The Beast Falls: The Cold Death Of Deductive Problem Of Evil

Harry Potter

In part I, The Beast Rises: The Deductive Problem of Evil, I introduced the logical problem of evil as defended by Hume and Mackie. In this second part I presented analytical Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga’s response, reception and status of logical problem evil in contemporary philosophy of religion.

Unlike the traditional responses of the problem of evil, theodicies, which attempted to give specific reasons that would justify a wholly good omnipotent God to permit evil, Plantinga offered a defense that does not provide any specific reasons but a possible, not necessarily true, proposition that will show that God and evil are logically compatible.

Plantinga produced his proposition as follows:

A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely
perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being
equal, than a world containing no free creatures at all. Now God can create free creatures, but He can’t cause or determine them to do only what is right. For if He does so, then they aren’t significantly free after all; they do not do what is right freely. To create creatures capable of moral good, therefore, He must create creatures capable of moral evil; and He can’t give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so. As it turned out, sadly enough, some of the free creatures God created went wrong in the exercise of their freedom; this is the source of moral evil. The fact that free creatures sometimes go wrong, however, counts neither against God’s omnipotence nor against His goodness; for He could have forestalled the occurrence of moral evil only by removing the possibility of moral good. (Plantinga 1974: 30)

Adding Plantinga’s propositions:

3b. It was not within God’s power to create a world containing moral good without creating one containing moral evil.

3c. God created a world containing moral good.

Proposition 4. Evil exist follows logically from 1-3, 3b and 3c showing that Mackie’s claim that the existence of God and evil are in logical contradiction, is false. Simply put, Plantinga showed that:

a. God is omniscient, omnipotent, and wholly good.

b. God creates a world containing evil and has a good reason for doing so. (Plantinga 1974: 26)

After Plantinga’s case Mackie admitted and surrendered the logical problem of evil. He acknowledged,

[P]roblem of evil does not, after all, show that the central doctrines of theism are logically inconsistent with one another [… God] might not eliminate evils, even though it was logically possible to do so and though he was able to do whatever is logically possible, and was limited only by the logical impossibility of having the second-order good without the first-order evil. (Mackie 1982: 145)

William L. Rowe, in American Philosophy Quarterly, not only confessed but also pointed to Alvin Plantinga’s God, Freedom and Evil 1974 work p. 29-59. He wrote,

Some philosophers have contended that the existence of evil is logically inconsistent with the existence of the theistic God. No one, I think, has succeeded in establishing such an extravagant claim. Indeed, granted incompatibilism, there is a fairly compelling argument fro the view that the existence of evil is logically consistent with the existence of the theistic God. (Rowe 1979: 335 fn1)

Paul Draper, in a premier philosophy journal Noûs, also “agree[s] with most philosophers of religion that theists face no serious logical problem of evil”(Draper 1989: 349 fn1 )

William P. Alston declared that Plantinga “has established the possibility that God could not actualize a world containing free creatures that always do the right thing”(Alston 1991:49) and thus “it is now acknowledged on (almost) all sides that the logical argument is bankrupt, […]”(Alston 1996: 97)

Remarking Philo’s logical argument from evil echoed by Hume, Stephen J. Wystra, wrote,

In our day the work of Plantinga and others has made much clearer the import of such broadly logical constraints, making this talk by Philo (or, only a few decades ago, by Mackie) of ‘decisive disproof’ look like naïve bluster. (Wystra 1990: 158).

James Beebe, Peter van Inwagen and Robert M. Adams gave the same verdict that Plantinga succeeded in answering the logical problem of evil.

Standing against atheists’ and theists’ philosophers, a Christian philosopher Richard G. Swinburne does not agree that Plantinga killed the logical problem of evil’s beast. He wrote,

It seems to be generally agreed by atheists as well as theists that what is called ‘the logical problem of evil’ has been eliminated, and all that remains is ‘the evidential problem’. See e.g. Paul Draper, who writes that he ‘agrees with most philosophers of religion that theists face no serious logical problem of evil’ (‘Pain and Pleasure: An Evidential Problem for Theists’, Nous, 23 (1989), 331-50: 349). But whether that is so depends on what we understand by ‘the logical problem’. It has not been shown to the satisfaction of atheists that there is no valid deductive argument from the existence of certain evident bad states E (via some necessary moral truths) to the non-existence of God. It has been shown merely that there is no such valid deductive argument evident to theists, who dispute the validity of any such argument by disputing the necessity of the relevant purported necessary moral truths (Swinburne 1998: 20 fn. 13).

