Scholarly Status of Logical Problem of Evil

BloodThe logical problem of evil is dead. This is the general status of the once loved argument against the existence of an omnicompetent God in academia. The idea that existence of evil is incompatible with the existence of God is dying.

This page collects verdicts of prominent philosophers who deem that the logical problem of evil  dead, after the contribution of Nelson Pike and Alvin Plantinga. The aim is to bring awareness to those who are not familiar with philosophical status of the deductive argument from evil in academia.

J. L. Mackie On Plantinga’s Free Will Defense:

“[S]ince this defence is formally possible, and its principle involves no real abandonment of our ordinary view of the opposition between good and evil, we can concede that the problem of evil does not, after all, show that the central doctrines of theism are logically inconsistent with one another.”(Mackie 1982: 154)

Robert Pargetter On Evil as Evidence

“Many philosophers now accept that Pike and Plantinga have successfully refuted the claim that there is a logical inconsistency involved in asserting both the existence of God and evil, and hence that there cannot be a deductive proof that God does not exist based on the existence of evil. We will take it that this is correct. But many atheists who concede this point nonetheless claim that the argument from evil can be reconstructed as a good non-deductive argument. For it is claimed by many that the existence of evil, pain and suffering counts, prima facie, as strong evidence against the existence of God.” (1976: 242)

After presenting and examining non-deductive argument from evil Pargetter concluded:

“To sum up, the claim that the existence of evil is strong evidence against the existence of God has not been justified, and the argument from evil seems as unsuccessful in its role as a non-deductive argument to justify atheism as it is as a deductive proof.” (1976: 244-245)

Michael L. Martin in Response to Pargetter’s verdict

“It is generally agreed that the following statements are logically compatible:

(1) God is all powerful.

(2) God is all good.

(3) Evil exists in great abundance.”(Martin 1978:429)

Though Martin agreed with Pargetter on the status of deductive problem of evil, he deemed Pargetter as not fairly presenting the best of non-deductive argument from evil. The rest of his paper undertook the task to build what he believed to be a best non-deductive argument.

Pargetter Response to Martin’s Response

“I wish to suggest that Martin’s new argument does not provide the secure foundation for which he had hoped, and that the problems are, hopefully, of as much interest to the theist as to the atheist. The main thrust of Martin’s argument rests on his proffered account of prima facie evidence. It is to this account that we shall first turn as it seems problematic. In addition, after establishing that Martin has failed to show that evil does constitute prima facie evidence against God’s existence” (1982: 11)

Pargetter concluded:

“So even if Martin’s argument is inductively ‘valid’ it would establish nothing as it violates the principle of total evidence, and when the total evidence is considered no such inductively ‘valid’ argument remains. […] Could any evidence show that God does not exist? I think probably not for the claim that God could have a reason for whatever happens is a very powerful retort. By contrast one could easily imagine circumstance where it would be generally agreed that there was very strong evidence to point to God’s existence.”(ibid. 15)

William Rowe On Plantinga Free Will Defense

“The logical form of the problem is not much of a problem for theistic belief; for the efforts to establish the inconsistency between (1) [God is omnipotent, omniscient, and all good] and (2) [there is evil] have been notoriously unsuccessful. And if we accept Plantinga’s assumption of incompatibalism, we must, I think, accept Plantinga’s argument as showing that (1) and (2) are not inconsistent.” (Rowe 1973: 555 )

“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 for the view that the existence of evil is logically consistent with the existence of the theistic God.” (Rowe 1979: 335 fn1)

 Paul Draper’s Verdict on Logic Problem of Evil

“I agree with most philosophers of religion that theists face no serious logical problem of evil”(Draper 1989: 349 fn1)

T. J. Mawson’s Verdict on Both Deductive and Inductive Problem of Evil

After examining both the deductive and inductive problem of evil for non-existence of God (Mawson 2005:198-216), Mawson resolved:

“I conclude then that the argument from the existence of evil to the non- existence of God cannot be rendered as a good deductive argument; nor can it be rendered as a good inductive argument; nor again does evil inductively support the claim that there is no God. The occurrence of evil in the world provides us with no reason whatsoever to think that there’s not a God.” (Mawson 2005: 216)

William P. Alston: Bankruptcy of Logical Problem of Evil

“The recent outpouring of literature on the problem of evil has materially advanced the subject in several ways. In particular, a clear distinction has been made between the “logical” argument against the existence of God (“atheological argument”) from evil, which attempts to show that evil is logically incompatible with the existence of God, and the “inductive” (“empirical”, “probabilistic”) argument, which contents itself with the claim that evil constitutes (sufficient) empirical evidence against the existence of God. It is now acknowledged on (almost) all sides that the logical argument is bankrupt, but the inductive argument is still very much alive and kicking.” (Alston 1991: 29)

