The Instigator
Miserlou
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
C4747500
Con (against)
Winning
18 Points

God Can't be All Powerful, Knowing, and Good V. 2

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/28/2008 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,634 times Debate No: 2269
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (7)

 

Miserlou

Pro

C4747500, sorry this took a while, and thanks for debating. For those of you just joining us, C4747500 wanted to debate me on this so here goes:

Please vote for whoever debates the best, and not who you agree with. Also please understand that I'm not saying God isn't good, or that He doesn't exist. This debate deals with religious philosophy.

The traditional Judeo-Christian view of God is that he is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good. However, this can't be, because to be all three at the same there is a contradiction. If God was all of these then there shouldn't be any problems in the world.

I'll use an example of a murder taking place, but this is applicable to any "bad" thing.

A)If God is all-powerful, then He has the ability to make happen whatever he wants, so He should be able to stop the murder.

B)If God is all-knowing then He knows that murder is going to take place and so can be prepared to stop it.

C)If God is all-good then there is no reason that He wouldn't want to stop the murder.

Since this is God we're talking about, his levels of power, goodness, and knowledge would be ideal; God is not a superhero running around, He can do whatever he wants with no exceptions or limitations. Thus, no murders would happen. But we know that they do, and so do a lot of other terrible things. Therefore God can't be all three of these things.

The argument was brought up before that God might have a particular reason for allowing a certain thing to happen. For example, a world leader is about to be assassinated, but God knows that in the future this leader will start a nuclear war, so He might let the assassination take place for the greater good. But if God was all powerful then he could stop the nuclear war from happening Himself without having the leader killed.

As to Free Will, exchanging an ideally perfect world (key word ideally- remember this is God) for making my own choices isn't much of a trade. I'd rather not experience the joy of doing the right thing by myself if it meant that someone else was going to get killed. Why would God have us suffer when it would be so easy to fix? This contests the "all-good" idea, but it's possible that a lack of power/knowledge explains this. There are always three possible explanations for all of these scenarios.
C4747500

Con

My first premise is that free will is what gives value to human life. Decision making can only be valued at the point where a human has the ability to freely choose between two options, I think we can agree that if someone is forced into making a decision to help another person, the decision loses all value.

Keep aware that I'm arguing solely on the value of the decision itself here. Even a forced decision may lead to a good action, I can hold a gun to your head and tell you to donate money to the poor. However, if I do this, the decision in and of itself holds no weight, and it was not decided by you.

The ability then, to make free decisions, is what gives importance to human life. It gives us moral importance, in that when we make a free decision, we can then be judged upon that decision. Only when we freely make a decision can we either be praised for the quality of the decision, or blamed for the negative consequences of the decision.

Having moral responsibility in this sense, is what elevates humanity above the rest of the creatures on Earth. A dog may maul someone to death, and we declare the act of mauling as evil, but we do not blame the dog for it. Humans reach a higher level of importance because are able to make moral decisions that no other animal can.

Imagine a world where humans visibly did not have free will. I could walk up to someone, shoot them, and walk away, and it wouldn't matter because I could not be held accountable for my actions. It would be no different than if an animal attacked someone and killed them.

But we can also place this in terms of basic human life. How can you value everyday events if you aren't responsible for the decisions that guide them? Think about marriage as an example. If you were not able to make a free decision to marry someone or not, what meaning would the act of marriage have? It holds value in society because it is an act whereby two humans willingly agree to spend the rest of their lives together, and without that act of willing agreement, what value does it have?

Now if we come to agreement that free will is necessary to allow humans to exist as they do today, it is clear why it is logically possible for God to allow evil. God faces the choice between:

1. Eradicate evil and eliminate free will and the meaning of humanity
2. Allow the possibility of evil and allow for human life to have meaning

Even God cannot allow free will and remove evil at the same time, so it would be a logical decision to allow for free will and the possibility of evil.

The second point I will make is that the existence of evil allows for other goods to exist in the world.

The concept of evil is dichotomous. When I say this, I mean that it is impossible for evil to exist without good existing as well. It is necessarily impossible to define something as evil if there is nothing to relate to it. We define causing harm as evil and we define soothing harm as good. If, in the history of the Earth, harm was never once resolved, we would have no notion of good.

