Pow! There Goes An Atheist Down

The Problem of Evil and Existence of God

The Holocaust

Atheist: I just do not understand how you Christians can believe in God, while there is so much evil and suffering in this world.

Christian: What is it that you do not understand?

Atheist: I do not understand because your belief about God is incompatible with the evil and suffering we encounter in this world.

Christian: How is our belief about God incompatible with existence of evil and suffering?

Atheist: Because you believe that God is totally good(omnibenevolent), all-knowing(omniscient) and all-powerful(omnipotent) and that He created the world.

Christian: Yes, that is true. But how is that incompatible with the evil and suffering we encounter in the world?

Atheist: Well, If God is good and loves all human beings, it is reasonable to believe that he want to deliver the creatures he loves from evil and suffering.

Christian: Go on.

Atheist: And, If God is all-knowing, it is reasonable to believe that he knows that evil and suffering exist and knows how to deliver his creatures from evil and suffering.

Christian: I am listening.

Atheist: And last, If God is all-powerful, it is reasonable to believe that he is able to deliver his creatures from evil and suffering.

Christian: So that led you to conclude that, God wants to eliminate evil and suffering, He knows and have power to eliminate them yet evil and suffering exist.

Atheist: Exactly. So your God, either want to eliminate evil, but does not know how to, then he is not all-knowing, or your God wants and know how to, but not able to, then he is not all-powerful or your God knows and able to eliminate evil, but he does not want, then he is not totally loving.

Christian: To that, you concluded that it is reasonable that the Christian God does not exist.

Starved Child

Atheist: Bingo! Can you see how contradictory, irrational and inconsistent your own teaching about God is?

Christian: If it is contradictory and inconsistent as you claim, oh yes! Not only will Christian’s belief about God, be possibly false, but necessarily false.

Atheist: Can you see now, why I just do not understand how you Christians can believe in that God.

Christian: I understand your position. Can we look at the logic in what you just said and try to find the contradiction, you supposed?

Atheist: Sure thing

Christian: I will write down your propositions, so we can see were your supposed contradiction is.

  1. God exists
  2. God is omnipotent
  3. God is omniscient
  4. God is omnibenevolent
  5. God created the world
  6. The world contains evil

Christian: Did I present your propositions correctly?

Atheist: You have, yes.

Christian: Where is the contradiction? For there to be a contradiction, you need to show that (1-5) entails a missing and assumed proposition 7. The world does not contain evil.

Atheist: I am lost! Please explain that.

Christian: I mean, If you can show that we Christian believe(1-7) then there would be a logical contradiction (between 6  and 7). Thus Christian’s belief about God would be inconsistency and necessarily false.

Atheist: I can see what you are trying to explain here. But back to what I was saying. Is your God not omnipotent, that he have the power to do all things?

Christian: Indeed God is omnipotent, but I suppose you have not fully understood what it means by omnipotence. Sorry if I am wrong.

Alvin Carl Plantinga (born November 15, 1932)

Alvin Plantinga(1932-)

Atheist: What does it mean then?

Christian: God’s omnipotence means that he can do all logically possible tasks. Consequently, God cannot do a non-logical tasks. Example: There is no amount of power a being could possess to make a square circle or a married bachelor.

Atheist: I never thought it that way.

Christian: The Bible also records that God cannot lie(Titus 1:2) or he cannot swear by a being greater than himself(Hebrew 6:13) because there is not being greater than himself.

Atheist: Is this a trick to avoid answering the problem of evil and suffering?

Christian: Not at all, I just wanted you to understand what it means by God been omnipotent.

Atheist: So what do you Christians have to say about existence of evil and suffering in this world?

Christian: Well, it is logically rational and consistence to believe that God created a world that now contains evil and has a good reason for doing so.

Atheist: Really! Can you show me the logic behind that?

Christian: Indeed, I will marge (1-5) into one.

  1. God exists, is omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, and created the world.
  2. God created a world that now contain evil and has a good reason for doing so.
  3. Therefore, the world contain evil.

Christian: 1 and 2 entail 3.

Atheist: Oh! Now you got me pondering.

Christian: Remember, we do not even have to claim that proposition 2 to be true, but only logically true, meaning “If it is possibly true”. Because if it is possible then there is no logically contradiction in our belief in an omnibenevolent, omnipotent, omniscient God and existence of evil and suffering we find in this world.

Atheist: But why would a loving God permit evil and suffering?

Christian: We do not have to know “why” for proposition 2 to be true.

Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz

Atheist: I cannot conceive any good reasons why a good and loving God would permit evil.

Christian: We have to be careful not to fall into an appeal to ignorance. Beside, one has to be all-knowing to say that.

Atheist: I see there is no logical contradiction but I still have a problem in believing a God who will permit so much evil and suffering in the world.

Christian: I totally understand and respect your position, perhaps we can take our talk further and I will try to explain how could God permit evil and suffering.

Atheist: Sound like a good idea.

Christian: How about next week, same time.

Atheist: That fits me.

Christian: Well then, thank you for a wonderful talk.

Atheist: You are welcome, see you then.