The rest of the paper Alston offered criticism of the inductive problem of evil based on human cognitive limitation. Alston closed his paper with the conclusion that “we are simply not in a position to justifiably assert, with respect to [Rowe’s specific cases of suffering], that God, if He exists, would have no sufficient reason for permitting it. And if that is right, the inductive argument from evil is in no better shape that its late lamented deductive cousin.”(1991: 61)

Robert M. Adams On Plantinga’s Free Will Defense

“I think it is fair to say that Plantinga has solved this problem. That is, he has argued convincingly for the consistency of (1)[God is omnipotent, omniscient, and wholly good] and (2)[There is evil in the world]. His argument attacks the assumption that a wholly good being would (necessarily) prevent evil if he knew that he could. For a wholly good being might not prevent some evil if he had a morally sufficient reason for not preventing it. And Plantinga argues that it is possible (in the broadly logical sense) for even an omnipotent and omniscient being to have a morally sufficient reason for not preventing all evils.”(Adams 1985: 226)

Delmas Lewis on Classical Formulation of Problem of Evil

“The charge of contradiction on which the argument rests cannot be sustained. Consider the following set of propositions:

(1) The world contains instance of evil.

(2) God exists – and is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good.

(3) God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing every instance of evil that occurs.

This is a perfectly consistence set of propositions.[…] Therefore, since the set (1), (2), (3), is consistent, so is the set (1), (2). In other words, there is no contradiction in the assertion that God exists and evil exists.” (Lewis 1983: 26-27)

Lewis believes that theists are committed to the truth of (3). This is not the case though. Theists could simply propose a possibility that is not necessarily true: (3’) God possibly has a morally sufficient reason for allowing every instance of evil that occurs. To show that (1) and (2) are consistence, (3’) needs only be possible.

Lewis added: “In sum: the strong version of the problem of evil fails to secure the result it promises.”(27). He then proceeded to examine the Rowe’s inductive problem of evil. According to Lewis Rowe’s argument “cannot legitimately function as an independent argument fro the non-existence of God”(Lewis 1983: 34)

Peter van Inwagen: Philosophical Failure of Problem of Evil

In 8 lectures delivered in the University of St Andrews (April-May 2013) van Inwagen defended “the conclusion that the argument from evil is to be judged a failure” (2006: 49, cf: xi,xii, 2, 12, 25, 36, 38)

Here is a first approximation to a statement of my conclusion: the argument from evil is a failure. I call this a first approximation because there are many things one could mean by saying that an argument is a failure.(van Inwagen 2006: 2)

An argument, presented to an ideal audience who has not yet made up their minds in neither direction, is judged as a failure by van Inwagen when the proponent is unable to use that argument to convince the ideal audience to accept its conclusion, namely to make up their minds in her direction (2006: xii cf 38-55)

Bruce R. Reichenbach On The Inductive Argument from Evil

 “It is generally conceded that the theist has been successful in showing that there is no logical inconsistency between the existence of a good omnipotent, omniscient God and the existence of evil[fn1: William Rowe, Philosophy of Religion (1978), pp. 80-86. The alleged inconsistency has been refuted most recently in Alvin Plantinga, The Nature of Necessity (Oxford, 1974), ch. IX ]. Rebuffed with his deductive argument, the atheologian has turned to the inductive argument from evil. Rowe calls it “the evidential form of the problem of evil: the form of the problem which holds that the variety and profusion of evil in our world, although perhaps not logically inconsistent with the existence of [God], provides, nevertheless, rational support for the belief that the theistic God does not exist.”[fn2: Rowe, op. cit., p.86.]”(Reichenbach 1980: 221)

Reichenbach proceeded to formulate and refute Bayes’ Theorem construction of inductive argument from evil. He concluded,

In conclusion, it seems that the atheologian is no more successful with his evidential or inductive argument than with his deductive one. His inductive argument from evil does not disconfirm God’s existence, nor has he presented relevant evidence to show that evil tends to disconfirm God’s existence. Nor do the prospects appear bright that he can produce the relevant evidence. This it remains to be shown that the existence and profusion of evil makes it irrational to believe in the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient, good and loving personal God.”(ibid. 227)

More to come …

You are welcome to drop a journal article(s) from leading philosophers that you would want me to explore  on this topic.

Bib.

