Evolution And The Traditional Notion Of An All-Loving God Are Incompatible
Evolution as it is commonly described is not compatible with the traditional notion of God. So I made an argument called the Evolutionary Argument Against God or the EAAG.
This argument is predicated on (1) the traditional concept of God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good and (2) the notion that God either started the evolutionary process as a means to enable human existence or that he both started and guided the evolutionary process along some of its steps to ensure humans would evolve.
The argument goes as follows:
1. If God chose to use evolution as the process by which he created human beings and all other forms of life, then God knowingly chose a process that requires suffering that is logically unnecessary.
2. If humans are the product of gradual evolution guided by God, then at some point during the process the soul appeared.
3. Once the soul appeared, humans could be rewarded in an afterlife for the suffering they endured while they were alive.
4. If higher level primates are capable of third level pain awareness (knowing they are experiencing pain) then our pre-human hominid ancestors also did and they did not have souls.
5. This means God chose to create humans using a method that knowingly would involve conscious suffering that was not logically necessary.
6. An all-good, perfectly moral God who is incapable of unwarranted cruelty would not create beings that could consciously suffer in a way that was not logically necessary.
7. Therefore, the traditional notion of God who is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good does not exist.
Since almost every premise here is a conditional, let’s examine each of the premises to see what objections we might find.
(1) If God chose to use evolution as the process by which he created human beings and all other forms of life, then God knowingly chose a process that requires suffering that is logically unnecessary.
Premise 1 asserts the fact that the evolutionary process logically requires suffering, which God would of course have known before using the evolutionary process to create humans. Some theists like William Lane Craig think of God like an artist who takes pleasure in the method for creating life using evolution. Another theory is that God chose to use evolution contingently as a punishment for original sin which God decided would be applied retroactively to the millions of species that existed before human beings. Alvin Plantinga has proposed the idea that “Satan and his minions” have tinkered with the evolutionary process and have caused the natural evils it produces[i]. Regardless of what explanation a theist has in mind, God still willingly chose to create man using millions of other species merely as a means to an end, and many of those species contained sentient beings who consciously suffered tremendous ordeals. It seems odd to me that a wholly good and omni-benevolent God would intentionally choose a method of bringing about human beings that requires millions of years of suffering as there doesn't appear to be any logically necessary reason apart from wildly absurd and ad hoc conjecture.
(2) If humans are the product of gradual evolution guided by God, then at some point during the process the soul appeared.
For premise 2, even if a theist believes that fully rational humans appeared at once in a single generation as some theistic evolutionists do, or that "humans" can only be body + soul composites, we still have enough evidence that our hominid ancestors and cousins like Neanderthals had language capability (via the FOXP2 gene that we share) and that means they certainly had more advanced functioning rational and cognitive faculties than modern day chimps and gorillas. So millions of years would have passed before we get modern humans during which our pre-human hominid ancestors and cousins lived and were capable of conscious, apperceptive suffering.
(3) Once the soul appeared, humans could be rewarded in an afterlife for the suffering they endured while they were alive.
Most theists believe that the soul gives humans the possibility of being rewarded in an afterlife and that this compensates the suffering that humans endure in their physical form on Earth. Natural evils like disease all have a purpose, according to some theists, in that they bring people closer to God, or that they are the byproduct of original sin. But, if a human is defined as a body + soul composite, then our pre-human hominid ancestors lacked souls and were suffering from the same diseases and natural evils that we are. God must’ve chosen not to compensate their suffering, while at the same time he allowed them to evolve the ability to be consciously self-aware of their suffering. The original sin argument doesn't make sense either. There's no evidence that there were ever just two people, and, the theist would have to believe that the punishment for original sin was retroactively applied to animals before humans even evolved! Not only is this cruel, this doesn't make sense considering evolution requires suffering (which God would've known beforehand). It is impossible to have an evolutionary process unfold without suffering. So theists who bring up original sin are logically incoherent. (All this exists in addition to the problem that compensation doesn't logically equate to justification).
(4) If higher level primates are capable of third level pain awareness (knowing they are experiencing pain) then our pre-human hominid ancestors also did and they did not have souls.
If premise 4 is true it logically follows. Our pre-human hominid ancestors and cousins like Neanderthals would have had evolved advanced levels of cognition that may not have been quite as advanced as a modern human, but necessarily must have been more advanced than a modern day primate like a chimp or a gorilla.
