1. Territories Unknown
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    14 Nov '11 14:52
    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 omnipotent if and only if G can do anything that is logically possible.
    Omniscient (def.): An entity G is omniscient if and only if G knows every true proposition.
    Morally Perfect (def): An entity G is morally perfect if and only if for any two acts, events, or states of affairs A and B, if A is morally preferable to B then G prefers that A occur or obtain rather than B, and G acts accordingly.
    NOTE: The notion ‘morally preferable’ presumes no particular ethical theory. The argument that follows is neutral as to correctness of any particular ethical theory, and as such is applicable regardless of which ethical theory is correct. In my arguments below, however, I will assume that moral terms mean what they're typically taken to mean. I will use terms like 'badness', 'callousness', etc. in the normal way.
    1) God exists.
    2) There has occurred at least one event E such that E brought about unnecessary suffering; suffering not logically necessary for the bringing about of greater good.
    3) If God is omnipotent, God could have prevented E from occurring.
    4) If God is omniscient, God would have known that E was going to occur.
    5) If God is morally perfect God would have preferred that E not occur, and acted accordingly.
    6) If (3), (4), and (5), then E could not have occurred.
    7) Hence, E did not occur.
    8) But, by (2), E did occur.
    9) Hence, either one or more premises (1) through (5) are false.
    10) Premises (2) through (5) are true.
    11) Hence, premise (1) is false; God does not exist.
    This is a valid reductio, so the theist must reject either theism itself, or at least one of the following premises: (2), (3), (4), or (5).


    It is my contention that the fatal flaw begins in point one, which then leads to other errors. Prior to commencing on anything which follows, the God that exists must be either defined or allowed to be the standard of definition for all that follows. Instead, we don't find out until points 3-5 of alleged properties of the being from point one.

    Once that issue is resolved, I also believe it will be shown that bbarr errs on point two, with an assumption or leap which he cannot justify... although it will require the mentioned 'cleaning up' in order to have the issue present itself. Granted, the Bible itself does not flesh out the characteristics of God until much later in the narrative, but I consider this a result of an assumption of sovereignty, i.e., all that flows from the source is speaking about the source, either in agreement or disagreement, rather than a development of God.

    Thus, point two errs in this regard: since God is the absolute standard by which all value is determined, what ought have happened at the point in time when a lie was told about Him? Absolute perfection demands absolute righteousness, therefore, the lie ought to have been expunged... along with the liar. Something (which absolute perfection does not necessarily comment upon) stayed obliteration--- for whatever reason. That same something (still unnamed) allows for any and all suffering to occur, but we can at least point to the lie as being the cause, not the unnamed force.
  2. Donationbbarr
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    14 Nov '11 15:512 edits
    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:

    [quote]
    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.

    Bennett
  3. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    14 Nov '11 16:08
    Circumstantial silence seems to have lasted sooo long. Appreciate the opportunity of seeing the two of you in conversation

    again... not at all unlike a royal chess match between two players whose levels of prowess exceed conventional rating.



    😉
  4. Joined
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    14 Nov '11 17:18
    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:

    [quote]
    A General Argument from Evil:
    God (def.): An entity that is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect.
    Omnipotent (def.): An entity G is om ...[text shortened]... o occur, but we can at least point to the lie as being the cause, not the unnamed force.
    I don't see any reason to call any part of this argument a fatal flaw, but I would revise the following to leave the conclusion to the reader:

    Change:

    9) Hence, either one or more premises (1) through (5) are false.
    10) Premises (2) through (5) are true.
    11) Hence, premise (1) is false; God does not exist.


    to:

    9) Hence, either one or more premises (1) through (5) are false.
    10) Hence, if premises (2) through (5) are true;
    11) Premise (1) is false; God does not exist.


    The theistic reader is then free to determine how the contents of his own faith might or might not need revision.