The swift in philosophy of religion literature’s focus from the logical problem of evil to the evidential problem of evil by both atheists and theists’ philosophers shows that Swinburne is incorrect. The logical problem of evil’s beast is dying a cold death in academia. Plantinga’s dagger went to deep.

Question: Can the logical problem of evil be rescued?

Previous: The Beast Rises: The Deductive Problem Of Evil


Alston, William P. (1991) The Inductive Argument from Evil and the Human Cognitive Condition, in Philosophical Perspectives 6: 29-67. Reprinted in Howard-Snyder 1996.

________________ (1996) Reprint in Daniel Howard-Snyder, The Evidential Argument From Evil. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. 97-125.

Draper, Paul (1989) Pain and Pleasure: An Evidential Problem For Theists. In Noûs 23:331-350.

Hume, David (1779) Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. 2d ed. London.

Mackie, J. L (1971) “Evil and Omnipotence” in The Philosophy of Religion. ed. Basil Mitchell. Oxford University Press. Mackie’s case from Mind journal vol. 64 in 1955.

_______________ (1982) The Miracle of Theism. Oxford: Clarendon Press. See also p. 155

Plantinga, Alvin (1967) God and Other Minds: A Study of the Rational Justification of Belief in God. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

____________________(1974). God, Freedom and Evil. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Richard Swinburne (1998) Providence and the Problem of Evil Oxford University Press.

Rowe, William L. (1979) The Problem Of Evil And Some Varieties Of Atheism. In American Philosophical Quarterly Vol. 16. 4:335-341, October 1979

Stephen J. Wykstra (1990) The Humean Objection to Evidential Arguments from Suffering: On Avoiding the Evils of ‘Appearance’, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 16 (1984), 73-93. Reprinted in (ed.) Marilyn M. & Robert M. Adams (1990), The Problem of Evil Oxford University Press. 138-60

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39 thoughts on “The Beast Falls: The Cold Death Of Deductive Problem Of Evil

  1. Pingback: The god beyond belief: A review | Random thoughts

  2. @Prayson re “Not really. It is possible that an omni-X and whole good God may have justified reason to permit evil. Could you defend why you think God cannot be good if he has justified reason to permit evil?”

    I’m no philosopher. I’m an English grad student (horrors). However, this seems to me to be a very weak argument. A couple of years ago, both our kids became convinced that a giant bunny rabbit was haunting our house. Was it possible that a giant bunny was haunting the house? Yes, it was possible; at least we couldn’t disprove it. Was it probable? No, it was not probable. “Possible” does not always lead to “probable.”

    Anything is possible, so it is possible that God values free will, and can not create a world where there is both free will and no evil (Plantinga). Is it probable that God values free will to the intense extent he would have to, if he allows genocides to go forth in the name of preserving it? I believe there are reasons why this is not probable.

    1. Our free will is always compromised and limited by our societies, by our families, by historical accident, by diseases like Alzheimers, etc., and our free will is compromised unequally. Existence of “libertarian” free will is controversial, to say the least.

    2. Before modern medicine, over half of humans died in infancy. If you believe that a human being is created at conception, then over half of human beings today are miscarried before they are implanted in the uterus. Most humans, then, die before being able to exercise free will.

    3. There is no evil in heaven, which implies either that we have free will, but always choose not to sin, or that we do not have free will there. If the first is true, then what becomes of Plantinga’s argument that God can not create a realm where there is free will, and no evil? If we do not have free will in heaven, then what becomes of the argument from free will?

    If adult human free will is at least limited on earth, if a majority of humans (infants, fetuses) die without being able to exercise free will, and if we either have no free will, or changed free will in heaven, then how probable is it that God values free will?

    “It is possible that an omni-X and whole good God may have justified reason to permit evil.” It is also possible that a giant bunny is haunting our house. Though possible, neither is probable.

