Archived

Problem of Evil

Read 2940 times

Randy Carson

  • *
  • 3 Posts
    • View Profile
Variation on the PoE Argument
« on: May 17, 2016, 03:46:41 pm »
In another forum, I'm chatting with an atheist who has posed an argument which appears to be a variation of the classic Problem of Evil, and it can be expressed like this:

1. God wants everyone to come to know him in this life.
2. God knows how to create the world in such a way that all people would come to choose this of their own free will.
3. God could create a such a world.
4. But not everyone comes to know God in this life.
5. Therefore, either God does not want everyone to know him or He does not know how to create such a world or He cannot create such a world.

I think the problem is in the second premise where he wrote, "he didn't know how to create the world in such a way that all people would come to choose this of their own free will."

How would you respond to this argument?

Has this variation been addressed somewhere that I can read about online?

Thanks.

1

jayceeii

  • **
  • 480 Posts
    • View Profile
Re: Variation on the PoE Argument
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2018, 01:41:31 pm »
Proposition 1 fails to define God meaningfully, for the Creator is likely to be radically different from the creatures and unknowable by them. His goal for them would not be knowing Him, but bettering themselves and their society, including the angels. In the East they teach one should know oneself first, and knowing oneself to be a created soul, one might finally understand the Creator cannot be known, though perhaps seen in the Lord.

1. God does not expect anyone to know Him in this life, but has other goals for them.
2. God created a world in which the creatures can grow over time, possibly improving.

2

penser_fort

  • *
  • 1 Posts
    • View Profile
Re: Variation on the PoE Argument
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2018, 04:55:20 pm »
Hi Randy,

I wanted to suggest some responses to premises two and three of the presented argument. The first thought I had regarding premise two is that it seems contradictory to claim that one could have free will but always choose to know God. I think this would be an illusion of actually having free will, for it seems that if free will is to be legitimate, there must exist the possibility of choosing to not “know” or be in relationship with God. Thus, if one can apply the characteristics of omniscience, omnipotence, and omibelevolence to God, then it follows that He would not deceive creation through illusion, nor is He capable of contradiction. Thus, regardless of whether or not God actually knows how to create a world in such a way, it would be outside of his character to do so.

Additionally, I would like to object to premise three in a similar manner, first by noting that even if God knew how to create the world described in premise two – one containing deceit and contradiction—He would not be able to do so. For I think that God is divinely limited, of which an example is that He is unable to act outside of His character. Thus, God is limited by His supreme goodness, knowledge, and power to create such a world.

However, I would like to also consider that even if God could create a world that contradicted with His character, such as the one described in premise two, he would not be able to have authentic relationship with it. It seems that in the Genesis creation story, before choosing to create human beings, God is unsatisfied with all that he had created, even though it was perfect and good. I am suggesting that God failed to be satisfied because he recognized that nothing He had created was capable of choosing to know Him, love Him, or worship Him, because they did not have free will. All that He had created before human beings would not be able to choose to do anything other than knowing, loving, and worshiping God. It then seems that if there is no freedom of choice in this regard, then there is no opportunity for authentic relationship with God – the kind of relationship that can come from choosing to know, love, and worship God even when there is the opportunity to not do so. Thus it seems that God’s desire for being able to have authentic relationship with humanity, of which free will is required, outweighs His ability to create a world in which there is only an illusion of choice, no choice at all.

3

jayceeii

  • **
  • 480 Posts
    • View Profile
Re: Variation on the PoE Argument
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2019, 01:23:53 pm »
I wanted to suggest some responses to premises two and three of the presented argument.
I’ll lay out the argument at length, hoping it’s not too boring.

pf: The first thought I had regarding premise two is that it seems contradictory to claim that one could have free will but always choose to know God.

jc: Premise 2 is: “God knows how to create the world in such a way that all people would come to choose this of their own free will.” It isn’t contradictory to claim one could have free will but always choose to know God, since it can be argued all rational entities would want to know God. The irrational ones may exercise their free will of turning away. The question is whether God has made them eternally or temporarily irrational.

pf: I think this would be an illusion of actually having free will, for it seems that if free will is to be legitimate, there must exist the possibility of choosing to not “know” or be in relationship with God.

