The Instigator
phantom
Pro (for)
Winning
1 Points
The Contender
THEBOMB
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The problem of evil

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
phantom
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/28/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,002 times Debate No: 23251
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (0)
Votes (2)

 

phantom

Pro

Resolved: the Problem of Evil (POE) is sufficient to disprove the existence of God

[I will be playing devils advocate]


God - the Judeo-Christian God, omnipotent, omniscient, all-loving, perfectly good


First round is acceptance.
No new arguments in the last round.

(This is for 16kadams tourney)

THEBOMB

Con

I accept this challenge. Throughout this debate, I will be presenting two main defenses/theodicy's. My burden is to show that evil and God are compatible, in any way. My opponent must show evil and God are incompatible thus, disproving God.
Debate Round No. 1
phantom

Pro

In this round I will be making a case to prove that the defined God would most probably not exist with evil. I will first present a self constructed syllogism.


P.1 If God was omnipotent he could prevent evil.
P.2 If God was all-loving he would want to prevent evil.
P.3 If God was morally perfect he would be morally inclined to prevent evil.
P.4 Therefore if evil exists God does not exist.

Short simplification: If God could, wanted, and was morally inclined to prevent evil, evil would not exist.


Note we are mainly talking about the evil existing in this world.

Also I will not strictly be following the premises. As in, showing some of them to be flawed in some way does not necessarily refute my case. I am arguing more from the evidential problem of evil rather than the logical problem of evil.


Defence


P.1 If God was omnipotent he could prevent evil.


This is obvious. Omnipotent is defined as all powerful. All powerfulness entails the ability to prevent evil. In fact most religions representing this God, teach that evil used to not even exist.


P.2 If God was all-loving he would want to prevent evil.

Naturally a God that loved everybody would not want those he loved to suffer. If you love someone you want them to escape all the evils of the world. Some people do anything they can to prevent their loved ones from harms way, even to the point of death in some cases. Any all loving deity would not want his own creations to suffer evil. If God loved everyone surely he would not let 2,800 children die every day of malaria. He would prevent it. [2]


This also includes the fact that if evil existed God would have to want evil to exist. That's parallel to saying, I want some of my loved ones to suffer unimaginable pain. Therefore God would want the case of millions of people starving to death in Africa, knowing very little happiness or satisfaction in their pitiful lives. Wanting your own creations to suffer so horribly is nothing short of sadistic, and clearly not plausible with the defined God.


P.3 If God was morally perfect he would be morally inclined to prevent evil.


Moral intuitions guide us in our actions. We don't always follow those actions nor are we completely inclined to often. But a morally perfect being would have both an objective moral knowledge as well as always following that code by neccesity. So therefore, would a perfect being prevent evil or allow it? Remember, the moral code of this being is without flaw and all of his actions must correspond with the moral code. Therefore a perfect God could not exist if it would mean that he would have to commit an immoral act. Allowing things like the black plague and aids to ravish your own creations is undeniably an immoral act. Therefore God can't exist.


In order to be a morally perfect being, all actions must be those which are not sinful. Therefore if it is morally wrong to allow evil God could not allow evil, for it contradicts his nature. Therefore saying God would be morally inclined to preventing evil is parallel to saying God would have to prevent evil, or have to refrain from allowing evil. Therefore the very thought of a morally wrong thing existing by allowance of a morally perfect being, is impossible. For example, if I achieved moral perfection it would be impossible for me to steal for that would be contrary to my set nature. God cannot allow evil because that would infringe upon the essence of his moral perfection.


P.4 Therefore if evil exists God does not exist.

"Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. If God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?"
-Epicurus [1]



If God wanted to prevent something, it supported his moral sense to do so(and vice-versa), and it was completely within his power to do so, he would do it. Therefore if God wanted to prevent evil, had to prevent evil, and could prevent evil, God would not refrain from preventing evil. Thus God does not exist.

In order for God to exist he would have to prevent evil. For God could prevent evil and not preventing evil when it is easily within your grasp, would be a sinful act and a morally perfect being cannot commit a sinful act. Humans would be obligated to their creator, but also God would be obligated to his creations. You cannot create a multitude of creatures and allow evil to flourish amongst them when it is entirely within your power to stop it.


