The Instigator
DiablosChaosBroker
Pro (for)
Losing
10 Points
The Contender
InquireTruth
Con (against)
Winning
38 Points

The Problem of Evil Against the God of Christianity Is Valid.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 8 votes the winner is...
InquireTruth
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/19/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,596 times Debate No: 7467
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (88)
Votes (8)

 

DiablosChaosBroker

Pro

I argue that the problem of evil validly refutes the notion of the God of Christianity. I argue the existence of evil in the world is logically incompatible with the existence of a benevolent God, and that it is more reasonable to conclude that the God of Christianity does not exist than that he does exist but does nothing to stop evil.

This is my brief syllogism:

Assumption (1): God exists.
Assumption (1a): God is all-knowing.
Assumption (1b): God is all-powerful.
Assumption (1c): God is perfectly loving.
Assumption (1d): Any being that did not possess all three of the above properties would not be the Christian God.
Premise (2): Evil exists.
Premise (3): An all-knowing being would be aware of the existence of evil.
Premise (4): An all-powerful being would be able to eliminate evil.
Premise (5): A perfectly loving being would desire to eliminate evil.
Conclusion (6): Evil does not exist. (from (1),(3),(4),(5))
Contradiction: But evil does exist. (from (2))
Conclusion (7): There is no being that is all-knowing, all-powerful, and perfectly loving. (from (2),(3),(4),(5))
Conclusion (8): The Christian God does not exist. (from (7),(1d))

I believe that the only way to refute the problem of evil without surrendering the assumption that such a god exists is to deny one of its premises.

I will allow my opponent to make his initial defenses and theodicies, as well as expand on his proof as set forth in the debate. I look forward to his response.

I hope we have a great debate!
InquireTruth

Con

Introduction:

My opponent insists that when the two premises (1) God Exists and (2) Evil Exists are dually stated, there exists an actual and necessary contradiction. My argument then, need not be true or even known to be true, all it actually needs to be is possible.

Much of my argument stems from the renowned philosopher, Alvin Plantinga, who achieved something quite rare in philosophy – consensus among both theist and atheists that it works (save for a few atheist philosophers who either admit that their arguments still fall short or fail by disanalogy).

Plantinga's argument has been so openly accepted in the philosophical realm that the philosopher Peter Van Inwagen, commented in his book, "It used to be widely held that evil—which for present purposes we may identify with undeserved pain and suffering—was incompatible with the existence of God: that no possible world contained both God and evil. So far, as I am able to tell, this thesis is no longer defended."

I would also like to briefly inform my opponent that Assumption (1a) need not be apart of the Christian God, but, for the sake of this debate, I will accept it.

ON TO THE DEBATE!

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Contention 1: whence came this evil?

This is a very important contention, and I would like my opponent to consider it closely. My opponent's premise (2) states that evil exists. It is my contention that if the first premise (God exists) is removed, then so is the second premise (evil exists). My opponent is either engaging in the traditional begging of the question, that is, premise (2) depends on the truth of the very matter in question, or he is presupposing an alternative objective standard by which we may determine evil. Such a presupposition will not be granted and needs to be explained.

If evil can only exist if God exists, then it stands to reason that premise (1) and premise (2) actually work in favor of theism.

.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?

With Contention 1:

The contradiction clause in my opponent's syllogism implies that evil exists apart from God. My opponent must therefore show what objective standard he uses to determine evil (and also why this standard is universal). If my opponent asserts that evil exists, but God does not, he must prove this to be that case – a mere tenuous assertion will not suffice.

.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*

Contention 2: There are things even an omnipotent God cannot do

A world that contains free creatures is more valuable than a world that contains no freedom at all. It is indeed possible for God to create free creatures, but, as Plantinga points out, "He can't cause or determine them to do only what is right FREELY. To creature creatures of moral good, therefore, He must create creatures capable of moral evil, and He can't give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so."

One must rightly admit that if it is possible for God to create such creatures, then my opponent's syllogism fails. To put it even more simply:

P1: It is possible for said God (omnipotent, omniscient, and omni-benevolent) to create a being that has moral freedom.

P2: If it is possible for said God to create morally free beings, then it is possible for said God to create a being who freely chooses to act evilly.

C: It is possible therefore, for said God to create a being who then freely chooses to act evilly.

.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?

