The Instigator
Lupricona
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Dookieman
Con (against)
Winning
13 Points

The Problem of Evil Does Not Disprove God

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
Dookieman
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/16/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,861 times Debate No: 63330
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (22)
Votes (4)

 

Lupricona

Pro

Resolution: The evidential problem of evil does not disprove the concept of an all-loving, all-powerful, and all-knowing God.

Shared burden of proof. Make your thesis and support it with well-crafted arguments.

Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Thesis and supporting arguments.
Round 3: Rebuttals.
Round 4: Rebuttals and closing arguments.

I'm looking for an ardent atheist that justifies their atheism because of this problem. I'm looking for an intellectual debate with long and thought out arguments.

I look forward to an engaging and thought-provoking discussion. Cheers!
Dookieman

Con

I accept. Bring it on baby cakes! (:
Debate Round No. 1
Lupricona

Pro

There are two forms of the Problem of Evil. There is the logical problem of evil, which states that any kind of evil in the world disproves that God exists. The evidential problem of evil states that, even though it is agreeable that a God may allow some kinds of suffering, this worlds contains unnecessary suffering, therefore, it is very unlikely that God exists.


My opponent may use either one he wants to. My main argument is that there is not unnecessary suffering in the world, and both the logical and evidential problem of evil argue that there is unnecessary suffering.


I just wanted to clear that up, because neither I nor my opponent wants this to turn into a semantics/sophist debate. That beeing said, thank you, Dookieman, for accepting the debate, and I look forward to engaging in an important discussion.


Thesis

There is no unnecessary suffering in the world, so the problem of evil argument does not disprove an all-loving, all-powerful, and all-knowing God.


Argument 1


Bad things do not happen to good people. Socrates, in his apology (1) stated: "no evil can happen to a good man."

This argument will be an extension of Socrates' arguments on evil and suffering.

Imagine two men running away from a crazed gunman. The gunman shoots both of the men in the legs, paralyzing them, and forever confining them to a wheelchair. The first man became really bitter towards life. He hated his attacker and plotted revenge; he treated everyone who could walk with contempt; and he spent his days sad and alone. However, the second man forgave the attacker. He used that event to reach out to others in a wheelchair, and became in inspiration. He learned how to manage with what he had, and became very happy because of that. People loved him.

The question is: which of the two men was a good man? I would argue it was the second man. Even though the same thing happened to both men, the righteous man did not let it affect him.

Socrates argued that, as moral agents, we cannot do harm to anyone else. We can only do harm to ourselves. So, if one man shoots another, he is only harming himself, because he committed an immoral act, which affects his soul. Even though the gunman shot another, and affected the body, he could not do harm to the other moral agent (the victim). One can only cause a physical effect to another, but one moral agent cannot do harm to another moral agent.

And this is why bad things don't happen to good people. All moral agents can only cause harm to themselves. Others can make decisions that will have a causal effect towards us, but we each can choose how to respond towards that effect.

So, in this sense, there is no evil in this world that happens to anyone, other than the evil that we do to ourselves. Because of this, God is not required to prevent people from committing evil, because that would violate our free will.

Argument 2

In the Christian paradigm, there is a resurrection for the righteous. Because of this, it gives purpose to the free choices that we make. If our free wills were violated, we would not be able to earn a resurrection by ourselves. So, even though moral agents are able to commit either good deeds or immoral acts, there is a motive to lean towards the good deeds. We should not be upset when goodness is violated, rather, we should wish to correct it, because it is a sad thing when a moral agent chooses what is wrong. Instead of wishing for revenge, which is based off of an equality paradigm, we should instead strive for justice, which is a paradigm that seeks to lead moral agents towards goodness.

So, many people may say life isn't fair, which is true, because it is better that life is just, which it is.

Conclusion

The problem of evil does refute or cast doubt on the existence of God. Rather, free moral decisions are a requirement from an all-loving, all-powerful, and all-knowing God.


References


1- http://classics.mit.edu...;
Dookieman

Con

Thanks Pro. I look forward to our discussion.