Short re-cap

Gods moral perfection would not allow him to commit any immoral act. God is obligated to his creations and therefore allowing evil when he could stop it to abound amongst them is an immoral act. God not only would have to stop evil in order to keep his moral perfection in tact, he would want to stop it. For being all loving would entail wanting those you loved to stay away from horrible suffering. Thus it is found to be highly unlikely for God to exist.


I look forward to seeing what theodicy con brings to the table.


Sources

[1] http://listverse.com...
[2] http://wiki.epicurus.info...


THEBOMB

Con

Thank you to my opponent.

I would like to point out my opponent's syllogistic logic shows the logical problem of evil, not the evidential problem of evil (1). The logical problem of evil can be summed up as such:

1. If an all-powerful and perfectly good god exists, then evil does not.
2. There is evil in the world.
3. Therefore, an all-powerful and perfectly good god does not exist.

The evidential problem of evil (according to Paul Draper) is summed up like this:

1. Gratuitous evils exist.
2. The hypothesis of indifference, i.e., that if there are supernatural beings they are indifferent to gratuitous evils, is a better explanation for (1) than theism.
3. Therefore, evidence prefers that no god, as commonly understood by theists, exists.

My opponent's argument is summed up like this:

P.1 If God was omnipotent he could prevent evil.
P.2 If God was all-loving he would want to prevent evil.
P.3 If God was morally perfect he would be morally inclined to prevent evil.
P.4 Therefore, if evil exists God does not exist.

My opponent is attempting to show a logical contradiction between God and evil. The evidential problem of evil does not assert that evil and God are logically contradictory whereas the logical problem of evil (as well as my opponent's argument) does show they are logically contradictory. Therefore, my burden is to show God and evil are not contradictory.

Now for my attack err defense err whatever you want to call it.

I am an advocate of Plantinga's Free Will Defense. Now I shall begin.

Alvin Plantinga provides a morally sufficient reason as to why God would allow evil and suffering to occur. God created people with morally significant free will. This has tremendous value in the world. God could not eliminate evil and suffering in the world otherwise God would be eliminating the greater good which came out creating man with free will with whom God could have a relationship with and who are able to love each other and do good deeds.

The above claim basically means the allowance of certain evils are smaller in value than the greater good which they are connected to. It God eliminated evil, he would have to eliminate good as well. Let us take a woman getting a shot, for example, she allowed pain (the needle) to bring about a greater good (immunization from a disease).

The free will utilized in this defense is known as libertarianism which is defined as "the freedom to act contrary to one's nature, predisposition and greatest desires. Responsibility, in this view, always means that one could have done otherwise." (2). Libertarian free will, according to Plantinga, is known as a morally significant free will. A person has morally significant free will if they can perform actions which are…morally significant. Let us say God created a world with limited freedom. In this world, a person who faces a decision can only choose a good decision. They are incapable of choosing a bad decision. If three choices are present, two good and one bad, the person is incapable of making the bad decision. They only have freedom over good decisions. This is not morally significant free will. People will always perform morally good actions, but, why should they be credited with these actions? It is literally impossible for them to do wrong. The decision to act good is presupposed. They do have morally significant free will as nothing morally significant is done. In the actual world, people are fully free and responsible for any actions they may perform. If a person does right, they can be praised. If a person does wrong, they can be punished.

Now my opponent will probably argue something along the lines of "why couldn't god create a world which has free creatures but, does not contain evil or suffering?" There are some worlds which God cannot create as they are logically impossible. God cannot make 2 + 2 = 5, what would 2 + 3 equal? God cannot create a stick which is longer than itself (I want to see this actually :p). God can do what is logically possible.

World 1.

1. People have morally significant free will (MSFW)
2. God does not choose what people do
3. There is evil and suffering

World 2.

1. God does not create people with MSFW
2. God determines what people do
3. There is no evil and suffering

World 3.

1. God creates people with MSFW
2. God determines what people do in situations
3. There is no evil and suffering

World 4.

