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The Problem of Evil is an Insufficient Argument Against the Christian God

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/18/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,990 times Debate No: 27349
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (2)
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(I have decided to send this challenge early. It is fine should you wish to delay accepting.)
This debate is simple and I hope to keep it this way. The Problem of Evil is widely debated. I am not disputing that there is evil here. I am disputing that the problem of evil is excuse enough not to believe in the Christian God. That is, to present it as an opposition to the validity of God.

I doubt the need of definitions, hence I will not provide one. Rather, I rely on the integrity of my opponent, whoever he/she may be.

1. No trolling/vulgarities.
2. No plagiarism
3. Comments in the comment section is required for voters. (Principally because I want to know how to improve myself)
4. BoP is shared.

There will be five rounds. The first will be for acceptance only. The last round will only be for consolidation of arguments. No rebuttals may be presented there.

5 rounds. 72hrs. 8k characters. 1 month voting.



Given that this is merely a preliminary round, I’ll leave my presentation of my argument to the next round.

I do however want to thank Pro for accepting my request to debate this topic, and to clarify a couple of things before we get started.

First, with regards to the resolution, I take it that it is synonymous with the view that the Problem of Evil (hereafter the PoE) is defective in some way, and as such, fails to provide an intellectual barrier to Christian theism. In short, I take my position in the debate as advocating the PoE as a logically sound argument, and Pro’s task to be to show that this is not the case.

Second, I want to distinguish between 2 types of evil.

Moral evil - An evil act committed by a free agent. Examples include murder, rape and torture.

Natural evil - A natural event which causes pain, suffering, premature death, etc. Examples include natural disasters and illness/ailments.

Lastly, I see it as my role in this debate to both produce and defend a version of the PoE which I find most persuasive. I will do this in the next round, and leave responding to Pro’s criticisms in my third round.

With this in mind, I welcome Pro to make his opening case, and to wish him the best of luck.
Debate Round No. 1


I will like to thank UD for accepting this debate. Without more ado, I will proceed with my arguments.

I will note beforehand that I consider the PoE to be unsound and insufficient because of the following reasons.

So, the first argument I would like to put forth.

I. Tu quoque:
In this point, I will note that whenever an argument about the PoE os proffered, the objector has the same problem. I need not expand further on this argument.

II. The moral evil point is too easily answered
This point is so easy to answer I wonder why it is still recycled. The short and simple answer to this would be morally significant free will. It is analogous to Dawkins reply of "...It"s tough..." when confronted with the PoE in relation to the atheists belief. There is really no need to further this argument.

Now that those two points have been addressed, I will like to set forth another argument.
In this argument, I would propose that the argument about PoE is logically unsound. This is different from it being logically valid, which only deals with consistency.
III. Logically unsound
As my opponent has not yet made a case, I will use one of the major points in usual debates as counter. This point states, "A perfectly good, omnipotent, omnipresent God would not allow evil."
The obvious question I must ask is, why not?
There is no logical reason why a perfectly good God cannot allow evil. Evil being the absence of good, then the two are not contradictory in any way. Saying that a perfectly good God MUST remove evil when he sees it is to impose one"s own preconceptions on God. This means that we are in effect deciding for God what to do.
This is a point which you will have to defend. There is no logical way in which this can be circumvented.

Lastly (Keeping this debate opening short, it might expand exponentially in the next round), I will address the problem of natural evil and show that it, too, is not a sufficient objection.
IV. The natural evil point can be answered with a little ingenuity
The answer to moral evil is easily modified to fit this objection. Consider the Judeo-Christian tradition that all men are descended from one man. This is the basis for "All men are equal" actually, but that is not the point of this debate.
This man, known as Adam, sinned at an event known as the Fall. As a result, he was punished. Now, since he was suppose to be dominant over the whole of the rest of creation, in that he was supposed to take care of them, the whole of creation suffers as a consequence of the punishment.
To put this into perspective, suppose that a boss fires a worker. This worker has several children not old enough to work. Let us suppose that he has run out of money. Is it the boss" fault that the children now starve? No. In the same way, God is not responsible for most natural evil. I qualify it with most because there are possibilities in which He will use natural calamities as punishment. Now, is He in control of it, or not? I would posit, yes, He is.
However, in the same way as a few sections back, He has no need to stop it. It is simply not up to us to decide what goes and what does not.