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45 thoughts on “Pow! There Goes An Atheist Down

  1. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like the refutation of the problem of evil hinges upon this question:

    Is it logically possible to create a world with only good and no evil?

    If it isn’t possible, then our 3 “problem propositions”:
    2.God is omnipotent
    3.God is omniscient
    4.God is omnibenevolent

    Can all be true at the same time.

    But if it is possible, then all 3 cannot be true at the same time.

    This is of course, taking the meaning of omnipotent to mean “omnipotent to do logically possible things”, which I think is a reasonable interpretation.

    • Yes, the Free Will Defense refutation of the problem of evil hinges upon the proposition that it was not logically possible for God to create a world with only good and without evil. 🙂

      Could you please explain how all 3 cannot be true at the same time?(So that I may not attack a strawman 🙂 )

      • Well, if it is logically possible for God to create a world with only good and no evil, and if evil exists in the world, don’t we have to conclude that either:

        a) God can’t do it (then He is not omnipotent).
        b) God won’t do it (then He is not omnibenevolent).
        c) God can do it, but doesn’t know how to (then He is not omniscient).

        (On an unrelated note, this is a really cool comment box plugin. What is it?)

        • Thank you so much for your explanation.

          If it was logically possible then you are very correct 🙂

          A Free Will Defender bites a) God can’t do it and He is omnipotent as he maintain that it is logically not possible for God to create a world with only good and no evil. Keeping in mind things that an omnipotent God can not do, because there is no amount of power can archive illogical task. Example: making square circle, married bachelor and so on.

          Bonus: I think by God creating creatures with free will (which is good),, he made it possible for these free creatures to do either good or evil. Making God responsible for the fact of free will and creatures responsible for that act of free will. An only good world without evil could be possible if creatures were without free will, determined or pre-installed to do only good. :0

          (I think the comment box comes with the theme)

  2. I am so so so so so happy today, for 2 reasons…

    1) I always thought the epicurean forumation of the problem of evil was solid, period. I find the demolishment of my own long held beliefs to be as exhilirating (or perhaps more exhilirating) as new discoveries (it is a new discovery in a sense — one that was right under your nose!).

    2) I’ve finally found an apologetics blog that:
    a) Is not dogmatically insane.
    b) Uses *gasp* logic.
    c) Has comments *on*.
    d) Sincerely replies to challenges within those comments.

    Kudos!

  3. Premise 1-5 lead to the conclusion “there is no evil in the world.”

    The point is that logically an all powerful, loving God would not allow for evil, thus if God exists there would be no evil (a conditional conclusion).

    That then contradicts premise 6 – that there is evil.
    The later argument, that has 2 premises are contradictions: the all loving God has reasons for evil. What’s all loving and all powerful about that? The intentional creation of suffering (evil) is incompatible with all powerful (omnipotent) prevention of all suffering (omni-benevolence).

    Food for thought.

    • Hello Allallt,

      Thank you so much for food for thought 🙂

      How does 1-5 leads to your conclusion. Can you please write down your argument 1-6.

      Thank you once again 🙂

  4. Thank you for your response, Prayson. If my other questions are still pertinent after this comment, please do answer them! You’ll have to let me know if Pirates is worth seeing. 🙂

    I believe we are on the same page as far as the propositions go now. At least, I think we understand each other. ^_^

    However, I must disagree with this claim:
    “If an introduction of proposition 5a´ is possibly true in your set(1-6), then your conclusion (7.) is necessarily false.”

    I do not believe this renders the conclusion necessarily false – that would mean the argument would come out false on every line in a truth-table, and would therefore be a contradiction. It may be that you have plotted the truth table and/or done a proof by contradiction to show how the conclusion is necessarily false, but given your Cinematic time-constraints, I will wait until I get a positive affirmation of the necessity of this arguments conclusion 🙂

    Otherwise, it’s merely a contingent argument, one that is possibly valid.

    But to be honest, I found the second half of your post much more convincing. There may be no need for you to show anything about the argument I have put forth, because I accept the argument that says:

    1. God is omnipotent, omniscient, and wholly good.(from the article)

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

    3´. God created a world containing moral good.

    3.Therefore, the world contain moral evil.(from the article)”

    This seems like a valid refutation of the problem of evil, at least in the form that I have put it in. Is it yours? The quotes make me wonder about its origin.

    I am not an atheist, as you may or may not have noticed on my own blog. I’ve always felt that I can strengthen my own view by taking up an opposing one, or at least understand my own view better. So thank you, for your arguments!

    It seems that the next step would be to deny that moral good and evil exist at all! I’ll get working on it 🙂

    -Brandon

    • Wow, Pirate was breathe taking and I believe it was one of the best. It simple, sweet, romantic, funny, adventurous and quite religious. It is worth watching.

      I agree with you for not agreeing with me on proposition 5a´ truthness making your conclusion necessarily false. Thinking about it now, I think I disagree with me too 🙂

      It does not make your conclusion(7) necessarily false, rather weak.

      Oh! The quotations, it comes from google documents outline(I wrote first in google document then move it to wordpress), sorry about it.