1. God creates people with MSFW
2. God is not determinate
3. There is no suffering or evil.

Let's figure out what worlds are possible. World 1 seems awfully like the world we live in today. It describes our world. It is possible

World 2 is not logically possible. If by definition, human beings are free people, then, we would not exist in this world. As creatures with MSFW, we must live in a world with MSFW otherwise, we are not who we are. In this context, it is not possible.

World 3 seems to be completely contradictory. If man has MSFW, then how can man, at the same time, be caused to do good? It contradicts itself. If man has MSFW then, God cannot cause man to either do action "A" or not do action "A". If God does cause action "A" then man is not really free.

Now is World 4 possible? Yes. It is possible. Worlds 1 and 4 are similar in the sense that God does not cause man to create evil or not create evil. Man does that on his own. In World 1, people choose to do wrong at least some of the time. In world 4, people choose to never do wrong, always making morally good decisions. Whether or not the world has immorality is dependent upon the creatures in the world, not God. People deserve the blame. Not God.

My opponent is now going to cite things such as natural disaster or disease and go to say, this defense cannot serve as a sufficient reason for God to allow disasters. Here is where I must draw a distinction between Moral Evil and Natural Evil.

Moral Evil is defined as evil or suffering resulting from immoral choices of free creatures.
Natural Evil is defined as evil or suffering resulting from nature or nature gone awry.

I have two responses.

1.God allowed natural evil into the world as punishment for Adam and Eve's sins in the Garden of Eden. Since we are discussing the Judea Christian God, what better source is there than the bible? Genesis 1 describes the first MORAL sin which then led to all natural sins. So because natural sin arises from moral sin, and your moral free will causes any sins to be punishable, then, natural evil was the punishment for this first sin.

2.Free, nonhuman persons are responsible for natural evil (rebellious spirits, or fallen angels). Since angel's have free will under the Judea Christian God, then other moral actors are responsible for natural evil. Since they are defined as having free will, then they are moral actors. They are responsible for their own actions.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
2. http://www.theopedia.com...
Debate Round No. 2
phantom

Pro

I thank my opponent for his response. (Sorry this is rushed.)

First off, my opponent is correct in saying I am using the logical problem
of evil, but as stated before, my arguments do also stray to the evidential
problem of evil.

"Plantinga's Free Will Defense"



This argument entails numerous problems which I will address one at a time.

God is morally perfect why is it such a problem for his creations to be?
The essence of my opponents argument is that being morally perfect
alleviates morally significant free will. However that would also assume that God does not have morally significant free will, as God is perfect. So why is it so important for humans to have morally significant free will if God does not? Why is God exempt from this problem? And why is it such a problem. If we could be perfect, why not let us? Everyone would benefit from a world without sin. In fact isn't that what heavens supposed to be?





Do the trade offs outweigh the resulting benefit?
My opponent brings up the analogy of a woman getting a shot. The needle brought about pain but for a greater good. However what needs to be addressed is whether the negatives outweigh the positives. With my opponents analogy that certainly is the case. It is better to allow a little pain in exchange for immunization to a disease. However is that the same with God allowing evil? Let's analyze this a moment. God would allow many of his creations to suffer unimaginably, and in return they could have a free will which he himself does not have. It does not seem plausible. My opponent has done a great deal of explaining how God could allow evil so that there could by morally significant free will as he calls it, but he has not shown that this would produce a positive affect. Humans would be much much much happier if evil did not exist. God obviously knows this. God should do the obvious thing and not allow evil, so that everyone will benefit and be happier.




//...God would be eliminating the greater good which came out creating man with free will with whom God could have a relationship with and who are able to love each other and do good deeds.//

So we can't have a relationship with God, can't do good deeds(??) and are not able to love eachother if we're morally perfect like him? That makes literally no sense.





My opponent predicts that I will bring up the counter argument of God creating a world in which both moral free will exists but no evil or suffering. I will not be following this rebuttal but will be presenting one that demonstrates other worlds God would be more likely to create. I also agree with my opponent's views on omnipotence, that it does not entail the ability to contradict logic.