Introduction
My opponent is correct to point out that there are two different kinds of arguments from evil. One is the logical argument from evil, which states that it is logically impossible for God and evil to coexist. The other is the evidential or probabilistic argument from evil, which states that it logically possible for God and evil to coexist, but nevertheless highly unlikely. Since the title of our debate is "The Problem of Evil Does Not Disprove God" I will have to use the logical argument from evil, since that arugment is the one that tries to disprove God via evil, while the evidential one doesn't try to disprove God, but merely just argues that his existence is unlikey. With that said, let me begin.

Atheist Argument From Evil

There have been many logical arguments from evil put forth by philosophers, but for this debate I will be using John Mackie's formulation.

Definitions

Omnipotent: able to do all that is logically possible
Omniscient: all-knowing
Omnibenevolent or morally perfect: all-loving or perfectly good
Logically possible: a proposition that can be asserted without implying a logical contradiction

Premise 1) If a being is perfectly good, he prevents evil as much as he is able.

Premise 2) If a being is omnipotent and omniscient, he can bring about anything which is possible.

Conclusion 1) Therefore, if a perfectly good, omnipotent, and omniscient being exists, he prevents evil completely.

Premise 3) If God exists, then he is perfectly good, omnipotent, and omniscient.

Premise 4) Therefore, if God exists, then he prevents evil completely.

Premise 5) There is evil.

Conclusion 2) God does not exist.

Defense of Premise 1
This premise seems pretty obvious. If somebody is perfectly good, they would have the strongest desire to stop all evil. However, if somebody didn’t have the desire to bring an end to all evil, they would not be perfectly good.

Defense of Premise 2
This premise is true given the definition of omnipotence and omniscience. An omnipotent being won’t be able to do contradictory things like create a square circle or a married bachelor, but he could do things that are possible like create the sky purple. An omniscient being would be unlimited in knowledge and therefore know how to bring about anything which is possible.

The first conclusion follows since both premise 1 and 2 are true.


Defense of Premise 3
No defense is really needed here. This is the definition of the God whose existence we are debating over.

Defense of Premise 4
This is true given the definition of God. Since God is omnipotent, he would be able to destroy all evil. Since God is omniscient, he would know exactly how to create a world with no evil. Since God is omnibenevolent or morally perfect, he would have the strongest desire to stop all evil.

Defense of Premise 5
This is blatantly obviously. Our world not only has evil, but contains an immense amount of it. Some examples of evil include genocide, rape, slavery, child abuse, animal cruelty, torture, racism, sexism, totalitarianism, poverty, world hunger, hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes.

The conclusion God does not exist follows from the premises.

Conclusion
In this paper I have successfully argued that the logical argument from evil does in fact disprove the existence of God, and because of that, the resolution is negated.

Source:
The Miracle of Theism by John Mackie: Chapter 9.

Debate Round No. 2
Lupricona

Pro

As my opponent only presented one argument, and only one premise of that argument is flimsy, it is all that I will attack.

Premise 1:

"If a being is perfectly good, he prevents evil as much as he is able."

This premise is false, because a perfectly good being is not allowed to violate a person's free will. It is not good to force someone to do something, because at that point, only the omnipotent being is making any choices, and all of the other beings would just be puppets. This would be wrong. A perfectly good being cannot control another; that prevents people from making their own decisions.

Because people are making their own decisions, bad things will happen. But a world with free will is better than a world with only puppets, and one puppet master.

The argument of free will completley refutes the logical problem of evil, and if my opponent wishes to win this debate at all, he would use arguments for the evidential problem of evil, but he is free to do as he chooses, because it is better that way :)
Dookieman

Con

Thanks Con for your first round of rebuttals. Now I will present mine.

Introduction
Essentially, my opponet argues that evil in the world is compatible with the existence of a morally perfect and omnipotent God, because of human free will. And while it may be true that human beings do evil things with their free will, it's still preferably to have creatures that are able to choose freely, than creatures who are not able to choose freely. However, as I hope to show later, this does not get us around the problem of evil.

Animal Suffering
For billions of years animals have been reproducing and dying through the process of natural selection. In their effort to survive, many animals suffered and died due to the existence of carnivores, disease, heat exhaustion, freezing temperatures, starvation, serious injuries, birth defects, deformities, and so on. None of this suffering was the cause of human free will, but rather just the way nature is set up.

Natural Disasters
Things like hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, droughts, volcanoes, mudslides, and avalanches are all phenomenon that cause human and nonhuman suffering, but is again not caused by human free will.