    • Thank you so much. I believe you are correct that it could be possible but not probable. This is actually the reason that in Philosophy of Religion literature the focus have changed from the logical problem of evil, that said it is not possible for God and evil to exist, to probabilistic problem that even if possible it is improbable.

      In this two articles my aim was to show this shift. The cold death of logical problem of evil. I am well aware that the probabilistic version is alive and well.

      I will write two twin articles address that version too as I go through contemporary Philosophical debate on that issue. Thank you for your input.

        • Totally. Get your hands on the works of philosophers, Peter van Inwagen and(or) Daniel Howard-Snyder on this version of problem of evil.

          If you have access to JSTOR or any philosophical journals, you will find a brilliant introduction and response to the probabilistic version. I will make sure in my future articles to include as many atheists and theists who are leading figures to give my readers with further inquires and a more depth case for or against this version.

          Thanks again.

    • ajstor,

      Though I was flabbergasted to know that you are an English grad student, I admire your post. Nicely thought.

  3. I don’t think that this free-will excuse salvages the problem of evil. Euthyphro is as valid today as it was before, but the problem of evil is worse than that. For one, this free-will excuse is easily refuted because the problem of evil is such that people can be inflicted such suffering to the point of losing any possibility for free will. To renounce any sense of autonomy and even refuse believing anything unless ordered to by the people inflicting the suffering. That alone refutes the free-will excuse. Also, this excuse, as any other excuse, minimizes the reality of the pain and suffering that people can and have gone through. I think “I don’t know” would be a much better answer from a believer than trying to justify such horrific things in any way.

    As per my claim that it is worse. If in order for there to be good there has to be evil, as you seem to proclaim, then how can anybody say that their god is perfectly good? How could this god be good if there was nothing else but this god before it created anything? Did this god become good only after creating good and evil? If so, why create this way rather than other ways? Does this god thus lack free-will? Did it then create something more powerful that itself in terms of freedom? If good cannot exist unless there’s evil, then this god would have to either be both, good and evil, or good and evil must exist apart and regardless of this god. Maybe there’s other options, but it seems like thus this god is impotent towards good and evil. Thus this god would not be omnipotent. As you can notice from the options above, problems can only accumulate as we imagine different scenarios.

    The problem of evil is alive, well, and quite strong by all appearances.

  4. Honestly, I think you have a good point. It takes an open and honest person to admit that they don’t have the correct answer, or at least that they can’t be 100% certain their answer is correct. As for the God debate, I think this leads every person to examine the evidence and go where the proponderance of evidence leads. I know of many responsible atheists and theists alike who have done this, seen the same evidence, and come to different conclusions.

    Strictly for the sake of curiousity, as I am ignorant of your views, what do you mean by “evolutionary fairy-tale”? I havent’ seen the phrase before.

    • Hi Peter,

      Before launching into any further, allow me to recall an online debate I had when I was in the creationist camp, and where a 2nd year Uni. Biology student, poised to defend evolutionism from a hard-evidence point of view (since what is called “evidence” is enough to convince a Dawkins, but when it gets to a thinker with some common sense as Jay-Gould it gets wacko…) finally admitted the following:
      “Yes Romulus, you are quite right… evolutionism is basically a theory, but the theory of evolution is a fact…”
      Facts are based on verifiable evidence, theories are intellectual gymnastics:-)
      The existence of fairies has for me more sense than the slow-motion random genetic mutation evolutionism, which contradicts ALL empirical scientific reasoning. Unfortunately most of it has been designed as an anti-creationist defence, instead of a non-biased scientific pursuit…
      Honestly, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is more scientific than Dawkin’s bla-bla…

      • Everything worth knowing is intellectual gymnastics, the issue is whether the gymnastics are performed with the right equipment. Evolution is no fairy tale, and your mischaracterization of the word theory, and your use of the “fairy tale” wording referring to evolution, only comes to prove that you have no idea what you are talking about.

        Liberty of thinking should not necessarily mean misinformed thinking.

      • Why do you think that your word is more of a “guarantee for the irrefutable truth carried by thy sentences” than mine? Don’t you recognize your own tone, and lack of presentation of any support for your position, when used to talk about your ignorance?