I eagerly await your version of the PoE.



As stated, I want to use this round solely to present my favoured version of the PoE, thus leaving Pro’s concerns to R3. Given Pro’s first round, I’ll assume for now he accepts P2, and only address it if he thinks it is necessary.

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.

Defending P1

Put simply, P1 states that if God exists, then gratuitous evils do not. The reasoning is fairly straightforward.

God (as classically defined) knows about all the evil in the world (omniscience), has the power to wipe out the evil in the world (omnipotence), and has the motivation to do so (wholly good). It follows inescapably, therefore, that any evil in the world must have a morally sufficient reason, if God exists.

The problem in denying P1 is that gratuitous evil have no morally sufficient reason to be permitted, because, well, they're gratuitous! Thus P1 seems necessarily true.

At the very least, we can suppose that P1 is more plausible than its denial. 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?" (2)

Indeed, the fact that Pro tries to account for evil at all (with free-will and so on) would suggest he agrees with me that God would not permit this particular kind of evil, and so it must be accounted for, which is all P1 states. Whether this is successful or not is the remit for P3.

Defending P3

In simple terms, this affirms gratuitous evils probably do exist.

Before I defend P3, I want lay out 2 examples (of which there are many more), which are fairly typical of the evils I’m talking about:

E1 - "Many babies each year are born with Down's syndrome . . (and) have intestinal obstructions that will kill them . . . dehydration and infection will cause these babies to wither and die over a period of hours and days.” (3)

Another example given by Rowe is that of animal suffering:

E2 - "Suppose in some distant forest lightning strikes a dead tree, resulting in a forest fire. In the fire a fawn is trapped, horribly burned and lies in terrible agony for several days before death relieves its suffering. So far as we can see, the fawn's intense suffering is pointless." (4)

What reasons do we have to believe these evils are actually gratuitous? The first is what we might call the prima facie case, and this is not a belief we should give up lightly. From absolutely everything we know, a baby with the condition above suffers greatly, as do those around them, often without even a hint of any benefit, let alone a morally sufficient reason for the suffering.

As critic Stephen Wykstra reasons,

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

In other words, the appearance of gratuity lends great support to the fact of gratuity.

Secondly, it is difficult even to conceive of some examples of evil being morally permissible. In the case of the Rowe's fawn, 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.

Third, the nature of the 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. As E1 illustrates, there have been many children whose sole experience in life is that of seemingly pointless, excruciating pain before their inevitable, premature death. 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. For many of them, life is as Hobbes described - solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. Lastly, many people suffer without God‘s comfort to sustain them. Divine silence in the face of horrendous evils is something even Mother Theresa expressed upon witnessing evil (7), and is again something rather pervasive in the world.

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

Another reason I want to add could perhaps best be termed 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. Sinnott-Armstrong explains the absurdity of abandoning this standard,

"Would it benefit my family in the long-run if I were to burn down our house tonight? Possibly. Does that possibility make it reasonable to believe that we would benefit? No. Why not? Because we do know one thing: Burning down my house would cause serious problems in my family in the short term. Those known costs set up a presumption or burden of proof that needs to be overcome before contrary beliefs can be reasonable." (8)

The same is true of evil. Given the massive short-term cost it causes, and (as well as we can judge), it's seeming ability to lead to long-term costs, we have a massive burden to believe that evil is primarily destructive, and this is a burden that Pro must overcome, before we even consider an alternative explanation.

