Presentation on theme: "The Problem of Evil An Ethical Argument Against the Existence of God, and the Defense from that Argument."— Presentation transcript:
The Problem of Evil An Ethical Argument Against the Existence of God, and the Defense from that Argument
The Problem of Evil Somehow, evil is thought to pose a problem for belief that God exists. It is a particular and prominent case of thinking that belief in God is irrational (and here we are thinking of the traditional, Sunday morning God, who is, among other things, all good, all powerful, and all knowing). There are many efforts in philosophical and other literature (Miltons Paradise Lost, Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, others) to say just what the problem is. Among philosophers, the effort traditionally takes the form of an argument: The Argument from Evil.
The Argument from Evil Let G = God is all good P = God is all powerful W = God is willing to prevent evil A = God is able to prevent evil E = Evil exists Also, let. = and = If, then ~ = not Then we can construct the following argument … 1. (G.P) > (W.A) 2. (W.A) > ~E 3. E_________ 4. ~(G.P)
The Argument from Evil So, in English, the argument reads: If God is all good and all powerful, then he is willing and able to prevent evil. If God is willing and able to prevent evil, then there isnt any evil. Ah, but there is evil! Therefore, there is no all good, all powerful God. Notice that the conclusion allows a God that is all good but not all powerful, or a God that is all powerful but not all good. It does not allow, however, a God that is both all good and all powerful. 1. (G.P) > (W.A) 2. (W.A) > ~E 3. E_________ 4. ~(G.P)
The Validity of the Argument Could something be wrong with the form of the argument? No. The argument shows the antecedent is false through 2 steps of Modus Tollens, a valid argument form. If she was Stabbed in the car, then there would be Blood in the car. There is No Blood in the car. Therefore, she was Not Stabbed in the car. So, if the argument is flawed, the flaw must be in the truth of the premises. S > B ~B ~S For example,
Response 1 Perhaps premise 3, Evil exists, is false. Evil, some have argued, is a mere privation of good, following the metaphysical hierarchical system endorsed by some ancient and medieval philosophers. 1. (G.P) > (W.A) 2. (W.A) > ~E 3. E_________ 4. ~(G.P) 1. (G.P) > (W.A) 2. (W.A) > ~pg 3. pg_______ 4. ~(G.P)
Response 2 Theists have traditionally responded that God gives people free will, and it is they who produce the evil, not God. A.Atheistic or agnostic response: Good people jail evil doers and trade freedom for less evil. Being perfectly good, God would do the same or more. Theistic response: Thats fine for us, but God cannot create a moral universe jailing everyone for every little infraction. God must allow freedom to create a universe with moral goodness, and that universe contains evil because of those free beings... … who then can, if they so choose, overcome evil
Response 2 (continued) B.Atheistic or agnostic response: Modal Logic to the Rescue! There is a possible world where everyone has free will and just happens to do what is right all the time. God should have created that world. Since He didnt, we must conclude there is no all good, all powerful God. Theistic Response: Consider two possible worlds, W and W*. Everything is exactly the same in W and W* except in W Kelsey Zent accepts a bribe to help someone cheat on their Ethics quiz. Notice, if Kelsey is free with respect to accepting or rejecting the bribe, then whether W or W* is actual depends on Kelsey, not God, and so it is false that God can create any possible world, even though God is all good and all powerful. Alvin Plantinga
Revised Argument from Evil So, supposing free will necessitates the possibility of moral evil, the revised argument reads: If God is all good and all powerful, then he is willing and able to prevent UNNECESSARY evil. If God is willing and able to prevent UNNECESSARY evil, then there isnt any UNNECESSARY evil. Ah, but there is UNNECESSARY evil! Therefore, there is no all good, all powerful God. What evils are unnecessary? Well, all the natural evil the world contains: earthquakes, floods, tornados, accidents of all kinds not due to the misuse of free will. Those evils are not explained by free will Those evils God could and so should, given the argument, prevent. 1. (G.P) > (W.A) 2. (W.A) > ~UE 3. UE_________ 4. ~(G.P)
Response to Revised Argument Theists have the option of attributing natural evils such as earthquakes, floods, tornados, etc., to the free will activities of the devil and his minions. A.Atheistic response: You must be kidding. Theistic response: Nope. Completely serious. It is about this time that argument is replaced by mutual and intense narrowing of the eyes.
Other Arguments The preceding is the current state of what is called the logical argument from evil. There have been efforts to make a probabilistic argument from evil work. Evil, some think, makes it improbable that God exists. But, since probabilistic arguments typically require showing some frequency of at least two events occurring together, and the relevant events in this context are Gods existing and evils existing, and since we never (from the atheistic standpoint) have any knowledge of one of those events occurring (Gods existing), it is hard to establish any probability relation between them.