    There is an underlying premise, of course: Faith that defies reason is false. IOW, a refusal to accept fideism is assumed throughout.
  5. Donationbbarr
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    14 Nov '11 17:271 edit
    Originally posted by JS357
    I don't see any reason to call any part of this argument a fatal flaw, but I would revise the following to leave the conclusion to the reader:

    Change:

    9) Hence, either one or more premises (1) through (5) are false.
    10) Premises (2) through (5) are true.
    11) Hence, premise (1) is false; God does not exist.


    to:

    9) Hence, either one ...[text shortened]... rse: Faith that defies reason is false. IOW, a refusal to accept fideism is assumed throughout.
    If you restructure the argument that way, then it's no longer a reductio. Your (10) doesn't even express a proposition (it's just the antecedent of a conditional without a consequent), and, hence (11) doesn't follow. So, you've just turned a valid argument into an invalid argument. Anyway, Problem of Evil arguments aim to show that God doesn't exist. So, that's why I've constructed the argument this way. But, as I explicitly point out in my post, the theist is free to deny the conclusion; all he has to do is reject one of the premises necessary for deriving it (i.e., at least one of the premises (1)-(5)). For instance, if we carefully unpack Freaky's claims, above, it's clear that he would opt for rejecting premise (5).
  6. Territories Unknown
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    14 Nov '11 20:27
    Originally posted by bbarr
    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 ...[text shortened]... hing is going well with you and yours.

    Bennett
    I think you're right, in that the theist has the option of simply sticking to his guns.
    Fingers in ears, no doubt! I did not mean to imply that common moral notions ought not be applied to God, although I think the idea carries at least some weight. Perhaps a better definition of moral/morality would remove the haze. It is the theist's contention that morality is a fairly generic and non-spiritual contract employed among groups of fallen man. It is not an approximation of righteousness, but rather the nearly non-static code of conduct deliberately established to safeguard certain freedoms by virtue of an ever-watchful eye on the seamier aspects of man's brokenness.

    Morality is more a way of keeping the demons at bay than it is a puppet show intended to act out the goodness of God, so--- at its best--- morality simply levels the playing field, defensively-speaking. We see nothing of defense with God: He is all offense, all the time. So I think we can set aside the idea that He ought to act morally.

    That being said, the concepts of love and compassion are not essential to morality, per se. We can readily imagine societies wherein neither are employed, replaced instead by what some evolutionists might call 'general self-interest.'

    I also did not intend to use the argument that whatever God calls x is x--- even though this is a valid statement. In a world created by God, it only stands to reason that His 'blue' is 'blue.' If we're looking at 'blue' and seeing 'green,' either we're right or there's something wrong with our eyes... certainly no middle ground is available.

    The theist argues that our eyes aren't seeing things correctly. After all, if God says it is 'blue,' upon what are we basing our objection otherwise?

    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.
    Yes, there is an asterisk. But I think it presents itself much sooner than man's entrance on the stage. As I eluded to earlier, something unnamed within the perfect righteousness of God stayed the obliteration of the lie/liar. The lie itself is/was an offense--- a cause of suffering--- to the righteousness and perfection of God. Perfect justice ought to have wiped the lie and the source out at its inception. Yet He endured the offense: suffered.

    Since He is truth, no greater suffering or offense exists than the lie. That the suffering continues--- more His than ours--- speaks of something imagination fails to grasp: grace.

    All that being said, it's a pleasure to spar again, no matter how out armed I am! Things here in NE Ohio are good, except for the Browns, of course. All good there in Puget Sound area, I trust?
  7. Donationbbarr
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    14 Nov '11 20:59
    Originally posted by FreakyKBH
    [b]I think you're right, in that the theist has the option of simply sticking to his guns.
    Fingers in ears, no doubt! I did not mean to imply that common moral notions ought not be applied to God, although I think the idea carries at least some weight. Perhaps a better definition of moral/morality would remove the haze. It is the theist's contentio ...[text shortened]... for the Browns, of course. All good there in Puget Sound area, I trust?[/b]
    Things are good here in Seattle. It's a tough economy, but we're keeping our heads up. I have a wonderful woman, good friends, and time enough to read and write. The Huskies break my heart and I miss The Sonics, but you can't have everything. Anyway, I like this response of yours. I think it's honest, and I think it's got legs. I'm heading to the gym for a bit, but I'll chew this over and get back to you. Thanks!
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    14 Nov '11 21:25
    Originally posted by bbarr
    If you restructure the argument that way, then it's no longer a reductio. Your (10) doesn't even express a proposition (it's just the antecedent of a conditional without a consequent), and, hence (11) doesn't follow. So, you've just turned a valid argument into an invalid argument. Anyway, Problem of Evil arguments aim to show that God doesn't exist. ...[text shortened]... unpack Freaky's claims, above, it's clear that he would opt for rejecting premise (5).
    Maybe so, but the bright, honest theist will agree with and read (10) the way I state it, and will agree that 11 follows. Then if he sticks to his guns, he will say something has to be wrong with one or more of (2) through (5), not with (10) as I state it.
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