What this means is in order for the theist to deny P3, they cannot construct ad hoc storytelling, contrived scepticism, retreats to the possible or hold to question-begging assumption to explain evil away. The alternative to P3 has to more plausible than the evidence of gratuity presented above.

In order for Pro to defeat the PoE, he must first tear down these 4 justificatory points for the evidence of gratuity, as well as providing a better explanation for this evidence which is with theism. I wish him luck in this difficult task.


1. God? Debate between a Christian and an Atheist, William lane Craig and Walter Sinnott Armstrong, 2004, Oxford University Press, p84.
2. Howard-Snyder, Daniel, and Frances Howard-Snyder. 1999. "Is Theism Compatible with Gratuitous Evil?" American Philosophical Quarterly 36: 115-29.
3. God? P84
4,6 Rowe, William, The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism, American Philosophical Quarterly 16: 335-41.
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.
8. God? P184
Debate Round No. 2


I would like to thank Con for a very thought-provoking argument.

In this round, I will answer P3 first, which is focused on Natural Evil. I will assume here that Con accepts the explanation of Free Will, hence I will not be defending Moral Evil any longer as there is no need.

All of Con’s points can be rolled into one and answered at the same time. However, I will first address the restriction of not having ad hoc storytelling. ad hoc means “for this” in Latin. [1] For this particular restriction, I will take Con to be meaning a story concocted just to explain the PoE. As I will show, no such thing will occur.

The common date for the earliest versions of Genesis is far before any concocted PoE was ever documented. This means that to appeal to Genesis is not to have ad hoc storytelling. For this, I will be taking information from [2]’s section 6, An Objection: Free Will and Natural Evil. I am aware that I might be repeating some things said in the opening round.

Plantinga’s explanation is as follows: “God allowed natural evil to enter the world as part of Adam and Eve’s punishment for their sin in the Garden of Eden.”
In effect, this claims that all natural evil is the consequence of the first divine punishment. The Garden of Eden was a peaceful, vegetarian community before Adam fell. This is perfectly possible. To make the PoE more effective, Con must only use evil from after this event and assume there were none before. Otherwise Pro can just deny there being any.

So now I will address P1. There has been no logical refutation of my point. Nonetheless, I will address the issue. The question phrased in the quote can be just as validly phrased in the negative. This means there is no reason to suggest that this is an impossibility.

Now why did I admit the probability of evil and free will? It, in it’s simplest purpose, was to refute moral evil before it came up.

Unfortunately, as I have ruled out many ideas due to them being easily refuted, I will not be adding much points. I will only add points which I think hard to refute because I do not see the point in spamming this debate with points that take time but not effort to refute. I will add one/two more points. (I will request that Con refute my opening points, as well as the following, in the next round)

Non sequitur in Con’s syllogism: This point basically states that Con has either left out a premise or has not another premise, in either case, the conclusions does not directly follow from the premises. I will not aid Con in adding the missing premises. However, if he does not do so, I must conclude that the syllogism is invalid.

P1 already has a conclusion which does not necessarily follow: This point, even including the points made in the defence of P1, is valid. To explain myself, I must point Con to my answer to P1 above. However, I have more to add. I would agree with the fact that God knows about and has the power to wipe out all evil from the world.
I do not agree, though that being wholly good is a motivation to wipe out evil. The two do not necessarily follow. For example, Hitler was definitely not wholly good, but he had motivation to wipe out what he considered evil, the Jews[3]. To take this to the converse, a motivation to wipe out evil does not necessarily come from being wholly good. Thus, there must be a driving motivation other than being good to removing evil.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Con for a thought-provoking argument, once again. It is not easy to reply to. I will note that non sequiturs, or Latin for “it does not follow,” somewhat plagues Con’s syllogism. This does not make the conclusions unsound, merely invalid.

3. I am merely using Hitler as an example because he is more prominent. I could use others, but I doubt they would be as impactful.