        It is not the fact that I recognize those sentences that shows your ignorance. I said more and referred to more than those sentences, but you should be able to use your free thinking capabilities to read the other things I said, shouldn’t you?

        So how about you show me how to do this properly? My bet is that you would only show evidence of the ignorance I was talking about. But feel free to start by telling us what a scientific theory is, and how is it that if we scientists find them proper you still know better than us.

        Also please show me which courses did I miss in my training to be a scientist because I never heard that I should disprove theism. Let me give you a clue: Geologists and geophysicists today know how volcanoes work. That the explanation did not involve angry gods is not the sciences’ fault. The things were what they were. That does not mean that those geologists and geophysicists and vulcanologists were trying to prove that volcanoes are not gods. Does it? Well, that evolution happens to conflict with other gods does not mean that it was discovered with the purpose of “disproving theism.” But feel free to correct me and point me to the courses I missed. I have been a scientists for many years, and I can’t believe I missed something that central to my profession.

    • I’ve seen the phrase lots of times before. It means that the one who uses the phrase has no idea about evolution and science. Most probably holding to versions misinformed and deformed via creationist propaganda.

      • @physics

        Uhum… And thy word is the guarantee for the irrefutable truth carried by thy sentences, isn’t it?

        Oh, and the fact that you’ve seen the phrase lots of time before, means that I have no idea about evolution and science!?

        Yeap, irrefutable logic…

      • Not that I have seen them before, but the content of those phrases, is what shows that you have no idea about evolution and science.

  5. Liberty of Thinking is correct in his logic …. but for one point. “3.God allows a tempter to lure mankind into doing something they wouldn’t have done without being tempted.” There is absolutely no evidence that mankind wouldn’t have fallen without the tempter afoot. I would argue that God created mankind as “innocent,” unaware of evil, yet that does not preclude the ability of a free-moral agent to choose disobedience and thus evil.

    I posit that sooner or later, Adam, Eve, or one of their descendants would have chosen to disobey the holy God even without a tempter. If we accept the Judeo-Christian concept of Lucifier/Satan (which I do), who was the tempter of Lucifer?

    • Hi Richard,
      Since my logic’s “evidence” rests entirely upon available information, in this particular case the Torah, I conclude that based upon it, and not any other -in our case only hypothetical elements- my argument’s sequential order and outcome stand(s).
      In my oppinion it is always the introduction of hypothetical elements, and disregard for considering ALL available scriptural data, which has constructed ALL theistic worldviews.
      Unfortunately as well, science has resorted to the same inquisitorial methods in order to unsuccessfully refute theism, as it is the case with the evolutionary fairy-tale…
      The stupidity of both boils down to not being able to honestly admit and publicly say: “We don’t know.”
      Looking forward to hearing your, and anyone else’s subject bound oppinions.

      • It is misinformed to pretend that science is trying to refute theism. Next you will say that you would not eat anything that contained DNA.

      • @physics 3


        Well, you just proved your credibility.
        Besides, after assisting in, and debating (as a creationist at the time) all sorts of “scientists” for nearly two decades, you come in the anonymity of your no-face-no-name “credentials” to tell me science has no problem with theism? Yes it is the theistic evolutionist crowd usually advocating this pathetic position. But please, I wish you well and beyond in your thoughts! At the hights of your anonymous scientific credentials, the opinions of a face-and-name -credentials listed- thinker, should not disturb you.
        And if you will excuse me now, but I don’t usually engage in any argument, debate and polemics with anyone brave enough to conceal their identity…
        I grew up and started my general professional and philological life in one of the world’s most oppressive dictatorships… And I’ve learned many things about anonymity and those hiding behind it.

      • Mr of Thinking,

        I keep anonymity because when I used my real name I had some problems with nasty Christians. I would suggest that someone like you, with such an uncommon last name as “of Thinking,” did the same. Unless you have no family to worry about. There’s also some nasty atheists by the way.