We have many other binary concepts. Courage and cowardice. Kindness and mean- spiritedness. However, these good qualities that humans possess only exist because evil situations are present.

If there was no evil on the Earth, how would someone be courageous? Courage spawns from danger, and danger spawns from evil. If there was no evil, how would someone be kind? Kindness spawns from harm or sadness, and those spawn from evil.

So in conclusion:

It may be possible to have a world without evil. But such a world would also be devoid of all the positive sides of humanity that we've come to take for granted.

Such a world would also be devoid of free will. To be human would be as meaningless as being a machine, and life would be pointless.

It is for these reasons, that it is logically possible that God allowed evil.

*NOTE* I do not attempt to show that

A. God exists
-My contention is hypothetical, we are assuming that it is possible for a perfect God to exist and debating the subject. I.E. Don't vote against me because you're an atheist and you read the topic and saw that I was con.

B. I'm actually advocating that God *has* allowed evil for these reasons
-I'm just attempting to show why it would be *logically possible* for God and evil to coexist, nothing more than that.
Debate Round No. 1
Miserlou

Pro

Miserlou forfeited this round.
C4747500

Con

Extend what I said, lets just keep it going to the next round I guess. Hrm I need twenty more characters. :)
Debate Round No. 2
Miserlou

Pro

Again, I'm very sorry for forfeiting. That said:

"1. Eradicate evil and eliminate free will and the meaning of humanity
2. Allow the possibility of evil and allow for human life to have meaning"

But the "good" decision isn't necessarily number 2. My opponent says that free will seperates humanity from animals because we are able to tell right from wrong, thus giving our actions more meaning. But this does got give us a better life. Our lives will certainly be made worse if we are victims of evils like theft, murder, rape, and others. Even if we feel good about doing the right thing in certain situations, too often then not the costs outweigh this. Although I may get some joy out of being morally astute, I may also be in physical and emotional pain- fear, doubt, lonliness; all caused by evils. My opponent also says that free will leads to other goods; that is true. But again the costs outweigh the benefits.

God (the Judeo-Christian God we're using for this debate) originally intended humans to be this way; Adam and Eve could not tell good from evil and lived in the paradise Eden. Only after they gained that knowledge were they punished and susceptible to suffering. Free will is not necessarily a good thing because even though some people might get meaning out of it, by being good, they are victims to other people's evils, and even those evil people are victim's other other evils; it's a chain reaction.

Having free will is not a better choice then not having it and living in a paradise. Free will allows us to make evil decisions, and thus perpetuates evil on the world. And all-good God is looking out for our happiness, and thus would choose to give us the best possible life free of pain.

I am not saying that God isn't all good, though. Again, he could not be all powerful, or not be all knowledgable, and is not able to completely control humanity. But, if he were all three, he would certainly give humans a life without pain, and since there is obviously suffering in the world, this cannot be the case.
C4747500

Con

"My opponent says that free will seperates humanity from animals because we are able to tell right from wrong, thus giving our actions more meaning. But this does got give us a better life."

My point is that free will gives life meaning, i.e. there would be no point in living without free will. There is no way to evaluate a life as 'better' or 'worse' without the concept of free will.

Would you look at a robot and say 'Wow that robot has a good life. Never has to worry about anyone hurting it, just sits in the corner all day until that computer guy tells it what to do'? Human life would be worthless without free will, without the ability to govern our own lives by our own choices, there wouldn't be any point in humanity.

Next you bring up the example of Adam and Eve.

First, I'm not actually referring any religious classifications of God, I'm simply referring to a being with the qualities of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence.

But anyway since you brought it up: Eve and Adam certainly knew what evil was, God defined it for them. To be evil was to disobey God and eat from the tree, to be good was to avoid that tree. According to Christianity we were imbued with free will from the first, God never intended us to be robots.

All of this is answered when I say that in order to understand good, you must also have evil. There is no way to comprehend that life is 'good' unless you can compare it to its opposite. If life truly was without evil, then it would just be. We wouldn't know that it was good that there were no murders because we would never know what murder was in the first place, and we wouldn't know that it was evil.