Child Suffering

Children all over the world suffer from serious illnesses such as cancer, polio, smallpox, malaria and a variety of other diseases. Moreover, there are also children in poor countries that will suffer and die from starvation and dehydration. Again, this is suffering not caused by human free will.

Human Free Will Can Exist Without Evil
The problem with my opponent's free will defense is that it thinks in order for there to be free will, there must also be evil. But this is false, because God could have given us both free will and moral perfection, thus resulting in us choosing the good in every situation. [1].

Conclusion

Human free will doesn't get us around the problem of evil, since there are evils that are not caused by free will. Furthermore, God could have given human beings free will and made them morally perfect beings, that way they never did evil.

Source:
The Miracle of Theism by John Mackie: Chapter 9.
Debate Round No. 3
Lupricona

Pro

The problem of evil argues that the idea of theism (in this case, specificially Christianity) is not true because the paradigm as a whole is inconsistent or invalid. So, in order for my opponent to successfully refute my arguments for Christianity, he must attack them on their own merits. This is to say that, even though my opponent doesn't believe in some of the claims of Christianity, he is trying to say that the model is inconsistent.

For example of what I'm saying: The Christian religion states that, in the beginning, God created Adam and Eve with the free choice of either choosing eternal life by eating from the tree of life, or by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Even though my opponent does not accept this story as historical fact, the Christian paradigm does, and he can only attack the validity of the entire system to show that evil is not compatible with God.

However, If my opponent wishes to attack the soundness of the premise of an orignal paradise situation at the beginning, we can explore that in the final round. But the problem of evil usually only deals with the validity of the Christian paradim, not the soundness. This really depends on the generosity of my opponet. Argue what you wish.


Animal Suffering

We cannot know that animals have the same capacity of consciousness that humans do. It is true that animals feel pain, but that is the extent of what we know. Pain is used to correct a problem, or it is used as an alarm system. But we cannot know if animals have the full capacity of self-reflection and realization of the self that humans have. So, even though animals have pain, it is not something that animals truly and intellectually understand. And I argue that suffering is only possible if the victim can truly and intelletually understand the pain that it is going through, and be able to feel the emotional pain of another moral agent willfully causing them harm.

Natural Disasters

In theism, under the Christian paradigm, humans were given the ability to choose eternal life at the beginning. They rejected this. So, it was possible for humans to have never been affected by this.

Also, natural disasters are amoral, that is, they are not performed by a moral agent. Events happen, and there is no fault in them. An amoral event cannot be evil, because evil requires bad intention. For example, if a person lives by a volcano, or on a fault, and an eruption or earthquake happens and people die, that is not an evil event. Events happen, and humans may attribute a type of meaning (good or bad) to events, but that is only their subjective opinion. Moral agents may attribute meaning after an event has occured, but they are not the ones establishing meaning. Amoral actions have amoral consequences.

Child Suffering

This falls under free will. Every person knows that sex leads to a possibility of children. Every person also realizes that bringing a child into the world can be a great joy, but they also know that bad things may happen to the child. They realize that it's possible that this child may have a horrible life, plagued with diseases, ridicule, torments from others, yet they still decide it is worth having a child. If child suffering were really an issue, then people would stop having children. If the suffering truly outweighed the happiness, then the human species would discontinue procreation. Yet they continue, and this utterly refutes this claim that child suffering is a problem. It is a free willed decision by the parents.

Human Free Will Can Exist Without Evil

I completely agree with this statement. This is why, in the beginning, mankind was given the free choice of a life without evil. Mankind rejected that, and then made a free choice to procreate knowing that there would be bad things that would happen to the entirety of their offspring. However, the suffering did not outweigh the happiness.

Conclusion

There is no problem of evil for God (specifically the Christian God) to exist. Free will allows for evil to exist, and since humankind freely chose to allow evil, and procreate in a world with it, free will refutes the problem. Also, humankind continues to outweigh the suffering with happiness by continuing to procreate children in a world with evil. If the problem of evil was truly a problem, humankind would show this, and cease to exist. Yet we persevere.

Also, my opponent has not refuted any of the arguments I set forth, so they remain unrefuted.