        As per credibility, I do not think that it would be established by me being facetious or not, or by your amount of expertise in debating previously as a creationist, or by whether I have credentials or not, but by the facts. I am quite surprised though, that you would think that being misinformed about evolution via creationist charlatanry equips you to understand science better than scientists themselves, let us assume that I am no scientist, why should I trust your position over that of those who should be informed of what science is directly? Most importantly if I hear scientists talking about evolution as science, while I hear a creationist-no-more talking exactly like a creationist, saying that evolution breaks ALL empirical scientific reasoning? I mean scientists wouldn’t know if their proposed theory breaks all empirical scientific reasoning?

        I did not say that science has no problem with theism, I said that the problems are not science’s fault. It is not science’s fault if we discover that volcanoes are not angry gods. It is not science’s fault if evolution contradicts other god beliefs. Things are what they are. What I contended is your idea that science is trying to refute gods. It does no such thing. Science is a way of discovering how things work and such, not about refuting gods. The god-refutation consequences are not intended. It just happens that as we understand better we come to realize that gods are anthropomorphisms and fantasy. Oh, I am quite far from suggesting such a stupid thing as theistic evolution.

        So, again, why should I trust your opinion, one suspected of being deformed by years of your debating as a creationist for decades? It is clear that creationists deform the ideas of evolution and science to win debates. Why would you, who seems not to be a creationist any more, trust that misinformation? I know why I don’t. I’m well informed, but that you would not investigate better is quite a surprise for someone who is no longer a creationist. As if leaving those beliefs did not help you notice a few problems with how creationists misrepresent science. I used to debate atheists too. I won all the time. Yet I was wrong. I trusted other creationists regarding what evolution was and such. The problem was that I am honest. So, the moment I noticed a few misrepresentations it was like a snowball. I discovered more and more, until it was quite clear that honesty is not high in creationist debating techniques, and that if they knew something about science and evolution they were making sure to deform all of it to win the debates. Smart, but not a good way to arrive at truth. You use those techniques and deformations exactly. Have you ever wondered if they represent science and evolution correctly?

      • @physics 4

        Mr. Physics

        I truly enjoy the conversation with you, having settled the tone back to a respect you didn’t really exercise in the beginning…
        You banged into this thread I have left anyway, after seeing there’s no way to get Mr. Daniel leave his labyrinthic -well known to me- way of dealing with anything else but the problems confronted with.
        Should you have used the gentlemen’s tone you use now, I would have explained to you my frustration in being treated as an idiot by the scientific establishment, which has all the rights in promoting theories as facts and vice-versa, rewriting the philosophy which coined them, without expecting of me to by default believe them. As I understand, we belong now to about the same club, your area of expertise being the strictness of data, mine the tight, nevertheless liberty of, semantics…
        You see, I have left xtianity because I took simple logic to its end, and lo and behold, xtian theism has proved to be wrong. It cost me my “reputation”, nearly all my friends, my sponsored ministry etc. I’m still confused in many areas, and have no better defense than relying on the same simple logic which brought me here.
        One thing “stinks” for me when it comes to evolutionism, and that is the axiomatic “a priori” way in which it is being considered and promoted. And I can’t help comparing this with the “a priori” modus operandi of xtianity when deals with its god.
        I understand and respect your desire for anonymity, and I have no problems with it, until it becomes a veil for un-politeness.
        With respect, me:-)

      • Hum, I thought I was paying no attention to respect or lack thereof. But sure, I think we can keep this respectful. I shall still call a spade a spade though.

        I have to tell you though, that my aim was not and is not to convince you that evolution is real, but to show that the basis for your assessment was misinformation and rhetoric. Example, there might be something called “evolutionism,” if there is, I am far from promoting such a thing. But this derogative term, evolutionism, which is clearly from creationist origin, is an attempt at making it appear as just a belief. Evolution though, is something I understand quite well, and the reason it could be perceived as being promoted “a priori” as “an axiom,” is that scientists have no reason to doubt that it is true. It is as well an established scientific fact as gravitation. The discussions among evolutionary biologists today are mostly about which phenomena contribute the most to what we see. For example, is it much more positive selection, negative selection, or neutral variation? Some, like Dawkins, think that positive selection (seemingly the main form of selection presented by Darwin and Wallace) is the most important factor, while Gould used to think (he dies a few years ago) that there’s lots of things that are not advantageous, but just the result of random fixation of some variants. That put very simplistically (and there’s lots of data, this was not discussion initiated in vacuo).