jc: To use a simple analogy from the human domain, athletes know their performance will diminish if they go on their own, without a coach or even written advice. Similarly all rational creatures long to know their Maker, in order to optimize their condition. Also once they begin to value their souls, they look to the Maker to guarantee their eternal life.

pf: Thus, if one can apply the characteristics of omniscience, omnipotence, and omibelevolence to God, then it follows that He would not deceive creation through illusion, nor is He capable of contradiction.

jc: To say God is not capable of contradiction, gives the Maker non-living attributes. If God is alive, He can contradict Himself or even do evil. Citing God’s character against Himself, the sentence appears to disallow freewill to the Creator. Importantly, humans may require deception to thrive. The full truth of their situation is too much for them.

pf: Thus, regardless of whether or not God actually knows how to create a world in such a way, it would be outside of his character to do so.

jc: The argument also appears to fail to endow the creatures with living attributes, specifically ignoring wisdom which would always cause a rational soul to worship God. There is a possibility of all always turning to God in the end, without an illusion of free will. This is when they become alive, see their situation, and look up to their Creator.

pf: Additionally, I would like to object to premise three in a similar manner, first by noting that even if God knew how to create the world described in premise two – one containing deceit and contradiction—He would not be able to do so. For I think that God is divinely limited, of which an example is that He is unable to act outside of His character. Thus, God is limited by His supreme goodness, knowledge, and power to create such a world.

jc: Premise 3 is: “God could create a such a world.” God won’t perpetrate evil, but neither would fully rational creatures. This leads to discussions of what it means to be a “good person,” and the benefits thereto. God could create a world in which humanity would be deceived through large sections of its history, because foolish ones would not follow God’s direct guidance, although wise ones would. The idea of achieving a world where all acknowledge Him by an illusion of free will, is replaced by self-aware entities who learn about their existential situation, value it, and worship the Creator as a result.

pf: However, I would like to also consider that even if God could create a world that contradicted with His character, such as the one described in premise two, he would not be able to have authentic relationship with it.

jc: Unfortunately the Invisible God cannot have a relationship with the creatures, except indirectly in ways they cannot see. Possibly God created the world out of sheer boredom, not from a desire for a relationship. Surely there are huge obstacles involved, and even from reading the life of Jesus you see how the Lord remained apart, distant and different from the disciples. The mind of man is limited to its possible experience, and this does not include direct interaction with the Deity, except as Jesus remarked, through the Lord.

pf:  It seems that in the Genesis creation story, before choosing to create human beings, God is unsatisfied with all that he had created, even though it was perfect and good.

jc: Dinosaurs and mammoths were not enough. Intelligence needed to come to Earth.

pf: I am suggesting that God failed to be satisfied because he recognized that nothing He had created was capable of choosing to know Him, love Him, or worship Him, because they did not have free will.

jc: Free will isn’t the animal limitation, but lack of the higher mental powers the human body affords. If God is loved, I’ve seen no proof of it, and man’s worship has been mere flattery. Presumably God is still dissatisfied. Raw mindless intelligence is not enough. Higher standards are required, until there are companions competent for the Lord to meet.

pf: All that He had created before human beings would not be able to choose to do anything other than knowing, loving, and worshiping God.

jc: Animals make no such choice. God still relates to them, like a shepherd or cowherd.

pf: It then seems that if there is no freedom of choice in this regard, then there is no opportunity for authentic relationship with God – the kind of relationship that can come from choosing to know, love, and worship God even when there is the opportunity to not do so.

jc: The argument becomes circular, failing to characterize knowing, loving, and worshipping God except by mere repetition. Looking at the angels instead of the animals, the opportunity to do something wrong or to ignore God, is not considered part of free will. The angels work in fields of perfection, exercising choice between competing good deeds. They see evil as bestial and totally benighted, as all rational function is torn away.

pf: Thus it seems that God’s desire for being able to have authentic relationship with humanity, of which free will is required, outweighs His ability to create a world in which there is only an illusion of choice, no choice at all.

jc: The argument swings around a failure to allow that conscious, rational entities might always choose to worship God, until the only means to construct such a world seems to be trickery. If the animals are limited, so might some men be limited. I’m unconvinced the religions have been authentic attempts to establish a relationship between God and man. Instead it seems like men were given what they would eat, not what they should eat.