      But the idea behind my argument, I have to admit, does come from the works of a master mind Alvin Plantinga’s FWD. I believe he deserve all credit.

      Now I am curious and cannot wait to read your work on denying the existence of moral good and evil.

      I am still working on your two questions that I did not answer: Criteria of good reason and libertarian version of free will.

      I am looking for a co-blogger, editor, or contributor, if I am may tempt you Brandon. 🙂

      In Christ Jesus,
      Prayson

  5. “1. God is omnipotent, omniscient, and wholly good.(from the article)

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

    3′. God created a world containing moral good.

    3.Therefore, the world contain moral evil.(from the article)”

    Does heaven contain moral evil? Is heaven a world created by God?

    • Hej Brap,

      Dear me, how happy I am to see you back 🙂 Thank you for your comment.

      Does heaven contain moral evil? Yes and No. Yes in a sense that creatures in Heaven have free will thus capable of moral evil. Example Lucifer and other fallen angels/demons((Isaiah 14:12-15). No in a sense that they are thrown out of heaven, awaiting eternal judgement”Lake of fire”(Revelation 20:10).

      Is heaven a world created by God? Heaven is heaven and world is world. I am not sure I understand the question. Please explain it more.

      Thank you so much once again.

      Prayson

      • I suppose where I was headed was looking for a contradiction with the statement that God cannot create a world without both good and evil, and a Heaven with no evil would be an example of such a contradiction.

        But, if I were a Christian apologist I would simply say Heaven is a subset of the world beyond our material world as we know it (call it the “netherworld”), and the netherworld includes Heaven and Hell. Heaven has only good and Hell has only evil (or maybe both good and evil). (By the same logic, just because our material world has evil, that doesn’t mean every subset of our material world has evil.)

        To me, the problem of evil on earth is no problem at all for the existence of God. You simply can’t have good without evil. Good and evil are at opposite ends of the spectrum, and whatever is at the end opposite the “good” end gets labeled “evil” no matter what it is. (As we’ve thoroughly discussed in the past I think it’s all relative and not objective, but there’s no need to go there again.)

        To me, the problem of evil (or lack thereof) is more of a problem for the existence of Heaven, since you can’t have good without evil. Any vision of utopia collapses once people start thinking about what utopia would really be like. If it’s all equally good, that means there are no opinions and no choices, and without that the residents of utopia are very close to being mindless drones. No thanks.

      • Brap,

        Have you gave a thought the idea of God creating creatures without free will, if he could, then he could have a world with moral good(reflecting his nature) and without evil.

        In that sense one can have moral good without evil.

        Just a food for thought. Let me know your thoughts on that idea. 🙂

        In Christ,

        Prayson

      • Regarding your free will question, I suspect the layman’s definition of “free will” differs somewhat from the philosopher’s definition. (If philosophers are even in agreement . . .) I haven’t read much about free will, I just assume I have it because I think I get to choose whether or not to send this reply.

        Going with my layman’s definition, which means without free will either our actions are constantly being guided by some being or beings other than ourselves, or our actions are solely dependent upon a series of events initiated by the previous actions of some being or beings, then yes, I could envision a world of beings without free will having good without evil. And I have no desire to be part of such a world.

  6. I’ve been reading Wittgenstein (for context). Could it not be said that the existence of evil is a good thing? Logically speaking, I don’t mean that evil is good but the existence of it. The scriptures teach that evil will not always exist except in the past (there’s a can of worms), which will of course also be a good thing.

    • Dear R Brandon,

      You gave me something to think about. I dare not answer your question without long reflection.

      I am looking forth answering it. Thank you so much for your question.

      Prayson

      • Honesty, your question is above and far beyond my knowledge. I ponder your question and I have to admit I do not know the answer R. Bradon W.

        I promise to keep looking though, and if I come up with something useful I will buzz you. For now your question is on my list of “the unsolved questions”

        Thank you 🙂

  7. Thanks for your response Prayson, and for your congratulations. Now to figure out what in the world I’ll do with a degree in philosophy… 🙂

    Your correction in your last post:
    5a´. God creates a world containing evil and has a good reason for doing so.

    I feel as though premise 5 of my original argument (to which this is referring) is not meant to portray what you are proposing to interpret it as in 5a’. That being said, I think I see the area(s) of contention.

    Please tell me if you agree with my observations about our current positions:

    1) I do not think you are in DISAGREEMENT with my original premise 5, per se. Admittedly, my terminology in premise 5 can be ambiguously read. All 5 is meant to do is to basically say that if someone wants to do something, knows how to do something and is able to do something, then they will do that thing.

    2) I think what you are saying is something like this: There are times when someone might want to do something, know how to do it, and is ABLE to do it, but has a good reason NOT to do it. For example, a parent might want to STOP a child from going through radiation treatments because it’s very painful. They want to stop them, they know how to stop them and they are ABLE to stop them, but yet have good reasons (it can help the child fight leukemia, for example) not to.