(5) This means God chose to create humans using a method that knowingly would involve conscious suffering that was not logically necessary.
Premise 5 suggests that God is just a mere utilitarian who uses millions of other species as a means to his end goal of creating human beings, but what makes God different from other utilitarians is that since evolution requires massive amounts of suffering, God actually chooses the greater of two evils rather than the lesser of two evils! It’s kind of odd since he’s supposed to be morally perfect.
(6) An all-good, perfectly moral God who is incapable of unwarranted cruelty would not create beings that could consciously suffer in a way that was not logically necessary.
Premise 6 states the most important logical aspect of the argument – that a morally perfect being like God is incapable of unwarranted cruelty, which evolution requires. There seems to be no plausible way that a theist can justify the suffering that evolution requires. I have heard theists like William Lane Craig argue that animals are not consciously aware that they’re in pain, but he even admits this does not apply to the higher primates, and that logically means it wouldn’t apply to our hominid ancestors. That's really all I need to show in order for my argument to work. And so if our human suffering is logically necessary for some unknown purpose because we have souls, then this fails to logically explain why soul-less conscious animals would have to suffer under the evolutionary process.
(7) Therefore, the traditional notion of God who is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good does not exist.
If my premises are correct, then the conclusion in number 7 logically follows because an all-good God is incompatible with creating unwarranted cruelty, and because it requires the ability or at least the capacity of intentional cruelty or indifference. If the theist can't rebut this, they must admit that their notion of God is either incompetent, indifferent or cruel, and that would mean that this concept of God cannot logically exist.
[i] Plantinga, A, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism pp. 58-59
Thank you to philophile for instigating this debate. His contention is that evolution is incompatible with the traditional notion of God (an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent deity). Statements 1-6 are premises. Statement 7 is the conclusion. Let us examine it to see if it holds up under scrutiny. I could argue either that the argument is invalid or that it is unsound. But the argument does not appear to be invalid, so the target of my criticism will be the premises, and I will show that the argument is unsound.
I do not have to show that all the premises are false in order to negate the resolution, but only one actually. But I have raised objections to several of them.
The arial font in bold denotes my opponent’s summarized points. The times new roman font denotes my points. Each argument is numbered and is preceded by a tagword.
[P1] Necessary Suffering
It is impossible to have an evolutionary process unfold without suffering.
[P1A] Lack of Foundation
Though Pro mentions several times that evolution requires suffering, he offers no argument for it. Until Pro explains why evolution must involve suffering, this premise remains dubious. Maybe by “evolution” he means not just the process by which one species gives rise to another, but rather nature in general. I admit there is a lot of suffering in nature, but none of it is logically necessary, it is just incidental.
>>> I have no objections to premise 2. <<<
[P3] Soul Required
Only things with souls go to Heaven.
If Neanderthals did not have souls, it does not follow that they would not go to Heaven. Concepts of Heaven (and Hell for that matter) usually include things that do not have souls, like trees, flowers, mountains etc. It might be that even soul-less Neanderthals still go to Heaven and are compensated for their suffering. Even animals who are not consciously aware of their suffering may go to Heaven and be compensated for their suffering.
[P4] Lack of Souls
Neanderthals did not have souls.
[P4A] Lack of Foundation
Even if Pro is correct that only things with souls can be compensated in Heaven for their suffering, he has given no argument for his contention that Neanderthals did not have souls. How could be know such a thing? Maybe they did have souls.
God knew that evolution would involve conscious suffering. God is just a mere utilitarian who uses millions of other species as a means to his end goal of creating human beings.
Using means to achieve an end does not make on a utilitarian. Everyone, utilitarian and anti-utilitarian alike, uses means/ends reasoning, that does not mean that everyone is a utilitarian. Every person is a means to some end, but that does not mean that they are only a means to an end.
As I explained earlier, even soul-less and consciousness-less creatures might go to Heaven and be compensated. They may not be mere instruments for our existence, but ends in themselves. Even humans treat many animals like ends in themselves, such as when pet-owners pamper their pets. God doing so would be no different.