In this round, I want to defend the argument I laid out in R2 by systematically responding to each of Pro’s criticisms thus far.

General criticisms

I. Tu quoque

Pro’s first criticism is to say that the PoE is as much a problem for the atheist than the Christian.

My response will be similarly brief. The first thing to say is that it’s laughable to me Pro deems this an argument at all, let alone a good one. A bizarre, one-line assertion does not a good argument make. Second, the conclusion of my PoE is that traditional theism (and thus Christianity) is false. Just read it. If Pro thinks this does anything other than support atheism over theism, perhaps he should explain how this is so.

2. Non-sequitor

Another attack from Pro is to claim that my version of the PoE is logically invalid, and that the conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises.

The first fatal problem with this is that Pro point blank refuses to identify where the structural problem with my argument lies:

“ I will not aid Con in adding the missing premises. However, if he does not do so, I must conclude that the syllogism is invalid.”

Again, Pro needs to actually make an argument here. This means that he has to both identify and justify his point, if he expects to be taken seriously, rather than hinting at some phantom criticism. This even more imperative given that Pro mistakenly labels P1 as having a conclusion, when in reality it is a premise - that from which a conclusion is derived. If Pro makes such a basic error here, why should we even entertain him until he puts his cards on the table and actually presents a case?

More importantly however, this argument in its simplified form is textbook modus tollens (1). It is unquestionably logically valid. Even prominent apologist Bill Craig concedes this version of the PoE to be such (2). To be frank, I just don’t know where Pro is coming from here.

Defending P1

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

Readers will remember that I offered some conceptual analysis to defend this claim. Pro hasn’t responded to this point. Extend argument.

Pro instead takes the indirect route, offering general criticisms. His first move is to continue to ask why God must remove evil.

First, the focus of P1 however was gratuitous evil - evil which by definition can’t lead to a greater good. I qualified this in my last round, yet Pro doesn’t acknowledge the difference between evil and gratuitous evil. While (in theory) evil may be reconciled with God (as it may lead to a greater good), gratuitous evil, by definition, has no morally sufficient reason, if it exists (the remit of P3). Pro is essentially confusing the logical PoE with the evidential PoE (3) in his response, and as such, is unwittingly straw-manning my argument .

Asking why a tri-omni God would eliminate easily preventable, unnecessary suffering strikes me as an absurd question, especially given I‘ve already defended my view in R2. The reason God would prevent such things is that they are bad simpliciter - they cause untold misery for billions of sentient beings with no upside. By analogy, it’s like asking why think a perfect mathematician would be able to do long division. It is true by definition.

Pro then asks why we should impose our notions of good upon God.

This is a point even Christians routinely rebuke:

“if we shroud God in total mystery, the claim the God is good becomes compatible with any motives or behaviors or commandments we might possibly attribute to God. But if that is right, what are we saying when we say God is good?” (4)

A good being would prevent suffering, all else being equal, simply because this is what it means to be a good being. Feeling apathetic about easily preventable suffering is characteristic of an indifferent God, not a wholly benevolent one.

As such, P1, having been well-established in the previous round, easily bests the challenge of a crudely constructed straw-man and contrived moral scepticism. As such, P1 is confidently affirmed.

Defending P3

P3 states that gratuitous evils do exist. Readers will remember I offered 4 justificatory points in support of this premise.

1. Prima facie case
2. No conceiveum
3. Nature of evils
4. Epistemic consistency

Pro only barely responded to 4 (which I'll respond to below under natural evil), while completely ignoring 1-3. Extend arguments.

Moral evils

Focusing moral evils, again Pro is content with literally a 4 word response:

“ morally significant free-will”

Again, this is totally outrageous, and in no way passes as an argument. Being ultra generous to Pro, I’ll respond. As Pro noted in his last round, my primary focus is natural evil. I neither needed nor intended to delve much into moral evil in this debate, but given that Pro’s other points are so concise, I might as well.