    If these are not accurate descriptions, please let me know, but I will assume until then that they are. 🙂

    Now this notion of “good reasons” needs to be discussed and cleared up. What is meant by a “good reason”? More importantly, by what criterion do we determine whether or not a reason is “good”? In my earlier posts I has assumed that a “good” reason assumes a moral dimension, which is why I combined it with the third premise. In that way, my definition of moral goodness meant to account for “good reasons.” Let me explain, continuing the radiation treatment child analogy.

    In order for us to say that the parent of the child would have “good reasons” to allow the child to continue through radiation treatment, I believe we are forced to say that the aggregate moral outcome would be of GREATER value than to prevent the child from going through radiation treatments.

    In other words, to say there is good reason for allowing some sort of evil to exist is EQUIVALENT to saying “the ultimate outcome for allowing evil to exist is greater moral goodness than if evil did not exist.”

    This is my definition of a “morally perfect” being – to say God is perfectly good is to say that God will act in the way that provides for the most possible moral goodness. Once again, this spills over directly into premise 3/3a. In your response you are questioning whether or not I mean this:

    “3a. An omnipotent and omniscient good being eliminates every evil that it can properly eliminate.”

    And I would say that there is SOME meaning being lost in putting the premise in this form. A lot depends upon what you mean by the word “properly” here. My argument would allow for this interpretation so long as “properly” means something similar to what I have posted above.

    That is, properly = good reasons = it promotes for an aggregate outcome of an increase in moral goodness.

    Moving on.

    “FWT attempt to show what God’s reason is while FWD attempt to show what God’s reason might possibly be.”

    This clears up a lot of my confusion with what you meant by “logically possible” in your post and other comments. Thank you! 🙂

    And if you are taking the Plantinga defense as you alluded to in your prior post, we may not be in direct disagreement, at least explicitly. A lot of it will depend upon how you interpret “good reasons.”

    So to sum it up, I guess I have three main areas I am asking you to address:

    First: Given what I have in this post, what is your understanding of what 5 is meant to say, and do you think we have a disagreement over it?

    Second: I will accept that you need not show WHAT God’s reason is. That being said, I still feel like we need a criterion for measuring “good” reasons. What distinguishes or qualifies good reasons from bad reasons?

    Third: If you are subscribing to the Plantinga defense, are you then supporting a libertarian version of free will? (this may be the ACTUAL area of conflict, which is why I ask)

    • I have joy and delight every time I read your comments, Brandon. A degree in philosophy is an open window to other fields. I would recommend theology for the two makes a wonderful and strong pillar.

      What I proposed in 5a´ is an addition proposition between your 5, 6 and 7

      5. If God would have eliminated evil, then it is not the case that evil exists.(yours)
      5a´. God creates a world containing evil and has a good reason for doing so.(mine)
      6. Evil exists in the world(yours)
      6a. It is not the case God would have eliminated evil.(mine from your 5 and 6)

      Your conclusion 7. “could be reworded as saying that God cannot hold all there of said attributes at the same time, although He may hold one or two.” namely

      1. It is not the case that God is able to eliminate evil, and God knows/understands evil, and God desires (enough to move to action) to eliminate evil.

      If an introduction of proposition 5a´ is possibly true in your set(1-6), then your conclusion (7.) is necessarily false.

      1. I am in AGREEMENT in your original proposition 5, per se. My concern is with 3 to which is hangs from.
      2. The Parent-Child-Leukemia analogy you gave is close to what I am trying to introduce but with minor corrections. The Parent are able, Loving and “knows it fights and will heal leukemia”. Thus they have a good reason to permit a certain evil to their child to achieve a desired result ,which you called “perfectly good …[an] act in the way that provides for the most possible moral goodness.”

      My concern in your original 3.

      3. If God is morally good, then God desires (enough to move to action) to eliminate evil

      It is possible that God could no have created a universe containing moral good without creating one that contained moral evil. Consequently, if that is so, then it is possible God has good reason for creating a world containing evil.

      For the Layman: God’s omnipotence means he can do all logically possible task. There are tasks that no amount of power cannot bring about, example, a world were 2 +2 = 5, or a square circles, His existence and non-existence.

      The above argument will be in this form.

      1. God is omnipotent, omniscient, and wholly good.(from the article)

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

      3´. God created a world containing moral good.

      3.Therefore, the world contain moral evil.(from the article)

      If this argument succeed, then the attributes of God believed by Christians, are without contradiction.

      I am sorry not to have enough time to go further answering all your questions. My wife can wait no longer. The whole family is going to the cinema to watch Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

      Be Blessed Brandon.

      In Christ Jesus,

      Prayson

  8. Hey Prayson!

    Wow, timely response! 🙂

    I appreciate your honest and open manner. I hope that I can answer your questions and clear up some of my own arguments! I’m afraid sometimes I get so wrapped in in my symbolic-world that I don’t present things clearly; thank you for your patience!

    First, some clarifications.

    (1) I would like to quickly clarify some of the formal structure of my argument. I know that logical systems can occasionally take on different meanings for different forms, and I apologize for not presenting this earlier.

    The first clarification is in part due to my own confusion: I am not entirely sure why you reworded my conclusion into multiple conclusions. It might be because those freaking smiley faces invaded my argument and made it less-clear – but I am not sure that I agree with the rewording / regrouping.

