as the Word, therefore they were called the chariot of Israel and his horseman, Elisha said to Elijah "my father, my father, THE CHARIOT OF ISRAEL and the HORSEMAN thereof" (2 Kings xiii, 14).

Now this makes sense....

"In that day I will smite EVERY HORSE with astonishment" (Zech xii, 4); "and will smite every HORSE OF THE PEOPLE with blindness"

This is a prophecy about Jesus...

"And I will cut off the HORSE from Jerusalem, and He shall speak peace to the gentiles" (Zech ix.10).

Did Jesus cut of the literal horses from Jerusalem? Or was it not the teachings of the Pharisees?

Isaiah 31:3 "the EGYPTIANS are men and not God, their HORSES are FLESH and not spirit", these teachers are natural man and do not have the Spirit.

So what do we learn from this? We learn that the Bible uses the symbolism of battle horses, or horses that go into battle (war horses), for His teachers, his priests. Why? Because what is natural in the Bible is used to represent what is spiritual, teachers and priests go into spiritual battle (as mentioned previously), with words.

Woe to them who trust in Priests and pastors for the truth of the Word and do not turn to the Lord in prayer for help:

"Ashur shall not save us; we will not ride upon HORSES" (Hos xiv. 3); "some trust in chariots, and some in HORSES, but we will remember the name of the Lord"; "a HORSE is a vain thig for safety" (ps xx 7; xxxiii.17); "the riders on HORSES shall be confounded" (Zech x3, 4, 5); "Woe to the city it is full of lies - the prancing of HORSES" - and as spiritual Israel are to be a nation of priests, so it is said "in that day their shall be upon the BELLS OF THE HORSES holiness unto Jehovah" (xiv. 20). "Thou shalt not in any way set a king over Israel whom the Lord thy God shall not chose: but he shall not multiply HORSES to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to the end that he should multiply HORSES".
RussellB said…
"enough to take the burden off humans"

Ah, it has to be an intervention that proves the existence of God by extension. Such as saving all babies in the world from death, or miraculously saving everyone in the Tsunami. Only then would everyone be able to say, ok now we know God exists and therefore the moral burden of responsibility is now upon God, not us. I believe interventions are possible if they are unprovable and therefore do not infringe an athiests free will not to believe or shift the moral burden of responsibility from man to God.
RussellB said…
In anycase, the biblical stories of intervention would not effect the burden of moral responsibility as atheists do not believe them.

It would have to observable and provable intervention as in the examples given already.
Michael Fugate said…
Then Jesus is no doubt just a metaphor, too. And gods as well.
Philip Rand said…
Yes Michael why bother? A very good question indeed!

Because, as you intimate even if we could determine if God existed (and we can't), we would still struggle to explain why that should matter in the way it does matter to Atheists and Believers (of anything other than the prudential sort).

This I think is at the root of the utter philosophical confusion I see in this Evil God Challenge.

The whole Gratuitous Evil concept is a complete an utter illusion.

And it is pretty simple to show why.

First, here is the Gratuitous Evil proposition:

1/ gratuitious evil=evil for which there is no adequate good reason.

And here is Rowe's example of such a thing:

2/ 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).

No. 2 is a description.

And No. 1 is the proposition that the the description (No.2) is hinged on, i.e. epistemic equivalence.

BUT, BUT, BUT...is No.1 a proposition based on the world? It is supposedly connected to the world with the words "no reason"!

So clearly, what looks like an empirical proposition that connects to No.2 is in truth simply a grammatical assertion and NOT a proposition at all.

The whole debate "hinges" on a piece of grammar...nothing empirical at all...which means that the whole Gratuitious Evil concept is illusionary...and quite empty of philosophical content if it's main objective is to "prove" that God is Evil.
RussellB said…
"Then Jesus is no doubt just a metaphor, too. And gods as well."

God is taught conceptually in the NT, yes, i.e "God is Love", but I did specifically say the OT stories are metaphoric and allegorical.

RussellB said…
The evil God challenge is really just an argument based on a false presupposition.

