Paterfamilia

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I would like to thank Bruce for consenting to debate on the topic “God is justified in allowing evil in the world.”  For this debate, we have agreed on terms and definitions as follows:

1.  “God” is the maximally great, 3-omni being.  Bruce’s task is to show that it is necessarily true, (or eminently reasonable to believe) that no MGB exists, based on the Problem of Evil (PoE) in the world.  It’s stipulated that the PoE in no way proves that there is no supernatural origin to the world, but only that if there is a creator, He is either not omni-benevolent, or not omnipotent, or both.

2.  My task in this debate is to shoulder the burden of proof, arguing in the affirmative, that indeed God is justified in allowing evil in the world.  I intend to show that it is necessarily true, or at least eminently reasonable to believe, that God is justified in allowing evil, in order to complete His plan for His created intelligent beings.

I will not be arguing that God exists.  That is beyond the scope of my responsibility for this debate.  Nor will I be arguing that God’s created intelligent beings have free-will of an extent that allows them to make undetermined, independent decisions.  That is also beyond the scope of my responsibility.  Both of these are givens from my perspective in the context of this debate.

Of course Bruce does have the responsibility to show that God doesn’t exist according to the terms.  Any argument for determinism, or against the free-will of intelligent creatures would constitute a different debate topic.

In proceeding then, I will offer three arguments.  Each of these arguments severally makes a strong case that God is justified in allowing evil.  I believe that when we consider the weight of these arguments cumulatively, any rational person would be obliged to agree with the conclusion, that an MGB God is justified in allowing evil to exist in this world.

In addition, each of these arguments are connected to each other by a common purpose.  That is, God’s purpose for the creation of the universe.  In order to set the background for understanding God’s purpose, I would like to offer the following statements:

        1st – It is immeasurably good for an intelligent free-will being to live eternally in full, knowledgeable, intimate relationship with God and other intelligent free-will beings.

        2nd – God created this universe in order to prepare, test, and educate intelligent free-will beings for eternal life with Him and other intelligent free-will beings in heaven.

        3rd – In heaven, intelligent free-willed former human beings never sin.

With this understanding as a backdrop, I will move on to my three arguments.


1.  Argument from Entailment – God’s Problem of Evil (GPoE)

Entailment is a strong word.  It means “always”.  It means that there isn’t any choice in the matter.  A proposition that is metaphysically entailed to be true, is always true in any possible world.

For example, the incoherence of a married bachelor is generally accepted as an absurdity, and so it is.  Other examples of incoherent absurdities that God cannot instantiate despite His omnipotence would be an abstract mathematical equation wherein it is true that 2+2=5, or a rock that is so big that God cannot lift it, or a river so wide that He cannot cross it, etc.  These absurdities are absurdities in this world, and in all possible worlds that can be conceived.

Therefore, the argument from entailment says this:

            “At the moment of creation of any and every free-willed intelligent being, the possibility of evil also comes into being.”

I doubt that my opponent will argue that good or evil do not exist, since this is a debate about the PoE, so I won’t spend a lot of words in proof of the existence of evil.  However, for clarity sake I will present a description: good is that which communicates truth, love, and selflessness.  Evil is the opposite, or that which does not communicate truth and love, including lies, hatred, and selfishness.  God hates evil to an extent that He has made laws against it.

Let’s look at a civil war field hospital.  The intrepid surgeon spends his days digging out bullets and hacking off limbs.  Regardless of the momentary opinions of the objects of his surgeries, he is communicating truth, love, and selflessness to wounded soldiers.  He is saving their lives, no matter how much pain he is causing at the same time.  The perceived “evil” that they endure at his hands is soon forgotten, swallowed up by their gratitude for the good thing he did in saving their lives.

Light and darkness would be analogous to good and evil in their relationship to each other.  Darkness is simply the absence of light.  Heat and cold, by the same token.  Cold is simply the absence of heat.  The existence of light entails the possibility of “not light” and so on with heat and cold.  The creation of the present entails the possibility of the absent.

Simply put, when God creates a free-willed being, that being has choices.  And the possibility exists from that moment of creation for that being to choose to do evil rather than good.  This is God’s Problem of Evil (GPoE), and in order to maximize the 1st purpose, God must deal with it.  God didn’t create the evil, He created the good, which entails the possibility of the evil – a big problem.

The question immediately presents, does then the good that comes from the creation of free-willed intelligent beings outweigh the possible evil that entails?

I would say yes.  Again, God’s purpose listed as 1st above.  I look forward to living forever in familiar loving fellowship with God and with others.  I am glad to be alive and have that opportunity.  The fact that others choose to do evil rather than good, or even that I have to suffer some evil during this life has no impact on my belief that it’s a good thing to be alive.

One might argue that since they don’t believe in the God that I am describing, and they don’t believe in the eternal life that I am describing, that therefore my argument is invalid.  But again, in order to defeat my argument, my opponent must show that the argument from entailment is illogical, or incoherent, or absurd.  He must defeat the argument, not assail my beliefs, and thereby, by weight of evidence, prove that the MGB God does not exist.

In conclusion, the MGB God, in order to fulfill His purpose of immeasurable goodness as listed 1st above, would certainly go forward with His creation of free-willed intelligent beings, even with the entailed possibility of evil.

So much more I could say, but I will save it for rebuttals and instead now move on to my next argument.



2.  Argument from Context.

This is where the rubber meets the road so to speak.  It is a recurrent biblical theme, that God uses the “day of evil” for His good purposes.  In speaking to his brothers and allaying their fears, Joseph said “You meant it for evil, but God used it for good, to bring to pass this great salvation…”

The argument from context says that God allows the entailed possibility of evil, and even uses the evil that results from wrong decisions, for His good purposes.

As an entry point, I will offer this statement:

“No word or proposition can be properly understood in the absence of its relevant, definitional context.”

Pick a word, any word.  Recently I posted the word “batter” in the OP of a thread and asked for the definition.  Of course, there were many.  The word has to do with baseball, or pancakes, or hitting somebody.  So we see that with no definitional context as a referent, there is no way to tell what the word means.

Expanding on this, let’s refer back to our civil war field hospital that I mentioned earlier.  Let’s further say it has 20 beds, and all of them are occupied by wounded soldiers.  Those men of late shared a common context, one of the worst, most brutal contexts that can be imagined.  Bullets, bombs, dismemberment, screaming, pain, death.  They were each surrounded by this state of affairs for various lengths of time before they were wounded seriously enough to end up in the field hospital.

