The Instigator
Pro (for)
46 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
58 Points

The Problem of Evil (PoE) is sound

Do you like this debate?NoYes+24
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 28 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/10/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 19,077 times Debate No: 28058
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (277)
Votes (28)





God - By God, I mean an omnipotent, omniscient, wholly good, personal being who created the universe, and is (to a greater or lesser extent) active within the universe.

Evil - Anything which in and of itself, rational creatures would universally seek to avoid, ceteris paribus. Examples of such things include suffering, pain, disability and death.

The argument will try to show that at least some of these evils are gratuitous (not logically necessary for an adequately compensatory good), and this will be (I suspect) the main contention in the debate.


First off, I would like to thank Con for agreeing to debate this very important topic with me. I’ll try not to take it too personally that my favoured version of the argument seems to attract as many willing and able critics, and I genuinely hope that if I’m wrong, Con will show me the err of my ways.

As this round is merely for preliminaries and acceptance only, I want to set the stage by covering some pre-debate nomenclature.

Burden of proof and debate rules

As the affirmative party, the burden of proof will be on me to show that the argument can be justified. I will need to show that each premise is probably true, if I am to carry the resolution. I would simply point out to Con and to the readers that while I undoubtedly start with the BoP, once I do present justification for the argument, the task for Con will be to show that my reasoning is deficient in some way. As such, the BoP is dynamic rather than static, but I will of course be tasked with setting the ball rolling.

Any arguments dropped will result in a conduct violation. Numerous such offences will result in a forfeit.

Also, Con must (eventually) engage with the points I make in the debate. Although I understand if he wants to solely concentrate on a generic case against the argument in R2 (after all, this practise is standard), I do think we owe it to the readers to with engage each other directly.

Lastly, I would ask Con not to make any arguments in R1. The first round is merely for is for preliminary purposes only. With that in mind, all that’s left is to introduce the version of the argument I will be defending.

WSA evidential PoE (1)

The argument I will defend in this debate will be as follows:

(P1) If there were an all-powerful and all-good God, then there would not be any evil in the world unless that evil is logically necessary for an adequately compensating good.

(P2) There is lots of evil in the world.

(P3) Much of that evil is not logically necessary for any adequately compensating good.

(C) Therefore, there is no God who is all powerful and all good.

Con has graciously informed me that he accepts P2. As such, I will only concentrate on defending P1 and P3 in R2, unless prompted otherwise.

With this in mind, I look forward to a great debate, and providing an insightful exchange of ideas on a very interesting and distinguished topic.


1. God? Debate between a Christian and an Atheist, William lane Craig and Walter Sinnott Armstrong, 2004, Oxford University Press, p84.


Outline + All Sources + Definitions

Contra-P1 (Pro's Incompatibility Claim)

Resolution Argument

  • Prior Resolution of Divine Non-Interference *With Exceptions, [*R]: A contract whereby God's effective freedom to intervene in the natural world is severely limited. Such a contract is instantiated by God prior to his creation in order to bring into existence a natural world, consisting of real entities distinct from Himself.

No Moral Baseline Argument

(Pro's Factual Claim)


  • Existential Events: Intrinsically Painful or Pleasurable experiences in this life.

  • Just-Seeking-Self-Forming Choice (SFC): Personal indecision during which one experiences conflicting wills and makes a moral choice that forms the self according to what they see as just, while in the pursuit of happiness.

-A “self-forming choice” (SFC) involves the following idea from Kane used by Goetz,

“ agent’s most broadly influential SFC ultimately has a bearing on when he will maximize his happiness and the kind of life plan he will adopt in pursuit of that happiness. Moreover, because happiness is intrinsically good, I will term this most wide-ranging SFC a good-seeking SFC.

  • Viruous Response (potential or actual): a good-seeking SFC wherein evil is defeated by using the existential event as raw material for forming the self in a just way.

Skeptical Theism

Debate Round No. 1



In this round, I’ll be defending the argument I laid out in R1.

Defending P1

Put simply, P1 states that if God exists, gratuitous evils do not.

This seems necessarily true. God, as defined, would have both the means and the motive to prevent this kind of evil, if He exists. Similarly, by definition, gratuitous evils have no morally sufficient reason to be permitted. As such, it seems truly self-evident that a morally perfect being able to remove pointless, unnecessary suffering would do so. Asking if an omni perfect God would remove gratuitous evil would seem as silly as asking if a perfect mathematician would be able to do long division.

At the very least, we can certainly say P1 is more plausible than not. As Christian philosopher Daniel Howard-Snyder remarks,

"on the face of it, the idea that God may well permit gratuitous evil is absurd. After all, if God can get what He wants without permitting some particular horror (or anything comparably bad), why on earth would He permit it?" (1)

Defending P3

Put simply, P3 states that gratuitous evil exists.

I will offer 4 justificatory points to substantiate this claim. Before this, I want to offer an example of the kind of thing I’m talking about.

E1 - “Ebola patients suffer from soaring temperature and excruciating joint and muscle pain. The throat is so sore, that swallowing anything, including one’s own saliva is intolerable. The skin becomes like soft bread, it can be spread apart with one’s fingers, and blood oozes out. Victims choke as the slopped off surfaces of their tongues and throats slide into their windpipes. Every body orifice bleeds. Even the eyeballs fill with blood that leaks down the cheeks. In the final stages, victims become convulsive, splashing blood all around as they twitch, shake and thrash to their deaths.” (2)

Leukaemia, droughts and torture are yet more examples of the kind of horror which permeate our world. But what reasons do we have for thinking these are gratuitous?

Prima facie case: This point is simple. It reasons that we can justify P3 (at least tentatively) on the basis of what appears to be rather obvious - that some evil in the world, even after very close scrutiny, appears to be utterly gratuitous. The examples above are just some cases of apparently gratuitous evils. There are many more. Indeed, many theists concur on this point. Bill Craig, for example, says,

“Everybody admits that the world is filled with apparently gratuitous suffering.” (3) (Original emphasis).

The question becomes, does the appearance of gratuity lend support to the fact of gratuity?

Ironically, support from this inference comes from another theist. Swinburne’s principle of credulity states that, all things being equal,

“it is reasonable to believe that the world is probably as we experience it to be” (4)

I want to suggest that not only that we ought to accept this principle (and thus affirm P3 from the apparent gratuity we see), but that it is necessary in everyday life.

For example, let’s take the belief we all share - the occurrence of WWII. Documents, footage, eyewitnesses and so on all attest to this event. It would take something extraordinary to doubt that this war had taken place. Of course, it is possible that this belief is false. Maybe the evidence is illusory or doctored, for example. But, clearly, doubt in this case wouldn't be reasonable without huge justification. It’s not just a principle, but a presumption of credulity at work here, and this is what Con has to overturn before his case can even get started. Anything other than this seems contrived, desperate, absurd.

It’s the same with evil, as even critic Stephen Wykstra acknowledges,

"For if an instance of suffering appears not to have a point, that is a reason for thinking it has no point." (5)

Unless and until Con can justify a more plausible alternative than the case our primary experience strongly supports, as in the cases mentioned, we must affirm P3.

Epistemic consistency: In essence, this simply means applying the same or similar standards to the PoE as we do to normal beliefs, and only to take seriously beliefs which are at least plausible. In the case of evil, and its prevention, this becomes even more imperative.