Almost all theists accept that God’s omniscience does not include knowing things that are logically impossible for him to know. Some theists believe that knowledge of the future is logically impossible, since the future does not exist and so statements about the future are neither true nor false so God cannot know them to be either true or false. So God may not have known that evolution would involve suffering. It seems that God would only know that evolution would involve suffering if evolution required suffering, but again, Pro has given no reason for why this is so.
[P6] Unwarranted suffering
An all-loving God would not create humans through a means that requires suffering.
[P6A] Lack of Foundation
This is basically a recap of other premise one, and while I agree that a loving God does not want unwarranted suffering, Pro again asserts without argument that evolution requires this suffering and that hominids did not have souls.
The main problem with my opponent’s argument is that he has made assumptions or unsupported assertions. All of his premises except for premise 2 contain highly questionable assumptions that he still needs to defend. The elaborations he offered for his premises only defend an aspect of the premise, not the whole thing.
As I said, it appears that Pro’s argument is valid, but because there is no reason to believe most of his premises, it is not sound and hence the resolution has not been proven. He has not demonstrated that the traditional notion of God is incompatible with evolution.
Thank you CriticalThinkingMachine for accepting this debate. In order for one who holds to the view of God this argument is predicated on the refute the EAAG, they would have to show how the argument is somehow logically invalid, or show how a wholly good, morally perfect God is compatible with the existence of gratuitous, logically unnecessary animal & pre-human hominid suffering.
If Con can't do this, he must admit that the traditional notion of God is either incompetent, indifferent, or intentionally cruel, in which case the traditional concept of God would be logically incoherent with what he’d be conceding. That would also mean that this concept of God cannot logically exist. And since this concept of God must exist in every possible world, as per the ontological argument, if there exists a single possible world that this God is incompatible with, then it destroys the possibility of this God existing in any possible world.
Con has tried to argue that I have not justified my premises enough to support the conclusion. I disagree, but I will provide more detail to answer some of the objections that he has raised & I will show that he has already conceded my argument.
P1. Necessary suffering
To anyone who understands how evolution works, the existence of suffering is self evident. Evolution requires a rather cruel survival of the fittest operation, where the strongest & best adapted are more likely to survive & the weakest will die out. This process guarantees that millions of animals & millions of species of animals that evolve will be ill-equipped for their environment, & will suffer & die. Genetic mutations can sometimes harm & cause birth defects & that logically leads to suffering too. That’s basically how evolution works.
Furthermore, given the time that evolution requires, some species will go completely extinct because they will be unable to adapt to changing geography & climate. Evolution also naturally gives rise to predation, where animals feed off of one another & this creates further suffering. Some 99.9 % of all species that have ever lived have gone extinct.[i] There’s no logically necessary reason why millions of species had to suffer & go extinct if the purpose of this universe is to allow humans to live. Now if all this happens naturally its one thing, but if God intentionally set it up this way, he must be capable of indifference or cruelty & that’s not logically compatible with being morally perfect.
I will skip P2 since Con found no objection to it
P3. Soul-less creatures & objects go to heaven
Con is arguing that animals, plants & rocks go to heaven. I’d like to know what is his source or evidence that animals without souls go to heaven. Consider the logical consequences of such an idea. Do cockroaches go to heaven then? Does the roach you crushed under your foot now get to roam freely for an eternity side by side with you in heaven where it is free from the possibility of being stepped on? When a human gets to heaven will there be trillions of bugs who have been risen & now occupy heaven for all eternity? I have never heard a theist or anyone who believes in heaven utter something that sounds so ridiculous.
If there are mountains in heaven, I’d like to know how Con knows this. What are his sources of information? What matters here is conscious animal suffering. And what would an animal do in heaven for eternity? How would a carnivorous lion live in heaven if it has to eat the gazelle that’s also occupying heaven for eternity? What theological basis does Con have for believing all of this?
And finally, Con needs to justify why compensation equates to justification. If I kidnap & torture Con for 10 years in my basement, & then set him free & offer him 10 million dollars as “compensation”, does that justify the act of torturing him for 10 years for fun? Con needs to explain why this is logically justified.
P4. Neanderthals did not have souls
I want to know what information Con has to make the claim that Neanderthals possibly had souls. Most theists believe there is something special about humans. This specialness comes from God breathing in a soul to us at some point during our evolution. Most theists who accept evolution believe that this soul gave us our intellect & moral senses, though not all theists believe this. It’s this soul that was breathed into us that gives us the afterlife.
