Reasonable Faith Forums

Archived => Problem of Evil => Topic started by: alex1212 on June 01, 2016, 12:25:35 pm

Title: Schellenberg's deductive argument from horrific suffering
Post by: alex1212 on June 01, 2016, 12:25:35 pm
Here’s his argument:

1. If God exists, then horrific suffering does not exist
2. Horrific suffering does exist
3. Therefore, God does not exist

The key support for premise 1 that Schellenberg uses is to note that our greatest good is to be in a relationship with God. But the problem is that horrific suffering is not necessary for our greatest good. We can participate in our greatest good without horrific suffering.

Objections:

1. Free will is a great good, and that’s why God allows horrific suffering.

Response: Free will can be had in a world without horrific suffering, so it can be had in a world with some suffering. In addition, free will is only a great good, not our greatest good. As such, God would prefer our greatest good. In addition, free will can be had in a relationship with God.

2. For all we know God has a good reason to allow horrific suffering

Response: Appealing to a greater good, for all we know, will not suffice because God would prefer the greatest good over great goods. In addition, God is omnipotent so couldn’t he have these goods or a version of these goods with our greatest good? Not to mention, we can have great goods without horrific suffering, goods like character-building.
Title: Re: Schellenberg's deductive argument from horrific suffering
Post by: alex1212 on June 27, 2016, 01:02:19 pm
Derp
Title: Re: Schellenberg's deductive argument from horrific suffering
Post by: aleph naught on June 28, 2016, 12:48:21 am
It does appear inconsistent at face value, to say that God is the greatest being (i.e., that all the greatest goods are contained within God), that God can exist in the absence of evil, and that God must permit evil so that the world might contain such rich moral goodness.
Title: Re: Schellenberg's deductive argument from horrific suffering
Post by: alex1212 on June 29, 2016, 09:51:13 am
It does appear inconsistent at face value, to say that God is the greatest being (i.e., that all the greatest goods are contained within God), that God can exist in the absence of evil, and that God must permit evil so that the world might contain such rich moral goodness.

Right. I think that's sort of a logical argument from evil.
Title: Re: Schellenberg's deductive argument from horrific suffering
Post by: jayceeii on February 03, 2020, 01:41:56 pm
al: Here’s his argument:

1. If God exists, then horrific suffering does not exist
2. Horrific suffering does exist
3. Therefore, God does not exist

jc: An interesting point no one has considered before is that the larger (or deeper) the soul, the greater the sorrow or suffering that can be experienced. It’s a basic proposition but one ignored heretofore as it has been presumed the souls are static and all identical.

So these two words jammed together, “horrific suffering,” are going to mean very different things to, say, a human or a cat. A human, any human, would not regard the cat’s suffering to be very great, but the cat is experiencing the most sorrow that it can.

I guess my point is that it isn’t clear what the author of the syllogism was thinking about, as he generated this word combination. Nor have those reading it understood he might have meant something different from what they mean. Humans are strangely united to hear the Earth described as a “vale of sorrows,” as if they’re always basically discontent.

al: The key support for premise 1 that Schellenberg uses is to note that our greatest good is to be in a relationship with God. But the problem is that horrific suffering is not necessary for our greatest good. We can participate in our greatest good without horrific suffering.

jc: As I read this it seems premise 1 would need to be changed to, “If God exists and we are in a relationship with Him, suffering does not exist for us.” Though God is credited in the Bible with relieving sorrow in a general sense, no mechanism is presented for specific relief, i.e. it is not a Christian promise from the Bible that God takes away pain, although the preachers promise this informally. Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Christians claim it works, by the Holy Spirit.

If you want to talk about suffering, then note there is physical pain and mental anguish. The former is demonstrably a benefit. Pain from the nerve endings is one of the key requirements to navigate the physical realm safely. Sometimes disease or other humans cause physical pain otherwise unnecessary, but the vast majority of us spend the vast majority of our lives relatively free from such pain. So this type of suffering, even if intense, cannot be a sign that God does not exist. Quite the opposite, it generally helps.