Given the massive short-term cost evil causes, and it's seeming ability to lead to long-term harm, we have a massive burden to believe that evil is primarily destructive, and this is a burden that Con must overcome. Otherwise, permitting, even partaking in, any and all evil for some mysterious eventual "greater good" would be our normal reaction to evil in the world.

The futility of contrived scepticism, retreats to the possible or fanciful ad hoc storytelling constructed cynically to deal with P3 given this point is pretty apparent. Only an epistemically consistent standard is feasible for the theist here.

Nature of evils: Third, the nature of evils themselves point strongly towards gratuity.

Evil is abundant in the world. Sentient beings have suffered for millions of years, and the sheer volume of evil is just staggering. The way this evil is dispersed is also horrific, with innocents, babes, the weak and vulnerable suffering most. Also, many evils are necessary, as long as there are sentient beings. The evolutionary process is just a litany of predation and extinction, where animals have to tear each other apart just to survive. Indeed, the vast majority of species which have inhabited the Earth have perished. Moreover, as my example shows, some of the suffering in the world is beyond horrific. What possible reason could God have for allowing each stage of Ebola? The sheer brutality of natural evil in particular seems simply totally inexplicable. Lastly, many people suffer without God‘s comfort to sustain them. Divine silence in the face of horrendous evils is again something rather pervasive in the world. People suffering not just from the loss, but also from a cruel, uncaring world which offers no comfort to many in the face of tragedy.

None of these points are controversial, yet they strongly and unequivocally point to a universe callously indifferent to the suffering of its inhabitants. The fact that evil has these features, often simultaneously, is massive evidence in favour of gratuity, and thus P3.

No conceive’um: Lastly, it is difficult even to conceive of some examples of evil being morally permissible. In the case of the Ebola, there seems to be no conceivable reason to allow the extent of the suffering, nor any benefit which could even come from it. As Rowe points out,

"In light of our experience and knowledge, of the variety and scale of human and animal suffering in our world, the idea that none of this suffering could have been prevented by an omnipotent being without thereby losing some greater good or permitting an evil at least as bad seems an extraordinary, absurd idea, quite beyond our belief." (6)

The difficulty even to conceive of a plausible, morally sufficient reason to permit some evils also supports P3.


As we can see, the PoE is amply justified. In order to better the argument, Con must first show that these justifications fail. I invite him to make his case.


1. Howard-Snyder, Daniel, and Frances Howard-Snyder. 1999. "Is Theism Compatible with Gratuitous Evil?" American Philosophical Quarterly 36: 115-29.
3. God?, P114
5. Wykstra, Stephen J. 1984. “The Humean Obstacle to Evidential Arguments from Suffering: On Avoiding the Evils of ‘Appearance’,” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 16: 73-93.
6. Rowe, William, The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism, American Philosophical Quarterly 16: 335-41.




Resolution Argument
Motivation: Just because an agent has Love for his creatures presently, doesn't imply that there wasn't an overriding motivation necessary to instantiate such creatures in the first place. This prior motivation would require a resolution of divine non-interference with *exceptions, [*R]. And since God can’t have compelling reasons for logically incompatible actions, then God’s love for P doesn’t provide a compelling reason to violate [*R]. So God’s failure to prevent every pointless evil is consistent with God’s perfect love.

Baseline Argument
Means: Pro’s notion of divine knowledge is parasitic to the Theologians notion- God knows all true propositions. God can't logically know what's impossible to know. If it’s impossible to know the minimum amount of suffering that God is to allow if he is to fulfill both his plan for humanity and to not allow gratuitous pain, then such a baseline can’t be included in God's "means." It’s a fallacy of false precision to think otherwise. Hence theism is in principle compatible with gratuitous suffering.


Pro gives examples of suffered natural evils that are open to many theistic answers. Perhaps the first humans lost the cognitive ability to protect themselves from such evil when they sinned, so what don’t appear to be moral evils, are.

Kripkean Origins Essentialism views such evils as merely the consequence of the necessary conditions for life. It's quite plausible that we could not have existed in a world in which tornados and ebola were impossible. For had the world been so structured to make such natural things as Pro describes impossible, then it would’ve been significantly different at the time of my conception. Hence, any person who would’ve been conceived in such a world couldn’t have been me. Thus, God showed no lack of love for me in failing to prevent these specific vulnerabilities.

Skeptical Theism
The inference from the appearance of gratuitous suffering to its actuality remains tenuous. Pro can’t reason by analogy that an eternal God must conform to the vicissitudes of a human ethics system. For a God-Human relation isn’t analogous with a human-human relation. Nor can he argue from ignorance while claiming Prima Facie. For although such a principle of credulity is reasonable when we’re in a good epistemic position to make a probability judgment (say forecasting a mesoscale storm), nevertheless it’s an unreasonable principle when we find ourselves in a severely limited epistemic position (like forecasting a mesoscale storm 10yrs from now!). Pro's source says, "Swinburne carefully states his positive principle of credulity … does not apply to experiences of absences." And yet Pro seeks to apply,

"I see x, therefore x"


"I see ~x, therefore ~x."

To see the difference, it doesn’t appear there are extraterrestrials, so would that make it more reasonable to think there aren’t any aliens? No, we’re not within a good epistemic position for this negative probability judgment. So much the worse for Pro’s case since it’s an infinite Mind that apparently lacks moral reasons, not just some town drunkard who we can easily discern lacks moral integrity.

Hence before insisting on epistemic consistency, Pro must give reason to even think we’re in a good position to assess with confidence the probability that God lacks morally sufficient reasons for permitting the suffering in the world. But upon a survey of the 6 cognitive limitations impairing judgments, Alston writes that the “judgments required by the inductive argument from evil are of a very special and enormously ambitious type, and our cognitive capacities are not equal to this one. . . . it is in principle impossible for us to be justified in supposing that God does not have sufficient reasons for permitting evil that are unknown to us.”

Pro's "nature of evils" is also said to require an “adequately compensating good.” But if we say “a good G is greater than an instance of evil E if and only if the conjunctive state of affairs G and E is a good state of affairs,” then we must deny P3. For the actual world contains on balance more good than evil, and so for any instance of evil that you please, there is some greater good that could not obtain unless that evil were permitted, namely the actual world. So merely saying that "evil is abundant in the world" isn't enough to warrant P3.

Now most life up until developed humans can't reasonably be used as an example of suffering as we experience it. For not only does affirming a problem of intrinsic pain commit Pro to dualism, but dualism implies our ignorance one way or the other if such creatures experience pain as we do, as bodies with a higher order mental awareness. Regarding infants when you were one and pain came along, did you have the type of awareness of that pain like you have of pain now? Or was it just an innate reaction to stimulus? Do you have any clue either way? … Clearly an argument can’t be made from this.

No conceive’um is actually MY argument! I claim that our difficulty to conceive of a morally sufficient reason to permit some evils, far from supporting P3, actually gives us reason to doubt our ability to fully know God-level assumptions, even if we can gradually and partially discover God in this life. Nevertheless we’re still limited, and must reasonably temper our inductions as such.

Whatever contributes to a virtuous response to existential events (whether painful or pleasurable) will result in justly experiencing perfect complete happiness, H. A virtuous response to existential events are therefore the logically necessary condition for an adequately compensating good, namely the justly achieved experience of H.

Because God is just, he doesn’t allow a person to justly experience H if no self-forming choice for a virtuous response to existential events are given. Why? Because no justly-seeking-self-forming choice (SFC) is made.

A moral choice that literally forms the self can either be just or unjust. If it is unjust than an unjust person can’t logically experience H; first because it would be imperfect happiness, and second because a just God won’t allow unjust selves to experience what only just selves should.