If Neanderthals had souls when did they get there soul? Do all things have souls? Flies? Bacteria? Feces? Rocks? What evidence does Con have to back up any non-humans having souls? He needs to provide more facts & evidence backing up this claim.
Utilitarianism basically stands for the greatest good for the greatest amount, & that sometimes means the ends justify the means. God’s end according to virtually all theists, is human beings. So all other species that evolved before us would have been means. There’s no logically necessary reason why millions of these species had to exist at all, let alone suffer & go extinct.
I’d like to know what religion & denomination Con belongs to that believes animals are God’s end. Or has he decided to invent his own theology that puts animals equal to that of humans?
If God cannot know the future, then he is not all-knowing & Con would be conceding the notion of the traditional God that I said was incompatible with evolution. So if Con is going to go that route, he will be handing me a victory. He needs to explain why it’s logically impossible for God to know that evolution requires suffering, & why this would somehow require more knowledge than the kind of knowledge God would need in order to create & fine tune a universe with billions of stars & galaxies.
Does Con really think that God creates a world not knowing what will come of it? How would he know humans would even evolve? How would he know that earth would even develop if God is essentially gambling on his creation of the universe? Does God really roll the dice & cross his fingers that he gets a universe with humans in it? If you take seriously the kind of God that Con is portraying, God looks like an incompetent, fumbling buffoon, who hopes things turn out the way he wants. That would be conceding my argument.
So we need a better description of God from Con that outlines God’s level of knowledge. As far as I know, God knows everything that is logically possible to know & it’s logically possible to know that evolution requires suffering.
P6. Unwarranted Suffering
Premise 6 is the most important logical aspect of the argument that premises 1 – 5 seek to establish justification for. Above I have given significant justification that evolution requires suffering. If Con doesn’t think I have sufficiently proved that evolution requires suffering, then I’d challenge him to describe how an evolutionary process could unfold that does not contain suffering.
So to summarize this point, since evolution logically requires suffering, if God chose evolution to create humans, he chose a method that logically requires suffering. But, there’s no reason why God had to choose evolution. He chose it out of his own free will. And I disagree that God wouldn’t know that evolution would require suffering. Why even call such a being God if it’s incapable of knowing everything that is logically true?
As I have given ample evidence that (1) evolution requires suffering & that (2) God chose to use evolution for no reason other than he wanted to, & that (3) it would have been in God’s power to know what evolution would require, then evolution is not compatible with the traditional notion of an all-powerful, all-knowing, & all-loving God. Con seems to be down-playing some of God’s greatness in order to make him more compatible with evolution. That means he is conceding the argument already.
In his response to my objections to his argument, Pro has only handed me classic fallacies and sought to attribute outrageous claims to me that are irrelevant to my case against him. If he cannot present a non-fallacious EAAG, then he must concede the debate.
Evolution requires suffering.
(P1A) Incidental (Confusing Actuality With Necessity)
Pro says that "to anyone who understands evolution, suffering is self-evident." I agree, but that"s not what we"re debating. Pro"s claim is that evolution actually "requires" (his word, not mine) suffering. But he still has given zero reason to believe that this is so, and his own words betray him.
He says that "genetic mutations can sometimes harm and cause birth defects"" Notice the words "can" and "sometimes" That is exactly my point, they can harm, they sometimes harm, but that does not mean that are necessitated to harm. And he continues in saying "and that logically leads to suffering too." Suffering can occur from a defect, but obviously it is not logically entailed. My friend has a defect in his toe. It"s annoying to look at, but it is benign and he does not suffer from it.
Pro is confusing the actual with the necessary. We call them by two different names for a reason. They are not the same thing. Just because evolution is cruel sometimes does not mean it has to be.
Pro"s wording has now changed from "suffering" to "death" and "extinction". I agree that evolution involves death and distinction, but why must that require suffering?
(P1B) False Dichotomy
Pro says "Now if all this happens naturally, its one thing, but if God intentionally set it up this way, he must be capable of indifference"" but these two options are not mutually exclusive. God could have started evolution going and set it up to ensure the existence of humanity, and then let nature take its course, which is what most theists believe anyway.