First, Pro never explains why free-will is so sacrosanct, particularly given some of the horrendous evils it facilitates. Second, unfettered free-will is as impractical as it is morally bankrupt. If we granted unconditional free-will to murderers and rapists without reprisals, the liberty of the victims will be constantly crushed in order to satisfy these perverse whims. Lastly, assuming Heaven has morally significant free-will, we do know moral evil can be totally absent from an autonomous community, so Pro's response doesn't even answer the problem.

Natural evils

Readers will remember I focused my justificatory points and 2 examples on these kinds of seemingly gratuitous evils.

Pro asserts that these evils can be explained with reference to the Christian story of the Fall.

Again, this just is unbelievably general and doesn’t engage either with my examples, nor with my justificatory points. In any case, this response suffers from intractable problems.

Begging the question (5): Pro can’t assume Christian doctrine to be true (the Fall) when the truth of Christianity is exactly what is at stake! Pro has to provide justification for the story itself, rather than assuming it to be true. He would have to show it to be more plausible than our general experience, conception and observation of the nature of evil. In short, he would have to be show it to be more plausible than P3.

As for his claim that Genesis is more authoritative than the PoE because of its date, this commits the fallacy of appealing to tradition (6). The only thing that matters in this context is the justification we have for belief. I’ve given 4 substantive points for P3, whereas Pro has yet to substantiate his claim at all in a non-question-begging way.

Relevance: How exactly does this story explain the suffering of millions of infants with an intestinal blockage? Surely even if such a story demonstrated the origin of natural evil (which Pro would still have to justify), it simply doesn’t explain the scale and continuation of this suffering.

Pro also says that God uses natural evil for punishment and that He should not be expected to prevent them anyway.

Again, all of the above points about begging the question and such apply and God's need to prevent gratuitous evils has been dealt with in P1. As for punishment, the only thing I need say here is that neither babies nor fawns are moral agents. They don’t have the capacity to exercise free-will and therefore to face punishment, so this is simply a red herring.

Given that these very timid responses are all that has been offered in response to P3, it is abundantly clear that this premise is overwhelmingly justified.

The PoE is thus affirmed.


2. God, P139.
4. Taken from

Debate Round No. 3


Anything I have not addressed I have conceded or dropped. I will drop the Tu quoque argument.

Non Sequitur
As my opponent does not know the exact premise which must be added to the syllogism, I will do so. The premise states, “A perfectly good and all powerful God will not allow evil into this world.”

Without this premise, no matter how my opponent wants to construe his arguments, he cannot win. No matter what. His whole argument actually hinges on this unspoken premise. He needs to prove the soundness of this premise before he can continue.

Con states that I made a basic error of judgment in my critique of P1. Let me quote the premise and show that it has a conclusion.
“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.”
The use of the words “If” and “then” is proof that Con has already made a conclusion which, once again, hinges on the premise I showed above. This conclusion, with its premise, was stated as a conditional statement (Modus tollens). His attacks are thus merely smear.

Con has made an argument to authority by trying to cite Craig as saying this argument is valid. That is a logical fallacy. He has not proved it is valid, merely that someone else has said it is valid.

If Con can affirm his syllogism, then I will be content to know that this is a valid argument.

I will not respond to P1. There would be no purpose in doing so.

I will go back to your previous round.
The points 1-3 were all addressed in my reply to Natural Evil, which Con misconstrued. It neither is a question begging argument, nor does it respond to my argument’s analogy about the sacked employee.
In regards to point 4, I have to say that evil is primarily destructive. It, however, is not a burden I have to overcome at all, because Con has not responded to my arguments regarding natural evil.

I have, as such, torn down all four points, as requested. If these points wishes to rise again, they will do so in the natural evil section.

If indeed my arguments attacked straw man, I apologize.

Moral Evil
I will note here that Con has used the very same fallacy which he accused me of. I will explain why as I refute his points. I said the short and simple answer was that four word phrase. This means that I would not have gone into it. However, seeing as you have gone into it, I might as well.