Hence Andy must show how his examples of gratuitous suffering cannot logically contribute to a virtuous response of a just SFC (a choice not merely for the sufferer, but also for those who are somehow apart of an existential event that has eternal significance on theism).

But then if God’s purpose for man is eternally H, then God is justified in permitting evil insofar as that evil provides a chance for a virtuous response (a just-SFC). This is how evil is defeated (by virtue), then out balanced (by H). And defeatable, out balanced evil isn't gratuitous.

Thus it seems that any evil we experience in this life counts as raw material for forming the self in a just way in the pursuit of happiness. What we do and how we choose to respond to events in our epistemic distance from God, will have eternal significance given theism. Insofar as this is the case, there is no actually gratuitous evil found in reality. For any evil experienced can be justified by the potential virtuous response to the great goods of God’s general revelation in nature and conscious, and God’s special revelation of Christ’s incarnation & atonement.

God acting justly itself requires that he submit himself to what he submits his creatures to (pain). “This God must become incarnate & atone our sins by vicariously suffering the punishment due to us, for the demands of justice must be satisfied.” (Aulen 1969)

Christ’s atonement not only implies that created persons can be saved from the consequences of their choosing unjustly, but also that they know that they’re saved from their unjust-formed selves. Atonement then is not only salvation from our brokenness, but also salvation for our wholeness.
Debate Round No. 2


General criticisms

Contradictaries: In his response, Con, at various times, holds 3 distinct positions:

(i) God cannot act to prevent gratuitous evil (denial of P1)

(ii) God acts to prevent gratuitous evil and we know His means (theodicy)

(iii) God’s actions are completely beyond our ken (ST)

Each of these approaches is obviously contradictory, and Con‘s standing in this debate is significantly weakened, given he adopts these simultaneously.

For example, if (i) is true, Con’s theodicy is false, as is ST (as we’d know God’s means and motive, according to Con). We could do this for each case, and see that Con offers rebuttals to his own points, such is his predicament. Con must therefore drop 2/3 of his case and argue from a coherent point of view, or continue in the knowledge that his position is false.

God of Law (7): Also, we can show this responses are absurd with reference to Law’s Evil God hypothesis (EG) and the “problem of good” thought experiment. Perhaps EG cannot prevent gratuitous good, because of an “overriding motivation” (Con‘s first point). Alternatively, we know of cases where good happenstance destroys character - it creates jealousy, lust and so forth (theodicy). If all else fails, we can play the mystery card - EG’s reasons to permit gratuitous good may be simply beyond our ken (ST). My point here is that none of these positions are remotely plausible when it comes to EG, and I don’t see why it’s any less ridiculous here.

Defending P1

P1 states that if God exists, gratuitous evils do not exist.

Readers will remembered, I offered a conceptual and a plausibility defence of P1.

Con responds first by doubting God’s motivation to prevent gratuitous evil, asserting that God may have an “overriding motivation” of divine non-interference with exceptions.

First, Con provides no justification, nor much detail for any of this. He doesn’t explain or identify this motivation, why it is more pressing than gratuitous evil, or how he knows it exists in the first place.

Second, this point seems conceptually doomed. Either God’s distance itself is logically necessary for an adequately compensating good (i.e. not gratuitous), which affirms P1, or it isn’t, which would mean He should intervene.

Con’s second criticism is that it is impossible for God to know “the minimum amount of suffering that God is to allow if he is to fulfil both his plan for humanity and to not allow gratuitous pain”.

But this just doesn’t really undermine P1. Measuring suffering is admittedly imprecise, but it just doesn’t follow that approximations are impossible. As Drange points out, even if there is “no minimum” amount of salt in food, there is clearly “an excess”. The only way to determine if this “excess” of evil exists is to evaluate the strength of P3 (8).

Defending P3

P3 affirms that gratuitous evils exist.

Readers will remember I offered 4 justificatory points to defend P3.

Prima facie case: I argued here that apparent gratuity supports the fact of gratuity.

Con replies that we’re in a “severely limited epistemic position” to judge (ST).

First, the prima facie case is pretty modest, and given Con accepts the principle of credulity, the level of scepticism would have to be extreme. If our epistemic limitations are so such that we can’t even make probabilistic judgements (as it would have to be) about God’s actions, how could we discount, even probabilistically, an illusory past, for example?

Second, Con begs the question. He just assumes that we are so epistemically limited, without any justification.

Third, Con’s position is clearly contrived. Con believes in Christ’s atonement. This means either (i) God’s actions are not completely beyond our ken (ST is false), or (ii) ST is true and Christianity is completely beyond our ken (theological scepticism).

Obviously Con wants to be the arbitrator in when we can make judgements about God. Not only is this blatant special pleading, but such an approach undermines the strength of ST.

Next, he characterises my argument as:

"I see ~x, therefore ~x."

He says that the principle of credulity doesn’t apply to these cases, therefore my inference is flawed.

First, I’m arguing from “absolutely everything we know of evil” - i.e. a positive case for gratuity, so this is a straw-man. Second, negative evidence is relevant, if not defining. The apparent lack of Unicorns in my garage is a reason to think there are none.

As such, we can be supremely confident that apparent gratuity supports actual gratuity.

Epistemic consistency: Here I argued that the PoE should be treated like other inductive beliefs.

Con’s response is merely to ask how we are in a good position to conclude gratuity.

Besides giving ample argument for it, my reply is obvious - I don’t arbitrarily discriminate with evil because I’m epistemically consistent! As such, we should instead be asking, “why the double-standard?”

He then gives a quote by Alston about inductive judgement, but unless he justifies this, I need not respond.

Unless we are going to be general inductive sceptics in general, we should accept P3. Even Con recognises how ridiculous his position is, by constantly dropping ST to make claims about God.

Nature of evils: Here I pointed to the abundance, dispersal, necessity and sheer horror of evil, as well as divine silence, all evidencing gratuity.

Con disputes none of these points. All he offers in response is a bare assertion that the “world contains on balance more good than evil”. Even if this were true, it is irrelevant. Gratuitous evils could still exist, and the above would still be evidence for it. Billions of years of pre-human suffering also negates Con’s point as well.

Con also says animals and infants can’t feel pain, given dualism.

Not only is this pure assertion, but it is false. Animals and infants exhibit various pain behaviours and physiological changes (heart and brain activity) which strongly indicate they feel pain. Evolution also requires pain and pleasure to reinforce behaviour. What's more, this belief is easily compatible with dualism.

Notice how ordinary beliefs are held hostage to Con’s scepticism, while he is able to access God’s innermost workings. Totally contrived nonsense.

Noconceive’um: Here I claimed that our inability to even conceive of a morally sufficient reason for some evils is evidence of gratuity.

Con agrees, saying this is just what would we would expect, given theism.

Like a conspiracy theorist, the lack of evidence for a conspiracy is itself a conspiracy! This is bewildering. If theism is consistent with any possible evidence, then as Flew notes,

“Someone may dissipate his assertion completely without noticing that he has done so. A fine brash hypothesis may thus be killed by inches, the death by a thousand qualifications.” (9)

Otherwise, this remains a crippling problem with denying gratuity.


Con here tries to argue that evil builds virtue.

First, this response is hopelessly narrow - it doesn’t attempt to cover most suffering, and so is at best incomplete.

Second, evil is primarily destructive - evil begets evil. Acts like torture or rape tend to completely change lives for the worst, particularly when these are so-called horrendous evils (10) .