    I only have one conclusion: In logicese and logic, it may seem strange to read, and I will also appeal to layman readers and reword it. My conclusion, 7), could be reworded as saying that God cannot hold all there of said attributes at the same time, although He may hold one or two.

    The reason I am so resistant to group 8-10 in as “conclusions” is because they precisely are not conclusions in the way I am using them. Hidden behind the smiley face (grr…) is the “Proof” word, I know it can be difficult to see. 8-10 are all deduced from my premises – the only purpose they serve is to show how my argument is in a valid form. If the premises are true, then logically and inescapably, the conclusion must also be true.

    (2) the second clarification I would like to make pertains to your comment that “there is no contradiction between 1-7.” And To that I completely agree. Again I apologize for my lack of clarity – my response to your post should have included a more-clear purpose.

    That is to say, I do not believe there NEEDS to be a contradiction between 1-7 in order to show what the atheist in the argument is trying to show. The atheist wants to say that the existence of evil is not compatible with an all-powerful, all-good and all-knowing God. So instead of finessing some strange conclusion and trying to catch theists in a logical contradiction, my route was to merely show how the atheist makes a valid and sound argument, reaching the initial conclusion he was advocating.

    I’ve ran into “traps” before with ill-intentioned apologetics. Usually, if I believe I have shown a logical contradiction within an argument pertaining to God’s attributes, they resort to tautological reasoning and say that “since God cannot be logically contradictory by definition, your argument is no longer talking about God.” It becomes circular, and I strive to avoid that pitfall.

    However, if the argument I propose is valid, it will have the same IMPACTS to God as though there were the logical contradiction – the Christian concept of God as presented cannot exist.

    So hopefully that gives clarity to my purpose. 🙂

    (3) I was anticipating your objection, but
    I decided to let you bring it up rather than build a straw man in my first post.

    5a. God would have eliminated evil, but he has good reasons not to.

    A quick question: I would actually propose to group this under the third premise, discussing moral goodness. It seems that in order for God to act morally good, He must act in the most morally good way possible.

    In a way, this would reword your 5a into 5b: It is of greater moral goodness for God to allow evil than for Him to eliminate evil. I think this might be a little stronger, but let me know if I am wrong.

    For if it were NOT of greater moral goodness for God to allow evil than for Him to destroy it, then God would not be acting perfectly good. At that point it wouldn’t even matter if he had “good reasons” to justify allowing evil, because if it were true that destroying evil were of greater moral goodness than allowing evil, then there would be an act of greater moral goodness which God were not doing, and thus God would not be perfectly good.

    Again, I think this is the stronger argument, because I am granting you that the good reasons God has for allowing evil are that it is better for him to allow evil than not. But let me know what you think about 5b.

    The appeal you’re making seems to be similar to the appeal made by Leibniz’s theodicy, in which Leibniz uses an appeal to logically possible worlds to conclude that this world is the best of all possible worlds. “evil” in this sense is not the issue, for Leibniz, because all God has to do is create the most morally good world possible. If it is impossible to create a perfectly good world, without evil, according to Leibniz, then it is not applicable to God.

    This Is an argument I would love to discuss in more depth, but first I would like to see if it is your argument, or if I am just building a straw man. 🙂

    There is one critique that I need to make. You say that “If 5a. is logically possible(possibly true), then we have to say good bye to 8-10”. However, I do not see why this is the case. Logically, your argument would say “Wge * ~Sge” Which reads, “God would have eliminated evil and it is not the case that there are sufficient reasons for God to eliminate evil.” (for the layman readers, “but” translates to “and” in formal logic – e.g., “I would like to go to the movies, but I have to walk my dog” = it is both true that a) I want to go to the movies, and b) I have to walk my dog).

    Two things about this. First, it does not impact the validity of the argument. I will have to take some time to work through it to show you, if you would like, but using some quantified instantiations and generalizations, all within valid formal logic implicational rules for deduction, my conclusion still is valid even if we replace and/or add this premise.

    Second, and probably more interesting to the layman readers, is a question about this “logically possible” or “possibly true” idea. Such an idea, I think, only works if I am trying to argue that there are no possible worlds in which God does not contradict His own attributes. But this is not what I am trying to argue; I am arguing from a view that there is no possible world in which God’s attributes remain consistent with each other. Inconsistency, rather than contradiction, is the aim of my argument. If my argument is valid, then the impacts are the same as if I were arguing for the contradiction – but my argument does not rely upon proving that contradiction, merely the validity of this inconsistency.

    I regret that I do not have much time left; I am graduating this weekend and I have lots to do!! =) But I will finish addressing your questions. Ah, I see that I have now changed around 3, and 3 is what you are now questioning. Let me see, let me see…

    In 3, the way I worded it was basically to say that any perfectly morally good being would have a desire to do the most-morally good act it possibly can, given its power and knowledge. I do not believe I am making the appeal Mackie does. I suppose 3a is closest to what I had in mind, but 3b I would reject, as I would grant that omnipotent beings cannot act out what is logically impossible. So I would agree to there being limits on God’s omnipotence, such as in the Leibnizian argument above. Hopefully that helps, I look forward to your response!