Dookieman

Con

Thank you Pro for your final rebuttals and closing arguments

Onto to the final round

Animal Suffering
My opponent agrees that animals feel pain, however, he claims that they don't suffer from it because animals lack the ability to understand it. The reason for that is because animals don't have the full capacity of self-reflection and realization of the self that humans have. However, I disagree with him that you need that kind of awareness in order to experience pain and suffering. While it might be true that most animals are not self-aware, that is, the knowledge and awareness of your own personality or character, [1] they still are aware of things. It's strange for my opponent to say that animals are not aware of pain, because they share a similar evolutionary history with us, react in ways we would if we were in pain, and also have a central nervous system like us. Saying animals are not aware of their suffering is, I think, a convenient fairy tail my opponent wishes to tell himself. So in conclusion, we still have a problem of evil, since animals have had to live a life of suffering and misery for billions of years.

Natural Disasters
Pro states that natural disasters are amoral. Meaning that they are neither good or bad. And so when an earthquakes or tsunami kills thousands of innocent people, we cannot say that there has been any evil that has taken place, since this is an event that was not caused by an moral agent. However, I think my opponent misses the point. If an omnipotent and morally perfect God exists, then this is something he could prevent that would not violate human free will. So again, we have a case where there is unnecessary pain and suffering taking place that is not caused by humans acting of their free will.

Child Suffering
Pro states that child suffering falls under free will, since everyone knows that when you bring a child into existence, you create the possibility that this child will suffer from a variety of things. However, he then claims that if child suffering were really a problem, then the human race would stop breeding and go extinct. But since humans don't stop having children, this refutes the claim that child suffering is a problem. Sadly, Pro again misses the point. If an omnipotent and morally perfect God exists, then he could have created the world in such a way to where there is no child suffering at all. Creating such a world be an easy task for an omnipotent being. Moreover, a morally perfect and all-loving God would have the strongest desire to create a world where no child had to suffer.

Human Free Will Can Exist Without Evil
In response to this, Pro misinterprets what I was arguing for. He says:

"I completely agree with this statement. This is why, in the beginning, mankind was given the free choice of a life without evil. Mankind rejected that, and then made a free choice to procreate knowing that there would be bad things that would happen to the entirety of their offspring." -Pro

To recap, what I agued previously was that God could have given human beings both free will and moral perfection, that way they would never choose to do anything evil. However, Pro misinterpreted what I was saying because if human beings had free will and moral perfection, then they would have never eaten from the tree of knowledge to begin with. Being morally perfect beings, they would have respected God's wishes to not eat from that tree. So the point of my argument was to show that even if we ignore animal suffering, natural disasters, child suffering, and we pin free will down for being the sole reason why there is evil and suffering, it's still the case that this does not get us around the problem of evil. For reasons I have just explained above.

Conclusion
In this debate Pro has appealed to the free will defense to explain away the problem of evil. Indeed, in his conclusion he says:

"Free will allows for evil to exist, and since humankind freely chose to allow evil, and procreate in a world with it, free will refutes the problem." -Pro

However, as I have shown throughout this debate, there is evil and suffering that is not caused by free will. These include the suffering that animals have to go through, the natural disasters that hit places where people live, and the many diseases that children suffer and die from. All of this is suffering NOT caused by human free will. Besides, even if we were to accept the claim that human free will is the cause of all suffering, this does not help us get around the problem of evil. Since, as I stated earlier, God could have given us both free will and moral perfection, which would insure that we never did anything morally wrong. Thus, the problem of evil prevails and the resolution is negated.

Source:
http://www.merriam-webster.com...
Debate Round No. 4
22 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Envisage 2 years ago
Envisage
Dookieman ai can do this debate with you at some point. I am Con on the PoE, for non-cognitivist reasons,
Posted by UndeniableReality 2 years ago
UndeniableReality
Pro stumbles around trying to justify evil and loses his own sense of morality along the way. It's disturbing and pathetic to see someone say demeaning and 'evil' things in defence of their religious beliefs.
Posted by n7 2 years ago
n7
Pro gives two arguments against the problem of evil. One from Socrates that says someone cannot do evil to another, although this seems moot because when we think of the POE we think of unnecessary suffering. Followed by the argument from free will. Con went on to present the logical problem of evil and Pro responded with the free will defense. It would have been much better if Pro had Con start his arguments in round 1, that way Pro wouldn't have had to repeat himself.

