• Hell defeated, God creating this world defeated; Bradley vs William Lane Craig

    This is taken from an old post of mine. I still find it a real defeater for the concept of hell.

    http://www.freeimages.com/photo/gate-to-hell-1362271 Chris Whiteside
    http://www.freeimages.com/photo/gate-to-hell-1362271
    Chris Whiteside

    I have just listened to Ray Bradley debate William Lane Craig. I heard this several years ago but didn’t really pay it close attention. This time round I was quite shocked at how many points Craig evaded, or logical demands from Bradley that he met with the terms “God may” and so on.

    Craig squirmed big time when Bradley pressed him on subsets of compossibles. This is a REALLY important point. I will try to set it out here:

    Imagine a set of people, call that set A. These are all the people in this world – W1. These people are made up of people who will freely come to love God, and end up in heaven – call these Subset X, and those who reject God, and end up in hell – call these Subset Y. God knows this free decision in advance (ignore all of the issues with this).

    What Bradley says, I think, is why doesn’t God just forget about Y, and just make a world of only people in Subset X (Call it world W2). This means God would not be cruelly creating a whole (majority) set of people who will end up being eternally punished in hell. Him knowing of the hellish torment of Subset Y in advance begs the questions of how a loving God could produce those people anyway.

    So why does God simply not create people who he knows would freely love him in this world such as world W2, but only make them and no one else? This would produce a universalist world but one which is not straight-jacketed since God would know that in a world such as this, they would still freely choose him.

    Craig attempts to tackle this by saying a possible. He claims it COULD be that in this new world, that same subset might have different situations whereby they now wouldn’t freely love God. He claims that God might not feasibly be able to create this second world. In other words, W2 creates a different situation than W1 whereby, now, all of Subset X wouldn’t freely choose God. Rather weak defence for an omnipotent and omniscient God, no? So a few of this Subset X might not come to God in this new world W2. So don’t create these ones, but only the ones in X who would freely love God. It might end up being a small subset, but better that than a huge amount of people condemned to eternal torment.

    God, in all his infinite wisdom must be able to create a world where he knows that all the people in it would freely come to love him. He might know this from the world W2, but also from knowing the counterfactuals of worlds W1, W3 etc. He could surely contrive a world where all the people came to love him, and he could see that these same people would be the sort of people who would love him in other worlds too.

    Craig failed to address this, and I think was either being wilfully dense or disingenuous.

    As Craig would say, how do you know the final set of individuals in the “small subset” isn’t the empty set? In other words, Craig claims that given W2, which now has only the free-lovers from W1, there is a different environment, if you will, from W1. As such,  maybe some of those form W1 who would have loved God now find themselves in a different situation (W2) and would no longer love God. So now God takes that now dwindled set from W2 that would love him freely and puts them in W3. But now some of those would not freely love him here… and so on, until there is a regression to no world where all the people would freely love God.

    THE ONLY reason one could even remotely posit such an unlikely occurrence that the greatest conceivable being couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to produce such a world is because to allow him to do so would violate some of the theist’s cherished beliefs.

    But in the one breath to claim the validity of the ontological argument and to suppose into existence the greatest conceivable being, one HAS to admit that a being who cannot do this would be inferior to an entity who could. And thus by the same logic of the ontological argument, adhered to by Plantinga and Craig, such a being would exist.

    In other words, the greatest conceivable being would be able to create such a world where everyone would freely love him. If he can’t, then I would be able to conceive of a greater being than the God that exists. This would violate the ontological argument.

    Craig tries to get away, it seems, with claiming that it must be that it is unfeasible for God to do this as set out above. However, to allow an omniGod this ‘weakness’, it must fall under the auspices of being logically impossible. However, it is not deductively logically impossible as far as I can tell. It seems only inductively so, and surely the greatest conceivable being could overcome this.

    This is not only an argument against hell, but against God creating this world.  Ergo, against God.

    Category: Philosophical Argument Against GodPhilosophy of Religion

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    Article by: Jonathan MS Pearce

    • John Grove

      Hell in the bible can be understood in many different ways. And though Craig accepts the ‘traditional’ hell-fire view as the de facto truth, there are other views that have biblical support such as Conditionalism and to a smaller degree Universalism.