Adams, R. M. (1985) ‘Plantinga on the Problem of Evil,’ p. 225-255 in van Inwagen & Tomberlin 1985 (eds.) Alvin Plantinga. D. Reidel Publishing Company

Alston, W. P. (1991) ‘The Inductive Argument From Evil and the Human Cognitive Condition,’ Philosophical Perspectives, Philosophy of Religion Vol. 5:29-67

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

Lewis, Delmas (1983) ‘ The Problem with the Problem of Evil,’ Sophia Vol. 22 No.1:26-35

Mackie, J. L. (1982) The Miracle of Theism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Martin, Michael (1978) ‘Is Evil Evidence Against the Existence of God?,’ Mind, New Series, Vol. 87, No. 347: 429-432

Mawson, T. J. (2005) Belief in God: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Pargetter, Robert (1976) ‘Evil as Evidence against the Existence of God,’ Mind, New Series, Vol. 85, No. 338 (Apr., 1976), 242-245. Oxford University Press

_________________(1982) ‘Evil as Evidence,’ Sophia Volume 21 No.2 11-15

Reinchenback, Bruce R. (1980) ‘The Inductive Argument From Evil,’ American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 17, 3:221-227

Rowe, William L, (1973) ‘Plantinga on Possible Worlds and Evil,, The Journal of Philosophy, Vol 70, No. 17: 554-555

__________________ (1979) ‘The Problem Of Evil And Some Varieties Of Atheism,’ American Philosophical Quarterly Vol. 16. 4:335-341

van Inwagen, Peter (2006) The Problem of Evil. Oxford: Oxford University Press

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69 thoughts on “Scholarly Status of Logical Problem of Evil

  1. I too think the problem of evil is dead within philosophical studies (at least as a direct deductive argument). However, unfortunately it sometimes poses serious problems from an emotional point of view and many may take it as clear indication that God doesn’t exist; especially when they’re personally experiencing pain.

    A couple issues that I see in the problem of evil arguments I’ve seen. They that claim this argument take these terms: suffering of innocents, suffering, pain, death, bad, and evil as all meaning exactly the same thing (to say nothing of their misunderstanding of the theological discussion of innocence). To make all these exactly the same thing means that time age and evolution are all also evil, because they lead to those things. If you’re willing to equivocate on so many terms, it ends up being a worthless discussion. It will devolve into, “What I don’t like is bad, why doesn’t an all-powerful God end MY suffering?” How much pride it would take to honestly try to ask something like that!?

    That argument dispenses with any “natural evils” because they really aren’t evil at all merely the circle of life as performed by non-moral agents. Now, if one wants to argue about moral evil against God, one would have to accept moral arguments for God or at least an objective, universal moral standard which is somehow being violated. So, yes. The philosophical argument of evil somehow proving God doesn’t exist, is dead.

  2. Pingback: Reflections on the Problem of Evil | James’ Ramblings

  3. John, I think a potential argument goes like this: if creation does not necessitate evil, then all is possible. And if God is all-this-and-that (which the argument accepts as a premise), then we know what actually happens, no matter what it looks like to us at the moment.

      • Okay. National Geographic has presented a video of lions taking down an elephant calf. They subdue it and then begin to eat it alive. It takes about 3 hours to die. It is possible for predation to result in this situation. What would you change to accomplish the same ‘goal’ without the possibility of prey suffering in this way? Imagining the endpoint of your changes, do you still have lions, elephants or even life itself when you are done?
        If we thought that God was somehow trading in the currency of suffering, (like making the happiness of National Geographic viewers dependent on the suffering of that particular elephant, so that programs about kittens, or indeed anything else, would leave them unfulfilled) then we’d have a beef. But there’s no solid case to be made for just allowing the possibility. I recognize that there is a smug, stupid way to hold the position which I’m describing – think Pangloss – but there is an honest way as well. You just have to say that we wouldn’t have access to the necessities of the situation.
        On the believer’s account, the potential for suffering exists for a reason and in a universe ruled by an eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good deity, it is reasonable to maintain that we can’t know anything about that reason.

        • > What would you change to accomplish the same ‘goal’ without the possibility of prey suffering in this way?

          I don’t neeed to come up with a scenario that completely eliminates suffering, but only reduces it. Because this would be sufficient to show that there is unnecessary suffering.

          So, in your example, have the lions simply kill the pray or knock them unconscious as quickly as possible, instead of letting them suffer for 3 hours.

          > Imagining the endpoint of your changes, do you still have lions, elephants or even life itself when you are done?

          Yep.

          > On the believer’s account, the potential for suffering exists for a reason and in a universe ruled by an eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good deity, it is reasonable to maintain that we can’t know anything about that reason.

          Do you first agree that IF we found an example with unnecessary suffering, then that would be incompatible with a universe ruled by an eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good deity?

          So that the only disgreement between us is whether there is a sufficient reason for every bit of suffering that happens?

          • “Do you first agree that IF we found an example with unnecessary suffering, then that would be incompatible with a universe ruled by an eternal, all-knowing, all-good deity?” Actually that’s exactly what I’d disagree about, on two points. First, you are espousing a utilitarian scheme, and in the universe in question, the only entity with access to the final sum is the deity. You can’t know what’s necessary or not globally. Subsequently, you need to demonstrate necessary suffering, not just its possibility or instances in which suffering might be reduced locally, to show that evil or suffering is incompatible with those Omni-qualities of God as we understand the qualities themselves. You have to prove that this is necessarily not the best of all possible worlds, not just that it is possibly not the best of all possible worlds. Given the premises, I don’t see how you do that.

