Skip to main content

Quote of the Day

. . .my friends believe that we have no sufficient reason at all to think it even likely that God could achieve the very best for us (humans and animals) were he to have prevented the Holocaust, the terrible suffering of the fawn, the horrible suffering of the little girl, or any of the other countless evils that abound in this world. Why on earth do they believe this? The basic reason is this: God's knowledge of goods and the conditions of their realization extends far beyond our own. Because God's knowledge of the goods and the conditions of their realization extends far beyond our own, they think it just may be that God would know that even he, with his infinite power, cannot achieve the best for us without permitting all the horrendous evils that occur daily in our world. And they also think it just may be that God can achieve the best for us only if he keeps us in the dark as to what the good is that justifies him in permitting any of these horrendous evils. But what their own view comes to is this: Because we cannot rule out God knowing goods we do not know, we cannot rule out there being goods that justify God in permitting any amount of evil whatever that might occur in our world. If human and animal life on earth were nothing more than a series of agonizing moments from birth to death, my friends' position would still require them to say that we cannot reasonably infer that it is even likely that God does not exist. For, since we don't know that the goods we know of are representative of the goods there are, we can't know it is likely that there are no goods that justify God in permitting human and animal life on earth to be nothing more than a series of agonizing moments from birth to death. But surely such a view is unreasonable, if not absurd. Surely there must be some point at which the appalling agony of human and animal existence on earth would render it unlikely that God exists. And this must be so even though we all agree that God's knowledge would far exceed our own. I believe my theistic friends have gone considerably beyond that point when, in light of the enormous proliferation of horrendous evil in this world, they continue to insist that we are unjustified in concluding that it is unlikely that God exists.

William Rowe, "Reply to Howard-Snyder and Bergmann", in Peterson, Michael L. and Raymond Van Arragon (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion (Blackwell, 2004), p. 26.

Comments

Mike Almeida said…
He is no doubt right. If theism is to be reasonable, then it must be true that God cannot eliminate the evils we find, not that they serve a greater purpose in any world in which they occur. In any case, this is what I say.

Popular posts from this blog

Epicurean Cosmological Arguments for Matter's Necessity

One can find, through the writings of Lucretius, a powerful yet simple Epicurean argument for matter's (factual or metaphysical) necessity. In simplest terms, the argument is that since matter exists, and since nothing can come from nothing, matter is eternal and uncreated, and is therefore at least a factually necessary being. 
A stronger version of Epicurus' core argument can be developed by adding an appeal to something in the neighborhood of origin essentialism. The basic line of reasoning here is that being uncreated is an essential property of matter, and thus that the matter at the actual world is essentially uncreated.
Yet stronger versions of the argument could go on from there by appealing to the principle of sufficient reason to argue that whatever plays the role of being eternal and essentially uncreated does not vary from world to world, and thus that matter is a metaphysically necessary being.
It seems to me that this broadly Epicurean line of reasoning is a co…

CfP: Inquiry: New Work on the Existence of God

NEW WORK ON THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
In recent years, methods and concepts in logic, metaphysics and epistemology have become more and more sophisticated. For example, much new, subtle and interesting work has been done on modality, grounding, explanation and infinity, in both logic, metaphysics as well as epistemology. The three classical arguments for the existence of God – ontological arguments, cosmological arguments and fine-tuning arguments – all turn on issues of modality, grounding, explanation and infinity. In light of recent work, these arguments can - and to some extent have - become more sophisticated as well. Inquiry hereby calls for new and original papers in the intersection of recent work in logic, metaphysics and epistemology and the three main types of arguments for the existence of God. 


The deadline is 31 January 2017. Direct queries to einar.d.bohn at uia.no.

Notes on Mackie's "Evil and Omnipotence"

0. Introduction
0.1 Mackie argues that the problem of evil proves that either no god exists, or at least that the god of Orthodox Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, does not exist. His argument is roughly the same version of the problem of evil that we’ve been considering.
0.2 Mackie thinks that one can avoid the conclusion that God does not exist only if one admits that either God is not omnipotent (i.e., not all-powerful), or that God is not perfectly good. 0.3 However, he thinks that hardly anyone will be willing to take this route. For doing so leaves one with a conception of a god that isn’t worthy of worship, and therefore not religiously significant.
0.4 After his brief discussion of his version of the problem of evil, he considers most of the main responses to the problem of evil, and concludes that none of them work.

1. First Response and Mackie's Reply
1.1 Response: Good can’t exist without evil; evil is a necessary counterpart to good.
1.2 Mackie’s reply:
1.2.1 this see…