The point about free will being sacrosanct is actually a straw man because in Christian theology, God can and does interfere with free will. He just doesn’t do it all the time. To do so would be to have a world of automatons who will not disobey Him. It is impossible to love an automaton. Love is reciprocal and in this case it outweighs the evil. If one were to object to this and say that love does not outweigh the evil, I must ask a very simple question. Under which moral code?

Con has made a very basic judgmental error which collapses his point, which would have been very good, about rapists and murderers. If we give them unconditional free will, which we cannot, it is not the same as God giving them unconditional free will.
If God gave them unconditional free will, He also gave human justice unconditional free will to punish them.
As such, Con’s point about this fails miserably.

Con has claimed, or rather asserted, that we do know that moral evil can be absent from an autonomous community. However, as he has said in his section about me using a straw man, he has said that he is using the EPoE, not the LPoE. At least, that is my understanding. Should I be wrong, please correct me. Since we are speaking of the EPoE, he must cite an instance of a community that fits such a criteria. He cannot.

Natural Evils
I will not respond to the remarks about my explanation before the pointer of:

Begging the Question
Begging the question is a fallacy in which the premises includes the claim that the conclusion is true or that assumes the conclusion to be true (Nizkor Project). This is something I have not done. It is a fallacy I especially detest, so to accuse me of this, Con had better back it up with the facts.

What is being questioned here is not the truth of Christian Theology. After all, answering the PoE does not mean that the Christian God exists. Therefore, to explain this with Christian theology is actually a testament to the internal consistency of the theology, which is what is at stake. We are not questioning the truth or falsity of Christian theology. We are questioning its validity!

If Con wishes to accuse me further of such a conduct violation, I will concede immediately. This is because it would mean he does not wish to stick to what we are debating. As such, I need not show it to be any more plausible than any premises.

Con has also accused me of using another fallacy, known as appealing to tradition. Not only is his claim totally unsubstantiated, it is also a straw man. Nowhere, and I advise readers to re-read my arguments, do I state that Genesis is more authoritative than anything else! I would request that Con stop this smear tactic.

I have thoroughly debunked the claim that I have question begged or that I have appealed to tradition.

Pro has simply repeated his accusations of begging the question, of which this is a continuation. He is wrong on this point because he was wrong on the antecedent. Please try again.

In conclusion, Con has never really answered my points, he has only argued against straw man.

All logical fallacies were obtained from the Nizkor Project.



In this round, I’ll seek to address Pro’s remaining arguments and determine whether any criticism he offers can stand up to scrutiny.

General criticisms

Readers will remember Pro offered 2 (very) brief objections here (Tu quoque and non-sequitor). He has since dropped the former, so I’ll concentrate on his second point.

Non-sequitor: Pro initially charged (without clarification) that my argument was invalid.

He now adds that my argument should include an additional premise, which he words as follows:

“A perfectly good and all powerful God will not allow evil into this world.”

In response to this, I want to make a number of points. First, I have repeatedly said throughout this debate that my argument was solely interested in gratuitous evil - not evil per se. Indeed, in my last round, I charged Pro with unwittingly straw-manning my argument because he failed to take this huge difference into account:

“the focus of P1 however was gratuitous evil - evil which by definition can’t lead to a greater good. I qualified this in my last round, yet Pro doesn’t acknowledge the difference between evil and gratuitous evil. While (in theory) evil may be reconciled with God (as it may lead to a greater good), gratuitous evil, by definition, has no morally sufficient reason” (From R3)

Pro continues to ignore this, and thus yet again attacks a straw-man.

As for Pro’s claim that my argument needs an additional premise, P1 already does deny that God would allow gratuitous evil in this world, if He exists. Readers can see this for themselves. Again, Pro’s claim here is totally absurd.

Next, Pro seems stubbornly resolute in denying the PoE’s logical validity based on my use of a conditional (“if”, “then”) statement.