Con needs to provide evidence for his claim that things without souls can go to Heaven.
(P3.1A) Shifting the Burden/Straw Man
My burden is not to provide evidence that God exist, that Heaven exists, that souls exist, or that anything goes to Heaven. My burden is purely to show that evolution and God are compatible, that it is possible that Neanderthals had souls and that it is possible that things without souls go to Heaven. Pro has the burden of proof. He is making the positive argument. I am only making a negative argument. I am only rebutting. I am not making a case for God"s existence. Pro says I am arguing that animals, plants, and rocks go to Heaven. I never said that. I only said it was possible, which is all I need to show in order to prove that the traditional concept of God is possible aside evolution. (1,2)
Let"s reverse things for a minute to see if it will help Pro understand: If a theist was arguing that religious experience prove God"s existence, he would need to provide evidence for this claim, because he is making the positive argument, but the atheist would only have to show that it is possible that such experiences have natural explanations. He would not have to provide evidence of naturalistic explanations to show that the theist"s argument fails. I"m sorry that Pro does not understand that he has the burden, not me.
And I did not say that soul-less things and objects to Heaven, I only said it was possible.
(P3.1B) Slippery Slope/Straw Man
Pro draws the inference that if soul-less things go to Heaven, then cockroaches go to Heaven. But a) I only talked about the possibility, not the actuality, and b) even if some soul-less things go to Heaven, it does not follow that all soul-less things go to Heaven. A loving God would reasonably allow beautiful things and keep the junk out. The cockroach in Heaven scenario is a theatrical distraction that does not follow from my argument and has nothing to do with it. (3)
Pro also brings up animals struggling to survive against each other. I have no clue why he is assuming that evolution would still apply in the afterlife.
Compensation Does Not Entail Justification. If I torture Con and then give him money, does that justify my torture?
(P3.2A) Bogus Analogy
I agree that this act is not justified, but this has nothing to do with God. We have no evidence of God torturing anybody. All our experience tells us that suffering is caused by humans and nature.
Where is Con's evidence that Neanderthals had souls?
(P4A) Burden Shift
Again, Pro has shifted the burden. Read my response above. Pro says that only humans have souls. I agree, but then what is the justification for saying that Neanderthals were not humans. My World Book Encyclopedia refers to them as "primitive human beings". (4) Pro asks if rocks and feces have souls. I do not see how they could, and this in no way is implied by the possibility that Neandethals may have had souls.
(P5.1A) Straw Man
Nice try, but I never said that animals were God's end or that they were equal to humans. I believe animals are used as instruments to bring about humans. I only said that they might not only be instruments. God might compensate them in their own way. I don't have to invent my own theologies. Pro is doing a good job of inventing them for me.
If God does not know the future, then God is not omniscient and Con is already conceding my point.
(P5.2A) Misinterpreting My Stance
I already explained that, under the traditional concept of God, which is what we agreed to, omnisciecne does not entail knowing what is logically impossible to know, and that might include the future. Hence knowledge of the future might not fall under the traditional concept of God. I have not conceded anything. Indeed, if God knew everything about the future, it would seem to conflict with our free will, and the traditional understanding of God is that he gave us free will.
Also, it is a false dichotomy to assume that God either knows everything or nothing about the future. He might know key things like what it would require to ensure that humans come into existence, but not know random, accidental, or free willed things. So God might have known that humans would evolve but did not know that evolution would incidentally involve suffering.
>>> Still no objection to premise 2. My issue with premise number 6 was not with the statement itself but with Pro"s elaboration below in which he again asserted that evolution requires suffering. As I explained before, his argument confuses the actual with the necessary. <<<
Pro needs to support all his premises if he wants his argument to be successful. He has completely failed to support most of them. His defense of the first premise rests on him confusing the actual with the necessary. On the other two issues, rather than defending his claim, he shifts the burden onto me and ask me to defend my non-claim. That"s not how it works. Its his argument, not mine. I am only providing a rebuttal showing compatibility. He also overstates my claims as stating actualities when they only state possibilities and he applies a slippery slope fallacy to take my views to unnecessary and unrealistic extremes. He turned my objection to his utilitarian argument into a straw man, and his contention that I have already conceded his argument by rejecting his definition of omniscience fails since my definition is completely consistent with the traditional notion of God and because I have the option of choosing between two extremes. Nothing is conceded and none of God"s greatness is given up.