Important to our discussion, is the fact that they are each DEFINED as human beings by their response to their context – their performance within that context, if you will.  They demonstrated by their individual performances in battle what sort of person they each are.

No doubt some percentage of them behaved with great valor.  Through some great feat in the heat of battle, they demonstrated heroism.  Perhaps even enough to earn a Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration given in the US. 

Does the award of a medal impart any courage for the demonstration?  Of course not.  This isn’t the cowardly lion in the land of Oz.  Rather, the medal recognizes what the battle revealed in the character of the heroic soldier.

By the same token, there are beds occupied by cowards who got shot in the back as they ran away.  There is maybe an officer who was shot by a soldier who decided the officer was inept and was going to get them all killed.  There might be a soldier who was shot by one of his fellows who had a grudge.

The deepest substance of the character of each man is, therefore, definitionally demonstrated within the boundaries of their individual context, of which the battlefield is a part.

Now let’s expand this concept.  I’ll start with another statement –

“God created this universe, with the entailed possibility of evil in it, in order to give Himself the best possible context in which to demonstrate His maximal greatness, to all of His created intelligent free-will beings, so that He could be fully known by them.”

This statement of “so that” purpose also applies to the 2nd and the 3rd statements of purpose listed above.  In other words, God’s use of this context in demonstrating who He is, also serves to demonstrate who we should be, and who we will be, in spite of the prevalence of our bad choices.

This is God’s plan for dealing with His problem of evil. 

He could deal with the GPoE by simply eradicating any and all who decide to do evil.  That way He would protect those who do good.  But if He did that, all we would know of Him is that He hates evil, and He is quick to wipe anybody out who makes a bad decision.  The 1st purpose could never be realized.  Full familiar relationship is not possible with someone that you are afraid of.

Or He could simply create beings who are incapable of evil.  However, that would make the 1st statement of purpose impossible, because relationship must be entered in to freely by someone with a choice to not enter into that relationship in order for it to be of any value.

Or He could plan, from before the world began, to fully demonstrate His love for all of His created intelligent beings.  He could, at the right time in history, enter into His creation, by being born as a man, taking on the likeness of man, and experiencing for Himself every weakness of mankind, and do so without ever doing any evil.  This was Jesus of Nazareth.

By this, we gain knowledge of God that we could not gain any other way.

For it to be adequate in describing who God is, and demonstrating what maximal love is, it is essential that this definitional context (the world) be suffused with horrible evil.  There had to be self-righteous, utterly evil men in positions of authority, who would be willing to torture and crucify a perfectly innocent man who had never done anything wrong.

This demonstration of love perfectly offers salvation to all who fail as a result of God’s Problem of Evil.  In fact, the bible says that “God has bound all men and women over to rebellion, so that He could have mercy on all”.
By His death, Christ fulfilled all of the righteous requirements of God’s law, so that now, all of God’s created intelligent free-will human beings have the opportunity to participate in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd purpose listed above, based on faith.  God offers redemption to those ensnared due to GPoE.

None of this could have happened absent a context that is suffused with evil.  And it is truly evil.  However, God used this context of evil to demonstrate in maximal fashion who He is, what maximal love is, and to offer redemption and eternal life to anyone who would believe.

In order for my opponent to defeat the argument from context, he has to offer rational arguments that prove that an MGB God would not use a context of evil by sacrificing Himself in human form, Jesus of Nazareth, in order to offer salvation freely to all mankind, and thus fulfill His 1st, 2nd, and 3rd purpose listed above.


3.  Argument for Soul-Building

The argument for soul-building builds on the foundation established by the GPoE entailment of the possibility of evil, and God’s response illustrated by the argument from context.  It applies specifically to the 2nd and 3rd purposes that I listed above.

In the argument from context, I sought to show how God uses the context of a world suffused with evil to demonstrate who He is, and what He is like.  I also said that human beings, in like manner, demonstrate their own individual characteristics within their unique definitional context.

But what about those characteristics?  Are they set in stone?  Can we do anything about them?
The argument for soul-building says that God’s purpose is to use the evil in the world to mold us into better people.  It compares who we are, with who we should be, and who He wants us to be.  It says that the context of battle doesn’t only reveal what we are made of, but rather that by extremity of pressure, we are changed.
 
We become better, or we become worse.

If we respond appropriately, this in turn prepares us to meet God’s 3rd higher purpose, that we would be equipped to live in heaven for eternity with free-will intact and without sinning.

As an example, very few us are worried in the slightest that we might someday murder our mothers, or torture babies for pleasure, or blow up our neighbor’s house just to watch it burn down.  In heaven, ANY sin would be tantamount to these examples.  Though we still have free-will intact, we will not be worried that we might sin.
We are familiar with sin and the consequences of evil because we have lived it.  How it hurts ourselves and others.  We won’t want to have anything to do with it.

A wise person once said to me that “people never change, until it hurts too badly not to.”  This is clear to parents who are busy about raising their children with the hope that they will have happy successful lives.  We love our children and we want the very best for them.

But in order to equip them for success, we must deal with bad or selfish decisions by use of painful consequences, and teach them that it’s good to share, it’s good to cooperate, and it’s good to love.  They are intelligent free-willed creatures just like us, and we have to teach them to be good.

Painful experiences change us.  The painful experiences that we live through because of evil in the world, can help to mold us into good people.

God is certainly justified in allowing evil in the world for the greater, immeasurable good of equipping us to live for eternity in heaven with Him without any fear of doing something evil.

I am out of room.  I hope for the opportunity to expand in rebuttal
« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 12:09:44 pm by Paterfamilia »
"First I knocked them out of a tree with a rock.  Then I saved them."

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bruce culver

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Re: "God is justified in allowing evil in the world" BC vs Paterfamilia
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2017, 11:20:57 pm »
I would like to thank Paterfamilia  for challenging me to this debate.  I will be trying to rebut his argument that God is justified in allowing evil, but first, in this post, I will be giving an affirmative argument that given the existence of unjustified evil/suffering in the world, we are justified in believing that the 3-O God of traditional Christian theism does not exist.

Following is my original version of the Problem of Evil Argument, an argument which in one form or another has vexed theists from at least the days of the Greek philosopher Epicurus.


1. If God is omnibenevolent, then He would desire to prevent unjustified evil/suffering to the extent of his ability

2. If God is omnipotent, then there is no limit to His ability to prevent unjustified evil/suffering

Premise 3.  If God exists and desires to prevent unjustified evil and suffering and His ability to do so is unlimited, then there should be no unjustified evil/suffering in the world.

Premise 4. We find unjustified evil/suffering in the world.