Third, it is completely implausible that the best means to an omnipotent being is to allow things like child rape, or that it is indeed morally permissible to allow it to build virtue.

Con also hints at Kripkean essentialism, but this does absolutely nothing to counter belief in gratuitous evils, nor is it remotely justified by Con, so I'll hold off responding for now.


8. Trakakis, Nick, “The God beyond belief”, P316.




Alleged Contradictions

Contra-P1 are in principle arguments & Contra-P3 are in fact arguments. So both cases aren’t contradictions but alternatives. Even so:

For P1, God is free to act even though his intervention is limited & specific towards his plans. The RA preserves our ability to gradually discover God’s plan for humanity as he reveals to us through [*R]’s exceptions.

For P3, ST only affirms that say, God’s reasons for permitting pain may not be discernible years from now, & we’re too limited in time to presently discern God’s reasons with good enough confidence to warrant P3. So God isn’t beyond our ken, for Christ’s atonement was gradually discovered even though the Jews went through what seemed like gratuitous suffering while coming out of Egypt, etc.

Theodicy states that insofar as moral SFCs are possible, then God is justified in permitting defeatable evils in light of his special revelation through Christ’s atonement, & the eternal glory that was promised by a risen messiah. (Not much induction there, & RA coheres perfectly with this!)

God of Law

First, an “evil God” is a contradiction since God is necessarily good by definition: a being worthy of worship.

Second, the world is morally ambiguous, & that’s not how theists arrive to God’s goodness- by inferring it from the pleasure in the world: Anti-God argument does, & thus it shows the PoE’s conclusion to be inflated & so invalid. For just as any pleasure doesn’t disprove anti-God, so any pain doesn’t disprove God. And since the 2 cases are equal, it follows that the PoE’s conclusion doesn’t informally follow. For pain, & pleasure, are existential events; they exist as a necessity (de re) of agent existence in a material world.

Existence then is to blame, not God's lack of love. So at best we ought not prefer a relationship with God given better possible worlds. But that wouldn’t disprove God like the PoE concludes! Therefore, far from removing my case, Pro has inadvertently undercut his own. For he's shown that pain is really a practical, not theoretical, problem. Hence the conclusion is inflated which means this PoE is informally invalid & thus unsound. The resolution is therefore false & so I declare victory.

Resolution Argument (RA)

God's overriding motivation was to instantiate his creation with [*R] & so our existence would clearly be "more pressing" than for God to never enter into [*R] while failing to instantiate us.

This motivation itself requires only limited intervention, given the anthropic necessity of [*R], not that God can't act in the world. For “the creation of a real world of entities distinct from God requires that divine intervention in that world be the exception rather than the rule, but it does not require that all intervention be excluded.” (Koons)

Limited intervention includes validating revelatory messengers (prophets / apostles), the revealed God in Christ (miracles permitted to surround Christ’s ministry) & petitionary prayers. Of course God wouldn’t entirely reveal such exceptions to us. But this gives us back control over a world fallen into sin, & encourages us to petition God in all we do thereby cultivating a relationship of trust (a virtue).

Thus far from preventing God’s action & our knowledge of it, the RA preserves such divine means while considering an overriding motivation necessary for our existence, which makes God’s love compatible with pointless pain.

Justification: [*R] is essential to human nature. For if mankind were created without [*R], then we’d be altogether different (origins essentialism). The eternal weight of our moral decisions would be destroyed as well.

Pro misidentifies God's [*R] either as a compensating good or not. It's neither, it's an anthropic condition.

Baseline Argument (BA)

Pro pushes the gratuity-measure back, but the fallacy remains. What threshold has he defined for evil in “excess”? Pro constructs measurable indices & passes them off as the 'real thing.' But the BoP falls on Pro to prove that real qualities of evil can be measured as ‘better / less than.’

But why think God created the world as a substance of value in terms of “better / less than”? Clearly God simply creates incommensurately good things for good purposes, & so Pro’s mistaken to think that any value whatsoever can be assigned to the totality of things God does. Free agents capable of creating good / bad choices have similar consequences for each. And in a fallen world, incommensurately bad things are expected. How can these be measured?

A & B are “best” actions

B is better than C

It doesn’t follow that A is better than C

A & C, like A & B, may be incommensurable!

Pro mistakes that every evil must occur for some “greater good.” But maximization ethics are atheistically impersonal in character & thus un-Christian,

[Such ethics] treat individual human beings as mere containers of the stuff that really matters (desire-satisfaction, frustration, etc) ... This profoundly unbiblical perspective has more to do with classical economics and Benthamite psychology than moral theology.” (B.Williams)

Christian ethics are deontic with a concern for other-centeredness, purity of intention, etc.. This doesn’t translate to a divine obligation to minimize suffering, nor to maximize the totality of happiness. Hence P1 remains irrelevant to Christianity.


*Pro never responds to my argument of the noetic effects of sin in regards to natural evils, argument extended.

*Pro fails to deal with my origins essentialism, argument extended.


I never said animals & infants can’t feel pain, but that we’re ignorant on if they're aware of it in the same way we are. And so an argument can’t be constructed from this. Mere behavioral reactions to stimuli preserves the beasts life & so is selectively advantageous. But we can’t argue they know pain as we do.

Pro's response wholly ignores that negative probability judgements ≠ positive ones, & so Pro still must first show us we’re within a good epistemic situation to affirm all of his justifications for P3. His fallacious inference is,

I see no morally sufficient reason for X

Thus, there is no morally sufficient reason for X

This is a negative probability judgement & so can't logically follow the principle of credulity. But then Pro self-ascends to an even more outlandish implied epistemic position,

"I’m arguing from 'absolutely everything we know of evil’”

… his case then rests upon,

Our knowledge of evil is sufficient to ignore our ignorance of every possible morally sufficient reason for X in the world both through all time & all space.

Sounds extremely hasty, what justification is given to ignore this massive ignorance? Pro's garage isn't the history of mankind over all geographical locations so why be "supremely confident that apparent gratuity supports actual gratuity" in a world much larger / complex than his basement? We’re clearly more inductively limited on this scale than what Pro lets on, & he has yet to prove otherwise.


I argued that one's self-forming response to existential events (which may or may not include pain) can be the mode in which virtue is built. And insofar as any existential event yields a just/unjust-SFC, then that event can’t logically be gratuitous.

Pro calls such a theodicy narrow, yet the BoP is on him to cite where in reality we don't find some existential event in which a just SFC can’t be made in response to that event.

Lastly, this Theodicy only maintains that God’s justification for evil is the possibility of justly achieved complete happiness,

“… because not just any person deserves to experience perfect happiness… it must be delayed to another life. In order to determine who receives perfect happiness, God gives a period of time (e.g., this life) wherein a person is free to make a choice that serves as a basis of justly granting or denying to him the experience of perfect happiness.” (Goetz)

Debate Round No. 3


Before I begin, I just want to make 2 observations. First, Con's constant reduction of this problem to pain and pleasure is a gigantic straw-man. It's called the problem of evil, and I'd ask Con engage with that. Second, while I don't mind Con's use of the gish gallop, he should be held to account to defend all these spurious arguments, and be punished for dropping so many already.


Here I charged that Con held 3 contradictory positions on God‘s action.

Con claims that his position in P1 and P3 are between in principle (it) and in fact arguments.

Con claimed that P1 was logically impossible for God, yet had God preventing gratuitous evil for P3 so this distinction doesn’t cut it.