One world God could create is one in which human beings are not entirely perfect but are still very good, so that evil would not be so incredibally rampant on the human race. That seems much more plausible than the current world.


Not all evil is the result of free will.

My opponent again assumes my rebuttal which is this time correct. There are many evils in the world, namely natural disasters, that are not, within any plausible realm, the result of human free will. The earthquake that affected 3 million lives,[1] and resulted in the death of more than 300,000 people,[2] for example. There is no justifiable way God could allow such suffering, because it is entirely his fault. My opponent brings two responses to this. The first is that it is the result of the first sin, Adam and Eve, and that it is Gods punishment. Therefore he is saying that God brought about a punishment on billions of lives in result of the sin of two people. I have no idea how my opponent can bring about any way in which God could justifiably cause suffering to countless amounts of people just because of the sin of two persons. That is a blatantly sinful act.



The second response my opponent presents is that non humans(spirits) are the cause of natural evil. This is also not plausible because that would mean the human race is entirely not at fault for natural evil. God could prevent demons and such from somehow causing the black plague, and still allow free will. The human race should not be so greatly effected for the actions of those outside their species. Also my opponent does not really show how that is likely. How could spirits cause disease and earthquakes exactly?




Let me go over my premises again.


P.1 If God was omnipotent he could prevent evil.

My opponent does not contend this.

P.2 If God was all-loving he would want to prevent evil.

Plantingas defence does not offer a rational answer to this. In fact I'm not even sure Plantinga was accounting for an all-loving God when he made the argument. If God loves all of us, that love would outweigh any want he had for us to have morally significant free will. No person wants their loved ones to suffer. It is as simple as that.


P.3 If God was morally perfect he would be morally inclined to prevent evil.

Achieving free will by allowing evil entails a sinful act. It is not justifiable to allow suffering just so that your creations would free will. Not a single human would want evil. Thus God is probably the only one who would want evil to exist. My opponent would have more of a case if everyone agreed with Gods choice, but otherwise it is not plausible, and is sinful.



[1] http://www.africaw.com...

[2] http://www.reuters.com...
THEBOMB

Con

Thank you for your response.

God is morally perfect why is it a problem for his creations to be?

My opponent basically asks why the world can't be perfect. Well, first, if the world is perfect what would the difference be between heaven and earth? Nothing. Second, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." (Genesis) but, this does not entail man was created with God's intelligence, morality, etc. But, then, after in the likeliness of God. You see a person can come into the likeliness of God (morally perfect) but, it must develop that way. Man is not perfect and was created imperfect. A person must develop into moral perfection, on their own; this is not something which can simply be bestowed upon a person, otherwise, to quote John Hick "A moral goodness that exists as the agents initial given nature, without ever having been chosen by him in the face of temptations to the contrary, is intrinsically less valuable than a moral goodness which has been built up through the agent's own responsible choices through time in the face of alternative possibilities." (1) Making your own decisions to develop yourself is more valuable then someone or something doing it for you. Genuine perfection cannot be bestowed upon a person, it requires their active involvement. A person must have the ability to choose good or evil, if they are forced to be morally perfect, they do not have this choice. The potential for evil is necessary. To answer my opponent's question as to why God is exempt, it is because that is God's definition; man's definition is having been created in the image of God they are in the transitional stage to the likeliness of God.