    -Brandon

    • Hej Brandon!

      Your character shines through your response which I will do no justices by simply saying it was awesome. Thank you so much for explain the areas I were in dark in your first comment.

      First and foremost: I would like to correct my blander:

      5a. God would have eliminated evil, but he has good reasons not to.

      To what I had closest in mind

      5a´. God creates a world containing evil and has a good reason for doing so.

      Second:Understanding your proposition 3.

      You have worded proposition 3 to 3a. “A perfectly morally good being would have a desire to do the most-morally good act it possibly can, given its power and knowledge”

      3a. An omnipotent and omniscient good being eliminates every evil that it can properly eliminate.

      Before I go on answering, I would like to know if I got it correct, because it is at 3 where I think I would begin to show that the argument does not stand.

      Last: There appeal I am making is not similar to Leibniz’s theodicy namely Free Will Theodicy, but Free Will Defense.

      For layman: In Free Will Theodicy(FWT), a theodicist goes beyond what is required as he attempts to explain why God permits evil(“justifying the ways of God to man” in words of John Milton), while a Free Will Defender(FWD) tries to find a proposition (p) that is consistent with (1) God is omniscient, omnipotent and wholly good, and in conjunction entails (5a´). God creates a world containing evil and has a good reason for doing so. FWD does not claim to know or even believe that (p) is true. FWD aim is to show that (1) is consistent with (5a’) whether (p) is true is quite beside the point.

      Thus FWT attempt to show what God’s reason is while FWD attempt to show what God’s reason might possibly be.

      Brandon, may I wish you my congratulations as you graduate. May our Lord and God, in Christ Jesus use your intelligent mind for His glory and honor as you treasure and delight in Him.

      In Christ,

      Prayson.(reedited)

    • “So instead of finessing some strange conclusion and trying to catch theists in a logical contradiction, my route was to merely show how the atheist makes a valid and sound argument, reaching the initial conclusion he was advocating.”

      Well, there is an obvious problem here. Now, let us put aside this validity stuff. For I can make a valid argument for many things, like, If something has hair, then it gives birth to live children (like a human does with its baby). A Platypus has hair. Thus, a platypus gives birth to live children. Well, we know that the argument is not sound, but we know that it is valid, since it is a modus ponens. In fact, the second premise is about the only thing that is sound. The first and conclusion aren’t sound, or at least the conclusion isn’t.

      With that in mind, let us move on to one important thing, which actually undermines your argument and prayson’s. One of the most typical premises, in order to reach the conclusion that one wants, at least the argument from evil, is that “evil exists”. Now, this premise is completely different from “God exists”. God is, at least suppose to be, an entity, while evil is not suppose to be an entity.

      The second point, evil is a subjective feeling that one has, and varies from person to person, and place and time. Now, of course, one would bring up that example of what happened to the Jews during WWII. That is suppose to show that evil exists, when in fact the Nazi’s did not think it was evil, and thought that Jews were evil. We also, if the US criminal system is suppose to be a sign of anything, that we murder murders because we think they are evil. Thus, would we not be right in saying that it is Good to kill evil people? If so, then the Nazi’s did the right thing. They did the good thing. (Please be aware that I am not condoning what the Nazi’s did, or justifying what they did).

      If I were to take away your emotions, and we showed you all sorts of horrific scenes, like cutting a baby out of a pregnant woman’s stomach, we would say that is evil. You get what I mean, I hope. Will that be evil? Can you reason that is evil, or that evil exists because of that? In order to reason to such a conclusion, you must define evil as something, and this would basically be an axiom. Yet we can come up with different axioms that are contradictory, and one will say it is evil while the other says it is not evil. Thus, arguing for the soundness of “evil exists”, is just non-existent. IOW, it is pointless to say “evil exists” is a sound argument. However, it is sound to say, “I feel that evil exists because I have an emotional reaction to actions that I call evil; thus, I can say that evil exists because I have these emotional reactions.”

      • “Help me fully understand your point. Is this your position “Evil does not exit”?”

        Yes, evil does not exist. Only emotions exist, and when we have a negative emotional reaction to seeing an action, say a man cutting off the head of a 5 year old girl, we say that it is evil. It is not evil, since it is just someone cutting off another persons head. That is completely devoid of being evil or good, and is morally neutral. Since it is morally neutral, we have the ability to say it is evil. Evil does not exist, only our reactions to an action and calling it something exists.

      • Thank you so much for clearing that out. You are the first real person :), I have met, whom affirms that evil does not exit.

        Though your reason betrays what you are trying to say. Namely: evil does not exit. 🙂

        Your argued: “evil is a subjective feeling that one has” And “Only emotions exist”

        So according to your reasoning, Evil is a kind of Feeling(subjective one)

        Feels as understood in English language is an emotional state or reaction.N.B: I used emotion here as an instinctive or intuitive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge.

        You affirmed that emotions exist. Thus if Evil is a kind of subjective emotional state.(from your reason) and that emotions do exit. Then Evil do exit.