But even if we accept Con’s point, it is no less contradictory to say:

(i) God won’t prevent gratuitous evil (Contra P1)

(ii) God does prevent gratuitous evil (theodicy)

(iii) God’s actions are completely beyond our ken (ST)

Second, Con asserts when it comes to evil,

“we’re too limited in time to presently discern God’s reasons with good enough confidence to warrant P3”

If this is the case, how can he say,

“any evil we experience in this life counts as raw material for forming the self in a just way in the pursuit of happiness.” (R2)

Con’s position is still contradictory on multiple levels. As such, whatever happens, Con’s position is certainly false.

God of Law

Here, I made a reductio of Con’s responses using Law’s Evil God Challenge.

Con first insists we call it “Anti-God”. Fine.

Con then says given the moral ambiguity of the world, we simply can’t make a judgement on God or Anti-God, and my doing so actually undercuts the PoE.

Con misunderstands my point. I’m not arguing for an Anti-God on the basis of the world. As Con admits, the world isn’t what we’d expect given God or Anti-God, so doing this would be absurd. As such, the charge that I undercut my own argument by doing so is based on a crude straw-man of both the PoE and the challenge.

The problem for Con however still remains. A morally ambiguous world supports the hypothesis of indifference, and thus gratuitous evil. At the very least, divorcing God from the external world is just another example of Flew’s death by qualification.

Second, how exactly does Con reason a good God? This problem is even more stark given Con’s adoption of ST and his admission of the failure of the moral argument for God.

Third, my primary aim was to show how ad hoc responses to the PoE can be. Given that Con admits his response and that of an Anti-God hypothesis are “equal”, I‘d submit this shows how utterly ridiculous and contrived these responses are.

Defending P1

P1 states that if God exists, gratuitous evils do not.

Con presented 2 challenges to this.

First, Con sought to dislodge P1 with claims of general divine non-interference.

However, Con’s only justification for this is to cite origins essentialism - something else which has yet to justify. He also just asserts moral insignificance.

Second, Con’s response is contradictory. Origins essentialism (if justified) would provide morally sufficient reason for evil, confirming P1. If not, why did Con use it Contra P3? Same with moral significance. All Con says in anticipation of this is that P1 is an “anthropic condition” - with no explanation or justification.

Third, how does Con know what God’s motives are, especially given ST? He still hasn’t answered.

Con then asserted that God couldn’t determine a minimum level of evil.

Given my response, Con now charges that there is no precise metric for “better/less than” worlds.

So what? I can still know some states (like eternal torture) are worse than others (eternal joy) regardless. I know, ceteris paribus, that a victim is worse for being raped. Clearly, this fails as a criticism. All this does is give another terrible consequence for Con’s position (moral absurdity).

Second, while there maybe “no minimum” level of evil, there is an ideal - the least amount of evil for the greatest available good. Problem solved.

As for his Williams quote, this is unsourced and neglects my theological scepticism point anyway.

Defending P3

P3 states that gratuitous evil exists.

Con hasn’t responded to my rebuttal to:

- Epistemic consistency

- Nature of evils

- Noconeiveum

Extend arguments.

Prima facie case: All Con does here is repeat his earlier claim which I rebutted - straw-manning my position as “negative” when I’ve given 4 extensive points to support P3. Second, negative evidence is still relevant,

"For if an instance of suffering appears not to have a point, that is a reason for thinking it has no point." (1)

Con then accuses me of “ignoring our ignorance” for every possible theodicy. This retreat to the possible won’t do. When it comes to the evidential PoE, all that is relevant is evidence (hence the name), not pure supposition. Everything we know about ebola et al points to it being bad simpliciter, and this provides good evidence for gratuity.

“Unanswered arguments”

Con’s first point is to merely offer a possibility for moral evil through noetic sin. First, this one-line assertion has no justification whatsoever. Besides, this would have to more plausible than my support for gratuity. Second, Con’s assumption of specific Christian doctrine, especially given ST, is wholly unwarranted (theological scepticism). Third, Con offers no detail or justification on how ebola or cancer are moral evils which humans are responsible for. Indeed, this notion is patently ridiculous.

Con then claims I never dealt with his Kripkean argument. First, I did (see R2 - under theodicy). Second, his justification for this was it’s “quite plausible”. That’s no argument. Third, I’m not arguing ebola be impossible, only that it would have a morally sufficient reason, so Con attacks yet another straw-man.


Readers will remember I gave 3 criticisms of ST

It would have to be extreme, which would lead to absurdities (no way to discount an illusory past).

No justification that we are so epistemically limited.

It is contrived and leads to huge problems (theological scepticism)

Con doesn’t answer any of these points. Extend arguments.

Animal Pain

Con now claims merely that we don’t know animals feel the same pain as we do.

First, yes we do. Con accepts the principle of credulity, and animals appear to suffer, therefore, ceteris paribus, we should believe they do.

Second, I gave further reason to think animals feel pain, and Con doesn’t dispute any of this, he just says we don’t know. He also doesn’t dispute my point about dualism.

Lastly, if all we’re debating here is degrees of suffering, this does almost nothing to help Con. Animals would still suffer, we’d just not be sure how extensive the suffering is.


Here Con presented a Virtue response.

I criticised it as narrow - it doesn’t cover animal suffering, or those who suffer ebola alone, for example.

I also made the point that evil begets evil and that it is not plausible that allowing things like child rape is either the best way to build virtue, or morally permissible. No response. Extend arguments.

Con also admits that his theodicy is a mere “possibility”. While this is enough to derail the logical PoE, such a tactic is tilting at windmills here. Con has to show that this is more plausible than my 4 lines of support for P3, and he admits he can’t do this. Case closed.

Con’s last hurrah is another unsourced quote, which also begs the question - assuming an afterlife where God rights wrongs.


1. Wykstra, Stephen J. 1984. “The Humean Obstacle to Evidential Arguments from Suffering: On Avoiding the Evils of ‘Appearance’,” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 16: 73-93.





By convention; take 'evil' to be synonymous with 'pain.' Pro failed to address the difference between my Contra-P1 containing "in principle" arguments, and my Contra-P3 containing "in fact" arguments. My case can be affirmed as "Contra-P1 or Contra-P3" if one remains unconvinced that my case can be affirmed as "Contra-P1 and Contra-P3."

God of Law

Pro fails to deal with his argument being informally invalid, even IF his this argument was meant for something different, the implications of his thought experiment entails that his PoE contains an inflated conclusion. And thus he must deal with these implications if he is to remain in the game here. Otherwise the resolution is won for Con, and that's regardless of my other arguments.

Pro admits,
"the world isn’t what we’d expect given God or Anti-God, so doing this [inferring from the good or evil that transpires in the world, either deity's existence,] would be absurd…"

His only point against my NEW argument is that Pro is "not arguing for an Anti-God on the basis of the world."

That's fine, but it must still be shown that the PoE's conclusion is not inflated as a theoretical proof (as opposed to a practical proof) given that the moral occurrences in the world are too ambiguous to prove or disprove any deity- a 'given' that was shown by Con's use of the anti-god thought experiment, regardless of how Pro used it.

Hence even IF Contra-P1 & Contra-P3 arguments fail, or are contradictory- the resolution is still lost given the inflated conclusion. Thus I declare victory.

Regarding the hypothesis of indifference, just because God may've decided to create free creatures at a certain epistemic distance in order for meaningful decision making, it doesn't follow that he's therefore indifferent to such creatures; his creation is!

