I’ve concluded that needless suffering exists. On my view, sin caused death, suffering and so-called “natural evil.” According to Genesis, God made the world good and humans had eternal life. Sin entailed a fall from the highest possible good. It was not necessary, God did not desire it. The suffering sin produced cannot possibly be logically required for the higher good to obtain because the highest possible good had already obtained. Criticisms that God “could have made a world without suffering” are nullified.
Even though suffering is needless, eliminating suffering doesn’t eliminate any higher good. Suffering isn’t necessary to produce goods. Obviously, Jesus didn’t believe that removing suffering eliminated higher good, else no sick would have been healed, nor would commands to heal be issued. In fact, we would have been commanded to ignore suffering. This defangs Peter’s “obstruction of divine justice” argument on the spot.
This might complicate judging, but that’s where the logic lead. I’ll counter as many of Peter’s arguments as I can, and see where the second round takes us.
While I’ll still gladly engage anybody on the issue, these days, I’m leaning towards the conclusion that the atheist’s problem of evil arguments are fatally flawed. In the end, all variants I’ve encountered reduce to incredulity: reasoning from premises derived at via conceptual analysis and intuition, the atheist disbelieves that a morally sufficient reason can exist: “There’s no way a good God would allow this much evil in the world.” That’s it. I’ve not seen a single POE argument that doesn’t reduce thus, and I’ll leave it to you to decide whether disbelief is sufficient to warrant skepticism in this regard. I say no. I mean, people said the same thing about QM and all sorts of other stuff: “There’s no way light can act as both particle and wave!” “There’s no way an airplane can fly!” “There’s no way man will walk on the moon!” Etc. This is why I like what they attribute to Archimedes: with a long enough lever, one could move the Earth.
Is anybody aware of a POE argument that doesn’t reduce thus?
I’m one of those people who thinks the Problem of Evil is far from solved. I know, I know… the audacity, right? Skeptics and atheists claim the Problem of Evil logically disqualifies certain definitions of God, specifically the Omni^3 God typically advanced by Judeo-Christian monotheists. I concede that this polemic has been commonly repeated in philosophy circles for over 2,000 years now, but is it true? I cannot consider the Problem of Evil any problem at all sans a reasonable explanation of when and why the allowance of suffering constitutes a genuine breach of omni-benevolence, and I maintain that the burden falls back to the skeptic to demonstrate how or why this is so. Earlier this week, a real-life scenario recalled this question to mind.
I sometimes work in a publishing warehouse where customers can ring a doorbell to signify their presence at the Western entrance. Late one evening this week, somebody rang the bell. I opened up the window and stuck my head outside, where I saw a man and a woman with a baby. I knew instantly that they weren’t our customers, and I made the reasonable presupposition they were here to see a tenant in the residential part of the building. So, being in “work-mode,” I initially ignored them and was about to go “back to work” when the human factor kicked in. Just because they weren’t our customers didn’t mean they didn’t need help, so I returned to the window. My next intuition was to immediately engage them, but that curiously gave way to a competing intuition suggesting I merely observe for a moment, remaining watchful to ensure they got whatever it was they needed, but still granting enough confidence in their independence to assume they can solve their own problems without my meddling. A brief moment passed.
I noticed the Bay cold along with their momentary uncertainty was causing the woman to suffer. The cold itself had been causing me to suffer all day long, and I was certain where I was – inside the warehouse with a hooded sweatshirt on! No sooner than I could ask myself another question or respond to another intuition, a tenant let them inside of the building, and they were once again happy and warm.
Although it’s certainly nice that this story has a happy ending, did I violate the principle of omni-benevolence in that brief moment of observance?
To review, the Omni^4 Claim is the idea that the God of the Bible simultaneously possesses the following four qualities: omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence and omnipresence. IOW, that the God of the Bible is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving and all-present. As an aside, many people disregard omnipresence as irrelevant to POE arguments, but I thought I'd throw it in there for historical accuracy if nothing else.
Also referred to as the Question of Suffering, the Problem of Evil (PE/QS) is an axiom in philosophical and religious circles which claims the fact of evil existing in our world is incompatible with God as described by most Christians: a God that is at least all-powerful, all-loving and all-knowing, also described as omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient (o^3). Also referred to as the Epicurean Dilemma, the argument itself has been around a few millenia, advanced 2400 years ago by Epicurus (341 – 270 bce). Epicurus offers three options:
“Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; Or he can, but does not want to; Or he cannot and does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. But, if God both can and wants to abolish evil, then how come evil is in the world?”