Trade Off v benefits

God does not allow evil, man choose evil. Nevertheless, my opponent is asking why doesn't God intervene? Simply because, evil is necessary for two reasons. Evil enables humans to understand what good is. To put it in the words of the famed theologian Irenaeus "How, if we had no knowledge of the contrary, could we have instruction in that which is good?" In other words, how can you know good without evil. Second, if God intervened whenever evil was committed, how would there be freedom to commit evil? Because we are human, with free will, we have the freedom to choose between good and evil. If we are not aware of the consequences of our actions, how have we really made a choice? You need to recognize that killing the person is evil. If you make the choice to kill, and God stops you before you can kill, how can you recognize that killing the man was wrong? You cannot. My opponent makes the fallacious claim that happiness is what is best. But, let's take a normal human function, sexual intercourse. For the vast majority of people, sex makes them feel good and happy. But, let's say you catch an sexually transmitted disease, or you get someone pregnant (or get pregnant yourself) you still had the happiness of the experience, but, was it for the best? Unless my opponent wishes to argue Gonorrhea is a good thing, happiness is not always the positive result. Accepting the CON position on God means you accept evil does play some good in the world. Ultimately, earthly suffering is beneficial, why? Because since suffering allows man to develop into the likeliness of God, then all who suffer will go to Heaven, marking the completion of God's creation. Then, their suffering on Earth is forgotten. So what is better? A lifetime of joy on earth or eternal joy? I pick choice two. I prefer to suffer some here and then be joyful for well ever. Since, God created man as free creatures, then, we must also hold there will be evil. Furthermore, without evil, how could have Christianity even existed? Since Christians hold Jesus Christ was killed and then resurrected, there must be evil for Jesus Christ to become the savior.

My opponent goes on saying, "So we can't have a relationship with God, can't do good deeds(??) and are not able to love each other if we're morally perfect like him? That makes literally no sense." It makes perfect sense. If a person cannot commit evil, then, good becomes meaningless. If there is no evil, then there is no point to goodness.

"One world God could create is one in which human beings are not entirely perfect but are still very good, so that evil would not be so incredibly rampant on the human race. That seems much more plausible than the current world." What exactly is the current world? Evil does exist in our world. But, in our world, evil is overwhelmed by good. Only a small minority of the world population commits evil actions and commits crimes. The rest of the world is not choosing to do evil.

Not all evil is from free will

I will concede my first response and go to my second (which I will add to).

Plantinga's response never solely deals with the human race. It merely says that libertarian free will is the cause of all evil. Angels have libertarian free will, they can choose to serve God or not. My opponent says "The human race should not be so greatly affected for the actions of those outside their species". My opponent questions whether a demon can cause an earthquake or cause disease, but, what exactly are they questioning, the possibility of a spirit causing an earthquake? Or what would a spirit do to cause an earthquake? I mean demons are divine beings. Why would they not be able to? Also, the human race is the cause of some of these effects. I mean if you pollute an environment to the point where the water is so polluted that when you drink it you catch a disease that can all be placed back on man's hands, so to speak. Hundreds of thousands die from starvation, because someone else does not give them food. It is, in fact, estimated the world produces enough food to feed everyone in the world.

To sum up, I do not need to specifically address each of my opponent's contentions. A theodicy/defense is meant to show an all-loving, all-powerful, etc. God is compatible with evil. I have shown P2 to be false. An all-loving God would want man to have infinite joy, not finite joy. What a person wants is not always best. A parent wants you to do well in life, are you always happy with their decisions? Probably not.

1. Evil and the God of love pg. 44
Debate Round No. 3
phantom

Pro

I would thank my opponent for the engaging debate.



Gods' moral perfection




Let's address the various issues my opponent has with this. First he asks what the difference between heaven and earth would be if humans were perfect. I find this irrelevant. This would assume that there needs to be a substantial moral difference. That evil is required. Those premises have not been established.




Next my opponent says that humans must develop into moral perfection and on their own. There is a huge problem here. Christianity completely contradicts these assertions. The basic view of life and death based on the scriptures and most religions is you live a life as a sinner, then you die, then you go to heaven and are perfect. In other words the step taken from immoral to moral perfection is instantaneous. It does not develop but contrarily happens in just a moment. So there is no development to perfection as my opponent states, rather it is done by a supernatural act. And if God could make us perfect in one act than that of course re-presents the question of why he could not just do so from the beginning. So my opponents claims that moral perfection is "not something which can simply be bestowed upon a person" are completely contradictory. Moral perfection would be something achieved in an instant.




I don't find my opponents response to my question of why God is exempt from this problem satisfactory at all. To quote him; "it is because that is God's definition; man's definition is having been created in the image of God they are in the transitional stage to the likeliness of God." I don't even know exactly what my opponent means here. All I can deduce is that it is parallel to saying God is exempt because he is exempt, and man is transitioning to moral perfection because man is transitioning to moral perfection. I have no idea how saying God is exempt from this problem because that's his definition a suitable response, thus please extend this argument.