Conclusion 5. God does not exist. (follows from 3&4)

I don’t think that Paterfamilia will question the definitions or validity of the syllogism (P3&P4—> C5). His only hope, IMO of refuting this argument is to identify a defeater for P3 or P4.

Astutely enough, though he did not know exactly how I would formulate my positive argument, he appears to have already made an attempt to undercut P4  with his positive argument that God is justified to permit evil/suffering.

But before I try and rebut his positive argument, which I think will be easy because he will have the burden of proof there, I think I should explicate my positive argument a bit.

By evil, of course, I mean moral evil, but of course, there is another sort of evil, sometimes called natural evil, which means suffering caused on sentient beings by non moral agents, such as disease, natural disasters and the like, and this is what I mean by "suffering."

I think it is hard to argue that if God is omnibenevolent, that he would not wish to prevent the unjustified suffering of sentient beings.

But what would constitute moral justification for allowing evil or suffering? Well, usually moral justifcation is thought of in terms of utilitarianism. Basically, this means that some immoral act can be justified if some greater good results from the act. This idea can be extended to justification for allowing evil or suffering that might otherwise have been prevented from taking place.

So, I agree that God could have justification for allowing some evil or suffering, if that evil led to some greater good.

I might note though that if I wanted to be really hardnosed, I think that I might be within my deontic rights to deny that God can allow any evil/suffering at all. Why? Because pragmatic justication is something that humans employ not because we really like it. I mean, we often say that “the ends don’t justify the means” but because life is messy and moral dilemmas arise, we often compromise that principle and use pragmatic justifications. But, isn’t that because we are limited in our understanding and power? If God is really omnipotent and omniscient, he shouldn’t have such limitations, and so I wonder if it makes sense to use pragmatic justification to justify God’s actions as if He were a relatively impotent and benighted being like us humans.

Anyway, I’m not going to belabor that point, and for the sake of argument we can allow for such kind of justification.

But you will notice that my argument takes account of this by adding the qualifier “justified” in the premises. I am maintaining not that God could not possibly allow any evil or suffering, but that God could not possibly allow any UNJUSTIFIED evil and suffering. As such, it is not good enough to refute the argument just to show that some of the evil and suffering in the world may be justified. It is necessary to argue that it is plausible that ALL the evil and suffering that we see is justified.

Now, in terms of refuting my affirmative argument that  (the 3-O) God does not exist, since the burden of proof is on me, it is not necessary for my opponent to PROVE that all the evil and suffering we see is justified. But it is necessary for him to demonstrate that it is plausible that ALL the evil and suffering we see is justified. It will be my burden to show that that is not plausible.

OK, since my opening is well below the word limit. Paterfamilia has suggested that I can go ahead with a rebuttal of his opening in my initial post.

As, I have presented my argument, I feel that I don't need to refute my opponents proposition if it is interpreted as meaning that God is justified in allowing SOME evil in the world. I am not sure that proposition is true, as I have argued that it is not clear pragmatic justification can work for an omniscient, omnipotent being. However, I am going to forego that argument and allow for such justification. What I do think is necessary for me to refute is the idea that God has justification for allowing ALL the evil and suffering that obviously exits in the world.

I am little unclear exactly how my opponents argument is supposed to work to justify all of the evil/suffering we see in the world. I assume that he simply felt his post was getting too long before he reach a summation of the argument.
So, for now I'm not going to attempt a comprehensive refutation, but address some points that I think my pose some difficulty for his argument going forward.

1. In his "Argument from Entailment" he states "A proposition that is metaphysically entailed to be true, is always true in any possible world." And then he sates that “At the moment of creation of any and every free-willed intelligent being, the possibility of evil also comes into being.”

The problem here is that there is quite a ways to go from establishing possibility to establishing necessity (truth in every possible world). His point 3 in his explication of God's purpose seems to undercut the idea that even though "free will" entails the possibility of evil that it entails the necessity of evil. His point 3 was  "3rd – In heaven, intelligent free-willed former human beings never sin," which would mean there is at least one possible world, i.e., heaven, where free-will does not entail the necessity of the existence of evil.

2. The argument from context seems to be saying that God uses the context of evil in the world for the purpose of obtaining an immeasurable (which I interpret as maximal) good which is "for an intelligent free-will being to live eternally in full, knowledgeable, intimate relationship with God and other intelligent free-will beings."

The problem I see here is it is stated in terms of a single being, but God, if He exists, created perhaps innumerable free-willed beings, and according to the Christian doctrines on which my opponents arguments are based, it is likely that the vast majority of such beings are actually going to end up in hell, and as such it is very hard to see this as a maximal good that can be used to justify what has been called by my opponent "God's POE". My opponent has defined "good"  as "that which communicates truth, love, and selflessness." It hardly communicates selflessness for God to obtain His idea of the maximal good by creating a system where the majority of the sentient beings He creates end up in eternal suffering.  But I suppose this problem could be avoided on universalism or maybe even annihilationism, so it is not an argument against an MGB in general. But it is my opponents burden in terms of his affirmative argument to offer a justification that actually makes sense of an MGB allowing evil.

3. "Painful experiences change us.  The painful experiences that we live through because of evil in the world, can help to mold us into good people."  This seems to be the crux of this leg of my opponents argument, and I would agree with it in principle. However, as I stated before I am not going to attempt to argue that an MGB could not conceivably allow some evil for let's say, as suggested in my opponents third argument, character building. However, I am going to argue that it is not plausible that ALL of the evil/suffering that exists in this world is necessary to build our character, and I will try to give some examples of evils that cannot be conceived of as being character building for anyone involved.

Now, it might be character building for a child to receive some corrective punishment from their parents, but what about abusive punishment? What about a child who is battered by a parent who is taking out their frustrations in life on the helpless tot. Whose character is being built in this example of evil? I suppose that one could say it might be useful in building the character of other adults who will need to show selflessness in stepping in to save the child. But, is it always the case that another adult steps in? Is it not sometimes the case that nobody else really knows what is going on or at least does nothing and the child ends up beaten to death, never having experienced much of any chance to learn anything from their horrific ordeal. Or maybe the child survives and far from character building their torture at the hands of their parents turns them into person who is never capable of loving anybody, let alone the God that allowed them to be savagely abused by the persons who were supposed to love and protect them. Also, even IF it conceivable  (and I think it may be barely, but not plausible) that every case ends up helping to build somebody's character, is there also not something unseemly about the idea of an MGB using the suffering and death of a child to help build someone else's character? What about the child? Could it be morally justifiable to just discard it's wellbeing as collateral damage?