        In any event, one of the things that made me realize about the faults of creationists, when I was one, was that I started reading the origin of species. I wanted to equip myself with further weaponry against it. I expected to find all the ridiculous things I was convinced that it was about because of the misinformation received from other creationists. Lo and behold, it wasn’t like that at all. Following step by step I came to understand why Darwin thought of this (he made an excellent presentation by the way, even if with mistakes here and there because of many things he could not possibly know, like mechanism of heredity). The thing is, it is not mere mental gymnastics, but mental gymnastics about many and rich data about species distributions, fossils, population growth, variation within species, and a long long et cetera. It was far from being just an attempt to deny gods. At first I stopped using arguments I was starting to understand to be deformations. I would explain to my comrades that we should not say so and so because it was mistaken. I was surprised that they did not care what I had to say and would rather get angry at me for “defending” evolution (I wasn’t, I still thought it was false). Later on I understood enough to be convinced by the facts. No dogmas, not a priori, no axioms. Facts all put together say that evolution is real.

        So, my main point is this: it is not proper to rely on creationist cartoons to call something like evolution a fairy tale. I am far from saying that you should accept something because scientists say so. I am saying that I would not believe for one second that scientists would not know if their theories break all the rules of empirical scientific reasoning. Thus, if they are mistaken about something, it cannot be because they do not know anything about being scientists. That would be a ridiculous proposition. Thus, if the experts say so, they must have a reason. They might be wrong, but I rather listen and/or study to figure out those reasons rather than just assuming that they have no idea about science. Don’t get me wrong, I know that we do make mistakes, I have proposed some stuff that contradicted some scientific principles. But I was shown so and stopped from going further with that. But to break ALL the rules? Not possible. Let alone with something as big as evolution.

        All the best.

      • @Physics 5

        Thank you for your well thought and pertinent presentation. I do understand and acknowledge the sometimes deliberate interchanging of evolution for evolutionism by creationists, and the different connotation they carry. As you yourself know, it is easier to attack a philosophical term than a scientific one, from within an establishment not famous for its scientific ranks. Just to clarify though, this was not at all my intention when using the evolutionism term.
        Like it or not, accept it or reject it, at this moment in time evolution(ism) is still more theoretical than practical, and that shouldn’t cause any problems to the scientific community. Nevertheless, if you read further, you’ll see my acknowledgement of the situation, which explains why I understand the scientific community’s defensiveness.
        It shouldn’t in -my opinion- be a problem the existence of such a term, given the still enormous amount of data still waiting to be added to something which was supposed to have happened over unthinkable periods of time, data which unfortunately is rather scarcely available. Evolution still needs to be much clearly explained than the CGI pseudo-documentaries pestering scientific TV channels, which like it or not, are THE means of mass information for this era. Much of the scientific arguments behind evolution are still being models of what could have happened, as researchable, repeatable and palpable data is scarce. I understand nevertheless, that time in this case may play the key role.
        Nevertheless, while absolutely agreeing with you for the clearly observable macro variations and changes within species, triggered and shaped by climatic changes, habitat, food distribution etc., I am still holding onto my reservations when it comes to the micro mechanisms which ultimately should have caused these. Genetics is mathematics and chemistry, and the scientific establishment should not shy away from acknowledging that just about a couple of generations of time available since research has started, could not produce miracles when the research’s objective might be hundreds of millions of generations.
        YET, and this is my major ethical problem, the scientific establishment uses sometimes the same miracle sounding rhetoric, as the creationist camp. One thing nevertheless, I absolutely acknowledge when saying this, and that is the enormous amount of pressure the scientific camp is exposed at by the public opinion, for results, and by the religious establishment for the same. And work under such pressure and stress carries with itself all the displayed problems, as given the nature of such socio-political establishments like the US, where virtually anything is possible given a “good” lobby group, the largely agnostic public, and the scientific community have to act under the Damocles’ sword of seeing the middle ages return…

        As for the “spades” you mention, my initial invitation for anyone reading the reply which prompted you to jump in, was for “opinions” and not at all “spades” or any other fights.
        Your later tone is much more in the spirit of my open invitation, than the former.