What Pro has to give us with the PoE is a non-theistic conclusion , NOT an agnostic one. And Flew's "death by qualification" gives us merely an agnostic conclusion (at best).

Pro then complains that the God of Law argument at least shows the ad hoc nature of responses to the PoE. But there are variegated reposes to a parent's permission of inflicting pain on their child, dentistry, virtue, moral lessons, freedom, etc. Who knows how many more reasons an infinite mind may have! This objection just fails to understand the complexity of human-God relations in a fallen world.

Also, I never admitted my responses to Pro's PoE and his anti-God are "equal" … instead, I affirmed that inferring from the moral occurrences in the world a deity's existence or non-existence is equal.

Refer to R2 for my defense of Origins Essentialism, somehow Pro overlooked it.

Pro then thinks that the anthropic condition, [*R] is the morally sufficient reason for permitting evil. It's not, the RA views creaturely existence in light of prior divine teleology; not evil used for some greater good, as P1 expects.

The RA doesn't presume to know God's motives, it just shows that its epistemically possible that God would have good reasons for creating a world with free agents distinct from himself, and that such a world possibly requires [*R]. Hence God is compatible with the notion of his non-intervention.

For the justification of RA- God seemed to have morally sufficient reasons to enter into [*R], for if mankind were created without [*R], then there’s no way of knowing whether mankind would be something different altogether in such a world. Hence evil in light of divine teleology provides no reason why there wouldn’t be any pointless suffering given [*R]

Here I charged that we've no reason for thinking it's possible to know the moral baseline necessary for the WSA PoE. All Pro has to offer here, isn't a method for determining such a threshold, but instead the extreme worse worlds and extreme better worlds. But that's irrelevant, we want to know whether it's knowable the threshold that God mustn't cross to fulfill both his plan for humanity and to not allow his creatures to suffer gratuitously- not whether there can be best & worst worlds.
Pro admits there exists no knowable level of evil, but says there is ideally the least amount of evil for the greatest available good. But this doesn't solve the problem since he's admitted it's impossible to know the least amount of evil for the greatest available good! Therefore Pro affirms that P1 has an inherent fallacy of false precision.


I showed that Pro's notion of Epistemic Consistency & Nature of Evils are contingent upon Pro showing that we stand within a good epistemic position to demand these points to begin with. He hasn't yet show we are in such a privileged position.

"Noconeiveum" contradicts Epistemic consistency. Since if it's difficult for us to see morally sufficient reasons for some evil, why think we're able to demand Epistemic consistency regarding the purpose of that evil in light of an infinite mind as opposed to Epistemic consistency in light of looking for unicorns in our garage? These epistemic positions simply aren't on a par and Pro's great BoP is to show they are in order to demand such points.

Regarding Prima Facie, Swinburne’s principle of credulity states that, all things being equal, “it is reasonable to believe that the world is probably as we experience it to be.” But Swinburne affirms that "if it seems to a subject that x is present, then probably x is present" so this doesn't apply to experiences of absences. And Pro is attempting to prove an absence, regardless.

For the negative principle, "if it seems to a subject that x is not present, then probably x is not present," would only be a good one in cases where it is reasonable to believe that if x were present then the subject would experience x. There is no reason, however, to suppose that if God existed then the atheist would experience his morally sufficient reason years later possibly in another region, and so the negative principle of credulity does not apply to atheists‘ experiences of the absence of God.

What Pro seeks to use as "evidence" is an absence, and this goes contrary to both our epistemic position and the principle of credulity: He's misused both in order to erect his epistemic consistency.

Pro asserts Kripkean essentialism does "nothing to counter belief in gratuitous evils" in R2, yet offer no reason why. Also, Pro doesn't show how a Kripkean essentialist theist must also be a evil-teleologist: that every evil must occur FOR some good. In fact it's my argument that a Kripkean essentialist theist is compatible with much natural evils in a fallen world.
Skepticism doesn't reasonably apply to certain historical events written about in history or ones memory of the past- it does apply to a finite viewer's absence of a infinite being's reason for allowing something to happen. Pro has yet to show otherwise.

Recall that it's not just an actual virtuous response to whatever existential event that makes evils justified, but also the potential virtuous response to, say, preventing ebola ourselves. There are little examples of the rich in America experiencing ebola, why? Isn't it that no virtuous responses are given to those in Africa prior to worse conditions avail themselves so as to make things like ebola possible? Here, it's mankind that's at fault rather than God. Virtuous responses can be potential- evils like ebola are defeat-able & outbalance-able, hence evils like ebola aren't gratuitous. And just because evil may beget evil, doesn't mean that such events can't be defeated or outbalanced.
Debate Round No. 4


Con admits equivocating evil with pain, but claims mere convention. This is still fallacious, as well as being needlessly confusing.

As for Con’s gish gallop, Con has dropped large swathes of his case. His points on animal pain, noetic sin and Christian doctrine just 3 examples, and should be punished for doing so.


Here I pointed out that Con resorted to 3 contradictory positions in response to the PoE.

Con’s latest response is merely to repeat his same distinction in the last round, which I already rebutted. This distinction also says nothing, even if true between ST and Theodicy. Extend argument.

Con then implies his position may be contradictory, but excuses this as “either/or”. Let me quote Con from the forums,

“embracing a contradiction is embracing incoherency ... as if it were popular to do so- you can't embrace what is impossible, otherwise you're just telling a nice fictional story... wouldn't you agree?”

Con’s resorting to “fiction” to deal with the PoE means it’s game over. Resolution affirmed.

God of Law

Here I used Law’s thought experiment, in the hope of showing how ad hoc responses to the PoE are.

He admits this, showing incredulity at an “infinite Mind”, not realising this response works equally well with Anti-God.

Con’s next response is to admit his previous attack was a straw-man. Yet he still insists that I deal with his claim that the PoE’s conclusion is not inflated, as if dismissing a straw-man weren’t enough.

Con then erects another straw-man, inserting words into my quote, changing what I said.

My point was an indifferent world doesn’t allow to infer to God, but it doesn’t follow we can’t rule God out. Indeed, this was the PoE does, if successful, as would be the case with Anti-God and the problem of good. By analogy, I don’t need to know who was president in 1920 was to rule out Paris Hilton.

Con then allows that God is compatible with any state of affairs, and that Flew’s death of qualifications leads only to agnosticism.

But an unfalsifiable God not only betrays both Christianity and the debate definition from R1, but is also clearly contrived. Con has simply shifted the goal posts because he can’t defend his position from the PoE

Lastly, Con still has no answer for inferring God rather than Anti-God. Extend argument.

Defending P1

P1 states that if God exists, gratuitous evils do not.

I offered both a conceptual and plausibility defence of P1.

Con offered 2 criticisms:

RA: All Con asserts here is a “possibility” that God’s motives may involve divine non-intervention.

Despite this flimsy alternative and Con still not answering how he knows God’s motive given ST, or justifying essentialism, this point is moot. As Con says,

God seemed to have morally sufficient reasons to enter into [*R], for if mankind were created without [*R], then there’s no way of knowing whether mankind would be something different altogether in such a world.”

If God has moral justification to allow *R, then divine non-interference itself makes the resulting evils necessary for greater goods, thus non gratuitous. Con simply refutes himself here, by affirming P1 to justify RA.

BA: Here Con claimed that a lack of a minimum level of evil eroded P1.

Con’s latest response to my points is to state my examples are “extreme”. Despite this, it still shows we don't need precision in all cases to judge better/less than worlds, so Con's point is rebutted.

