Friday, November 28, 2008

Hurdles for theists

There are many situational facts which may seem incompatible with a 3-O deity. Arguments have been made on either side that we have looked at. My question, which is the greatest problem for the theist to solve in order to dispel non-believers' claims? Personally I believe that evil is the greatest problem; certainly God could conceive of a situation in which the world could function in a way that one may soul-build yet be absent of evil. It seems reasonable that a God would be capable of producing beings without the faculties of choosing/doing wrong. Your problem?


pamela1103 said...

I agree that the problem of evil is probably one of the most difficult for theist to dispel. It is sometimes difficult to see how a 3-O God could possibly allow, or create evil. Through all of our discussions, this has been the most difficult to explain. I guess one of the best explanation is that if there were not evil there would not be free will, because there would only be one choice to make. This explanation solves one dilemma, but still leaves open the questions of being perfectly good. But I guess it would depend upon what the definition of perfectly good is.

Talia said...

Its seems that what we have come down to in this class, is an attempt to understand aspects about something that is not fully realized. The way we have gone about doing this is by placing constants and running a theoretical experiment on those constants. I understand that this is the way that philosophy works in making projections. But there seems to be too much relativism with much of our understanding of what these constants are. Pamela's last sentence brought me back to this thought that I've been having. Is there another way to approach understanding what is unknown? An unbiased way? Because the way I see it, is you can choose a religious path and attempt to understand "God" (because even that word is relative) or you can choose a line of argument that supports your desired understanding for "God" or you can choose a line of argument that supports your desired belief that "God" does not exist, or you can choose not to think about it and not make predictions about it. But is any of that the point in trying to understand the unknowable? Is it about hoping you pick the right argument, because woe be the consequences if you are wrong? Is it all a twisted game of Russian Roulette? It seems to me, and maybe the difference between them is not that stark, that none of these options offer anything up to understanding something greater than oneself. Do we have the capability to do that as human beings born to subjectivity? And perhaps if the focus is shifted from an "I believe this and I'm going to find this out until I know for certain I am right" to "I dont know and I may never know and perhaps there is beauty and wonderment in the unknown, and perhaps I should seek with eyes open." It is not that we stop searching for understanding, but can there be an objective search? I think we may be too far invested as humans for their to be any objectivity.

Cash said...

I am under the impression that, regardless of the atheists problem with religion, their true beliefs would not be changed if it were to be answered. I think in most cases, even if all the questions could be properly answered, an atheist would not become a believer.

I think it comes down to a matter of faith. Most true believers wouldn't give up their faith if proven wrong, but they can still rely on and fall back on faith. For the atheist it's the same except they cannot turn to faith.

A lot of atheists (not all) are trying to make a point about religion and turn from belief even in the presence of legitimate proof.

So when you say the biggest problem is the problem of evil, i think that the true biggest problem is a inability to accept in spite of an answer.

charliet said...

The comment Talia made about a lack of objectivity got me thinking about something that I've been wondering about for a little while now: has anyone considered the motives of God (if he does exist) and the perspective God would hold on the issue of evil? Even a 3-O God would need some kind of practical reason for creating the universe in the first place, especially one containing evil, and presumably this reason would be the best one possible. In trying to come up with a reason for um... existence, it occurred to me that looking at the nature of God, the two things a perfect God would not possess without our reality were imperfection and morally significant choices. This makes God incomplete from my perspective, so the reason for the universe, its flawed nature, and the evil it contains may be some sort of extension of the existence of God to make God complete. This may work as a possible explanation for why evil must exist within the world, but it doesn't really seem to explain why so much evil or why certain individuals would possess less good in their nature (and thus less of a chance of getting some afterlife reward). I don't know if this really leads anywhere productive, but if there were a way to take human perspective and motives out of the equation, trying to view things from a (hypothetical) God's perspective(and not just what God would want for us, but what God would want regardless of us) seems to me to be the best way of trying to find justification for evil.

Jo F said...

There is so much here it seems you are not considering. One theodicy (such as the soul-making theodicy) does not have to explain all evil. There are numerous defenses and theodicies to consider, each for the various kinds of evil.

For example, if God wants to make free-willed beings, then the proponent of any atheistic argument from evil has to show that the world could have gone otherwise and not resulted in the maximum number of people coming to be saved by Him. Let's call this state of affairs the Goal of Maximal Salvation (GMS). Now, as you said, He could alter one condition here or there, or eliminate one person here or there--however, it is up to pure speculation at this point on whether the GMS is compossible with the conditions that would result form these changes. Perhaps it is the case that eliminating that one evil influence of more evil, such as satan, creates a world in which less people are saved than in GMS. Whether this is or is not the case is entirely up to pure speculation--and thus the atheist's straw-man fallacy since Christianity posits a moral God with morally sufficient reasons for permitting evil.

I recommend Dr. Craig's articles on his website regarding the argument from evil, or better yet the essay Stewart Goetz wrote in the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology on the problem of evil. The PDF for the latter can be found online via google search.