        Learning happens when thoughts are challenged, not fought…

      • Hello again Mr of Thinking,

        Well, to finish the lack-of-respect part, I just want to let you know that what you wrote before we found better forms of communicating with each other was also insulting. It implied that we worship a natural process (calling the process evolutionism, rather than just evolution), that my work is all about refuting gods (which is completely absent from my mind when I do my work), and accused me of not knowing if some theory would violate all the rules of empirical science reasoning. That should explain to you why would I come and call your arguments for what they were, and for the foundations in which they rested. That can’t be done except in terms that will always sound impolite.

        I am glad though that we found that we can talk to each other rather than shoot insults. It is true that some animation videos is not enough to show how and why evolution is science, proper, and well supported. A lot of sciencey programs are crapy. However, even those when looked carefully can have good clues towards proper understanding when not looked at with creationist-propaganda-vision-blurring glasses. I have watched some of these shows looking for clues of how misinformation can happen. Example, creationist propaganda uses some key words in derogative ways, and if a program mentions, for example, random mutations, the creationist-blurred mind fills in the gaps with the creationist versions of evolution, and does not listen to what is actually said. It’s quite easy to fool oneself if one carries the “proper” misinformation. It takes work to listen what is said rather than put our own meanings into it.

        But enough of that. I see no need to convince you of evolution, nor to convince anybody else that you were misinformed. Now I am sure that if you are curious you can figure it out yourself, and other readers might have better clues to figure it out themselves too. (Unless you would like us to talk about it a bit more, which I can try and find the time for, but don’t expect to see my answers too quickly.)

  6. Don’t read this if you are afraid to take your thoughts to the end of doubt!

    Prologue: Oh how uselessly does theology try to redeem a deity who creates a species in his own image, just to watch them doing what they did…

    1.God creates mankind in his own image and likeliness
    2.God instates a law and offers two choices, explaining in detail how to obey and transgress
    3.God allows a tempter to lure mankind into doing something they wouldn’t have done without being tempted
    4.Mankind falls into temptation
    5.The tempter goes away to continue his job
    6.Mankind is condemned
    7.God is just…

    Oh, without a tempter, the creature would not have committed any sin, challenging thus the Creator’s exclusive pretensions to uniqueness? Hmm, no chances taken…

    Final Question: How should we call the sinful image’s original?

  7. An excellent article and the first I had heard of Plantinga’s argument. However, it seems to me that the argument is a double-edged dagger. If the argument is that God is omnipotent and wholly good and yet allows evil to exist so as to grant man the capacity of free will, it follows that God is not an interventionist God as free will is seen by him as a “greater good”. Also, if this argument is to be taken at face value, then much in the bible must be taken as allegory rather than gospel (in the sense that something is absolutely true) because one cannot simply disobey an omnipotent being. For instance: the binding of Isaac. Abraham has no free will in this situation. He was simply commanded. So it’s a strange argument to say that God gave free will to men when he subverts this free will multiple times in the bible.

    • Thanks Scott. I do not think it is strange case because of two reasons.

      1. This case aims at what is called skeptical theism. Namely God is an omni-X without getting into details on how each monotheistic religion reveals of His nature.

      2. Even if granted, it seems from fallen angels, Adam and Eve and on that creatures can and did simply disobey an omnipotent God. If Abraham had no free will to choose not to offer Isaac, how could it be considered as a test?

      Though I do would not offer libertarian freedom, as Plantinga did, as a possible reason for God to permit evil, I think it is enough to hold a proposition p: It is possible omni-X God has justified reason to allow evil.

      If it is possible then the problem of evil is solved, even if we never come to know what that reason is.

      Your thoughts Scott?

      • “I think it is enough to hold a proposition p: It is possible omni-X God has justified reason to allow evil.”

        In order to hold to this you would have to accept that “omni-X” does not include goodness. This god would be evil. No way around.

        • Not really. It is possible that an omni-X and whole good God may have justified reason to permit evil. Could you defend why you think God cannot be good if he has justified reason to permit evil?