In the same vein, we wouldn't value all the good acts which occur on a daily basis. The mother who comforts her child who fell off their bike. The woman running a soup kitchen to feed the homeless. The friendships formed between a lonely kid at high school and someone who reaches out to them. The outpouring of human kindness which occurs after a tornado strikes. The average person going out of their way to stop a fight on the street that could have ended up with someone being hurt.

All of these things (and countless more examples) are functions of evil. Without evil, we would not have 'good' to begin with. All of your arguments about paradise being better than evil aren't true-if there were no evil, we'd have no comprehension of what 'paradise' is. Paradise is a place of perfect joy, devoid of evil-but it requires evil to exist to understand the concept.

All of these things are also definitions of what it means to be human. All of the positive qualities of humanity are defined by what they are not-to be kind means to not be cruel, to be helpful means to not be apathetic, to be courageous means to not be cowardly. All of the positive attributes we associate with humanity would be gone without evil, humans would be empty shells following a scripted life, actions would be meaningless.

Is that what you would call paradise? A person helping another person, not by their own personal choice and desire to good, but by rote.

How can there be any value to human life if we have no part in the decision-making process? In this world, your choices matter. They give you responsibility, they give your actions value. When you make a good decision, you can be praised for it, and can be deemed to be a morally good action. If you didn't have free will, A. We wouldn't know what a good action was and B. You couldn't be valued for it.

You haven't established any other standard by which we can evaluate the inherent value of human life. I argue that life is given value by our ability to make free decisions, good or evil. We define ourselves through the actions we take and the choices we make. If we lived in a world where our actions were controlled by God, what meaning would life have? It would be as if we were a world of robots, and life truly would have no meaning.

Therefore, God allows free will because it gives meaning to human life.

"It's not who you are underneath, it's what you do that defines you."

But what you do only has value if you freely choose to do it.

Thanks for the debate :)
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by SJay 9 years ago
SJay
Hey, I'm new to this so I'm not sure how it works. But I'm just going to comment what I think.

The thing is, you guys are both thinking in terms of this world. In the first round the pro brought up the example of a leader killed and it stops nuclear war, saying why couldn't God just stop the nuclear war another way? You have to think farther then the nuclear war. And farther then whatever comes after the nuclear war. Its not just about this world. Having man just operate like a robot and having no evil makes paradise, heaven, nothing. It doesn't allow man to see his need for Jesus and to wait the day he comes.
In short: the existence of evil allows for glory to be even greater. for man to see his need of Jesus more.
The con was right when they said how can we even know what paradise is without evil, and how can we measure it againest good.

I obviously do believe God is all three of those at once, that being said I'm not sure who to vote for. Your both really good.
Posted by AntiPatriot 9 years ago
AntiPatriot
This argument is flawed. God can do whatever he wants. If he thinks that letting a murder happen, in the eternal perspective will ultimately do more good for the people who it affects than bad, then he can let the murder happen. You are pigeon-holeing the definition of God when you try to make this argument. I am actually an atheist myself, but I never use this argument to defend my position because I believed it has no standing.
Posted by Miserlou 9 years ago
Miserlou
Gah! Sorry for forfeiting! I wasn't home yesterday at all
Posted by Miserlou 9 years ago
Miserlou
Fine, I have work myself. Take your time
Posted by C4747500 9 years ago
C4747500
sorry for taking so long, have a ton of schoolwork this week and haven't had time to write up a response yet. i'll get to it tomorrow night hopefully
Posted by Derrida 9 years ago
Derrida
Interesting. If I were con, I'd probably respond that free will is a higher order good as opposed to a utopian world, as it elevates human beings to a level of moral responsibility, and that the onus of proof is on you to demonstrate otherwise.

However, the FWD is still null and void, as the libertarian view of freedom it presupposes separates people from responsibility. In the Words of David Hume, indeterminism is more a problem than determinism, as making choices becomes a grandiose coin flip, being caused by nothing in particular.

For freedom to confer moral responsibility, it must be determined by the nature of the person, (Otherwise, how can the person himself be responsible?), rather than the random sub-atomic dither that supposedly affects our brains.
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Vote Placed by Tatarize 9 years ago
Tatarize
MiserlouC4747500Tied
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Vote Placed by Miserlou 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by CP 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by Einstein 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by C4747500 9 years ago
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