        Your reasoning in Argumentative form:

        1. Only Emotions exit.
        2. Evil is a subjective feeling that one has.
        3. Feeling is an emotional state/reaction.(definition)
        4. Evil is a subjective emotional state/reaction.(from 2 and 3)
        5. Evil exist(from 1 and 4)

        So what you are trying to say 5′. Evil does not exit, does not follow from your own reasoning.

        Thank you for clearing and super sorry if I was hash or if my tune was unfriendly.

        In Christ,
        Prayson

      • See, your argument is flawed. You are trying to move from having a subjective feeling, evil, to moving to an objective assertion that evil exist in the world. This does not follow, and the only thing that follows is that you think an action is evil, not that evil exists. I already pointed this out before that you can only assert, “I feel that evil exists because I have an emotional reaction to actions that I call evil; thus, I can say that evil exists because I have these emotional reactions.” But what about those that say that action isn’t evil, but that action makes them feel good, and so is good? That action cannot both be good and bad, since that is a contradiction. That is the problem with you presenting an argument, where there is no argument, since it leads to a contradiction based on a different persons point of view.

      • Hej, Allzermalmer,

        Were in the argument do you believe the flaw lies. Remember I presented you argument in argumentative form. I know you would want 1-4 to conclusion 5’. But that does not follow.(Could you be kind and your definition of evil is)

        You argued as follows:

        “I feel that evil exists because I have an emotional reaction to actions that I call evil; thus, I can say that evil exists because I have these emotional reactions.”

        1. I feel that x exists because I have an emotional reaction to actions that I call x;
        2. I can say that x exist because I have these emotional reactions.

        How does this lead to x does not exit?

        BTW: Thank you so much for your tune in your comments 🙂

        Prayson

      • You keep putting an argument where there is no argument. You are putting values down as if they are facts. There are no facts about something being good or bad, since only something like “This object is yellow”, is a fact. Saying, “This object is yellow AND is evil”, is to cross the fact/value divide. There is no evil as an entity or a thing, just emotional reactions that we apply to things. Facts are devoid of values, and so saying an action, like cutting off the 5 year old girls head, is evil, is to place a value statement on a fact statement. The fact is amoral, and does not show that evil exists.

        I also noticed that you overlooked that you are in a contradiction if you say that evil exists, since an action can’t be both good and evil at the same time, and that is the position that you are in if you say evil exists. I say, hypothetically, that the action the guy took in cutting off the girls head is good. You, hypothetically, say that action was evil. It cannot be both good and evil at the same. Thus, it is neither good or evil, but neutral.

        “How does this lead to x does not exit?”

        Because it is not saying anything about reality, but saying something about a subjective feeling. It is not saying anything like, “This object fell when I let go of it from my hand”. That statement deals with reality, a world independent of your feelings. Saying, “I feel that evil exists because I have an emotional reaction to actions that I call evil; thus, I can say that evil exists because I have these emotional reactions.” Doesn’t say anything about the world. It only talks about your emotions, or how you feel.

      • Oh no, I said that your emotions exist. They just don’t deal with anything outside of themselves. Your emotions are just saying that you are having an emotional reaction, not that those emotions belong to the world, but that they just belong to you.

        Evil=”negative emotional reaction”

      • Sure, evil exists in YOUR head, but there is no evil IN the world. So you can’t say that there is evil in the world, or that you saw something evil. All you can say is that you saw an action, which produced a negative reaction, and you FELT that action was evil, even though you never saw an evil action. Evil only exists in your head, and evil does not exist in the world. Its not really hard to understand, unless one things that there is evil in the world. Thus, for anyone to say that Evil exists, is just making an emotional declaration, not a factual declaration.

      • All those things are events/actions. There is nothing more to them, unless we are adding more onto those things. That a tsunami hit Japan, which lead to a couple of thousand people dying, is an event. That event, like the man cutting off the head of a 5 year old girl, is neither good or bad. It is neutral, which makes it open to say that it is either good or bad. So saying that evil exists in the world, and to say that undermines God being all good, is just nonsense in the extreme.

      • I did not said existence of evil in the world undermines the goodness of God, I proposed Free Will Defense as the plausible reason that evil exist and God being all good.

        Back to what is relevant. You argued that actions like ,disasters, wars, genocide, raping, child abuse,cutting the head of a 5 years old girl, etc in your worldview are neither good nor bad(neutral) unless we add more onto these things.

        How are this action neutral? Are there moments which we do not add more onto these actions?

      • There neutral because there is no, analogously, a neon sign saying “this is evil” or “this is good”. It is open to interpretation of either being good or bad, which is dependent on ones feelings that are projected on it.

      • Hej 🙂

        Back you said “So saying that evil exists in the world, and to say that undermines God being all good”

        Does God have a neon sign saying he is all good?(Small Humor 🙂 )

        All I am trying to say is that you did not answer the question 🙂

  9. Pingback: Logical problem of evil? « philosocuted

  10. I appreciate the way that you spell out the logic behind the Problem of Evil. I hope you don’t mind, but I would like to take a crack at it.

