Originally posted by FreakyKBH
As the thread with a fairly interesting topic embedded took a few turns away from the point of interest, perhaps we can explore the same in this thread, instead. Bbarr posited the following argument:
A General Argument from Evil:
God (def.): An entity that is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect.
Omnipotent (def.): An entity G is om o occur, but we can at least point to the lie as being the cause, not the unnamed force.
I think you're right, in that the theist has the option of simply sticking to his guns. If I present an argument that employs, essentially, common moral notions in their standard way (e.g., that logically unnecessary suffering is a bad, and that it is callous to allow it when one could very easily help), the theist can simply claim, as you have here, that it is a mistake to apply common moral notions in their standard way to God.
Since God is the standard of value, morality, etc., it is simply impossible for him to deviate. But this is not an interesting fact about God, it is a tautology. It's as though we define 'meter' as 'whatever length this stick happens to be'. Even if the stick is broken in half, it's still by definition a meter. But then we have no independent purchase on what 'meter' means.
Similarly here for the common moral notions. One may think, apparently mistakenly, that notions like 'loving', 'compassionate', 'cruel', 'callous' actually mean something other than 'whatever God wants or does'. If you're right, then this is a mistake.
But the proper response to this is, I think, simply denial. We know what those terms mean, we use them perfectly adequately after we come to understand the language and have thought systematically about their application. We can apply them to Smith, when he ignores the unnecessary suffering of another. We can apply them to Jones, when he undertakes a murderous campaign with children numbering among his victims. But we can't apply them equally well to God? That's silly. Of course we can.
If you deny this, then I think you're playing a different language game. You say God is loving, or whatever. Since I know what 'loving' means, I know it's incompatible with killing children for the crimes of their parents. You say God's loving nature is actually compatible with that behavior, or that it's not wrong for God to do as he will, since God determines rightness and wrongness. I say, OK, but that's not what those terms mean. There are conceptual relations, analytic entailments, of terms like 'loving' or 'moral'. So I'm not sure why I should take any of your evaluative talk about God seriously. It's as though every time you use an evaluative notion with regard to God it comes with a very big asterisk.
* = 'Don't take this at face value'.
The definitions here are fine, and commonly applied to God. If He is not omnipotent, omniscient, or morally perfect, then the argument doesn't apply. But that's fine with me. If you think being morally perfect, for instance, does not entail preferring a morally better state of affairs to a worse one, then God's moral perfection doesn't really mean anything other than that he is what he is, prefers what he prefers, does what he does. This is true, necessarily, but unrelated to any reasonable notion of 'morality', just as the length of the definitive meter stick is unrelated to any reasonable notion of 'meter'.
And, further, it's nice to see you again! I hope everything is going well with you and yours.