Is it really plausible that every horrific case of child abuse actually leads to some greater good in the form of helping to build somebody's character? Is it plausible that there would be no possible way short of violating the supposed sanctity of human free for an omnipotent God to prevent such abuse from taking place? I think not.

Now, let's look at horrific natural evil. This is evil that God could easily prevent without having to violate free will. I'll use the examples of the Asian tsunami that literally drowned 200,000 people to death. What greater good plausibly came from that? I suppose it could be argued that it gave lots of people the opportunity to express "love, truth and selflessness". Well it pcertainly did, but was there not enough opportunities in this world for them to do so without the necessity to allow the tsunami to cause so much pain and suffering for so many people? Remember it is not good enough to argue that some amount of pain and suffering is necessary for character growth it has to be argued that it is plausible that ALL the pain and suffering that is allowed is necessary towards that ends, and I for one find that highly implausible.

I'll end this opening post by suggesting that the existence of the tremendous amounts of natural evil in the form of natural disasters and plagues is not explicable on the argument given by my opponent. First it could be prevented by a 3-O God without in any way inhibiting human free will, and secondly just dealing with human evil would be plenty enough for human character building and natural evil is superfluous or likely even counter productive towards that ends

What I mean by saying it is likely counter productive is that while some amount of evil in the world might plausibly serve to build people's character, it is equally if not more plausible that the tremendous amount of natural evil in the worl serves to do the opposite. That is, because it undermines faith in God, which most theists consider the key to character building. I've heard it argued that character building is impossible without faith in God. If that is true then the existence of great quantities of natural evil, by making people doubt the existence of God, very plausibly does more to undermine human character development than to foster it.

OK, I think I am still short of my word limit, but I think this is more than enough for my opening post.



« Last Edit: July 28, 2017, 11:26:51 am by bruce culver »
"The world is my country and my religion is to do good."

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bruce culver

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Re: "God is justified in allowing evil in the world" BC vs Paterfamilia
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2017, 11:23:00 am »
I apologize for the delay.  Travel etc.

My next response is 99% ready.  I want to go over it once more and post this evening.

Sure, no problem. Take your time.
"The world is my country and my religion is to do good."

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Paterfamilia

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Re: "God is justified in allowing evil in the world" BC vs Paterfamilia
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2017, 09:19:46 pm »
In an unexpected development, my opponent has decided to concede defeat as to our agreed upon resolution, by agreeing with the resolution in his opening arguments when he said:

“So, I agree that God could have justification for allowing some evil or suffering, if that evil led to some greater good.”

I don’t want to belabor the point, but to maintain the integrity of the debate process, I will state that it is thus resolved that the statement - “God is justified in allowing evil in the world” hereby holds as true, according to the result of this debate, which is capitulation by the participant arguing against.

My opponent seems to have decided (after I posted my opening arguments) to argue a less strict and comprehensive resolution in place of the one that we agreed on.  Unless I am wrong, he is now arguing something more like –

 “Unjustified evil/suffering in the world proves that God does not exist.”

This is still an interesting debate topic and I am happy to pivot in that direction.  In my intent to defeat the arguments of my opponent, I will say that the arguments that I already posted at the beginning of this thread will serve substantially to defeat, or at least undercut his arguments.  I intend to augment those arguments with additional arguments that will complete the defeat of his proposition.

My prediction is that he has courted calamity by jumping headlong into a “dark boggy swamp of drudgerous despair” in supposing that he will be able to prove that God doesn’t exist by identifying some sort of “line of demarcation” between justified evil and unjustified evil.  Again, a line so compelling that it disproves the existence of the MGB God.  Or perhaps he will make a quantitative rather than qualitative argument based on sheer numbers.

Good luck to him.

I hope he doesn’t mind my prediction (irenic of course) of his inevitable slogging.


Now, turning to the arguments of my opponent, he listed a syllogism as follows:
           
          1. If God is omnibenevolent, then He would desire to prevent unjustified evil/suffering to the extent of his ability.

        2. If God is omnipotent, then there is no limit to His ability to prevent unjustified evil/suffering.

          Premise 3.  If God exists and desires to prevent unjustified evil and suffering and His ability to do so is unlimited, then there should be no unjustified evil/suffering in the world.

          Premise 4. We find unjustified evil/suffering in the world.
         Conclusion 5. God does not exist. (follows from 3&4)

In looking at these premises and their conclusion, I want to first point out the possible confusion due to the terminology.  For example, the most unjust occurrence of evil in history was the crucifixion of Jesus.  He was perfectly innocent.  And yet, God willed for that to happen because that event carries the most vital purpose of the greatest good of any occurrence in history.

So let’s keep it clear that the term “unjustified” in the context of this debate could be accurately understood as “purposeless” or “without any value”, in addition to being evil perpetrated with purely evil agency and intent. 

In the death of Jesus of Nazareth, we can agree that there was no shadow of a good worldly reason to kill Him.  God willed this event with the highest purpose.

My opponent has asked that I prove that ALL of the instances of suffering that we see are justified.  This would be like asking me to name all of the people in China.

Rather, I am going let my opponent off the hook at this point, for the sake of keeping this not only interesting, but relevant.  I won’t ask that he describe a comprehensive set of moral mapping criteria that would serve to draw a border between instances of evil that are purposeful, and instances of evil that provably have no purpose, and are therefore unjustified.  This would be a long slog through the swamp.

I’m only going to ask for one.

I offered one instance of perfectly unjust evil (from a worldly perspective) that is supremely justified by God, according to His eternal purpose.

He should be able to describe and prove at least one instance of evil that validates his syllogism.
If he is unable to do so, then his conclusion stands defeated.

_________________________________________________ ________________________

At this point I will address the issues raised by my opponent relative to the first arguments that I presented.


Bruce Culver (BC) said:

“I am little unclear exactly how my opponents argument is supposed to work to justify all of the evil/suffering we see in the world. I assume that he simply felt his post was getting too long before he reach a summation of the argument.
So, for now I'm not going to attempt a comprehensive refutation, but address some points that I think my pose some difficulty for his argument going forward.”


Obviously, I was arguing for the resolution that we agreed on, not the one he decided to argue for after I posted my first arguments.


BC said:

“1. In his "Argument from Entailment" he states "A proposition that is metaphysically entailed to be true, is always true in any possible world." And then he sates that “At the moment of creation of any and every free-willed intelligent being, the possibility of evil also comes into being.”

The problem here is that there is quite aways to go from establishing possibility to establishing necessity (truth in every possible world).”