    I do not know how much formal logic training you have had, so I apologize if I overexplain or underexplain. 🙂

    First, some symbols.
    Px – x is all-powerful
    Axy – x is able to eliminate y
    Kx – x is all-knowing
    Uxy – x knows (or understands) y
    Mx – x is morally good
    Dxy- x desires (enough to move to action) to eliminate y
    Wxy – x would have eliminated y
    e – evil exists in the world
    g – God

    Operators:
    –> – conditional
    V – disjunction
    (y)
    * – conjunction
    ~ – negation

    Now, onto the actual proof. I will cite the implication and equivalence rules as I use them. Of course, in order to show my argument, I will be using an indirect inference proof for natural deduction and quantification.

    1) ((Pg –> Age)
    (If God is all-powerful, then God is able to eliminate evil)
    2) (Kg–> Uge)
    (If God is all-knowing, then God knows (or understands) evil)
    3) (Mg–> Dge)
    (If God is morally good, then God desires (enough to move to action) to eliminate evil)
    4) (Age*Uge*Dge)–> Wge
    (If God is able to eliminate evil, and if God knows or understands evil, and if God desires (enough to move to action) to eliminate evil, then God would have eliminated evil)
    5) (Wge–> ~e)
    (If God would have eliminated evil, then it is not the case that evil exists.)
    6) e
    (evil exists in the world)
    CONCLUSION
    7) ~(Age*Uge*Dge)
    (It is not the case that God is able to eliminate evil, and God knows/understands evil, and God desires (enough to move to action) to eliminate evil.
    ^Note that the conclusion does not deny all three of these polyadic predicates, but merely states that one must in fact be false.
    Proof:
    8) ~~e Equivalence rule, double negation, derived from line 6)
    (it is not the case that evil does not exist in the world)
    9) ~Wge Implicational rule Modus Tollens derived from 5) and 8)
    (It is not the case that God has eliminated evil)
    10) ~(Age*Uge*Dge) Implicational rule Modus Tollens derived from 4) and 9)
    (It is not the case that God is able to eliminate evil, and God knows/understands evil, and God desires (enough to move to action) to eliminate evil.

    Well, there you have it. What do you think?

    • Hmm, apparently it turned my eight-parenthesis – 8 ) without a space between them, into a smiley sunglasses guy.

      Regardless, I think the proof stands. 😉

      • Hej Philosocuted,

        Thank you so much for your super intelligent comment which is so well executed 🙂

        I will not use symbols for the sake of our layman readers. I will lay down your argumentation + some add ons:

        1. 1. If God is all-powerful, then he is able to eliminate evil.
        2. 2. If God is all-knowing, then he knows evil exists(and knows how to eliminate it).
        3. 3. If God is morally good, then he desire to eliminate evil.
        4. 4. If God is able, knows and desire to eliminate evil, then he would have eliminate(d) evil.
        5. 5. If God would have eliminate(d) evil, then it not the case that evil exists
        6. 6. It the case that evil exists

        *Therefore(Conclusions):

        1. 7. It is not the case God would have eliminate(d) evil(5 and 6)
        2. 8. It not the case that God is able to eliminate evil(even though he knows and desires to), then it not the case he is all-powerful.
        3. 9. It not the case that God knows evil exist(know how and desires to eliminate it), then it not the case he is all-knowing.
        4. 10. It not the case that God desire to eliminate evil(even though he knows and able to), then it not the case he is morally good.

        There is no contradiction in 1-7(NB: Unless one can show 1-5 entails 6´. It not the case that evil exists), to which was the aim of my above article. In the article I introduce another propositions 5a.

        5a. God would have eliminated evil, but he has good reasons not to.

        1. 6. It the case that evil exist.

        If 5a. is logically possible(possibly true), then we have to say good bye to 8-10

        There is much I can say about your 3. But I will let you explain it more first, so that I donot form and attack a strawman.

        If your 3. means 3a. A good thing always eliminates evil as far as it can and 3b. There are no limits to what an omnipotent being can do.(as Mackies additional premises),

        Then I think I will deal with it as Alvin Plantinga dealt with John Mackie’s “additional premises” and “quasi-logical rules” which he needed to show the contradiction( Mackie “Evil and Omnipotence” in The Philosophy of Religion, ed Basil Mitchell(London: Oxford University Press, 1971) in God, Freedom and Evil(1974) p.16-24

        Please explain more your 3, before we go deeper.

        Super thank you for your comment

        Prayson

  11. The dialogue above is inspired by the following works:

    Alvin Plantinga: God, Freedom and Evil
    Ronald H Nash: Faith and Reason

    For detailed explanation and refutation of problem of Evil, please buy a copy of thus two above. For a heavy and deep scholarly engagement with answering the Problem of Evil, read: Philosophical Foundations For A Christian Worldview by William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland(2003) p.536-553

    Don’t miss Is God God, a sweet video animation.

    NB: In this post I did not answer how “we” Christians can believe in God, while there is so much evil and suffering in this world. I hope to take that talk in the coming days 🙂

    In Christ Jesus,
    Prayson

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