Thursday, March 27, 2014

Can you have good without evil?

Here's an interesting idea, Oxford Philosopher Stephen Law has published a paper entitled "The Evil-God challenge" it's a study of the thought experiment which goes something like..

Religious people (main monotheisms) claim that their "God" is all good, loving, perfect, omniscient etc. and deal with the question "why then is there evil in the world" by citing the concept of "free will", i.e. God did not create us as "puppets" and we can make our own decisions including deciding to do evil. However, when you pose the question "why then could God not be intrinsically evil with free will permitting us to do good deeds" it's much more difficult (i.e. impossible) to provide an answer. This paper outlines the argument in the form of a challenge to religious thinkers to come up with an answer (that's logically coherent) - I doubt any will be forthcoming, most religious people I know don't regard logical fallacies as reasons to doubt their truth claims.

The closest thing to an (attempted) answer to this problem I've heard is a position promoted (among others) by religious philosopher William Lane-Craig who claims that anything God does or commands is "good" by definition even though we might see certain commandments (such as genocide, slavery, tsunamis etc.) as evil according to our "limited" view of the universe, IMO this is just a more fancy way of saying "God works in mysterious ways". Such an argument is logically flawed of course because its circular, i.e. it attempts to prove that God is the source of morality which is precisely what it assumes.

Deep for a Thursday morning! Too much coffee probably..

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