With Contention 2:

God cannot force a free action – it is a logical contradiction. Stepping into modal logic here, let's take Bob as an example. Bob has a choice to beat up Larry. If the decision is a free one, then there must be a possible world where Bob beats Larry and also a possible world where Bob does not beat Larry. Now one of these worlds even God cannot actualize. Which world becomes reality depends on the free action of Bob, not God.

.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?.;'*?

Contention 3: Our limited perspective

My opponent does not possess the necessary knowledge to determine evil. Take for example a man who slowly awakes to find woman cutting his stomach. The man will rightly fuss that such an action is evil! But say he finds out that the woman is a doctor who is trying to remove a malignant mass that will ultimately kill him. Will he not then realize that what he perceived to be evil was not evil at all?

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Conclusion:

My opponent must adequately refute the three presented contentions before his argument can stand. But since he has neither adequate perspective nor an objective standard to which he appeals, I am not sure that his burden is capable of being fulfilled.

Sources:
http://philofreligion.homestead.com...
Debate Round No. 1
DiablosChaosBroker

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent for accepting my challenge, and I look forward to what I hope will be a fun and interesting debate. I will now address my opponent's points.

=====
Contention 1: whence came this evil?
=====

Well, we have to define evil first. Naturally, as a Christian you would say that God is good and evil is non-God. However, this is how I define evil:

Evil: Unnecessary suffering
Moral evil: Suffering caused by humans
Natural Evil: Suffering due to non-human agents

As human beings, we can perceive and sympathize with the pain of our fellow beings and wish to see it ended. A person need not believe in God to have a conscience. If the first premise (God exists) is removed, the second premise stays in. Unnecessary suffering exists apart from God and if God didn't exist, then unnecessary suffering is to be expected.

"My opponent must therefore show what objective standard he uses to determine evil (and also why this standard is universal)."

Gladly, I refer the universal moral system to be called "Universal Utilitarianism."

First, we are aiming at a an absolute moral code that admits no exceptions to its rule and that is universal - it applies to all people at all places and times equally; and that is objective - the decisions it produces are not determined by the subjective desires of the agent performing the evaluation.

The foundational principle as the base of a new objective ethical system: Always minimize both actual and potential suffering; always maximize both actual and potential happiness.

Everyone wants to be happy and everything else which they desire is ultimately just a means to that end. Universal Utilitarianism identifies happiness as the highest good, worth acquiring for its own sake and by the very nature of what it is and it asks us to consider the consequences of a behavior if that behavior were universalized - hence the "potential" part of the formulation.

First, we consider the moral value of our actions as if all relevant parties were fully aware of them. Then we judge the morality of our actions based on the this question: What would be the effect on human happiness if everyone in this situation did what I am about to do? We need only consider consequences that would be a likely and direct result of universalizing an action.

Therefore, the moral system I placed out requires that actual and potential suffering should be minimized before maximizing actual and potential happiness. A world where everyone enjoys a modest level of contentment is better, according to this system, than one in which some people are extremely happy and others are suffering greatly; and I think this an entirely reasonable conclusion.

=====
Contention 2: There are things even an omnipotent God cannot do
=====

"But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." —Matthew 19:26

Source: http://www.biblegateway.com...;

Contradiction -------> Did Jesus lie?

Now here is where it gets interesting. My opponent quotes Plantinga saying that God cannot force humans to do only what is right freely. I'm going to introduce my an additional concept of heaven. Hevean is a world that contains free creatures (right?) and is more valuable than a world that contains no freedom at all.

If God cannot cause humans to do what is right FREELY, then why do you believe that heaven exist? After all, "He must create creatures capable of moral evil, and He can't give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so." -----> Do creatures have 1) free will in heaven, 2) are capable of moral evil in heaven?

Why am I asking this? "Because He must create creatures capable of moral evil, and He can't give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so."

There are two possibilities: either there is sin in Heaven or there isn't. We know that moral evil and sin are the result of humans misusing the free will God gave to us. Therefore, an easy way to prevent there being evil and sin in Heaven would be for God to revoke the free will of its inhabitants. We now have a further choice: If there is no sin in Heaven, do the people there have free will or do they not?

Assuming Heaven exists, there are only four options to choose from:

1. There is both sin and free will in Heaven.
2. There is sin but no free will in Heaven.
3. There is free will but no sin in Heaven.
4. There is neither free will nor sin in Heaven.