          • > You can’t know what’s necessary or not globally.

            Agreed. But that’s irrelevant to what I asked. It just means that we can’t ever be 100% certain whether the suffering was necessary or not.

            > You have to prove that this is necessarily not the best of all possible worlds, not just that it is possibly not the best of all possible worlds

            Are you just talking about that we can’t be 100% certain? If so, then sure.

            Nothing in science is 100%. We can’t be 100% certain that the sun exists or that the universe wasn’t created last week.

            Let me rephrase my original question better to avoid the whole proof part:

            If there was unnecessary suffering (regardless of whether we can prove it or not) then do you agree that this is incompatible with the omni* God?

          • John,

            The reason I haven’t answered your question is because it is nonsense.

            It’s like being asked, “Can God create a rock too heavy for him to lift?

            Also, since you admit that you have no idea what constitutes necessary suffering, clearly not even you buy into your own nonsense.

            If you don’t believe your own nonsense, why should anyone else be forced to deal with it?

          • Saying that I can’t know something with 100% certainty is very different from “admitting that I have no idea”.

            You can’t know with 100% certainty that Sun exists. Do you therefore admit that you have no idea if the sun exists or not?

          • John,

            Because you are not able to support your claim of with 100% certainty, it is nonsense.

            You either know what is necessary suffering and are thus able to support a logical claim or you do not, in which case your claim is nonsense.

            And yes we know for certain that the sun exists. That the sun exists is obvious.

          • >Because you are not able to support your claim of with 100% certainty, it is nonsense.

            What a strange thing to say. Nothing at all in science is claimed with 100% certainty.

            > And yes we know for certain that the sun exists. That the sun exists is obvious.

            Nope. Perhaps you are actually a brain in vat. Perhaps you are in the matrix. Perhaps you were created with false memories. Perhaps you’re actually crazy and think you saw the sun but actually it was something else entirely.

            You cannot be 100% certain.

          • John,

            It is the 100% surety of nature’s laws that makes science and technology possible.

            On the atomic and subatomic level locations of electrons are stated as probabilities, but in the end, nature is so incredibly dependable that life on Earth flourishes and human beings build advanced civilizations.

            As I stated in earlier comments, your thinking is superstitious.

  4. Prayson,

    “when love comes first, disagreement follows at its right and proper place”.

    I love and want to steal your motto! Love is the way to a person’s heart! That is to me, the oppopsite proof of God, than from evil! It is the free will He provides each of us! He loves us all, even the atheist! He give’s them the free will to believe, if they choose, that He doesn’t exist, that He’s dead, that He is a lie….. and so on!

    Yet, He then died to save them from themselves!

    I pray that their egos will get out of the way of their hearts’ vision!

    • And he loves them so much that if they don’t believe that he exists, he’ll torture them in hell for all eternity!
      Isn’t God wonderful?

      • Man chooses Hell, as you just laid out.

        God does not torture anyone, He does what is required. Because He is not only Loving, He is also Just!

        It’s a simple choice, all man because if sin is separated from God, yet He, in Christ, removes the penalty, for returned love, and gratitude, and the best obedience to His design we can possibly muster (our worship)!

        So Hell is a choice made by man…to not believe in GOD, His design, and His redemption.

        A man like that gets what he wants his will, to be forever without the God he doesn’t believe in.

        Hell is where God is not present. If you think that is torture, you’re not experiencing it now……..only because God is still present holding, man’s self indulgent will, to a minimum!

        Would someone who doesn’t believe in a God, EXPECT God to save him?

        Would that be just! …… Would that be loving!

        • > Man chooses Hell, as you just laid out.

          What a wonderful way to justify torturing someone.

          I’m sure the mafia say the same thing: “He chose to have his knee caps broken! He chose to not pay protection money.”

          > Because He is not only Loving, He is also Just!

          Ah yes – the love and just when torturing people.

          I hope you don’t “love” your children in the same way.

          > and the best obedience

          So we are slaves that get tortured for not worshipping a torturer. Got it.

          > only because God is still present holding, man’s self indulgent will, to a minimum!

          Just like the mafia asks for protection money.

          • Well those are the rules when playing with the Mafia! Riight?

            John,

            Do you play games by the rules? If you don’t, and you cheat, eventually folks aren’t gonna want to play with you anymore. Except for others who cheat. Y’all can get together and cheat against eachother, and eventually your group is going to be at odds with eachother too. Because someone is going to be cheating better than the next, and there is going to be trouble. Cheaters cheat to win, it’s all about them!