      When they don’t allow for other interpretations they fall prey to easy rebuttals against it. The traditional view is easy to take down just in views of morality and justice.

      The conditional view (See Edward Fudge, “The Fire that Consumes”) on the surface appears much more moral and has biblical support and is even more rational in my opinion. However, resurrection in my opinion is merely ‘wishful’ thinking at best and has no evidence in its favor.

      Universalism is admittedly the most moral scheme and has support of a ‘few’ bible passages. But it ignores scores of verses and explains away too much. In other words, this scheme was devised probably from people who are probably more moral than their God appears to be. It suffers the same issues of conditionalism, largely, no support from science and is wishful.

      At the very least, if we as atheists argue ONLY against the traditional view we can lose sight of the other views, and that would be a mistake. Especially since there is a growing body of Christians becoming more and more interested in Conditionalism. And this view is harder for us to argue against in terms of justice and morality. So we are left with arguing against it like we argue against a god, i.e -> on the basis of the evidence.

      • Jonathan MS Pearce

        Thanks John.

        Although this argument can be applied to ALL views of hell which isolate a subset of people who will knowingly, in advance, go there.

        Only universalism gets around this. As you say, that is the most attractive in its morality, yet is not supported very well biblically.

        • John Grove

          If conditionalism were true biblically than there would be no “there” to go to. Death is simply the end for unbelievers. Only the believers have ‘hope’ for a resurrection, whereas the unbeliever will be “as the chaff which the wind driveth away”. The end, period.

          So, it is no different than what you or I think about death except we would think this version of hell (hel means the grave or gravedom) is awaiting all of us since resurrection would be the only issue we would argue against in terms of evidence and facts. There is nothing to argue about in terms of death. Conditionalism does not accept the ‘immortality’ of the soul. To them the soul simply is a way to refer to the person, much like a captain of a ship will say “300 souls on board”.

          • JohnM

            “Universalism is admittedly the most moral scheme and has support of a ‘few’ bible passages.”

            What passages would that be?

            As for universalism being “the most moral” outcome.. I find that to be a rather odd statement. What’s moral about liars and rapists going to their death, never repenting or regretting their actions, and then getting a spot in heaven anyway? Where’s the justice in that?

            • Jonathan MS Pearce

              http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/univ3.html

              It depends on how you define who gets into heaven / hell and not. For someone who was born into a different time and culture and never knew Jesus, some believe they will go to hell. For an atheist who could be the kindest, most moral person, people believe they could go to hell. God is all about forgiveness and turning the other cheek except whenever he sends someone to hell.

              None of which gets over the argument of compossibles set out above.

            • John Grove

              “What passages would that be?”

              See these books:

              1. The Inescapable Love of God by Thomas Talbott
              2. Universal Salvation?: The Current Debate by Robin A. Parry and Christopher H. Partridge
              3. The One Purpose of God: An Answer to the Doctrine of Eternal Punishment

              “What’s moral about liars and rapists going to their death, never repenting or regretting their actions, and then getting a spot in heaven anyway? Where’s the justice in that?”

              I can reverse the question to you. What is moral about torturing someone for an eternity for a lifetime of say unbelief? Is that moral?

    • John Grove

      And since we are discussing Universalism and not Conditionalism, here would be a few of the Scriptures and rationale.

      1. Is Adam greater than Christ?
      If you believe in Adam ALL die but believe in Christ only few live, than Adam certainly destroyed MORE than Jesus could save.

      2. The verses: (To name a few)

      http://www.biblicaluniversalist.com/UniversalistTexts.html

    • John Grove

      And BTW, the Universalist are in agreement with the conditioanlists about the “nature” of hell. So they don’t believe in an intermediate state. When you die, you are dead awaiting resurrection, “asleep” as it were.

      They do not agree with the traditionalists that hell is an eternity of Fire and torture.

    • JohnM

      Jonathan said:
      “For someone who was born into a different time and culture and never knew Jesus, some believe they will go to hell. For an atheist who could be the kindest, most moral person, people believe they
      could go to hell.”

      Oki.. Well allow me to set out the biblical landscape. And let me warn you beforehand, that it’s going to be a bit “gloom and doom”.

      Bible tells us at least 2 things in relation to what you are talking about…

      Romans 1:20
      For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature –have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

      Romans 2:14-15
      Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.