Together, these four options exhaust all possibilities, and therefore one of them must be true. The only remaining question, then, is which of the four is the correct one.

I'm most likely sure that my opponent will choose option 3. However, this leads to a trap:

Now consider this argument:

1. By (3) above, it is possible for God to create free-willed beings without the possibility of evil.
2. According to the free will theodicy, evil arises from the actions of free-willed beings.
3. By (1) and (2), God deliberately chose to create free-willed beings who would commit evil acts, even though he had the option of doing otherwise.
4. Conclusion: God wanted evil to exist.

A being that would want evil to exist is itself evil, contradicting the ability of all-loving, contrary to the Christian concept of God.

If God would have originally created us with the sort of free will that excludes evil altogether (in heaven assuming that the paradox doesn't apply), then no one at all would have ended up in Hell. But if God did not do this, and instead created us in a way that allows for the possibility - or the certainty - of sin, thus necessitating the creation of a Hell and ensuring that countless millions of beings would be doomed to an eternity of punishment there, then the only conclusion is that he wants at least some people to go to Hell, contradicting his all goodness.

"Stepping into modal logic here, let's take Bob as an example."

Let's put that situation and apply it to heaven. In heaven, if God cannot force a free action and have to allow creatures to be capable of moral evil, Bob has the choice to beat up Larry, right? Therefore, there is sin in heaven and therefore, can't be that much better than Earth. Is there anger or frustration in Heaven? What about envy, pride, lust, greed, loneliness, hatred? Could there be harassment there, or infidelity, or treachery, or outright war? If all these things do exist in Heaven, then why would anyone want to go there? If they don't, how can that be reconciled with the fact that Heaven is populated by fallible, sinful humans?

=====
Contention 3: Our limited perspective
=====

Evil: Unnecessary suffering

Do you need divine knowledge to determine what is unnecessary suffering? In your situation, the suffering that the man gets from the woman cutting into his stomach is negated by the fact that the woman is a doctor who is trying to remove a malignant mass that will ultimately kill him.

Unnecessary suffering:

Natural evil: diseases, genetic disorders, earthquakes, starvation, tornadoes, and hurricanes.
Moral evil: rape, murder, genocide, and assault.

It wasn't that hard, was it?

Source: http://www.thatreligiousstudieswebsite.com...
InquireTruth

Con

====================
Introduction:
====================

It pains me to have to spend my time arguing against an unoriginal argument. In the future, DBC, I hope you will pay due respect to the authors of whom you unscrupulously quote. Almost all of your responses are taken from the following website:

http://www.ebonmusings.org...

Though it is not written by my opponent, I will respond to the rebuttals respectively.

====================
Contention 1: Whence came this evil?
====================

"Well, we have to define evil first."

See, it is not about DEFINING evil, it is about objectively proving that it exists. That is to say, if everyone in the world maintains that child sacrifice to Moloch is not evil, would it still remain evil? You cannot simply make up a definition, saying everything that is green is evil, green exists, therefore evil exits. You must PROVE that everything green is evil.

^^^^
"Evil: Unnecessary suffering"

Now let us test if it is truly objective, universal, and binding.

I say that Evil is actually that which makes us happy and content. Therefore, anything that makes us happy and content is evil.

Now my opponent and I have demonstrably different definitions of evil. Now all we need to do is sort out which one of us is accurate. How does my opponent propose we do that?

^^^^
"Gladly, I refer the universal moral system to be called ‘Universal Utilitarianism.'"

This system relegates morality to the will of the larger mass of people, meaning it is ultimately relative. That means, that which is currently understood as evil, may in the future be understood has upright and good.

What if I were to say that morality actually does not exist, and that everything is permissible. Why is your system right and mine wrong? So you need not only show an alternative system, but the system itself must have proof.

^^^^
"Therefore, the moral system I placed out…"

The system you placed out has absolutely no evidence. As Christopher Hitchens, a renowned atheist is noted for saying, "that which can be asserted without evidence, can be disregarded without evidence."

====================
With Contention 1
====================

My opponent has thus far failed to prove that evil ACTUALLY exists. If my opponent cannot prove premise 2 without presupposing Premise 1, then his syllogism falls apart and is not valid. The validity of his premise 2 requires the proof of his unmentioned premises (e.g. universal utilitarianism). Furthermore, my opponent claims that evil is unnecessary suffering. Since his syllogism hinges on unproved premises, I could easily say that:

P1 If God exists, unnecessary suffering does not exist
P2 God Exists
C Unnecessary suffering does not exist

We lack the necessary epistemic position to access the reasons God has for suffering. The qualification of unnecessary cannot be proved by my opponent and the theist is therefore not obligated to believe it.