God has established laws, laws of physics, He is then voluntarily constrained to act within those laws for our own benefit (to preserve moral autonomy and free will).

In a materialistic universe, we have to be imbued by materialistic or physical impulses (there is no other way), replying to me that "God can do anything" is a cop out, it is a way to shut down intellectual debate (ironically what atheists accuse Christians of).

The human animal shares the same basic motivating principles as the animals, what the Bible calls "the sensual nature" or the "mind of the flesh" or the "carnal mind", or the "beast" (in the book of Revelation). These basic motivating principles we share with the animals are, greed, lust, pride, desire etc, it is these motivating principles we need to eat and procreate. Yet the problem is, it is also from that nature, which the Bible calls the "beast" (see book of Revelation), or the animal nature, if left uncontrolled or untempered by religion, comes all war, all violence, all man made pain and sin.

This is why, for example, the Old Testament is full of commands by God to sacrifice the animal, yet when the Israelites sacrificed literal animals, God replied that they were totally missing the point, "your burnt offerings are not acceptable…" Jeremiah 6:20; Isaiah 1:11-15 … "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? …I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats… Bring no more vain oblations… your hands are full of blood."

The animal sacrifice was about sacrificing the animal nature in us. That is why Abels sacrifice was accepted, he made a LIFE sacrifice (i.e gave up greed, lust, desire, pride), the same basic motivating principles we share with animals, which we are to rise above.

Jesus obviously spoke symbolically, phrases such as "born again" (John 3:3), "living water"; as the Old Testament was written in such a way but the natural man (Pharisees) could not perceive it as the Churches cannot likewise today. "And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scripture" (Luke 24:27,32).

Therefore, to make an Idol is to materialize spiritual mysteries. The Priests, then, were Idolaters, who coming after Moses, and committing to writing those things which had been delivered unto Israel, replaced the true things signified, by their material symbols which perpetuated ignorance, and those who trusted in them went into [spiritual] captivity through the continuation of meaningless rituals (externalized) "due to lack of [spiritual] knowledge" - like animal sacrifice taken literally and not spiritually.
RussellB said…
"I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts." Ecc 3:18
michael fugate said…
" even if we could determine if God existed (and we can't)"

We can't because when someone operationally defines "god" and it is put to the test - it fails. Believers won't accept this outcome - so they redefine "god" again and again, but they end up with nothing left.

Some who think they are philosophically sophisticated try to convince us they believe in a god based solely on faith - not a shred of evidence. Maybe I'm unsophisticated, but this just seems patently false.

Russell, I can't quite make out your use (abuse?) of all the Bible quotes - other than a vain attempt to add authority to what are otherwise unfounded assertions. Of course, the Bible is not a historical document and the stories are just stories - no better than any other folktales written to impart morals. They tell us something about humans, but nothing about gods.
Philip Rand said…
Michael...

My main point from my opening sentence was that even if God was proved to exist...

Would it affect the way you live your life?
michael fugate said…
Depends on which god it was.
Philip Rand said…
So Michael...you would change the way you live if the right type of God was discovered?

How exactly?

Does this mean that the God question is more an ethical question rather than an empirical question?
Anonymous said…
Philip Rand said: "You believe "mass" exists right?
Thing is, can you touch mass? Can you see mass?
You can't!!!!!"

Mass is a property of matter that can be repeatedly and precisely demonstrated.
The spin of elementary particles is totally beyond the reach of our unaided senses. Countless repeatable experiments show it is real.
God is rather different.
Philip Rand said…
Anonymous

How does one "repeatedly and precsely demonstrate" the existence and reality of mass exactly?

I would really like to have an example...
Anonymous said…
Stephen what if you say that God is "good" but that he is omni-manevolent instead of omnibenevolent? Would this counter all classical theists?
Anonymous said…
All this over some guy who Christians can't even prove to have done anything supernatural and who even failed at being the Messiah (the reason why Jews reject Jesus) I really am left in a of amusement.
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