I also pointed out that there was an ideal amount of evil. Con’s reply was to ask how we would know such a thing.

Easy - a world absent gratuitous evil! Clearly it’s removal would improve the world, and thus we would have a sub-optimal level of evil. The whole debate rests on whether gratuitous evil does in fact exist - the remit of P3.

As such, Con’s criticisms here fail, and P1 is easily affirmed.

Defending P3

P3 states that gratuitous evils exist.

Con offered arguments from animal pain, noetic sin and origins essentialism. While the first 2 have been completely dropped, all Con offered in defence of the third beyond describing it was that it was “quite plausible” . Unjustified. It’s also predicated on making evil impossible rather than morally permissible - which straw-man’s my version of the PoE. Extend argument.

In defending the PoE, I offered 4 justificatory points:

Prima facie: Here I argued that apparent gratuity supports the fact of gratuity.

Con’s latest response is to repeat for a third time a claim I’ve rebutted twice - that my case is “negative“.

I’ve already shown that this is a straw-man, that negative evidence is relevant anyway, and that everything we reason from what we know evidences gratuity.

Unless and until we are given reason to doubt our primary experiences, the fact that gratuitous evils appear to exist is at least very good tentative evidence that gratuity exists.

Epistemic consistency: Here, I pointed out that if we treat the PoE no different that other beliefs, we will conclude gratuity.

Con has not once disputed this. He merely assumes evil is a special case, without justification, trying to shift the burden to me to prove being epistemically consistent!

Indeed, his special pleading goes so far as to adopt a “fictional” position, retreat to the possible or envelop himself in crippling scepticism.

Unless we rig the game and assume theism, treating the PoE different from other inductive beliefs must be justified. It hasn’t been. Extend argument.

Nature of evils: Here I pointed to the abundance, dispersal, necessity and sheer horror of evil, as well as divine silence, all evidencing gratuity.

Throughout the debate, Con disputed none of this. All he did was assert that the good outweighs the bad, which was rebutted in R3.

Extend argument.

Noconceive’um: Here I argued that our failure to even determine a conceive of moral permissibility for some evils support gratuity.

Con admitted this in R2, but says this is what we would expect, given theism.

In other words, the fact that theism is inconceivable, given some evils, is evidence for theism. This is clearly ridiculous, which I showed in R3. Extend argument.

Lastly, he says this point conflicts with epistemic consistency. First, both point towards gratuity. Second, it just doesn’t. Epistemic consistency sets a standard for belief, while this catalogues the huge difficulty conceptually with squaring apparent gratuity with theism in a plausible way. No conflict.

Even Con, in an unguarded moment, affirms P3,

“I see the world, Christian or non, and there's a lot of pointless suffering.”

Resolution affirmed.


I pointed out that ST begs the question and is contrived (theological scepticism). Con never responded. Extend arguments.

As for it being arbitrary, all Con’s response was a blanket denial this would apply to an illusory past, without justification.

But surely, due our “epistemic limitations”, an Infinite Mind may have reasons to plant such memories which are completely beyond our ken?

The point is Con can’t rule this out, unless he repudiates ST. As I’ve shown ST is unjustified, contrived and wholly arbitrary.


Con here offered a virtue response.

I pointed out that it doesn’t cover it is too narrow to deal with P3 and that it isn’t plausible that the best means to build virtue is to allow such horrendous evil, nor doe it seem morally permissible. No response. Extend argument.

All Con says is that it is possible all this leads to greater goods. But Con has to show that this is more plausible than P3, and hasn’t done so.

Also, if evils begets evil, then it will tend to destroy character, rather than build it.

Sources and conduct

Con’s failure to reference sources from Aulen, Alston and Williams disabled me from engaging with these points, even after repeated requests to properly source them. When compared with my case, this failure is even more apparent.

Con also accuses me of dishonesty and uses repeated straw-men, all which demonstrate extremely poor conduct.



Alleged Contradictions

Contra-P1 & Contra-P3 (C-P1 & C-P3) don’t need to be taken together as a whole even if both are incompatible. For the resolution can still be false if we deny C-P3 while affirming C-P1 (or vice versa).

But C-P1 / C-P3 are in fact compatible (+ ST / Theodicy)! For we can partially know God’s ultimate means & motives (through the exceptions of *R) without knowing how his proximate means & motive in life work towards God's ultimate plans.

On RA, for example, God is free to act with limited intervention that’s specific towards his plans- which are gradually discovered & revealed given the exceptions of *R (recall the example of the Israelites).Thus RA preserves our knowledge of God’s ultimate motivation while we can reasonably deny knowledge of his proximate motivations.

But trust (a virtue) is cultivated while awaiting God’s proximate means & motive. We know God prefers such virtue since it accords with Christ’s claims- which were vindicated by God's resurrecting Christ.

There is positive evidence for Christ’s claims & resurrection: there is negative evidence of God’s morally sufficient reason for allowing Ebola. The question is, are we justified in believing the former while remaining agnostic in the latter? The principle of credulity says yes!

The atonement clearly isn't beyond our ken since we have primary source documentation of witnesses detailing the empty tomb, post mortem appearances of Jesus & the origin of Christianity. Thus we don't have a case of absence, as in Pro's case. Thus one can coherently deny the inference of gratuitous evil from it’s appearance given the lack of God’s proximate means & motive, while affirming God’s ultimate means & motive as revealed in Christ & in consciousness. (Through self reflection one knows that just responses build virtue, something a good God would clearly desire for his creation.)

ST: Pro’s attempting to disconfirm an all-knower as a partial-knower using an absence of God’s proximate means & motives. This is a text book argument from ignorance, not just mere induction open to skepticism.

Pro’s epistemic consistency fails since he's trying to disconfirm an all knower. Science doesn’t disconfirm God, but postulates of his creation, & we’re limited in a similar way in applying what we partially know of morally sufficient reasons of evil to what an all knower would know of such reasons.

If evil is the opposite of what we desire, then it’s logical to deduce man’s purpose as happiness. And since God’s plan for humanity can be revealed given [*R], then it can be doubly known. And since his reasons for non-intervention in times of pain aren't deduced or revealed in the same way, then one can affirm both knowing God's purpose for man while also not fully comprehending His lack of intervention whence evils occur.

In sum, Pro oversimplifies & misrepresents my case with his (i-iii). For instance, the RA & BA under C-P1 doesn't conclude that "God won’t prevent gratuitous evil." Here, Pro universally qualifies my C-P1 arguments; erecting a straw-man. The C-P1 (RA/BA) only concludes that in principle, some (not all) instances of suffering will be prevented by God given [*R] & the epistemic impossibility of knowing 'gratuity'. So (i) changes to,

(i') In principle, God sometimes may not prevent what seems like gratuitous evil

Then, since my Theodicy shows that God and man, in fact, have the ability to prevent gratuitous evil, then Pro's (ii) changes to,

(ii') In fact, God and man can prevent gratuitous evil, (with a virtuous response & an outbalance of complete happiness)

Pro then mischaracterizes ST: "(iii) God’s actions are completely beyond our ken." On the contrary, as I've stated numerous times, my argument here is,

(iii') In fact, God’s actions are SOMETIMES beyond our ken.

Take all my arguments from C-P1 / C-P3 together & we have a coherency,

"In principle, God sometimes may not prevent what seems like gratuitous evil. But in fact, God & man can prevent it with a free, self-forming response- even if God’s actions are gradually discovered & not yet known in full."