Burden for my opponent:
1. Prove that evil ACTUALLY exists without presupposing premise 1.
2. Prove that it is not possible for there to be a reason for suffering. That is to say, prove there exists unnecessary suffering.

===================
Contention 2: There are things even an omnipotent God cannot do
====================

Definition from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy –

Omnipotence:
"This refers to God's ability to bring about any state of affairs that is logically possible in itself as well as logically consistent with his other essential attributes."

"Contradiction -------> Did Jesus lie?"

God can do all things that are logically possible. This is not even an issue; it is so tirelessly retorted by those who have not spent enough time ACTUALLY thinking about the issue.

***** The paradox of Heaven? *****

My opponent spends the remainder of contention 2 referring to the concept of heaven. It is my opponent's burden to prove that there is any sort of incoherence. But given that it is all speculation (we know very little about heaven) it seems it will be very hard to do so. Given the nature of our understanding, there are probably many plausible answers.

"3. There is free will but no sin in Heaven.
4. There is neither free will nor sin in Heaven."

Well it could quite easily be 1, 3, or 4 (2 just seems stupid). I would have to say I lean towards the fourth view, though I can see how both 3 and 4 are easily reconcilable.

My opponent's supposed "trap" is creatively fallacious. God desired, above all else, genuine love. In order for genuine love to occur, the opposite must be possible. Once we have consistently shown our love for God and faith in Him in this reality, and ascend in whatever manner to heaven, it is possible that we maintain our free will, but, much like iron in the presence of a gigantic electromagnet, we find ourselves overwhelmingly compelled by the vision of the glorified Christ. However, this may rightly fall under the category of no moral freedom at all. But we cannot consider the notion of heaven in isolation from the earthly decision that led to it. Since we had free will on earth, it is possible that God simply permanently solidified the free chose to accept Christ upon death. It is my opponent's burden to show that this is not possible.

Even still, you cannot create a paradox using an unknown place with unknown conditions.

====================
Contention 3: Our limited perspective
====================

"Evil: Unnecessary suffering"

And precisely how does my opponent determine what is necessary suffering and that what is not? Just as the man being operated on did not possess the necessary perspective to know that his suffering was necessary, so we too may not possess the proper perspective to understand that what we perceive as unnecessary is indeed necessary.

"It wasn't that hard, was it?"

Apparently it was, as you did not ACTUALLY refute anything.

====================
Why Evil is Not a Problem
====================

1. Moral Evil: There is no problem if we see it in terms of moral freedom. What God actualizes is contingent on the free choice of the person choosing. It is possible that an omnipotent and omni-benevolent God wanted to create truly free creatures that chose him without physical or psychological force.

2. Natural Evil: There is no problem if we consider that the elimination of all natural evils would also eliminate an enormous amount of good. People would neither thank God nor know how to enact good if such natural phenomena did not occur. Moreover, it is my opponent's burden to show that a world without natural laws would produce more net good than a world WITH natural laws.

3. Does Evil Exist: There is no problem if it cannot be adequately shown that evil ACTUALLY exists apart from the existence of God. If the existence of objective evil is contingent upon the existence of God, then it actually works in favor of Theism.

====================
Conclusion:
====================

My opponent's syllogism claims to prove that God does not exist. I have given adequate reasons as to why the syllogisms second premise is begging the question, and why the syllogisms conclusion – given additional information – does not follow.

1. My opponent must show that both evil and his metric for determining evil ACTUALLY exist. This must be done non-circularly.
2. My opponent must show that unnecessary suffering ACTUALLY exists – this must be done non-circularly.
3. My opponent must show that he has proper perspective for determining what unnecessary and necessary suffering is and how it is quantified – this must be done non-circularly.

ALL THIS MUST BE DONE WITHOUT PLAGIARISM!

Thanks,
InquireTruth
Debate Round No. 2
DiablosChaosBroker

Pro

DiablosChaosBroker forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
88 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
Unless he has a new argument that I have to read, then his commonly heralded free will defense applies only to the logical problem of evil. It doesn't concern a probabilistic form of the problem of evil.