I must admit this again is almost beyond belief. All I can do is to quote the description of modus tollens, and let the readers decide:

“Modus tollendo tollens, usually simply called modus tollens or MT is a valid argument form in logic. It is also known as "denying the consequent".

The form of modus tollens is: "If P, then Q. Not Q. Therefore, not P." “ (1)

As we can see, the use of modus tollens is standard practise for any logically valid argument, as are conditional statements within arguments. Pro’s point here is thus both bizarre and demonstrably false. Indeed, this why I quoted Craig - to try to prevent Pro from turning into such an obvious blind alley, and wasting time constructing such an erroneous criticism.

Defending P1

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

Again, Pro, after challenging this premise initially, seems willing to concede this now, saying:

“I will not respond to P1. There would be no purpose in doing so.”

As such, P1 is affirmed, and with Pro‘s acceptance of P2, all that is left to determine is the plausibility of P3.

Defending P3

P3 states that gratuitous evils do exist.

Again, I want to point out that Pro is yet to respond to 3 of my justificatory points directly:

1. Prima facie case
2. No conceiveum
3. Nature of evils

Extend arguments.

All he has to offer are indirect points, which I will deal with below.

Moral evil

Readers will remember that Pro tried to explain this evil by citing morally significant free-will. When I pointed out several problems with this in my last round Pro now suggests:

“The point about free will being sacrosanct is actually a straw man because in Christian theology, God can and does interfere with free will. He just doesn’t do it all the time.”

But this was exactly my point! If God can interfere with free-will, and seeks to eliminate gratuitous evil (P1), then theists have a problem, because, as Pro says above, morally sufficient free-will doesn’t preclude God from interfering! The question then becomes why seemingly gratuitous moral atrocities occur in abundance. Genocide, torture, and rape are alarmingly common features in the world, often with no sign of a morally sufficient reason for their permissibility.

As such, given the framework I laid out supporting the evidence for gratuity in R2 (3 points of which Pro has yet to respond to), combined with Pro’s lack of engagement, P3 is unquestionably affirmed.

As for Pro’s demand that I cite an autonomous community which has no moral evil yet enjoys morally significant free-will, I have already done so in the last round - Heaven. Pro is yet to respond to this point. Extend argument.

Natural evil

Readers will remember I offered 2 examples of this to substantiate P3 - that of infant suffering and Rowe’s example of the fawn.

Pro responded to this solely by reference to the Christian story of the Fall, of which I offered 2 criticisms.

Begging the question: I initially claimed that as Pro never offered one word of justification for this claim, his assumption of Christian theology clearly begs the question (as he is assuming Christianity to be true from the beginning).

Pro’s response is puzzling, to say the least. He says,

“What is being questioned here is not the truth of Christian Theology.”

Now, we know that the only way that Pro’s explanation of natural evil would be adequate is if the story of the Fall is true. In other words, it is exactly the truth of Christian theology at stake. If the story is false, or we have no reason to believe it (as Pro has refused to justify it), one can hardly stack this up against my lengthy defence of P3 and hope for a favourable result.

Pro then says,

“to explain this with Christian theology is actually a testament to the internal consistency of the theology, which is what is at stake”

Again, this is just a confusion on his part. I’m not advocating an internal PoE. My argument is evidential, and as such, presents an external problem for Christians. All Pro has offered is yet another straw-man, when I’ve clarified this particular problem ad nauseum.

Pro also drops his claim that Genesis is authoritative because of its antiquity (R3). While I agree, Pro removes his only attempt at justifying the Fall story, other than assumption.

Relevance: Here, I charged Pro’s response as being far too general, and I specifically asked him how is approach would solve the extent, variety and circumstance of the sufferings I documented in my examples.

Pro refused to respond. Extend argument.

P3 is thus overwhelmingly affirmed.