            God, is not a Mob Boss, breaking Knee caps, throwing people in the East River. He offers a new start to us game players, follow His lead, trust that he knows the best way to play, He has wiped the slate clean for all cheaters that want a new start … but it has to be His way! It’s easy, accept or keep cheating!

            So cheaters get what they want to keep cheating apart from, the Game maker!

            No torture, just letting you have your way.

            The mob is actively creating misery, man creates his own misery, God just gets out of his way.

            Why are you so worried about God being Loving? Because, if He is NOT Just, He is NOT Loving.

            His Mercy and Grace are Undeserved, yet He loves US ALL to offer them. Yet some unwise folks still will shake their fist at God and say UNFAIR!!!!!!!!!

            It is very UNWISE to turn down such an offer.

            “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
            ~Proverbs 1:7

            Then again if you are an atheist, why do you care at all about our God? Why do you contemplate a God that is not a God at all, by limiting His power?

            What is amazing…….. the God We speak of ……..is not limited, but truly God!!

            It is man that doesn’t like being limited.

            You seem to “want your cake and eat it too!”

            Which by the way I never understood that saying! That seems to be a REAL contradiction!

          • Wow – he forces us to play a game in which we must worship him, and then tortures us (I’m sorry “let us be tortured”) if we fail to be good little slaves?

            You’re right – not even the mafia would be that evil!

            > why do you care at all about our God?

            I care that there are so many people that worship and praise an imaginary torturer.

            I find it very sad that you truely believe that we deserve to be tortured. I’m sorry that you were brought up that way, and I hope you can one day let love into your heart, and let out your hatred. I’m sorry that you so badly want to be a slave to an evil God.

  5. Once you show that ‘evil’ is not a logical necessity of its conditions, it’s pretty much over. The subsequent arguments from evil are simply arguments from incredulity. If one is to reject arguments from design for God(which are bogus for the same reasons and then some), one must reject arguments from evil against God.

      • Yeah, that’s the question isn’t it? You have to find a necessary one that necessarily entails evil, rather than vice versa. A good example of the difficulty with this quest would be the relationship between pain and suffering. Broadly construed, pain is necessary for suffering, but it is not the case that, if pain then suffering. It is possible that if pain exists, then suffering exists.

        • I think a good place to start would be to say that to cause unnecessary suffering is evil.

          What we can do is look at various examples of pain and suffering in the world, current and past, and see whether an all-powerful God could have done things differently in order to reduce the suffering but achieve the same result that he was after.

          If we find any such example, then this would show that God allowed or caused unnecessary suffering, and thus is not omnibenevolent. Since we can imagine a being which is even more good that prevented this unnecessary suffering.

          Now in pratice, we can’t prove with 100% certainty that some particular example has unnecessary suffering, in the same way that we can’t prove with 100% certainty anything at all. But before we get on to that, how much do agree with so far?

          • John,

            You interjected the weasel term, “unnecessary suffering” into your argument.

            Who is the supreme judge of what is necessary or unnecessary?

            Since we must accept the universe as it actually is, your weasel term, “unnecessary suffering,” is just another expression of your superstitious thinking.

          • I think you may be confusing logical necessity and practical necessity, because the process you are describing is an inductive one – given the available knowledge, what generalities can we posit? It can’t provide the sort of definitive proof that’s being asked of it.

          • > Who is the supreme judge of what is necessary or unnecessary?

            I gave a definition in the next paragraph. It is suffering that could be avoided if God did things in a different way, with the different way still acheiving the same desired outcome.

            Imagine situation A and situation B. Both have the same outcomes, but A has more suffering than B. A thus has unnecessary suffering.

          • John,

            You use yet another weasel phrase, “if God did things a different way.”

            And again I ask, who is the supreme judge of the correct and proper, “different way.”

            You are attempting to argue against reality by conjuring up a totally fictional alternate universe where the correct and proper “different way,” is the atheist way.

            The atheist doesn’t get to be the supreme judge of the right way God should behave.

          • > It can’t provide the sort of definitive proof that’s being asked of it.

            You can’t definitively prove anything. There’s always the possibility that we are a brain in a vat etc.

            But I did state – BEFORE we get into that, do you agree that unnecessary suffering would not be compatible with a benevolent omni* God?

          • > You use yet another weasel phrase, “if God did things a different way.”

            That’s not even close to being a weasel phrase.

            > And again I ask, who is the supreme judge of the correct and proper, “different way.”

            Are you complaining that you can’t objectively compare whether one way has more suffering than another way?

            Take two examples. In one way, a child is tortured and killed. In another way, a child is given icecream. Are you arguing that we can’t objectively state that the first way has more suffering than the other way?

            > You are attempting to argue against reality by conjuring up a totally fictional alternate universe where the correct and proper “different way,” is the atheist way.

