Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Quick Note on Geivett's Argument from Evil to God

Jeffrey Jay Lowder recently noted Doug Geivett's argument from evil to God, which runs as follows:

1. Evil exists.
2. Evil is a departure from the way things ought to be.
3. If there is a departure from the way things ought to be, then there is a way things ought to be.
4. Therefore, there is a way things ought to be.
5. If there is a way things ought to be, then there is a design plan for things.
6. If there is a design plan for things, then there must be a Designer.
7. Therefore, there must be a Designer.

It appears that Geivett's argument is a variation on Plantinga's argument from proper function to God. In both arguments, there is a claim about the existence of normativity in the natural world that's grounded in purpose and plan. And in both arguments, there is a claim that such purpose and plan can only come from an intelligent designer (or at least that intelligent design is the only known way to get purpose and plan, and the prospects for a naturalistic account of purpose plan are unpromising).

The problem is that the claim that purpose and plan in nature requires an intelligent designer has been undercut by recent papers from Adrian Bardon, Tyler Wunder, and Peter J. Graham. These papers focus on Plantinga's use of the claim in his argument from proper function to God. But since the premise is the same in Geivett's argument, his argument from evil to God is likewise undercut.

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