Pro"s responses consisted entirely of fallacies. He has failed to demonstrate why his argument is sound. His premises contain very questionable assumptions for which he has no defense and he repeatedly misrepresents my objections to them. He can"t defend his own claims so he seeks to attack imaginary ones that he attributes to me. His argument still remains unsound.
sources in comments, could not fit
I challenged Con to describe how evolution could unfold without suffering & he has failed to do so. Con maintains that I have not proved that evolution requires suffering & yet I have. He even agrees that it does, but then says I have not proved that it “requires” suffering. If Con says that evolution doesn’t require suffering, the burden of proof is on him to demonstrate that.
When one makes a counter argument, they now bear the burden of proof to back up that counter argument with facts. I.E. If I’m debating a creationist & I counter that we don’t need God to explain the diversity of life because of evolution, then the burden of proof is on me to back up the truth of evolution.
Thus, all of Con’s attempts to complain about who shares what burden, is just an attempt to deny the arguments put forward.
Con is saying that evolution doesn’t require suffering. For the last time, he must demonstrate how this is logically possible instead of just making the bold assertion that it doesn’t. The burden is on him because it contradicts all that we know about evolution. Evolution works by genetic mutations that can either harm an organism, do nothing, or help an organism. The effect of a mutation is naturally selected by the environment to either give the organism an advantage, do nothing, or harm it.
Because evolution occurs from genetic mutations, mutations will always occur that will cause harm & that requires that the very mechanism which drives evolution – mutation – requires suffering. It doesn’t mean every mutation causes harm, but it means that the powerforce behind how evolution works requires suffering to be experienced. Harmful mutations actually outnumber beneficial ones much more frequently[i]. Any God who designed it this way must be capable of cruelty & indifference.
Con admitted evolution requires death & extinction but somehow can’t seem to see why that would cause suffering. I think even a child can see that mass extinction would require suffering. Why? Because species evolved pain receptors & consciousness.
God cannot let nature takes it course, because God is the author of nature. Consider the following:
(1) God (an omnipotent, omniscience, omni-benevolent being) exists.
(2) Natural evil exists.
(3) God is the creator & designer of the physical universe, including the laws that govern it.
(4) Natural disasters, & the evil they cause, are a direct byproduct of the laws that govern our universe.
Therefore anything that happens naturally is designed & instigated by God. There is no way to blame nature for natural evils in a world created & designed by God.
If Con wants to assert it’s possible that Neanderthals had souls & that non humans go to heaven, he needs to provide either a scriptural foundation for it in some religious text, or some evidence that they do have souls. Otherwise, anyone can make the mere assertion of something. I can say it’s possible that earthquakes are caused by a giant living inside the earth who gets angry & kicks it from the inside. But then I bear the burden of proof of demonstrating how such a hypothesis is logical & evidential. Con consistently fails to do so.
Now Con tries to backtrack on his earlier assertions that non-humans “possibly” had souls & went to heaven. (1) in order for him to be correct, it has to be actual, not just possible. (2) he seems to know the mind of God who’d “allow beautiful” things like Neanderthals into heaven & not roaches & bugs. How he knows this is anyone’s guess. My guess is that he’s making this ad-hoc theology up on the spot.
The absurdity of the “actuality” of roaches going to heaven, indicates that its “possibility” is equally absurd. Con even agrees with how absurd this is.
Then he makes a revealing point. If in heaven animals don’t need to struggle to survive against each other, God could have made that the same situation here. Instead, he designed them to brutally kill one another & suffer from other natural evils. It proves my point – evolution is incompatible with a loving God.
If suffering is cause by nature, & if you believe God is the creator of all things, then God created nature & designed nature. If nature is cruel, then God is cruel for designing it that way. Con has just proved my point – God must be capable of cruelty and/or indifference that are not logically necessary.
Now Con agrees that only humans have souls. He has again conceded my argument that soul-less non humans suffer for no logically necessary reason exacerbated by the evolutionary process – which God must have designed since it’s part of nature & God is the author of nature. Whether Neanderthals were human is incidental, there are many other hominid species that were clearly not human that this same principle applies to.