It appears to me that this objection is based on an erroneous conflation of the two statements.  For example, if the MGB God exists in a possible world, then He exists in all possible worlds necessarily.  In like manner, if a proposition is necessarily absurd in any possible world, the same is true of that proposition in all possible worlds.

Married bachelors, incongruent equations that are equal, darkness that is light, etc, all would be examples.

In my statements, the word “possibility” refers to the entailment that if evil is possible in any world that contains free-willed intelligent creatures, then evil is possible in all worlds that contain free-willed intelligent creatures.  Not that “evil exists” in all possible worlds.

BC said:

“His point 3 in his explication of God's purpose seems to undercut the idea that even though "free will" entails the possibility of evil that it entails the necessity of evil. His point 3 was  "3rd – In heaven, intelligent free-willed former human beings never sin," which would mean there is at least one possible world, i.e., heaven, where free-will does not entail the necessity of the existence of evil.

This builds on the last comments by my opponent.  I don’t think I ever said anywhere that evil is entailed.  Only that the possibility of evil is entailed.

In heaven is instantiated that world containing the beings whom Mackie suggested should be possible for a good God to create – that is, free-will beings who always choose to not sin in every situation.  We shouldn’t take that to mean that sin is impossible in heaven by force of God’s determination.


BC said:

“2. The argument from context seems to be saying that God uses the context of evil in the world for the purpose of obtaining an immeasurable (which I interpret as maximal) good which is "for an intelligent free-will being to live eternally in full, knowledgeable, intimate relationship with God and other intelligent free-will beings."

The problem I see here is it is stated in terms of a single being, but God, if He exists, created perhaps innumerable free-willed beings, and according to the Christian doctrines on which my opponents arguments are based, it is likely that the vast majority of such beings are actually going to end up in hell, and as such it is very hard to see this as a maximal good that can be used to justify what has been called by my opponent "God's POE".

My opponent has defined "good"  as "that which communicates truth, love, and selflessness." It hardly communicates selflessness for God to obtain His idea of the maximal good by creating a system where the majority of the sentient beings He creates end up in eternal suffering.  But I suppose this problem could be avoided on universalism or maybe even annihilationism, so it is not an argument against an MGB in general. But it is my opponents burden in terms of his affirmative argument to offer a justification that actually makes sense of an MGB allowing evil."


In answer to that burden, I believe I have already shown, and my opponent has agreed, that God is justified in allowing evil in the world.  So this question, “how could a loving God send anyone to hell?”, is a different question for a different debate, that I would be happy to participate in.

However, it is a great question that deserves a moments’ attention here, and I’m going to be personally transparent with my response.  At one point in my life this particular question caused me great distress, and challenged my faith to the point of near abandonment.  I would say that it started me on a very focused search for the truth about this and many other questions.

Strictly speaking, for the purpose of our debate, my opponent has already answered his own question, leaving me with no responsibility.  Indeed, as he agrees, there are possible explanations, and he listed some of those.
Since the question is adequately answered by the possibilities offered by my opponent, I will only describe as briefly as possible what I believe about it, without going to the space of providing all the necessary support, etc.

I believe that this physical universe is not the only world that God has created.  But rather that, before this world, God created a spiritual world that also includes free-willed intelligent beings.

In that world, God interacts directly with His free-willed beings.  Sadly, in spite of that interaction, some of them rebelled.  It was their rebellion that first instigated a need for God to deal with the GPoE - not human evil.  The possibility of evil had become actuality.

So, before this explanation spirals into 20 pages, I will just say that I don’t believe in the eternal conscious torment of humans.  Hell was not created for evil people.  I’ll reserve a full discussion for some other time.


BC said:

3. "Painful experiences change us.  The painful experiences that we live through because of evil in the world, can help to mold us into good people."  This seems to be the crux of this leg of my opponent’s argument, and I would agree with it in principle. However, as I stated before I am not going to attempt to argue that an MGB could not conceivably allow some evil for let's say, as suggested in my opponents third argument, character building. However, I am going to argue that it is not plausible that ALL of the evil/suffering that exists in this world is necessary to build our character, and I will try to give some examples of evils that cannot be conceived of as being character building for anyone involved."


Following this paragraph my opponent listed several instances or situations of evil that he would say constitute unjustified evil, or evil with no purpose.

One of those instances that he listed is identified as child abuse.  And he said this type of evil is unseemly, at least in a world created by an MGB.  And I completely agree.  Child abuse is a horrendous evil.  And ALL evil is unseemly.  God hates all of it.

I have seen instances of child abuse, some very close to me.  It’s certainly ugly.  But can we say for a certainty that there is no way that God could use an evil situation like that for a higher purpose?  I don’t think so.  Perhaps the spirit of God would convict the offending parent of their sin, and they would turn their life to serving God, and the whole family would be transformed by the knowledge of God that would not have happened otherwise.  It never makes the sin “good”.  But God can cause good to come from it.

Further, I believe that God does indeed stop some extremities of evil.  We never see baby hacking contests on television, and that sort of thing.  I am saying that without the influence of the Spirit of God acting through the people of God, the extremity of evil that we see could be far worse.

Then, in addition, my opponent cites the Asian tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands as an example of natural evil that could be considered incompatible with the existence of a loving God.

That’s hardly more than a blip in the daily death rate.  Over 150,000 people die every day on this planet.  So what unusual actually did happen as a result?

Well let’s refer back to my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd purposes that I list as God’s reasons for creating this universe in the first place: 

                1st – It is immeasurably good for an intelligent free-will being to live eternally in full, knowledgeable, intimate relationship with God and other intelligent free-will beings.

           2nd – God created this universe in order to prepare, test, and educate intelligent free-will beings for eternal life with Him and other intelligent free-will beings in heaven.

           3rd – In heaven, intelligent free-willed former human beings never sin.

No where on this list is there any mention that we should each be afforded the opportunity to live long, happy, healthy lives.  That is NOT God’s plan.  Instead, our lives on this planet are short and often difficult.  This is perfectly in keeping with the three purposes that I listed.  God’s plan is that we be prepared for eternal life with Him.  That affords us joy, whether in good times or in bad.

My opponent says that natural evils would serve to turn people away from God, and I would say that that is patently false.  Far from turning people away, there is nothing more noteworthy in turning masses of people TO God than natural disasters and other large scale incidents of danger or peril, such as an attack from a foreign enemy.

The fact is that continuous peace, safety, and prosperity serve far more often to produce laziness, complacency, and selfishness in human beings than deeper devotion to God.  Those episodes of jeopardy or magnified loss snap us to a realization of what is important in life.  We think more of our deepest relationships, our relationship with God, and our eternal destinies.