So if the “horrific suffering” in the argument can only be from mental anguish (unless we irrationally ignore the benefit from nerves sending pain impulses in the vast majority of cases), I find little evidence of such anguish in human creatures unless you want to talk about the basic disquiet that causes them to pursue pleasure after pleasure. Then, this is the anguish all humans know and why they’re quick to agree Earth is a “vale of sorrows.”

al: Objections:

1. Free will is a great good, and that’s why God allows horrific suffering.

jc: We appear to be talking about humans causing physical pain intentionally to other humans, something that should have been presented at the outset. The question reduces to why God allows evil, and the answer here is the usual one presented to this question. One thing that has been missing in history is souls that do not wish to cause anguish to others, wishing to promote their joys instead. Such souls exercise free will, and it is not evil. The question of why some souls use their free will to create harm, reduces to a question of perception and motive. You can say they are free but ignorant, or that ignorance is not truly free. Jesus saying “the pure in heart shall see God,” implied some souls are impure.

al: Response: Free will can be had in a world without horrific suffering, so it can be had in a world with some suffering.

jc: Even pure souls will endure some physical pain, in fact if they’re in an accident it may even be horrific. It’s too bad religion has not been free to focus on such “minor points,” since humanity has a long ways to go towards reducing accidents among them. Yet such a horrific experience is also a manifest good, as the dreadfulness of the physical event is communicated to the soul. Accident prevention should be towards the top of our agenda.

al: In addition, free will is only a great good, not our greatest good.

jc: Since accident prevention is not at the top of the human agenda, it is evident their “horrific suffering” isn’t penetrating very deeply. A cat may suffer and not know what to do, but humans suffering should be working hard so that such accidents never occur to others. They don’t. Or, at best their efforts are halfhearted. So it didn’t hurt quite enough.

al: As such, God would prefer our greatest good.

jc: Some humans are intentionally inflicting physical pain on others, and the rest are not working hard so that all can avoid accidents where physical pain, sometimes horrific, is seen. This is why the Bible describes mankind as “fallen.” Men are not attuned to the Universal Good. They won’t part from suffering, although preferring it happen to others.

Lest I fall prey to the accusation of not providing examples, in such instances I typically recall the decades that went by before the auto industry agreed to install shoulder belts. Thousands upon thousands of humans suffered grievous injuries, but no one could act on it. This was surely horrific suffering, but just as surely something a caring race would prevent.

al: In addition, free will can be had in a relationship with God.

jc: Unsafe driving and drunken driving are two other places the fall of man may be seen. He is unable to care about his fellow man, or even about his own safety, where a deep and pure soul would certainly care and act. The problem is not with God, but with man. Those claiming a relationship with God should be free of such troubles; but they’re not.

al: 2. For all we know God has a good reason to allow horrific suffering.

jc: The suffering of man we’re talking about here is caused by man, and the man who is complaining God has allowed it, is in the same class as those who continue causing it. The pot can call the kettle black, but the cook notices they’re both in the fire. Men imagine themselves pure only by ignoring the little details of life where they are inattentive or downright uncaring. The pure souls, I think, would arrange everything differently.

al: Response: Appealing to a greater good, for all we know, will not suffice because God would prefer the greatest good over great goods.

jc: The discussion lacks for practical examples. Is the one discussing this in a position to say he has achieved goodness? Where is the accident prevention board I’d expect to have found in every local neighborhood? Why are so many humans stumbling into the same accidents others have had, and endured “horrific suffering”? They should want to hear, and the facilities should be present to educate them. Instead mankind is totally insouciant.

al:  In addition, God is omnipotent so couldn’t he have these goods or a version of these goods with our greatest good?

jc: Why can’t God get a man to pay attention? Here we are talking about horrific suffering, but the kids haven’t been shown in school how to use fire extinguishers. We have speed limits on the roads nearly everyone ignores. We have children going to school hungry, and being a Christian doesn’t help. God has failed to make good men, omnipotent or not. Surely at least Jesus would not share any of these awful human faults.

al: Not to mention, we can have great goods without horrific suffering, goods like character-building.

jc: Suffering goes only a short distance to building character, as we notice from humanity’s failure to set up comprehensive accident prevention programs in every community. Even the worst suffering a man can endure, will not turn him into a good man. To truly want the good and happiness of the other souls, requires a “new birth.” Yet Christians are mistaken thinking they know what this means, remaining in evil ways.