            I have no idea what you’re talking about.

            > The atheist doesn’t get to be the supreme judge of the right way God should behave.

            This isn’t a case of “should”.

            It’s a case that if God causes unnecessary suffering, then he is not omnibenevolent. That’s just a plain fact.

          • John,

            Atheist thinking is irrational because it almost always depends on “could’ve, would’ve, should’ve” and “if” and “if only.”

            Those are weasel words because they conjure up an alternative reality as an argument against actual reality.

            Not only is that irrational but sad to say (and with due respect) it is also delusional.

            And it is those qualities of irrationality and delusional thinking that make atheism so pernicious and deadly to the human intellect.

            You are actually using superstitious thinking to address the conundrum of God which for most people, must be first approached with reason.

          • > Atheist thinking is irrational because it almost always depends on “could’ve, would’ve, should’ve” and “if” and “if only.” Those are weasel words because they conjure up an alternative reality as an argument against actual reality.

            That’s not what weasel words are.

            Weasel words are when you say like “Some people think cheese is horrible”. The “some people” is vague and ambigious.

            Comparing hypothetical situations is not weasels words.

            > Not only is that irrational but sad to say (and with due respect) it is also delusional.

            A delusion requires that you believe something wrong to true. Comparing hypotheticals cannot be a delusion since they are acknowledged to be hypotheticals..

            Could you please go to wikipedia or your favourite site and actually check the meaning of the words that you’re using. It’s hard to talk to someone who doesn’t know the meaning of the words that they are using.

          • John,

            Instead of playing word games and arguing definitions, please try to grasp the meaning of my comments.

            My comments have a bottom line meaning and in your case, your arguments don’t work because they are not based rational thinking.

            Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve, if only and if, are not the basis for a rational argument against what actually is.

          • > Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve, if only and if, are not the basis for a rational argument against what actually is.

            They are an argument that you are wrong about what you think actually is.

            For example, say you think that I ate an icecream. I can say “If I had eaten the icecream, then it wouldn’t still exist in my freezer. The icecream is still in the freezer, therefore I didn’t exist”.

            I’m comparing a hypothetical universe (one in which I had eaten the icecream) against the current one in order to show that you are wrong about what you think the actual universe is like.

          • John,

            Science says what actually is.

            Suffering is integral to evolution which is a law of nature.

            That is the way it is.

            And because of the superb, and seemingly infinite order and complexity of the universe, nature’s God is superbly rational and systematic.

            Even the pagan philosopher Aristotle was able to reason out that the end of rational thought and action is the good.

            Since God is rational and able to reason, his actions have good as their end.

          • > Suffering is integral to evolution which is a law of nature.

            Yes. But it COULD have been done without suffering. Thus the suffering is unnecessary. Thus God is not omni-benevolent (or he is incompetant).

            > Since God is rational and able to reason, his actions have good as their end.

            But since he could have chosen better actions, he’s either incompetant or he’s not omni-benevolent.

          • You’re saying that you think it’s impossible for your God to have created life without suffering? It’s impossible for your God to have just created life directly?

  6. > For it is claimed by many that the existence of evil, pain and suffering counts, prima facie, as strong evidence against the existence of God.

    Who claims this?

    I’ve never seen any atheist claim this.

    Of course there could be an incompetant or a malicious God that causes pain and suffering out of a sense of amusement. Or simply an uncaring God who just doesn’t care about us.

    The pain and suffering argument is an argument against a particular type of God – i.e. the all-powerful, all-knowing, loving God that cares for us. Not against God in general.

    I like how in your “review” you simply stated the conclusions without a shred of evidence for them.

    Following that vein, I know also quote:

    “God is dead”.

    QED.

    • John,

      Since there is only one God, the atheist argument against “a certain type of God,” is absurd. The logical arguments for the existence of God are over 2500 years old and have been supported by science and information theory.

      Additionally, if atheists deny the existence of God, then making up “a certain type of God” as an argument against his existence, makes no sense whatsoever since facts cannot be countered with whatever one wishes to conjure up with the imagination.

      The argument against the existence of a benevolent God because of evil essentially blames God for the evil that men do and argues against the existence of God because he doesn’t act according to atheists’ specification.

      No life on Earth would exist without suffering. Suffering is integral and absolutely necessary for the evolution of live.

      So to say that God cannot exist because suffering and evil exist is the same as saying that no life can exist.

      That is obviously not the case since life does indeed exist.

      • > Since there is only one God, the atheist argument against “a certain type of God,” is absurd.

        There aren’t any Gods, but that aside you still don’t seem to understand. Some people argue for a omnibenolevent God, while others argue for a non-omnibenolevent God.

        A God that simply doesn’t care for us is not disproved by the problem of evil, nor does any atheist claim that it does.