Certainly we can therefore say that regardless of the magnitude of any natural disaster, God can certainly use it for good.

Once again I am out of space.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2017, 09:46:09 pm by Paterfamilia »
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bruce culver

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Re: "God is justified in allowing evil in the world" BC vs Paterfamilia
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2017, 10:57:37 pm »
First of all let me say that I don’t believe I conceded defeat on the agreed upon resolution. That was stated as “God is justified in permitting evil in the world” Now admittedly that could be interpreted as meaning “God is justified in permitting some evil in the world” or “God is justified in permitting all the evil in the world”. I guess I perhaps made a mistake by interpreting it as the latter, but let me explain why I interpreted it that way. I interpreted it that way because arguing that God is justified in allowing some evil in the world is kind of trivial.

The reason arguing that God is justified in allowing some evil is trivial is because it wouldn’t in any way indicate that it is reasonable to believe that the existence of the 3-O God is consistent with the available evidence, because ALL the evil in the world, not just some of the evil in the world is part of that available evidence, and as I argued in my syllogism if any of that evil is not morally justifiable, then the only conclusions that one can reach is  either that God is not omnibenevolent, not omnipotent, or just plain doesn’t exist, and on any count the 3-O God would be shown not to exist.

If my opponent wants to claim victory on his affirmative proposition because he has demonstrated that it is not unreasonable to think a 3-O God could be justified in allowing some evil, then OK, I concede that half of the debate, and we can focus on my contention in my affirmative case which is that it is not plausible to think a 3-O God is justified in allowing all the evil that is evidenced in this world that He supposedly created.

I will also admit that the exact formulation of my argument did not occur to me until about the time I started writing and it ended up being a little different than what I had previously stated. I apologize if that caught my opponent off-guard, but I am pretty sure that no matter what the formulation was, this debate would have eventually boiled down to the issue of whether it is reasonable to think that all the evils in evidence in this world are consistent with idea that it was created by a 3-O God.

Since I’ve decided to concede to the rather trivial proposition that a 3-O God might very well be justified in allowing some of the evil evidenced in the world. I am going to, for the most part, forego further pursuing the points I originally raised against his argument when I thought he was arguing that God was justified in allowing all the evil we see. However, I still think the point I made about his argument on entailment was valid.

He argued that the possibility of evil was entailed (metaphysically necessary) in ever world with free-willed creatures. The problem there is that doesn’t mean it is necessary for evil to exist  in such worlds, so it should still be possible for God to create a world with free-willed creatures that does not contain evil. Plus my opponent as much as undercuts his argument that it is necessary for evil to exist in every world with free-willed creatures when he argued that there is such a world, heaven, where free-willed creatures exist, but God does not. And my opponent really needs to establish the necessity of evil in such worlds, otherwise a 3-O God ought to be able to create one w/o evil and would do so if actually omnibenevolent.

I’d like to commend my opponent on what I think is his very reasonable assessment that almost certainly the idea of hell as a place of eternal torment of lost human souls is utterly incompatible with an omnibenevolent, omnipotent God.

I’d also like to give rhetorical kudos to him for bringing in the crucifixion of Jesus as an example of the most heinous of evils that yet might be considered as justified in allowing since supposedly it leads to the redemption of mankind from sin. I could quibble I suppose with how reasonable it is to think that an omnipotent God should have to resort such drastic evil to accomplish his goal, as I’ve pointed out “ends justify the means” pragmatic justification isn’t a positive good, but something we humans engage in due to our relative powerlessness. God is supposed to be absolutely powerful.

However, in the final analysis even if such a “salvation plan” with its horrific consequences does make sense as the plan of a 3-O God, that still doesn’t mean that all the rest of the horrific evil in the word has any such justification.

Jesus is not the only person who has suffered horrific torture and been brutally murdered without justification, and yet, in none of those other cases does any obvious good such as the salvation of mankind result. As such, even if it is true, and it has only been asserted to be true here, that Jesus’ horrible ordeal brought salvation, it doesn’t go any way towards justifying all the other ghastly moral and natural evil evidenced in the world.

As you will remember in my opening argument I gave a couple of examples of evil where to me it seems highly implausible that any greater good cold have resulted to justify God’s allowing them.  My opponent has offered some rebuttal and now I will address the points he made.

Regarding extreme child abuse leading to death my opponent  argued: “… can we say for a certainty that there is no way that God could use an evil situation like that for a higher purpose?  I don’t think so.  Perhaps the spirit of God would convict the offending parent of their sin, and they would turn their life to serving God, and the whole family would be transformed by the knowledge of God that would not have happened otherwise.  It never makes the sin “good”.  But God can cause good to come from it.”

But my argument is not that it is not possible that a greater good could ever come from such a situation, my argument is that it is implausible that every such case leads to a greater good. Sure one can imagine that maybe somebody was turned to serving God from their experience of the case, but surely we all know that it is implausible that that happens in every case and that is just as plausible that a persons experience of such horrific evil might make them turn against a God that would allow such a thing to happen in a world that He supposedly has total control over.

Think about it, the very fact that we are having this debate is proof that many people find such things more of reason to doubt God’s existence than anything that would turn them worship such a being.

I suppose it could be argued that God is justified in allowing the abuse because He must not interfere in human freewill. Really? If  God is justified not to interfere in human freewill even in such horrendous cases, why are we humans justified in doing so? Would anybody be appalled if a father was brutally beating his child and somebody broke his arms to stop him from exercising his free will? No, in fact I think most people would applaud such a thing. But somehow we are supposed to believe that God is justified in allowing such a thing?

Also, if we are supposed to believe that every evil that God allows must be justified, then what reason do we have to try and stop any evil? ISIS is terrorizing theworld? No problem, God will make it work to the greater good. Thank…errr…goodness that we don’t really believe any such thing…well except maybe when we’re trying to rationalize al the evil in the world as part of God’s great plan anyway.

Now, back to the tsunami. This cannot be justified in terms of being an inevitable result of allowing free will, unless one is going to adopt the rather ludicrous idea that human sin causes natural disasters. So, let’s see what justifications my opponent was able to think of. First he said

“That’s (200,000 deaths)  hardly more than a blip in the daily death rate.  Over 150,000 people die every day on this planet.  So what unusual actually did happen as a result?”

Well, tell that to the mother who had her baby ripped from her arms by the rushing water never to see him again before she contracted cholera and died in abject misery. I mean really does the fact that there is so much death and suffering on a daily basis that the Asian Tsunami was just a blip on the screen in some way make it seem more justified for a supposedly omnibenvolent God to allow it?

