Yuzem

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Evil God Challenge - two simple answers?
« on: November 30, 2011, 01:32:41 pm »
Please excuse my bad English, it isn't my main language.

"The challenge is to explain why belief in a good god is significantly more reasonable than belief in an evil god."

Stephen Law

First answer:
1. Most fathers/creators want the best for their children/creations.
2. God is a father/creator.
3. Therefore, most probably, God wants the best for his children/creations.

We can see that most creators want the best for their creations. A writer will want his writings to be loved by many, to win awards and to be successful, the same could be said for a sculptor, an architect, a painter, or any other creator.
We can also say that most fathers wants their children to be successful and happy.

Second answer:
1. To do good is preferable than to do evil.
2. Anyone who is aware of what is preferable and is able to do what is preferable does what is preferable.
3. God is aware and able.
4. Therefore God is good, since He does good.

Please let me know what you think about these two simple arguments.
Regards.

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Jack

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Evil God Challenge - two simple answers?
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2011, 12:32:01 am »
They both appear to presuppose that God wants 1. the best for his creation and 2. to do good. But if God is not good, then he would neither wants 1 or 2. Therefore it looks like you are presupposing that God is good in order for the for the deduction to operate.

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Yuzem

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« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2011, 06:27:15 am »
Thanks for your reply noseeum.
I thought about what you said but I fail to see your points.

In my first argument I am not presupposing that God wants the best for his creation but  inferring it from premise 1 and 2.

For example, if most Oxford graduates are intelligent and John is an Oxford graduate but I don't know if hi is intelligent, I can infer that most probably, John is intelligent based in that he is an Oxford graduate and most Oxford graduates are intelligent.

If most creators want the best for their creations and God is a creator  but I don't know if He wants the best for his creation, I can infer that most probably, God wants the best for his creation based in that He is a creator and most creators want the best for their creations.

In my second argument I am not presupposing that God wants to do good but inferring it from premise 1, 2 and 3. The conclusion that God does good only comes at the end.


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dadalus

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« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2012, 07:26:51 am »
They arent really arguments, though, in that the hidden premise is "i presume god is father-like, or is a way that tilts the liklihood of me being right".  

   

   For example, in many species of animals the father will kill their children if they see them again, or not even recognize them.

   

   Is this the kind of father you presuppose?

   

   In your second one, again you affirm the consequent and it should read:

   1. To do good is preferrable TO ME than to do evil.

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dadalus

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« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2012, 07:31:13 am »
Btw, if your arguments WERE true, then you disprove the Xian god.

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Yuzem

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« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2012, 06:29:53 pm »
Only the first argument uses the term "father" but you seemed to address your objection to both arguments when you said: "They arent really arguments"

I added the term "father" because of the similarity in meaning with "creator" and the Christian view of God as a father.
From the dictionary:
"a person who has originated or established something"
"to be the creator, founder, or author of"
source

There are many similarities between a father and a creator, a creator is usually viewed as the father of his creations.
To avoid any confusion I can reformulate the argument using only the term "creator":
1. Most creators want the best for their creations.
2. God is a creator.
3. Therefore, most probably, God wants the best for his creations.

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Great Pumpkin

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Evil God Challenge - two simple answers?
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2012, 06:59:20 pm »
A missile creator wants the best for his creation, too.

   That doesnt mean it has to benefit the creation, just that it performs the best to satisfy the creator.

   You are in danger of presuming that we are all getting the best thing for ourselves despite the obvious fact that we all arent.

   

   I appreciate the effort but i dont think it gets you anywhere.

   The evil god could be using us as fodder, or just want us to presume exactly as you say.  Its not out of the realm that the evil god wants to give everyone the impression that he is good only to reveal the truth after you die.

   Any empirical evidence that supports a good god can be used to explain the actions of an evil god (just as the story of lot might be used to suggest there is an evil god in control until the punchline/" surprise, i was good all along!"
God is not the Father. At least, he's not apparent to me.

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Randy Everist

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« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2012, 08:06:54 pm »

GreatPumpkin wrote: I appreciate the effort but i dont think it gets you anywhere.
The evil god could be using us as fodder, or just want us to presume exactly as you say. Its not out of the realm that the evil god wants to give everyone the impression that he is good only to reveal the truth after you die.
Any empirical evidence that supports a good god can be used to explain the actions of an evil god (just as the story of lot might be used to suggest there is an evil god in control until the punchline/" surprise, i was good all along!"