If one entertains a wildly speculative notion that animals are ends to God, which contradicts all known theologies that I’ve ever heard of, then yes Con is inventing his own theology to avoid the conclusion of my argument. It’s that simple.
The definition of omniscience is “the property of having complete or maximal knowledge.” Almost all theologies include a God who knows the future. Con is saying that it might be logically impossible for God to now the future. How does God know beforehand how to create nature itself, the universe & all the “key things” that will allow it to have humans, yet be totally ignorant of the fact that evolution will require genetic mutations that guarantees suffering?
And if God did not know that evolution would lead to suffering, since it took place over 3.7 billion years, why didn’t he stop it once he realized that it did involve suffering? Why let it all draw out for billions of years & do nothing while millions of animal species were suffering? Con’s argument makes no sense when critically examined.
I’m not at all confusing actual with necessary. Again I challenge Con to explain how species can evolve & adapt without suffering. God could’ve simply created the world as Genesis said he did & that would have eliminated millions of years of conscious animal suffering. Or he could have made all animals photosynthetic so that they could get their energy from the sun & not have to eat one another. All are logically possible alternatives if God exists.
If Con cannot demonstrate how evolution could work that does not involve suffering, he has no basis to make the bold assertion that evolution does not require it. Everyone who studies evolution learns that it requires suffering because the strongest survive & the least well adapted die. Furthermore, the whole mechanism driving evolution is genetic mutation & environmental selection. There’s no way these things can avoid suffering.
Also, we know our world involves suffering today. So even if one completely denied evolution altogether, my argument still stands. We know primates suffer consciously[ii], & the mere fact of that alone shows that the traditional notion of God is impossible. And since evolution is not something that stops – it keeps going – it means animals are still all evolving today & we can observe their suffering as the evolutionary process unfolds.
Another important point Con is forgetting is that the mere possibility of a world without animal suffering is not enough for him to win the argument. We know for a fact that evolution did involve suffering, & the mere existence of this fact, disproves the traditional notion of God. Possible world scenarios dreamed up by Con have no effect. The actual world we see & learn about is the world that matters for my argument to work.
So since Con is conceding that the “actual” process of evolution that we have observed contained conscious suffering that was not logically necessary, it shows that the traditional all-loving God is not compatible with our world, & therefore doesn’t exist.
Sources in comments
Pro still has trouble understanding the burden of proof. He is making the positive claim. I am only making the negative claim and rebutting his argument. He gives the example of an evolutionist debating a creationist and says that the evolutionist must give evidence of evolution. But to rebut creationism, the evolutionist does not have to show that evolution is true, merely that it is possible. If he would like to go further and argue for the truth of evolution, then he is then making a positive claim and hence he shares the burden. That is not analagous to this debate. I am making no positive claims or empirical claims and I do not have to. I merely have to show that evolution is compatible with the traditional concept of God. That’s all. Things are assumed to be possible until proven impossible. That’s how the burden of proof works. Pro has to show that evolution and a traditional God are incompatible, and he makes an empirical claim too that needs support.
[P1] Pro states that evolution requires suffering and that I conceded this. He says I merely asserted that evolution does not require suffering. If God is the author and creator of nature, then he controls it.
As I said before, I completely agree with Pro that evolution involves suffering. It is self-evident. However, Pro is claiming that evolution somehow “requires” suffering. This is a tremendous claim. Pro has to show that it is logically impossible for evolution to occur without suffering. This he has not done. He has only asserted it. In fact, in his elaborations, he says that evolution requires death and extinction. The philosopher David Hume explained elegantly that just because we see one follow from another, it does not mean that the two are logically linked, or that one requires the other. It is a natural temptation to do so, but we must resist it. 
Pro also argues that God cannot let nature take its course if he is the creator of it, but that’s another non-sequiter. When we say that someone created something, like saying that that Seth MacFarlane created Family Guy, it means he lit the fuse or got it started. It does not entail that he controls every movement of it. That is incompatible with freedom. MacFarlane created Family Guy, but that does not mean he writes every episode, directs every episode, does every voice, draw all the animation… If some force is involved with each and every move that evolution/humans/animals make, that’s not a creator, that’s a controller!, completely at odds with the loving God that we agreed to.
[P3] Con needs to give some scriptural evidence for his claim that it is possible that things other than souls can go to Heaven. Anybody can say anything that is possible. He has an obligation to show how it is possible and evidential.
