1. CRAIG’S RESPONSES TO PROBLEM OF EVIL
CRAIG SUGGESTS AN EVIL GOD IS IMPOSSIBLE BECAUSE…. AND SO MY EVIL GOD CHALLENGE IS MET.
Even if it could be shown that an evil god is impossible while a good god is not, that would not deal with the evil god challenge that I set Prof Craig. For it remains the case that, irrespective of whether an evil god is impossible, the amount of good that exists would clearly be more than enough in any case to show that belief in such a god is downright unreasonable. But then why isn’t the amount of evil we observe more than enough to show that belief in a good god is downright unreasonable?
In short, the claim that an evil god is impossible, even if correct, does nothing to show that belief in a good god is any more reasonable than downright unreasonable!
PROF. CRAIG ARGUES THAT EVIL PROVES THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. SO MY ARGUMENT, BASED ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT EVIL EXISTS, IS SELF-DEFEATING.
This is just to overlook the fact that problem of evil can be set up without buying into the concept of evil at all. As an atheist, I don’t require the existence of evil to run the argument. Indeed, I can be a moral nihilist and deny the existence of both moral good and evil. All I require is the existence of, say, hundreds of thousands of years of extraordinary, untold gratuitous suffering. Craig’s God won’t unleash gratuitous suffering, whether we choose to call it evil or not.
Prof Craig suggests that the evils we experience in this world become easier to understand for a theist once we remember that we can each look forward to an eternity of bliss in heaven. That will more than compensate a young child for her rape and murder.
Well, as I already pointed out in my opening speech, such an afterlife explanation can also be run by someone who believes in an evil god. They can insist that goods we experience in this life will be more than adequately outweighed by the horrors of spending eternity in the company of the supremely malignant deity. As the same explanation can be run in defence of each god hypothesis, it fails to make belief in a good god more reasonable than belief in an evil god.
WE SHOULD REMEMBER THAT EARTHLY HAPPINESS IS NOT GOD’S ULTIMATE AIM. HIS AIM IS FOR US TO ENTER FREELY INTO A LOVING RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM. IT MAY TAKE CONSIDERABLE PAIN FOR THAT TO BE ACHIEVED.
Well, I haven’t assumed that earthly happiness must be God’s ultimate aim. But earthly pain and misery will surely be of some importance to Craig’s God. Craig’s God, is after all, good. He’s compassionate. He’s supposed to care about suffering. So he’s not going to unleash untold horror over hundreds of thousands of years for no particularly good reason. He must have a good reason. And how plausible is it that there is such a reason?
WE ARE NOT IN A POSITION TO JUDGE WITH ANY CONFIDENCE THAT IT’S IMPROBABLE THAT GOD LACKS MORALLY GOOD REASONS FOR CREATING OR ALLOWING ALL THIS SUFFERING
Prof. Craig argues our failure to discern god’s reasons is not a good reason to suppose he does not have them. Perhaps, in some way we cannot fathom, they contribute to our eternal salvation.
Well, as I pointed out in my opening speech, much the same reply can be made by someone who believes in an evil god. Evil god is also omnipotent and omniscient, so of course his reasons are also likely largely to be beyond our ken. Those goods that seem gratuitous with regard to the aims of an evil god may not be gratuitous at all. Show a little humility. Don’t presume to know the mind of evil God.
If this sort of sceptical smokescreen doesn’t succeed in salvaging belief in an evil god, then I fail to see why it salvages belief in Craig’s good god either.
PROF CRAIG POINTS OUT THAT IT CAN BE DIFFICULT TO PREDICT THE LONG TERM CONSEQUENCES OF EVENTS. A BUTTERFLY FLAPPING ITS WING CAN CAUSE A HURRICANCE.
But of course, despite the truth of chaos theory, we can still predict the weather pretty accurately. While a butterfly wing can cause a hurricane – that doesn’t stop us successfully predicting long-term general weather patterns. We know it’s likely to get hotter over coming decades for example. So, ironically, the butterfly wing example if anything confirms the extent to which we can still predict long term general outcomes, despite the fact that small events can have big consequences.
Let’s also remember that even if such unpredictability did entail that we can’t reasonably rule out the existence of Craig’s god on the basis of the evil we observe, then it would also entail that we cannot reasonably rule out the existence of an evil god on the basis of the good we observe. So Craig would still not have succeeded in showing that belief in his good god is any more reasonable than belief in an evil god.
Prof. Craig mentioned Alston’s six “cognitive limitations” which are supposed to show we can’t know God doesn’t have sufficient reasons for unleashing hundreds of thousands of years of horror. The problem with Alston’s argument is it would succeed in showing that we can’t know an evil god doesn’t have sufficient reasons for unleashing a very great deal of good. So it’s quite useless in establishing that belief in a good god is more reasonable than belief in an evil god.
So, Professor Craig has produced a range of moves designed to neutralize what appears to be overwhelming empirical evidence against his God.
The key point to notice is this: [most/all] of these moves work just as well to neutralize the overwhelming empirical evidence that exists against an evil god. So they do nothing show why belief in his god is any better supported by the evidence and arguments than belief in an evil god.
In short, Professor Craig’s responses to the problem of evil entirely fail to meet the challenge I’ve set him.
YOU CANNOT WEIGH UP GOOD/EVIL SO THERE MIGHT BE MUCH MORE GOOD THAN EVIL, MAKING GOOD GOD MUCH MORE LIKELY.
If it’s true that we can’t weigh up good and evil effectively, then it might be true there’s far more good than evil, making a good god much more likely.
On the other hand, if we can’t weigh up good and evil effectively, it also might be true there far more evil than good, making an evil god much more likely.
So even if it were true that we can’t weigh up good and an evil effectively, that fact would fail to lend any more support to belief in a good god than it would an evil god.
CRAIG SUGGESTS THE GOOD GOD HYPOTHESIS IS SIMPLER, AND SO MORE REASONABLE THAN THE EVIL GOD HYPOTHESIS.
Well, even if it was true that the good god hypothesis was significantly simpler, that would have little effect on it’s reasonableness relative to the evil god hypothesis. If two hypotheses have little supporting argument, and both face powerful disconfirmatory evidence, pointing out one is simpler than the other hardly raises it’s credibility by very much. So Craig’s appeal to simplicity, even if correct, fails to show the good god hypothesis is significantly more reasonable than the evil god hypothesis.
CLEARLY THERE’S MUCH MORE GOOD THAN EVIL IN THE WORLD. SO A GOOD GOD IS MUCH MORE LIKELY.
This objection misunderstands my argument. It doesn’t require there be more evil than good, or even at least as much. There could be less evil than good but still sufficiently vast quantities of both that there’s more than enough to justify both the conclusion that there’s no good god and the conclusion there’s no evil god.