The evil god argument won't work with the maximally great being nor does it work with the moral argument. Being evil is not a great-making property, and in any case being good certainly is, so that it is better to be good than not good. But then the evil god can't even qualify. The moral argument tells us there are objective moral values and duties; obligations owed to a person. But if that person is evil, then the obligations that we owe are evil. But since it is good to do right, and evil to do wrong, we would have to violate our obligation to do evil in order to fulfill our obligations, which would be at least refraining from evil, which is incoherent.

"Every great man was thought to be insane before he changed the world. Some never changed the world. They were just insane."

Check out my blog, "Possible Worlds," at http://www.randyeverist.com

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Great Pumpkin

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« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2012, 09:12:24 pm »
I think that presupposes the "god = good, according to my definition of god".  Yes, if you a priori define your god as good, an evil god is inchoherent. Likewise, if you define 'maximally great' as having good qualities, then an evil god is incoherent, but i beleive Law's position would be that there is nothing empirical to inform your definition one way or another.

   One is equally justified in supposing an evil god as a good god, but for theological preference.

   Another line, that maximal greatness is according to human desires and definitions (perhaps even wishful thinking, if an evil god really does exist, or not) but greatness according to the evil god would have different priorities.

   Law's point, though, as always, is that he doesn't think any of the reasons you or i have given are any good; equally good/equally bad and completely useless in arriving at a justification for a beleif in god.
God is not the Father. At least, he's not apparent to me.

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Yuzem

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« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2012, 10:35:26 pm »
I agree: "A missile creator wants the best for his creation"
A creator wants his creation to accomplish its purpose as best as possible.
In most cases we don't need to know the creator to know the purpose of the creation.
We know the purpose of a missile without asking the missile creator.
We can know the purpose by examining the creation.
A missile is better if it
operates correctly, it is better if it is precise and fast.
We can say that these properties make the missile a better missile and the missile creator would want these properties for his creation.

In the same way we can say that there are some properties that make us better.
We are better if we are just, wise, if we have courage, temperance and so on.
Our creator would want us to have these properties since these properties make us better.


I'm not presuming that "we are all getting the best thing for ourselves"
I'm only asserting that the creator wants the best for ourselves not that we are getting it.
We can create the best car but give it time and problems will arise.

Yes,
the evil god could "be using us as fodder", but since he wants the best for his creation, this would be only if to be fodder, is the best state for us.
An element of a whole performing a function for which it is not adequate does not befit the creation as a whole.
I don't think anyone would argue that we are better as fodder, but if we are better as fodder then we are better as fodder.

"Its not out of the realm that the  evil god wants to give everyone the impression that he is good only to  reveal the truth after you die"

In fact, the evil god could give us defective minds or a world which is deceiving, but this is irrelevant since: "The challenge is to explain why belief in a good god is significantly more reasonable than belief in an evil god."

If the world or our minds are deceiving us we can't rely on reason, but the challenge is asking about which is more reasonable, whatever we can trust in reason or not is a different matter, I'm answering the challenge anyway.

Moreover, it is based on reason that we assert that if god is evil, we can't rely on reason.
If we can't rely on reason we have no grounds to say that if god is evil we can't rely on reason.

In the end, in order to assert about an evil god using this argument we have to ditch reason altogether.

I think I can formulate another argument:
1. If god is evil we can't rely on reason.
2. It is false that we can't rely on reason.
3. Therefore, God is not evil.

Also, I'm dividing the first argument into two different but similar arguments:
1. Most creators want the best for their creations.
2. God is a creator.
3. Therefore, most probably, God wants the best for his creations.

1. Most fathers want the best for their children.
2. God is a
father.
3. Therefore, most probably, God wants the best for his
children.

There are now four arguments.

10

Great Pumpkin

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« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2012, 10:55:03 pm »
1. There is nothing to preclude an evil god from creating minds that can reason.

   2. Most creators? But not all. And considering most people appear to be headed to Hell, according to christianity, it appears that god may not be like most creators. Plus, what other creators do we know besides human creators: is god now in the image of man?

   3. Again, not all fathers of all species care about their progeny. Take the largest population of life on the planet: insects.

   

   In the end, I understand why you argue as you do: you presuppose the god you want to prove.  All your examples are based on selective empirical observation that you feel are preferred attributes (cultured over millenniums of human evolution).

   

   It is no surprise that our gods take on the attributes we love and fear in ourselves.

   

   Again, anything you have said doesn't sway the argument to a good god that can't be turned around for the evil god.

   

   I would suggest that it is what it is. There is no reason to make a big deal about it, IMO.  The evil god challenge stands. It doesn't disprove the negative, but it proves there is no preference to believe in a god in the first place, let alone good or evil.
God is not the Father. At least, he's not apparent to me.