So, what could justify it. The only argument I see is that “Those episodes of jeopardy or magnified loss snap us to a realization of what is important in life.  We think more of our deepest relationships, our relationship with God, and our eternal destinies.”

But what does he have to back that up? It is plausible that it may work that way for some people, and almost certainly does, but for others it can and does have the opposite effect. It can make them bitter and cynical and doubtful of the idea that such things could happen if there really was an all-good, all-powerful creator. Could He have not made the earth without huge faults in its crust that cause earth quakes and tsunamis that sometimes cause so much death and misery? How powerful is he really?

My opponent says this argument is “patently false.” And  “Far from turning people away, there is nothing more noteworthy in turning masses of people TO God than natural disasters and other large scale incidents of danger or peril, such as an attack from a foreign enemy.”

Once again, I present the fact that the “Problem of Evil” is one of the most common reasons people state for their disbelief in God. Why else would we be even having this debate. Patently false? I think not.

Also, exactly how powerful is this supposedly all-powerful God if He can’t find some less cruel way of turning people to Him than terrorizing them with natural disasters? Not very powerful it would seem. Either that or not very benevolent.

I’ll conclude this rebuttal with some food for thought: I propose as an axiom that an hypothesis is highly dubious if it can only be supported by a long string of more or less ad hoc rationalizations. This really  should not be true for any true hypothesis.

However, this is exactly what one must do to support the hypothesis that this world was created by an omnibenevolent and omnipotent God. For all the countless possible examples of apparently gratuitous evil and suffering that we experience in order to rationalize them as being allowable by an omnibenevolent God we have to imagine that some greater good results from these things. But where is the evidence for this? There is no evidence. There is simply one ad hoc assertion after another that this must be the case, and this ad hoc assumption has to be made for each and every case. This makes 3-O theism an extremely unparsimonius and dubious hypothesis.

However, by simply adopting a naturalistic worldview it all becomes incredibly clear. Natural disasters just happen by nature, and they don’t need to be rationalized on naturalism because nobody says that nature is omnibenevolent or omnipotent.  Human evil also is explicable by the fact that we are evolved beings whose innate drives are forged by the struggle for survival, while on the other hand social evolution has forged our sense of morality, and when our baser instincts get the better of our moral sense, we call that “doing evil” and the fact that humans do evil things but no God steps in to prevent them is simply explained by the fact that this supposedly 3-O God does not  actually exist. Nature doesn’t need a justification for allowing evil because Nature is not a moral agent.

I'm not sure I have much more to say on this issue, but I certainly think my opponent is entitled to one more rebuttal before his closing remarks. I will leave it up to him whether he wants to do it all in one post or two. Either way I think I only need one more post to sum up.

« Last Edit: July 31, 2017, 07:26:46 am by bruce culver »
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Paterfamilia

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Re: "God is justified in allowing evil in the world" BC vs Paterfamilia
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2017, 10:30:35 am »
I think the best road to take would have been to identify the opposite of the resolution and argue for that.  the opposite of "God is justified in permitting evil in the world" is "God is NOT justified in permitting evil in the world."  That would include any, all, or some.  The PoE is pretty well defined. 

Bruce said:  "I argued in my syllogism if any of that evil is not morally justifiable, then the only conclusions that one can reach is  either that God is not omnibenevolent, not omnipotent, or just plain doesn’t exist, and on any count the 3-O God would be shown not to exist."

That's fine.  I narrowed your responsibility down to give just one instance of evil in the world that God allows with provably no purpose or value.

I have no idea why my opponent would describe God's allowance of evil as "trivial".  That's the very subject of the PoE that he is trying to defend.  Perhaps defending the theory isn't as easy as believing the theory.

Getting to the point, there are rules for the conduct of a formal debate.  A time and a place, word counts, etc.  Most importantly is the resolution.  Once the resolution is agreed upon, that's the debate.  Changing to a different resolution, especially after the first arguments have been offered, renders the whole thing meaningless, and a waste of time. So what's at stake is the meaningfulness of the process.  I'll come back to this.

In my argument from entailment, I said that "at the moment that God creates any and every free-willed creature, the possibility of evil necessarily comes into being at that same moment."  I agree with Bruce that evil does not necessarily exist in every possible world.  Only the possibility.

As human beings in the real world, we are very familiar with what it's like to live in the actual world, where possibility is actuality.  But he runs off the rails with the statement "Plus my opponent as much as undercuts his argument that it is necessary for evil to exist in every world with free-willed creatures when he argued that there is such a world, heaven, where free-willed creatures exist, but God does not." And my opponent really needs to establish the necessity of evil in such worlds, otherwise a 3-O God ought to be able to create one w/o evil and would do so if actually omnibenevolent."

I can find no place where I made the claim that it's necessary for evil to exist in every world, or where I made the claim that God does not exist in heaven.  These don't make any sense and may be simply misstatements.

I appreciate my opponents irenic approach to this discussion and his kind compliments while at the same time offering weighty arguments.  Good job on that. 

As an example, I think this: "the crucifixion of Jesus as one of the most heinous of evils that yet might be considered as justified in allowing since supposedly it leads to the redemption of mankind from sin. I could quibble I suppose with how reasonable it is to think that an omnipotent God should have to resort such drastic evil to accomplish his goal, as I’ve pointed out “ends justify the means” pragmatic justification isn’t a positive good, but something we humans engage in due to our relative powerlessness. God is supposed to be absolutely powerful." is his most powerful arguments so far, and the resolution of it will carry the day one way or the other.

God is the maximally great being, and as such God's plan is to instantiate the BEST state of affairs wherein full knowledgeable relationship is shared amongst free-willed intelligent beings.  The property of free-will is essential to give value to these relationships.

I have in the past used the analogy of the "love pill" in describing this by asking the following question - if you could put a "love pill" in the sandwich of your significant other without him/her knowing it, would you do it?  If they consumed the "love pill", they would forever treat you with 100% love and respect, never think of cheating or even looking at another, and make every possible sacrifice for your happiness and well being.

Most of us immediately recognize that the value of that relationship would be less than a relationship wherein your significant other makes willing choices to love and respect you rather than be controlled by a pill.

So we're not going to use a pill to determine their decisions, we are going to hope for the best.  Then, it turns out that your significant other begins to make a series of decisions that are selfish.  They cause damage to you.  They hurt others that you love as well.  Just as important, these decisions hurt your significant other just as much by diminishing their well being.  Seems stupid of them, but they don't know any better.  Eventually, we all understand that there would come a point where you would have to take action to break that relationship.