If you have a link for an argument defending against the much more common probabilistic forms of the POE, then I'd be glad to look at it.
Posted by InquireTruth 7 years ago
InquireTruth
If you have read Plantinga's argument then you know that it does, in fact, give a cogent reason for why evil exists. What is so versatile about his argument is that it really answers all forms of the problem.
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
Yes. His argument is aiming to show that the existence of God and the existence of evil are logically consistent. He also uses the concept of "transworld depravity".
Posted by InquireTruth 7 years ago
InquireTruth
"his argument never gives a cogent reason for why it does"

Just a question... have you ever READ his argument?
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
"Does not matter WHAT form he's using."

Quite the opposite. Plantinga's argument states that it is POSSIBLE for God and evil to exist in the same model. However, his argument never gives a cogent reason for why it does, which obviously takes form in evidential arguments.
Posted by Flare_Corran 7 years ago
Flare_Corran
It surprised me that Con did not refer to Lucifer. The fact that there WAS sin in Heaven and God cast it out seems extremely relevant.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 7 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
So let me get this straight... we may actually agree on something...

>> "Certainly you can reason about it, it would just arbitrary."

So you view moral reasoning absent God to be arbitrary... as in all we would be able to do is DESCRIBE a given situation, and it is God that provides the moral import to that situation??

Because if that's the case, then I somewhat agree... but then you would also have to embrace non-cognitivism and hold God to simply be another means by which we define "wrong." And in which case, an appeal to God is just as subjective as an appeal to utilitarianism. Under this view, God is no more an objective system of morality than utility. I think the only system you could condemn as subjectively useless would be subjectivism.
Posted by InquireTruth 7 years ago
InquireTruth
"And are you going to accept the debate on God being a prerequisite for moral reasoning?"

I'm not going to argue for something I clearly never said (and as I already told you I did not agree with). I said that moral reasoning is arbitrary without God, insofar as it has no objective basis. My friends and I can reason about are favorite Pokémon and which one would win in battle, but as is obvious, Pokémon need not actually exist as a prerequisite for Pokémon reasoning.

"a 10% represents an extinction risk."

1% threshold is a severe epidemic, and it's already at 3% in Washington D.C. Moreover, net utility would justify quarantine and extermination of those infected right now. Since the number of infected has been rapidly increasing in the States and worldwide, it would seem that more lives would be saved and thus happier if we killed those infected post haste. Isn't that a proper conclusion given net utility?

".... AND GOD!!!"

I would not agree with you that there is no evidence for God - but that is an entirely different debate.

"Do you think that atheists and all other non-Christians are INCAPABLE of moral reasoning?"

No, I think morality is a mere idea without warrant. It would be a nonbinding human construct, that is as equally valid has any other idea that is asserted without evidence. Certainly you can reason about it, it would just arbitrary.

"Surely you don't think that human society and animal society are at the same level..."
So let's get this straight. Animals have the ability to peacefully work together in a society for the benefit of the whole without rights or laws. We ARE mere animals (given naturalism), but we do not have the capability? What is wrong with comparing animals to animals?

So are you going to prove that we have rights or what?
Posted by Yuanti 7 years ago
Yuanti
"moral system given to us by the Trinity has CHANGED"

How so? I am currently unaware of a system of morals that has improved upon Jesus' new testament statements.

"Do you think the moral systems of all other religions are bunk"

I think they are, insofar as they differ from Christianity. Are you willing to admit that the entirety of Western Society, Values, and Justice has stemmed from one man? Perhaps I should capitalize that - one Man.

"I'm going to write my congressperson and state representative asking about quarantine measures"

Seems to me that it if you went to Africa to help stem the HIV problem so that net utility could increase Tarzan. This might be a better choice than quarantining people who are inflicted with a disease that is quite hard to spread outside of intimate contact.

"Instead of consulting utility, you consult the Bible and God"

I wasn't aware that the New Testament's moral teachings have changed - so I'd say that this moral system is much more objective than a utility based system where an action can change from immoral to moral depending on how many people are involved.

"all other non-Christians are INCAPABLE of moral reasoning"

Could it be that if God does exist and has established an objective moral system that other people could perceive and reason towards?

"Or do I need to make that one publicly available before you'll finally take it"

Consider how this statement makes you look Tarzan.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 7 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
And are you going to accept the debate on God being a prerequisite for moral reasoning? Or do I need to make that one publicly available before you'll finally take it - lol
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