        So this is purely your confusion.

        > The logical arguments for the existence of God are over 2500 years old and have been supported by science and information theory.

        HAHA!

        > Additionally, if atheists deny the existence of God, then making up “a certain type of God” as an argument against his existence

        > .. and argues against the existence of God

        Again, the problem of evil doesn’t argue against the existence of God. Only against the existence of an omni-benevolent, omni-etc God.

        You need to understand the argument before you can criticize it.

        > No life on Earth would exist without suffering. Suffering is integral and absolutely necessary for the evolution of live.

        Well no. An all-powerful God could have just created life directly, without evolution.
        So clearly evolution is not necessary for life.

    • J. L. Mackie: “In its simplest form the problem is this: God is omnipotent; God is wholly good; yet evil exists. There seems to be some contradiction between these three propositions so that if any two of them were true the third would be false. But at the same time all three are essential parts of the most theological positions; the theologian, it seems at once, must adhere and cannot consistently adhere to all three.” (Mackie 1971: p. 92-3)

      Mackie, J. L (1971) “Evil and Omnipotence” in The Philosophy of Religion, ed. Basil Mitchell. London: Oxford University Press.

      Now you have 🙂

      • Read your own quote. You could have a God that is omnipotent but not wholly good, and with evil existing. That would not be a problem.

        So this is not arguing against God. But against a God that is omnipotent and wholly good. (And presumably competent etc)

        • John,

          If suffering did not exist, neither would any life on Earth.

          Therefore suffering is not the result of malevolence.

          This is one of the great lessons that Jesus taught.

          The will of God, which is all-good, runs through everything, including suffering.

          That life must be free of suffering in order for God to be all-good and all-powerful, is an atheist concoction that is completely divorced from reality.

          • > If suffering did not exist, neither would any life on Earth.

            I’ve already disproven this. An all-powerful God could have just created life directly without evolution.

          • John,

            The book of Genesis is the first and only example in the ancient world of a people who possessed the understanding that God is rational and systematic.

            That means God created a universe based on the laws of nature. Man’s understanding of the laws of nature has led to modern science and our understanding of human rights.

            For God to be as you conjure him to be would mean that he is irrational and has no regard for the laws of nature.

            Then God would be as the pagans imagined him: irrational, capricious and the creator of a universe that makes absolutely no sense at all.

            Consequently, the atheist view of God is superstitious and thus, irrational.

          • > The book of Genesis is the first and only example in the ancient world of a people who possessed the understanding that God is rational and systematic. That means God created a universe based on the laws of nature.

            Er no. At most it just means that the writers of the book of Genesis believed that. You can’t point to some ancient myth and say that it means that there’s a God.

            > For God to be as you conjure him to be would mean that he is irrational and has no regard for the laws of nature.

            Incorrect. It would not be irrational to just create a world directly in its current form, without evolution.

            > Then God would be as the pagans imagined him: irrational, capricious and the creator of a universe that makes absolutely no sense at all.

            That does not follow from your arguments.

          • John,

            Of course the author of Genesis believed what he wrote.

            Why would someone write about something he did not believe to be true?

            Nevertheless, the Genesis description of God is what led to the Christian worldview. And it is the Christian worldview that led to the development of modern science.

            Has the atheist never wondered why in all the thousands of years and all the civilizations in human history, Christian Western Civilization is the only civilization that progressed past the slave and the horse-drawn cart?

          • > Of course the author of Genesis believed what he wrote. Why would someone write about something he did not believe to be true?

            I didn’t argue otherwise.

            > Nevertheless, the Genesis description of God is what led to the Christian worldview. And it is the Christian worldview that led to the development of modern science.

            Well by “modern” you mean up to a hundred years ago or so. But so what? That doesn’t somehow prove Christianity to be true.

            > Has the atheist never wondered why in all the thousands of years and all the civilizations in human history, Christian Western Civilization is the only civilization that progressed past the slave and the horse-drawn cart?

            HAHA. It was the Christians that were pushing for slavery. Does this ring any bells to you:

            “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.” Exodus 21

            That was used as a justification for slavery.

            Slavery was abolished DESPITE Christianity.

            And besides, why are you going so far offtopic?

          • John,

            You’ve shifted the goal post (a logical fallacy) from the existence of God, to Christianity being true.

            The point I have made is that the systematic, rational God of Genesis and Christianity couldn’t be more different than the irrational, capricious god that the superstitious atheist conjures up as some sort of argument against reality.

          • > The point I have made is that the systematic, rational God of Genesis and Christianity couldn’t be more different than the irrational, capricious god that the superstitious atheist conjures up as some sort of argument against reality.

            Again you don’t seem to understand the argument at all.