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Randy Everist

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« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2012, 07:36:58 am »

GreatPumpkin wrote: I think that presupposes the "god = good, according to my definition of god". Yes, if you a priori define your god as good, an evil god is inchoherent.

But that was not my argument. In fact, it is only entailed by my argument as a consequence. But rejecting an argument because one does not like the conclusion is begging the question against the argument!

Likewise, if you define 'maximally great' as having good qualities, then an evil god is incoherent, but i beleive Law's position would be that there is nothing empirical to inform your definition one way or another.
One is equally justified in supposing an evil god as a good god, but for theological preference.

Actually, they are "great-making" properties. This is the idea of metaphysical greatness. Now this, coupled with our well-founded moral intuitions as well as the argument I gave above, gives us good grounds to say, "it is better to have the property of being loving than not to have it." The problem with the evil god argument is that it doesn't even have intuition on its side! Well that, and the incoherency objection.

Another line, that maximal greatness is according to human desires and definitions (perhaps even wishful thinking, if an evil god really does exist, or not) but greatness according to the evil god would have different priorities.


That's just ad hoc, and isn't even a parody at this point, since we do think we arrive at great-making properties through intuition. So it isn't the case that just any argument can serve as justification for an evil god--I've already shown they rely on different arguments at points.

"Every great man was thought to be insane before he changed the world. Some never changed the world. They were just insane."

Check out my blog, "Possible Worlds," at http://www.randyeverist.com

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Randy Everist

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« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2012, 07:41:21 am »

GreatPumpkin wrote: 1. There is nothing to preclude an evil god from creating minds that can reason.

Note that his argument was not "if there is an evil god, there is no reason," but rather, "if there is an evil god, we cannot rely on reason." This would be because, if evil were a great-making property, evil god would possess, to the maximal degree, the great-making property of deceiving. So he would, in at least some cases, exemplify this by deceiving us in our beliefs. Now one may wish to respond that evil god may have morally-sufficient reasons for allowing us to know the truth, but this would be beside the point. The point would be that evil god itself is a defeater for any given belief, for you could not know which beliefs you reasoned correctly, by definition. But then it follows you have a defeater for every belief, including the belief that evil god exists. But no such epistemic challenge awaits the believer in God. Hence, the parody fails in its intended purpose.

2. Most creators? But not all. And considering most people appear to be headed to Hell, according to christianity, it appears that god may not be like most creators.

This just is not an essential to Christianity's truth. Don't like it? Then don't believe in Hell!

"Every great man was thought to be insane before he changed the world. Some never changed the world. They were just insane."

Check out my blog, "Possible Worlds," at http://www.randyeverist.com

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Great Pumpkin

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« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2012, 09:03:49 am »
RandyE wrote:

Quote from: GreatPumpkin
1. There is nothing to preclude an evil god from creating minds that can reason.

Note that his argument was not "if there is an evil god, there is no reason," but rather, "if there is an evil god, we cannot rely on reason." This would be because, if evil were a great-making property, evil god would possess, to the maximal degree, the great-making property of deceiving. So he would, in at least some cases, exemplify this by deceiving us in our beliefs. Now one may wish to respond that evil god may have morally-sufficient reasons for allowing us to know the truth, but this would be beside the point. The point would be that evil god itself is a defeater for any given belief, for you could not know which beliefs you reasoned correctly, by definition. But then it follows you have a defeater for every belief, including the belief that evil god exists. But no such epistemic challenge awaits the believer in God. Hence, the parody fails in its intended purpose.
I don't think it fails.  Perhaps our reason isn't to be trusted - perhaps it leads some to believe in a Good God?  Perhaps it leads others to other Gods.

Obviously, to be rational means that we must trust our reasoning at some level, and I won't argue that our reasoning is fundamentally undermined (after all, I don't believe there is an Evil God; or Good God), so I feel I can rely on reason.

However, the Evil God believer could easily argue that the Evil God has given us the appearance of reasoning well, but with enough error to make us doubt it and come to other conclusions.

Let's flip your argument.  If there is a Good God that has given us the ability to Reason well, why do so many people not Reason well?

This is the same argument, flipped (as is the beauty of the Evil God challenge), and carries as much weight as the opposite.

Your claim is that with a Good God we can trust our reasoning.  I don't think this is true for everyone.

The atheist position is that we seem to be able to trust our reasoning.  There is no reason Nature (being inanimate) would care to deceive us, so we can assume it operates on a basis of reality.  And, since there is no Evil God, we shouldn't think our Reasoning is undermined by supernatural forces, etc.

Any deficiency in reasoning can be explained by deficiencies in the brain chemistry.

However, even with an evil god, good reasoning skills can be understood by the same argument Dr. Craig uses for the Problem of Suffering: that he may have a purpose for good reasoning that we don't understand.