      • It is not possible for an omni-X perfectly good god to have justified reason to allow some levels of evil that are clearly worse than dying. You cannot say that it is logical that a good god could have justified reasons to allow all of the evils that exist. It just does not make sense. You are free to assume so if that makes you happy, but it solves nothing from an objective point of view. If you learn about what happens in this world you would have to admit that lots of evil are clearly pointless and horrific. That a good god could stop that without revealing itself by, for example, setting some level of suffering as mortal at a point before the suffering can get to be as horrific and as destructive of human-will as it can get. Your omni-X god would have to be evil or indifferent. It cannot be good. As I said above, you have worse problems than this. Now, I am trying hard to avoid mentioning those unjustifiable levels of evil out of respect for the victims. Thus I will leave the figuring it out to you. In any event, every time I hear this excuse “a good god could have justified reasons to allow evil,” I feel horrified at how much Christians lack respect for humanity’s suffering. It tells me that Christianity is a sickness for humanity. It makes people accept the most horrific events as justifiable. Do you understand this at all? Either that of you guys are too ignorant of the shit that happens.

        • I do not think Christians lack respect for humanity’s suffering but quite the contrary it is atheism, that denies suffering, as Richard Dawkins but, a pitiless indifferent, and Hinduism which claim that suffering is illusory.

          But that is another story all together. Could you give reasons why it is not possible? I wish to have rational reasons why you think it does not make sense?

      • Sorry, but that was absolutely false. Atheism is just rejection of the idea that gods exist. Period. You can’t say that rejecting a belief means lack of respect for human suffering. Come on. Also Dawkins would be far from that, but even if he did not care about human suffering that would not mean that this is due to his atheism. You, however, can’t deny that you are declaring, plainly and openly, that your god has good reasons to allow the suffering that exists. That means that you think that such suffering is justified. That means that you, deep inside, have no respect for human suffering. It’s justified, isn’t it? So, if you say that you care, you are contradicting your god’s wisdom to allow it. In other words, saying that your god has good reasons to allow it means that you don’t have respect for human suffering. Saying that you have respect for human suffering means that you have lack respect to your god’s justifications. Take your pick.

        I told you why it does not make sense to think that a good god could have justified reasons to allow the evil that exists. What part was so hard to understand? What part needs further revision?

        • You keep saying it does not make sense but you do not give reasons. Read for your self your comments.

          Simply saying a all good God would not not allow evil does not make sense is not a reason.

          Nietzsche and Sartre gave good reasons to think that only an English Flat Heads, using Nietzsche’s words, would not see the consequences of rejecting the belief and existence of God.

          But let not straw, I want to know what reasons you have to think that an all loving and omni-X who allows evil makes no sense. Can you offer an argument to show that is so?

      • Prayson,

        I mentioned this above:

        “If you learn about what happens in this world you would have to admit that lots of evil are clearly pointless and horrific. That a good god could stop that without revealing itself by, for example, setting some level of suffering as mortal at a point before the suffering can get to be as horrific and as destructive of human-will as it can get.”

        That’s but a taste. The issue is that such things cannot be justified under the belief of a good and omni-everything god. Just not possible. The problem of evil is a real problem because just shrugging and saying that a good god could have justified reason to allow all evil that happens in the world, not only it is no answer, it is truly not logical. I guess this is why Calvinist believe in an evil god but don’t call it evil. They just redefine good to mean “whatever God commands.” So, in their view, if their god allows all kinds of horrendous evils, he is in his right. If he does not want us to do the same, he is in his right, and so on.

        Get real. The problem of evil has no solution. It still does not matter, since there is no gods anyway.

  8. Excellent pair of posts Prasyon. Thank you for putting the arguments out there so concisely. Not all of us are called to delve so deep into theological research, its great to have a friend who can collate and share these kinds of arguments and discussions.

  9. Can the logical problem of Evil be rescued? In a word: no. I think the free-will defense in general has closed the coffin on the logical problem, and Plantinga put the nails in it. The logical problem of evil has about as much power as the Euthyphro does today. I think it’s just one of those quips people throw out to distract serious debators from making valid arguments; it’s a red herring – much like the poor theist saying “what explosion can cause order” in an objection to the Big Bang theory. All such arguments – used by both sides – are meaningless and serve more as distractors than as valid debate points.

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