Should God simply implant in everyone the knowledge of what "being evil" produces?  Sure.  It's called a conscience.  But how informed should that conscience be and still preserve free-will?  At what point does the strength of a conscience equal determination?

God is preparing us for a state of affairs wherein free-will is not infringed and no evil exists.  The stakes are incredibly high.  Life and death are set before us as choices.  My argument from context holds that in order to give us knowledge of God, knowledge of good, knowledge of evil, and a way to enable us to choose life, God Himself humbled Himself in a supreme act of love, demonstrating in a single event maximal good and maximal evil.

There is no possibility of a more horrific evil than nailing God Himself to a cross and killing His human incarnation.  All goodness put to death by all evil.  There is no possibility of a higher good than God sacrificing Himself in this manner in a supreme act of love for all of His created intelligent beings.  All good defeating all evil.

He removed from us our burden to be good, and took all of that responsibility on Himself.  Now His only requirement from us is to believe it.  Just believe it, and He welcomes you as one of His, regardless of your performance of good or evil.

So then, I ask the question, in light of what's at stake, how much suffering is too much in preparing us for eternal life with Him?  How much suffering is too much if it turns a single heart from making a death choice to making a life choice?  Where should God draw the line in allowing the suffering that brings people to their senses and turns them from selfish pursuits to beneficial?

My opponent argues that large scale catastrophes turn people from trusting God, to which I answered "patently false".  Let me ask, why then did we for years sing "God bless America" at the 7th inning stretch of MLB games after 9/11?  Why didn't we unite as a country and sing "Take Heed to Yourselves For No God Lives" instead?

In conclusion, I agree that my opponent raised some great points and quitted himself well.  Again, I appreciate his thoughtful arguments.  I appreciate the opportunity to air out these complex and vital issues.

I hope that most, if not all, will agree that far from being logically incoherent, or even evidentially unlikely, the existence of evil in the world in no wise proves that the MGB God does not exist.  That it's plain to see and understand that in any world wherein GOOD is made manifest in the existence of free-willed intelligent creatures, evil also lurks as a possibility. 

Finally, that in light of these realities, our MGB God is executing a maximally great plan of using every instance of evil, up to and including the most horrific, to achieve the highest good possible.

Thanks Bruce.  I look forward to your closing statements.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 11:22:37 am by Paterfamilia »
"First I knocked them out of a tree with a rock.  Then I saved them."

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bruce culver

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Re: "God is justified in allowing evil in the world" BC vs Paterfamilia
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2017, 05:06:17 pm »
First I would like to thank Paterfamilia for inviting me to debate him on the issue of the Problem of Evil and also for keeping it "Irenic".

First I would like to point out that while I would easily concede that Paterfamia showed that it is reasonable to believe that a 3-O God is POSSIBLY justified in allowing SOME evil in the world. I would not concede that he has proven that God actually IS justified in allowing evil, especially if that is interpreted as ALL and EVERY evil that is evidenced in the world.

But of course, even though that is the stated resolution that God IS justified, not just God could possibly be justified, I think it would be ridiculous to expect anyone to prove that interpretation, and in fact it should not be necessary to prove any such thing in order to defeat my affirmative case, which is that, given all the evil, both moral and natural that we see in the world, it is eminently more reasonable to think that it was not created by a 3-O God, and that such a 3-O God most likely does not exist.

To refute my proposition my opponent needed to show that it is more reasonable than not to think that a 3-O God is justified in allowing all the evil we experience. Now surely this is somewhat of a judgment call, and since my opponent did not get particularly triumphalist in his conclusion, I will avoid doing so also. My purpose in debating this issue was not to resoundingly win, but rather to try and show why I think it is more reasonable, given the POE, to think no 3-O God exists than to think that God has some justification for allowing all the evil we see in this wonderful but often tragic existence.

One thing that would make it a bit difficult for me to get triumphalist in my concluding statements even if i wanted to is that in fact my opponent has a valid case that I have not absolutely proven my proposition. But I think that is due to a couple of factors beyond my control. First in arguing my affirmative, the burden of proof is on me, and BOP is always tough, the second is I have to deal with facts while my opponent is fairly free to speculate and come up with a rationalization for God' allowing of evil and it only has to be plausible given his assumptions, one of which is God is omnipotent. Being omnipotent it seems God could very well turn any evil toward a greater good if He so chose.

But let's think for a minute about the downside of omnipotence for the plausibility of this case. As I pointed out earlier, the "greater good" justification is not really a positive moral good. I mean it doesn't really make it morally good to kill innocent children just because you can kill a terrorist mastermind with the same bomb. It's not a positive moral good; it's a justified moral evil. Most people even recoil at such justification and it is often said that "The ends don't justify the means". However, most people also accept this justification in extreme cases, but isn’t that only because we humans are quite incapable of doing any better? We are neither omniscient nor omnipotent and so we do the best we can in cases of moral dilemma. But I ask you, does it make sense to think that an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God should have to resort to such justification? Especially given the massive scale of evil and suffering we see in the world, it doesn't make much sense to me anyway to think that an omnipotent God could not achieve whatever supposedly fabulous ends we might imagine that He might have without allowing so much horrific evil and suffering.

And what reason really is there to think that every single case, even cases such as the horrific beating to death of a child by a psychopathic parent, or the ripping of a child child from a mothers arms by the raging waters of tsunami, that every single case of such seemingly gratuitous evil actually leads to some greater good? I really can't think of any good reason to think that. That appears to me to be just ad hoc rationalization of the POE. And as I stated before, I take it as axiomatic that any thesis that can only be held by resort to an almost endless string of ad hoc rationalizations is not a very rational thesis.

On the other hand, again as I've already stated, all one has to do is simply adopt the counter thesis that no such thing as a 3-O God created this world and suddenly there is no need to engage in any ad hoc rationalization at all. Nature is not a moral agent and so the evils we see no longer need any justification. Human evil is easily explained on evolutionary terms. So which then is the more parsimonious and reasonable thesis?

Anyway, to conclude let me say that I hope that even if I have not convinced the reader that the POE definitively proves that no 3-O God exists, at least he/she will understand why some people feel it is good evidence that that is most likely the case.

Thanks again to Paterfamilia for inviting me to debate and his spirited defense of the thesis that God is justified in allowing evil. I will leave it up to the reader to decide who did or didn't carry their burden of proof in this debate as well as which thesis, justified evil or simply no 3-O God is the more reasonable conclusion to come to from the available evidence.
"The world is my country and my religion is to do good."