Con gets around Pro's first argument by appealing to cases of evil where humans are not involved or did not cause the evil. While saying humans can coexist without evil and with free will. Pro appeals to a Neo-Cartersian view of animal consciousness. He says the feel pain but don't suffer. No evidence is give for this however and is quite a claim. He seems to equivocate evil with evil done by an person to get around the natural disaster argument. Not very convincing at all because Con is clearly talking about natural evil. Pro says child suffering is the result of free will of the parents and mankind rejected freedom without evil in the garden of Eden.

Con shows how ad hoc it is to propose animals don't suffer. He points out how natural disasters not being committed by an agent is irrelevant. The point is there's unnecessary suffering. Con shows Pro's rebuttal against child suffering doesn't take into account God's omnipotence. Con then shows the problems with Pro's rebuttal in regard to the garden of Eden. If they were first created morally perfect, then they wouldn't have eaten from the tree.

Arguments goes to Con. Pro has to rely on ad hoc ideas like animals don't feel pain in the way we do and tries assumes something is only evil if it has intention. His free will defense was undermined by Con, if free will can coexist without evil then God would want to do that. Con was much more convincing that Pro.
Posted by Atmas 2 years ago
Atmas
An omniscient God prevents Free Will. While it seems as though people can choose to do evil and they will be judged for doing so, an omniscient God is already aware of what that person will do before they were ever born. So this is to accept that certain people are doomed to do evil. If people are actually free to choose, then it stands to reason that God does not know what choice they will make until they do. If God already knew, and did nothing to prevent it, God is not omnibenevolent, only indifferent. If he doesn't want it to happen but cannot do anything about it, he isn't omnipotent. If he is unaware that it will happen, he is not omniscient nor omnipotent. If he doesn't want it to happen and doesn't want to interfere, he is again indifferent. To use the excuse that innocent people will be rewarded with heaven as a means to justify their suffering and death is a caustic dismissal tactic. If God has a divine plan, it is impossible for un-divine creatures to deviate from that plan. Thus, God prevents free will.
Posted by autodidact 2 years ago
autodidact
I would love to take this debate, but I need one assurance. Pro will not argue from divine command theory.
I am not an atheist because the problem of evil, but if ever i was to be convinced that the christian god was real the problem of evil would keep me from worshiping it.
Posted by UndeniableReality 2 years ago
UndeniableReality
@Lupricona
Based on your most recently comment, it would seem to me that you could have stated the title of the debate more precisely.
Posted by Lupricona 2 years ago
Lupricona
Mister_Man, how would you define "evil"?

And my arguments have nothing to do with the impossibility to disprove God or to say that "he works in mysterious ways."

I'm just looking for a standard debate on the problem of evil, and I think I can show that the evil in the world is not a problem for believing in the Christian God.
Posted by Mister_Man 2 years ago
Mister_Man
I really want to accept this however "evil" is a lot different than just bad stuff happening in general. However I have some good arguments I'm sure you can dismiss them easily by saying it's impossible to disprove God exists, or even that he "works in mysterious ways." I really want to accept this.
Posted by Feroste 2 years ago
Feroste
I think we need to first make sure your god is subject to the problem of evil. Are you christian? What branch? Do you believe in a benevolent god?

and the Burden of proof would also be on you for making the outrageous claim against a logical fallacy.
Posted by 2Sukh2 2 years ago
2Sukh2
Just saying, the God of the Bible could be evil.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Putt-Putt 2 years ago
Putt-Putt
LupriconaDookiemanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I feel con was better able to support his premises
Vote Placed by n7 2 years ago
n7
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by Atmas 2 years ago
Atmas
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Reasons for voting decision: Con had more convincing arguments while Pro used Free Will to wave off any potential arguments from Con. Pro also made references to the bible which were irrelevant. All else were tied.
Vote Placed by FuzzyCatPotato 2 years ago
FuzzyCatPotato
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Reasons for voting decision: Con made a more convincing case that, even given the free-will-exception, suffering and therefore evil exists in the world, which an omnipotent and omnibenevolent god would not allow, and thus cannot coexist with.