Trade Off v benefits (Evil in exchange for morally significant free-will would not be desirable.)




My opponent first claims that God does not allow evil but that man chooses evil. This is confusing to me as there has been no attempt to refute the premise that God can prevent evil. If you can prevent something but refrain from doing so you are allowing it. Thus God does allow evil and man has no say on the matter.




//Evil allows man to understand what good is//



Moral perfection entails objective moral knowledge. Knowledge and understanding are necessarily included in moral perfection. My opponent seems to forget that we derive moral facts from our moral intuition. Our senses tell us that torture is wrong. Not only would we still know these facts, we would know many more such facts so our moral knowledge would be even greater. And even assuming my opponents opinion, is such an abounding force of evil in this world really necessary just for the sake of moral knowledge? I also reassert the fact that according to my opponents statements God has no knowledge of good.




Con continues to support his claims that the ability to choose an immoral act is a good thing. A world in which humans could only do good would be a much better and happier world thus I negate.




My opponent goes on to claim that happiness is not what is best but then goes on to contradict himself and say it is better to have eternal joy than finite joy. In other words it is better to be happy forever than temporarily. However the contradictions go further. Being happy forever directly conflicts with the existence of evil. If evil exists we are not happy forever, for our time on earth consists of much suffering. However without evil our lives would be exempt from suffering and sadness. Thus without evil eternal joy would exist and with evil it would not.





// Furthermore, without evil, how could have Christianity even existed? Since Christians hold Jesus Christ was killed and then resurrected, there must be evil for Jesus Christ to become the savior.//



Why is this a necessary occurrence again?




In support of my opponents claims that evil gives us the ability to have relationship with God, do good deeds and love each other, he says, “If a person cannot commit evil, then, good becomes meaningless. If there is no evil, then there is no point to goodness.” This is not adequate support. The experience of evil is not necessary in order to have a relationship with God. If anything it makes it harder for God hates sin and therefore would find it harder to forgive. Our doing good deeds would abound with moral perfection, and I’m still not sure what my opponent means by saying we could not love each other.



That if God wanted evil he would more likely create a world in which it was not so rampant


My opponents response to this is to say that this is what the current world is. I do not find this at all evident though. A world in which 21,000 children die mostly from poverty, hunger, and often easily preventable diseases every single day[1] is not one lacking in suffering. Evil is far from being overwhelmed by good as my opponent says. God would not need to make such a evil ravaged world in order to deposit moral knowledge on humans. It is simply not plausible.




Not all evil is from free will


My opponent has conceded his first response



Note that my opponent does not really respond to my statement that “the human race should not be so greatly affected for the actions of those outside their species". He quotes it but does not give a response. Please extend. I also still assert that spirits causing natural disasters does not seem plausible. What act from a spirit could cause the earths plates to shift and cause an earthquake?[2] Those are purely natural, thus not the cause of spirits.




My opponent basically concedes the debate when he says, ”An all-loving God would want man to have infinite joy, not finite joy.” I don’t know how you could support the belief that absolutely zero suffering gives us less joy. If evil did not exist our lives would only consist of joy.



(Short over-view) Why pro has achieved his burden


There is no way to morally justify God allowing evil. My opponent can only defend his position by presenting the argument that evil is in our best interests but not a single human would welcome evil; only God. The creator has a duty to take care of his creations. Not leave them in a world of suffering. God is directly responsible for us. Thus allowing evil is a sinful act and since a perfect being cannot commit a sinful act, God does not exist. Furthermore an all-loving being would want us to stay away from evil. If you love someone you don’t want to see them suffer. That is a evident fact. It is highly unlikely that the numerous sufferings of the world exist by allowance of an all-loving being.




Sources



[1] http://www.globalissues.org...


[2] http://www.soest.hawaii.edu...

THEBOMB

Con

THEBOMB forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
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cheesedingo1
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Vote Placed by 16kadams 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: will come back and do args later. Now, I won mine as he never accepted. and waiting on vampire...