The traditional concept of Heaven involves bodily resurrection. Traditionally Heaven is spoken of in physical terms, not ghosts floating around in non-space. I assumed that if we agreed to talk about the traditional concept of God, then it would only be reasonable that we should talk about the traditional concept of Heaven. Pro’s idea of Heaven being a purely non-physical and non-material place is an obscure concept of Heaven that few people hold. Things are assumed to be possible until proven impossible. That’s how the burden of proof works. Pro has to show that it is logically impossible for anything but souls to go to Heaven. He has failed to do this. I make no evidential or scriptural claim. Pro is overstating my burden.
Saying that something is logically possible makes a logical claim, not an empirical claim. I have no burden of evidence since I make no evidential claim.
[P3B] Now Con tries to backtrack on his earlier assertions that non-humans “possibly” had souls & went to heaven. (1) in order for him to be correct, it has to be actual, not just possible. (2) he seems to know the mind of God who’d “allow beautiful”…
How am I back-tracking? I never claimed anything more than the possibility of Neanderthals going to Heaven. Pro says I must show this is actual, not just possible. How many times do I have to explain this? I am only showing compatibility. I am making no factual claims. You can discuss what is possible for something to do without assuming that the thing exists.
Pro claims that I am claiming to know the mind of God in saying that cockroaches probably will not exist in Heaven. That’s absurd. I only showed that it is plausibly consistent with the traditional concept of God. Indeed, if God is all loving, why would be allow junk in Heaven. That is reasonable and consistent. Pro needs to stop overstating my claims.
[P4] Now Con agrees that only humans have souls. He has again conceded my argument that soul-less non humans suffer for no logically necessary reason…some hominids were not human.
Now I agree? What? From the beginning I never disagreed with the idea of that only humans have souls or that evolution exacerbates suffering. That was never part of my argument. I have not conceded this because I never disagreed with it in the first place.
My argument from the beginning has been that Pro needs to give evidence (anthropological evidence obviously) for his evidential claim. He still has not. He has not fulfilled his evidential burden. It is possible that Neanderthals had souls and possible that they did not. I’m remaining neutral on the issue.
[P5] If Con believes that animals are an end of God, then he has invented his own theology.
Aha, notice how in round two Pro claimed I said that animals were the end of God or somehow equal to humans. Now he says I claim that animals are simply an end. He implicitly concedes that he straw-manned my argument. I’m glad this time he’s actually addressing the argument I made.
Pro then adds that he knows of no theology that supports my views, and that my view that God might actually care for animals is a “wildly speculative notion”. Really? Wildly speculative? And I guess he’s never heard of Christianity, which has explicit quotes expressing God’s love of animals. 
And Pro has a dilemma here. If animals are special creatures, then they deserve to be compensated in Heaven, and if they nothing special, then God can’t be faulted for using them for evolution. Either way, Pro loses.
[P5B] Even if God did not know that evolution would involve suffering, why did He allow evolution to continue on after he did find out that it involves suffering.
To God, an infinite being by definition, a finite number of something, such as 3.7 billion, would be mind-blowingly insignificant. I like to use the analogy of a speck of sand in the palm of my hand to illustrate the difference between infinity and finitude. Pro is essentially asking “Why didn’t God do something about that speck of sand? We agreed to discuss the traditional concept of God, which involves an infinite God and an eternity of Heaven, both making any amount of temporary evolutionary suffering pretty menial in the long run. Pro’s argument makes no sense when critically examined.
For Pro’s argument to be sound (for him to support his contention) he must show that the conclusion follows from the premises and that the premises are all true, yet I have found problems in premise 1, 3, 4, and 5. Premise 4, the empirical one, asserts that Neanderthals did not have souls. This claim requires anthropological evidence. His other claims, the logical ones, rely on non-sequiters and an obscure definition of God. The actuality of suffering in evolution does not entail its necessity, its requirement. That God uses means/ends reasoning (as we all do) to bring about humans does not make him a calculating utilitarian. And the traditional concept of God does not include him doing or knowing that which is logically impossible, while it specifically includes an infinite eternal God that can overcome suffering with infinite and eternal goods.
Bottom line: Pro has failed to support his resolution.
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