This is a more accurate representation of my modest case. On the other hand, Pro's mischaracterization is this,

"God won’t prevent gratuitous evil, and does prevent gratuitous evil, while his actions are completely unknown."

God of Law

Pro asserts that the problem of incommensurable goods would rule out Anti-God just like the problem of (somehow) commensurable evil can rule out God. He backs this assertion up only by an analogy that's friendly to justificationism- not falsificationism,

“I don’t need to know who was president in 1920 was to rule out Paris Hilton.”

But ruling out Hilton as a president involves justification of her never being a president. It doesn’t involve falsifying that Hilton was president by surveying her absence in 1920 as a president!

Likewise, even if God was unfalsifiable, what if one were a justificationist rather than a falsificationist? In that case it wouldn’t matter whether God was unfalsifiable by the PoE alone.

Even so, just because Flew’s death of qualifications leads to agnosticism, doesn’t mean God remains unfalsifiable. For one could show God to be an incoherent idea- or the bones of Christ could be found for Christianity.


Throughout the debate, Pro’s only support of P1 is that [God would have both the motive & means to prevent pointless evils.]

Against this, I showed that God’s motive of perfect love is compatible with his failure to prevent pointless evils, given *R, prior to creation. Then I showed on God’s means, P1 is less probable since it rests upon a fallacy of false precision. Therefore, P1 is less probable regardless of *R merely being possible.


Pro fails to show how God’s moral justification for *R makes the resulting evils necessary for greater goods. He missed my point,

“the RA views creaturely existence in light of prior divine teleology; not evil used for some greater good”


Again, best/worst worlds are irrelevant! We want to know the epistemic threshold necessary for God to fulfill both his plan for humanity & to not allow his creatures to suffer gratuitously- not whether there can be best & worst worlds.

Pro then says that an ideal amount of evil is a world absent gratuitous evil.. This is a trivial justification & fails to rebut the epistemic impossibility of God’s knowing the least amount of evil for the greatest available good.



Pro failed to demonstrate both how it’s unreasonable to tempter our inductions according to our epistemic position, and; that we can reasonably carry our inductions to God’s proximate means & motives from our current epistemic position.

Again see R2 for my argument for Essentialism. Pro fails to deal with it by just claiming I only said “it’s quite plausible.”

Pro’s last 3 justifications for P3 all rest on the first, Prima Facie, not being an argument from ignorance. He merely repeats that inferring no divine reason from the appearance of no divine reason for some evil; isn’t negative. But clearly it is negative since you're inferring from experience, an absence & thus the principle of credulity doesn’t apply.


Pro’s BoP to show what evils in the world aren’t defeatable by virtue & outbalance-able by the promise of perfect happiness as revealed in Christ; was not met. Recall that God is justified in permitting certain events if they present us with a chance for a virtuous SFC, because virtue is inherently good. And a good God would be just in considering who should & shouldn’t experience perfect happiness according to what response an agent gives upon experiencing existential events. Evil begetting more evil still allows for a virtuous response. The BoP was on Pro here & his ultra-weak case should be weighed in light of that.

Debate Round No. 5
277 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by devient.genie 4 years ago
"although I happen to be both an atheist and agnostic"

So your atheist and agnostic towards gods, what are you towards leprechauns?

Are you agnostic towards leprechauns? How about unicorns? Agnostic?

gods, unicorns and leprechauns all lack quality evidence, interesting only the loud mouth god lunatics have a word for not believing in their tripe :)
Posted by Apeiron 4 years ago
likespeace, I'd like to debate this with you at some point since it's such a repeated issue based, I think, on a subtle misunderstanding.
Posted by Apeiron 4 years ago
One day you'll actually logically deduce the inherent negations of the terms like I keep showing you. lol, I've read that article. No surprise.
Posted by likespeace 4 years ago
One day you'll actually read the Wikipedia link we keep showing you. ;)
Posted by Apeiron 4 years ago
if that doesn't sound like an argument from ignorance I don't know what..
Posted by likespeace 4 years ago
I'd volunteer for such a panel, although I happen to be both an atheist and agnostic!
Posted by Apeiron 4 years ago
We'll talk more.
Posted by unitedandy 4 years ago
Yep and agreeing to voters will be a pain. But if we both want to debate bad enough, I'm sure it will happen.
Posted by Apeiron 4 years ago
Seems like a bad joke. But I like it. We'll need many counters though for that one. Anyone can vote.
Posted by unitedandy 4 years ago
Instead of a public vote, we'd agree on members beforehand to judge the debate and vote accordingly. Obviously, they'd have to agree to do it and we'd have to agree on who they were (probably an atheist, agnostic and theist would be the fairest way).
28 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by KingDebater 4 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct to Pro, as Con comes off as a bit rude in the comments section: "lol, you can rationalize and nit pick each vote into oblivion if you want. I can do it too as shown it's easy. Stop being a sore loser, I easily won this debate, votes or none.". The spelling and grammar is a tie. More convincing arguments came from Pro. Sources to Pro, as all sources were reliable but I count the number of sources being 13-6 to unitedandy.
Vote Placed by wolfman4711 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Even if Pro was right that Con's case was contradictory, I still saw that Contra-P1 OR Contra-P3 weren't adequately dealt with. But even so, it seems Pro explained quite well that both Contra-P1 and Contra-p3 can be affirmed without sacrificing consistency. The BoP ultimately rested upon Pro to show we're in a good epistemic position to make negative judgments and he failed to show simply one instance of evil that isn't outbalance-able and/or defeat-able. I simply don't think Pro understood theodicy. Also con used more sophisticated words in his debate.
Vote Placed by Sola.Gratia 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Sources go to Con since after reading the context of the material he cited I felt significantly more enlightened than when I read Con's. Convincing arguments go to Apeiron since he presented 5 good and coherent reasons for doubting that the evidential problem of evil is sound. His God of Law counter was enough to win the debate since the moral ambiguity of the world can't really give us anything in terms of confirming or disconfirming theism.. we'll need more.
Vote Placed by rross 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Wow. This debate is amazing. I'm so impressed by the arguments on both sides. I've always believed that the problem of evil was unsound, on the grounds that nobody can understand God's actions and motives, but I've changed mind after reading this. I couldn't understand everything Con wrote because of all the code for arguments (eg R*) and I don't understand how he declared victory over inflated arguments. I thought Pro wrote beautifully and much more clearly. Ultimately, I was unconvinced that virtue is inherently good (why?), so good that it's worth evil; and if evil is necessary for good, then God must be partly evil.
Vote Placed by TSH 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: This was a good debate, but for me it all came down to Pro's inability to show we're in a good epistemic position to think that even if God existed, we would have access to his morally sufficient reasons for permitting what seems to us like gratuitous suffering. Con showed Pro's misapplication of the Principle of Credulity. And the win came in for Con when he countered and used "God of Law" argument against Pro's main argument. Decisive victory!
Vote Placed by proglib 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Countering DoktorDeku who's account is inactive.
Vote Placed by DeFool 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:00 
Reasons for voting decision: I take it back. I'm not sure of something, so I'll re-vote later.
Vote Placed by KRFournier 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: This was a very good debate on both sides, evidenced by the subsequent voting war and the myriad of comments. I was most convinced by Con. Pro failed to convince me to logically accept the jump from "there appears to be gratuitous evil" to "there objectively is gratuitous evil."
Vote Placed by BigSky 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Countering deadlykris's votebomb
Vote Placed by Typhlochactas 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Counter VB