            The existence of evil disproves (or is strong evidence against) the existence of an omni-benevolent, all-powerful God. It would have been possible for God to have created life without evolution and without suffering. You believe in heaven, no? Well God could have just created people directly in heaven. So clearly the existence of life does not require evolution and does not require suffering.

          • The existence of evil does not disprove the existence of a good, benevolent God.

            The existence of evil proves the existence of human free will.

          • > The existence of evil does not disprove the existence of a good, benevolent God.

            Okay, if you say so. All I’ve really been aiming for here is for you to understand what the argument says. I think you now understand it, so my goal is complete. 🙂

            > The existence of evil proves the existence of human free will.

            Sure, some of it you can account for in that way.

            But it leaves open many other problems. For example, the existence of a worm that eats the inside of children’s eyeballs, making them blind. Or the existence of the spanish flu, that killed a third of the population. Or the millions of people that God supposedly killed in the Old Testament.

            Of course you can just fall back to saying “There’s a reason, even if we don’t know what it is”. But that could be applied to pretty much anything and isn’t very satisifactory.

          • John,

            I have already explained that suffering is integral to evolution.

            You discount the Christian arguments for design yet you use the exact same argument with the eye worms.

            You are admitting that God designed the universe but since it is not to your atheist specifications God is not good.

            That is an irrational argument based on fantasy. Valid arguments must account for reality.

          • > I have already explained that suffering is integral to evolution.

            And I have already explained 3 times now that evolution isn’t necessary for life. God could have just instead created life directly. So God did not NEED to use evolution.

            > You discount the Christian arguments for design yet you use the exact same argument with the eye worms.

            It’s not the same argument. The existence of eye worm shows that there isn’t a God that cares about us enough to remove the eye worm. That is true by definition. Agreed?

            > You are admitting that God designed the universe but since it is not to your atheist specifications God is not good.

            No. It means that IF there was a God that designed the universe, then since he allow suffering to happen then he clearly isn’t good.

            I really thought you understood the argument 😦

          • John,

            Evolution is necessary for life.

            Saying otherwise is a rejection of modern science.

            To believe what you believe means that you believe that everything happened all by itself.

            Such an irrational notion is necessary to accept atheism.

          • > Evolution is necessary for life.

            No, it’s not. A God could have created the life directly.

            > Saying otherwise is a rejection of modern science.

            No. Saying that something is possible is a not rejection of modern science.

            > To believe what you believe means that you believe that everything happened all by itself.

            As opposed to an all-powerful all-knowing intelligent being that just happened to exist for no reason at all?

          • John,

            Your alternative universe is obvious not possible since we live in this one.

            Your fictitious alternative universe is not a valid argument against the real universe.

          • > Evolution is necessary for life.

            If you really believe this, then are you saying that there are things that God cannot do? You are arguing that God is not capable of creating life without evolution?

          • John,

            I have already explained about the laws of nature and nature’s God.

            Your idea of what God must be is superstitious.

            When God lived among men as Jesus Christ he performed miracles that where witnessed by thousands. But that was to demonstrate God’s glory, not change the fundament nature of the universe.

          • > Your alternative universe is obvious not possible since we live in this one.

            That doesn’t make it impossible.

            It was possible for me to eat icecream today, even though I did not.

          • John,

            The alternative universes that atheists must conjure up are indeed impossible in the universe we presently inhabit.

            An alternative universe with different rules cannot be used to justify anything in this universe which has its own rules.

          • > The alternative universes that atheists must conjure up are indeed impossible in the universe we presently inhabit.

            Right – that’s why it’s an alternative universe.

            I did not eat icecream yesterday but I could have. It is impossible for this universe we presently inhabit to be one in which I ate icecream yesterday because the icecream is still in the freezer uneaten. But it was still possible for me to eat it, and we can discuss a possible alternative universe in which I ate it.

            > An alternative universe with different rules cannot be used to justify anything in this universe which has its own rules.

            Yes it can. This is done all the time. We compare hypothetical scenarios.

            E.g “If I had eaten the icecream yesterday, I would be fatter. It was a good thing I didn’t eat that icecream yesterday.”

  7. The atheist argument that God cannot exist because of evil is irrational since it is the same as wishing someone out of existence because they don’t act the way you think they should.

    That sort of magical thinking has the same superstitious nature that atheists complain about in believers.

    All atheist arguments are based on logical fallacies, irrationality or factual errors and consequently can be destroyed with simple common sense.

    • > The atheist argument that God cannot exist because of evil is irrational

      It’s an argument against a specific type of God – an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent God.
      Not against God in general.

      Of course there could be an incompetant or evil etc God.

      You only think that it’s irrational because you don’t understand the argument.

      > it is the same as wishing someone out of existence because they don’t act the way you think they should.

      Nope. It is the same as simply saying that if they do exist, then they aren’t benevolent if they kill innocent people.

      Pretty big difference.

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