The PoE easily survives scrutiny. Pro himself admits his criticisms to have been “dismal”. I can only agree. We are simply compelled, on the evidence of this debate, that the PoE is a powerful argument, and that the resolution is false.



Debate Round No. 4


I would like to thank UniteDandy for this exploratory debate.

In this last round. I will consolidate my own arguments, which I will list following. I will not provide any rebuttals.

During this debate, I brought forth several arguments which Con has proceeded to straw man. Case in point being the weird argument, which I never did provide, about Genesis and authenticity. (Which I actually view as a Red Herring)

Con has, throughout this debate, viewed me as confused, my arguments as the result of confusion. I will not defend myself here, because to do so would be to break the rules. I am noting that I see it.

When I say "dismal," I did not mean in any way that I was confused. I meant that I had not paid very much attention to this debate.

Con provided 4 points to justify his arguments, in the previous round, I answered all of them very clearly, something which Con does not seem to notice. He'd prefer it to be indirect points.

Let me quote myself on that. "The points 1-3 were all addressed in my reply to Natural Evil, which Con misconstrued"

So in essense, I responded to all of his arguments with arguments of my own, which he continues to extend without replying to my contentions.

With that, I suppose I have to end and wish him all luck in the voting phase.



I want to thank Pro for this debate. Despite the fact that we strongly disagree, I think we’ve done it in an amicable way, and I’m grateful for that.

As this last round is merely for summation, I’ll try to keep it as brief as possible.

Argument Point

I’ve already provided a systematic evaluation of the state of play here in the last round. Suffice to say, I’m confident that I have provided a lengthy and well-substantiated case. Pro never directly responded to the vast majority of my case, offering 3 half-hearted arguments which were easily disposed with. As his claim that I never responded to his case, this is nonsense. I've refuted each of his arguments completely, numerous times over.

The only outstanding issue is Pro’s denial that he cited Genesis as authoritative because of its antiquity.

In R3 he said,

“The common date for the earliest versions of Genesis is far before any concocted PoE was ever documented. This means that to appeal to Genesis is not to have ad hoc storytelling.”

I think this is pretty conclusive, but again, even if Pro is right here, this was all the justification he offered in support of the Fall story. Without this, as I said, all Pro offered was his unwarranted assumption.

Overall, the balance of arguments has been unequivocal. The PoE has been amply justified, while Pro’s flimsy attempts to resist this have been thoroughly debunked.

Sources Point

This again is similarly one-sided. While I document 15 citations from a wide variety of sources, Pro only offers 2 adequate references. This is particularly important as Pro makes some pretty bizarre claims, which he hasn’t been able to substantiate with support from a reputable body (in particular, his strange aversion to modus tollens). His case is almost absent any source, much less the plethora I have offered defending the PoE.

Again, there simply can be no question which side the pendulum swings here. I submit that the breadth and the quality of the sources I provided is enough to warrant this point as well.


All that’s left for me to do is to thank the readers in advance. Most importantly, I’d ask voters to consider each case fairly, and to leave an adequate reason for their decision.

Vote Con!

Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 5 years ago
In what universe was Con's argument a non-sequitur? It follows modus tollens perfectly. This debate was embarrassing for Pro.
Posted by iamnotwhoiam 5 years ago
I fail to see how tu quoque applies to the PoE argument. It is only relevant on the assumption that there is a God. Otherwise "evil" is easily explicable.

"morally significant free will" - IS a need to further the argument. HOW does free will explain natural evil?

Con meticulously laid out the PoE. Pro's rebuttals were all to brief. Con demolishes rebuttals in round 4 anyhow.

Con gets sources especially for good academic sources in round 2.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by iamnotwhoiam 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: See Comments
Vote Placed by Microsuck 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Extraordinary debate both of you! I feel that con easily defended his arguments and pro dropped arguments several times throughout the debate. I feel that con had stronger and more reliable sources. I'll analyze in full detail in the comment section (please be patient with me, I will have those up in a few hours).