Maybe, for example, it is to fully appreciate the level of suffering and evilness of our existence at some point.  And, if you decide that you can't even trust your reasoning just because there is an evil god who you don't trust, then there is an even greater possibility of psychic angst.

The upshot: the evil God hypothesis can be equally defended as cant he Good God, neither has a better reason to be more true than the other.

And, the necessary and sufficient conditions for agnosticism (and atheism) are met.

2. Most creators? But not all. And considering most people appear to be headed to Hell, according to christianity, it appears that god may not be like most creators.

This just is not an essential to Christianity's truth. Don't like it? Then don't believe in Hell!

Agreed.  I was simply pointing out that his argument presupposed a particular religion, and so to say "most Creators" really just means the ones he means to point out to make his point - cherry picking.

After all, Marcion (once considered a great Christian) believed that Yahweh was the creator and was going to send us all to Hell - only Jesus who escaped the evil clutches of Yahweh can save us from that evil fate.

If you believe in a supernatural realm, I think this is just as plausible as any.  There as plenty Creator Gods who don't care about humans, and only lesser Gods intervene to care for them.

I think his "Father" and "Creator" gods arguments are a fallacy of asserting the consequent
God is not the Father. At least, he's not apparent to me.

14

Randy Everist

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« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2012, 09:24:54 am »
GreatPumpkin wrote: I don't think it fails.  Perhaps our reason isn't to be trusted - perhaps it leads some to believe in a Good God?  Perhaps it leads others to other Gods.

Obviously, to be rational means that we must trust our reasoning at some level, and I won't argue that our reasoning is fundamentally undermined (after all, I don't believe there is an Evil God; or Good God), so I feel I can rely on reason.

However, the Evil God believer could easily argue that the Evil God has given us the appearance of reasoning well, but with enough error to make us doubt it and come to other conclusions.

Let's flip your argument.  If there is a Good God that has given us the ability to Reason well, why do so many people not Reason well?

This is the same argument, flipped (as is the beauty of the Evil God challenge), and carries as much weight as the opposite.

Your claim is that with a Good God we can trust our reasoning.  I don't think this is true for everyone.
On theism, some people do not reason correctly because they are not functioning as intended (this can be for a variety of reasons, including: the fall of man, mental disabilities, etc.). But I think it misses the point. On the evil god challenge, we have a defeater for every belief. It doesn't matter that you don't subscribe to an evil god. What matters is that, supposedly, any argument for or defense against an objection to God's existence can be used for evil god. Since God would not design intentionally for us not to be able to trust reason in general, it's clearly not symmetrical. That some people cannot trust their beliefs in no way entails that all of us cannot trust our beliefs. This defense won't work for the evil god, for evil god ensures that all of us cannot trust at least some of our beliefs. But we can't know what those beliefs are; hence, we cannot know which of our beliefs are right, and knowing evil god, we actually have a defeater for all of our beliefs, including belief in evil god. Now it may be objected that just as we have insane people who do not function correctly, perhaps there are those who do not function correctly who instead have nearly impeccable-reasoning. This may be so, but notice something: they face the same epistemic problem (and, incidentally, they would know it, since they reason correctly). They would know there is an evil god, and he would want to deceive as many as he can given whatever morally-evilly-sufficient goals he may have. Knowing this, then, even if it seems to them to be good reasoning, they cannot affirm it, for they cannot, by definition, know if they are being rational in affirming that belief, so that even these exceptions, even if reasoning correctly, can only conclude they have a defeater for all of their beliefs.
Now one might claim that God may deceive people, but this is ex hypothesi false. As we have already discussed, that some people misfire on some of their beliefs, it does not follow that all of us misfire on all of our beliefs; that is, on a good God, there's no reason to suppose we have a defeater for all of our beliefs.

However, even with an evil god, good reasoning skills can be understood by the same argument Dr. Craig uses for the Problem of Suffering: that he may have a purpose for good reasoning that we don't understand.
But evil god must, by defintion of his necessary being, hold the property of being deceitful in a maximal way. That is, at least some deceit in trusting our beliefs must be exemplified (i.e., if there were a being with a maximal quality of deceit, then he would design all of his creatures to experience at least some deceit with respect to their belief, given their proper functionality). This is fully symmetrical with Good God's truth and benevolence, for example. But if deceit is properly functioning by design, the same asymmetrical problems attend. In that case, we have a defeater for every belief, including the belief that there is an evil god. No such epistemic problem holds for God.
"Every great man was thought to be insane before he changed the world. Some never changed the world. They were just insane."

Check out my blog, "Possible Worlds," at http://www.randyeverist.com