      1: God is clearly seen in creation.
      2: The law, is written in the hearts of gentiles.

      On the basis of that, I don’t understand how any bible believing Christian, could claim, that atheist cannot behave morally. That is simply incoherent with that we read in the bible.

      On the other hand, an atheist may be a really kind person, behave exemplary, and still go to hell.

      Why? Because Atheism is the greatest sin of all. It’s refusing to give glory to our creator. It’s rebellion against Gods authority. It’s Satan’s own sin, that lead to his fall. And it’s a sin that there is no forgiveness for, should one take it to his or her grave.

      Now many so-called followers of Christ won’t tell you these things.. The be all like “God is nothing but love”… But they are only preaching half a gospel. I’m talking about the real bible. Not the censured children version.

      • Jonathan MS Pearce

        “2: The law, is written in the hearts of gentiles”

        Soundbite. What does that really mean?

        Also, why would not believing in God be worse than raping a million babies? Are you serious?

        • JohnM

          The law, is the law of Moses. The 10 commandments. The law was given to the Jews, as we read in the old testament. But Paul says, that not only the Jews has / had the law. According to Paul, it is also written in the hearts of men. Written in the heart of men, means, that we in our heart, knows the truth about good and evil, from birth. So it wasn’t just the Jews, that had the law, that knew right and wrong. If that’s true, then the gentiles must have known, that what they did, was evil, and therefore would be without excuse, when standing in front of God.

          As for ranking Sin.. I don’t think one can actually do that. Sin is sin. A flaw, I a flaw. The reason that I called it the worst kind, is that apart from rebelling against God’s authority, one also cut one-selves off, off the only hope of salvation, when one denies Jesus Christ as the Son of God.

          I never intended to suggest, that you were a bad person, or in any way deserved to be ranked alongside or lower than baby rapists.

      • Jonathan MS Pearce

        John, I will be a bit quiet over the next 3 or 4 days for various reasons. Still post comments – keep em coming, but I may not be able to get to them all or may have to treat them concisely.

    • Maybe more people would come to love god if he wasn’t such an asshole. Just a thought. Oh yeah, and maybe more people would believe in him if he gave us better evidence. Just another thought.

    • Sarah Palin

      Is this debate all that it is cut out to be?
      I have never seen it, but I hear craig was thoroughly beat.
      I am skeptical because Craig is a great sophist and he can easily anger his opponents over how dense he may come off as (I.e. debate with John Shook and Alex Rosenberg).
      Is this debate better than the Kagan one?
      Kagan exposed Craig for having virtually no understanding of ethics and morality.

      • weknow

        I think Craig lost this debate in a very real way.

    • weknow

      Craig still thinks that he had the upper hand in that debate.

      https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/bradley-on-hell/

      “… the argument he presented seemed to me to rest on fundamental mistakes concerning possible worlds. Basically, a possible world is a maximal description of the way reality might be; nothing is left out of the description. A sentence is possibly true if it is true in at least one possible world, and it is necessarily true if it is true in every possible world. So, Jonathan, consider the first argument you mention. It’s immediately evident, contrary to Bradley, that heaven is not a possible world! For heaven is not maximal; it’s a part of a world, namely that part in which people are blessed for their pre-mortem response to the Gospel. Thus, heaven entails that there was a life prior to death. Now someone might say, “All right; but still God could just create a sort of heavenly existence having the same people in it without any pre-mortem life.” Let’s concede the point. But then we’re dealing with a brand new possible world, and it may not be the case that all of those people would freely believe in God if they were created in such a state. As I explained in answering the question “Why Does God Permit Suffering to Continue?” with respect to the wheat and the tares, God can’t just pluck people out of a possible world (like this one) and guarantee that they will all be believers in that different world. Notice, too, that I did not say, “There is no possible world inhabited by creatures with free will in which all persons freely receive Christ.” There is indeed such a possible world. What I said was that such a world may not be FEASIBLE for God to create. For the existence of such a world doesn’t depend just on God’s will; it also depends crucially on the free will of the persons in it. And it cannot be guaranteed that they will co-operate. If God were to try to actualize such a world, it may be that the persons in it wouldn’t go along and would abort God’s intention by freely choosing to disbelieve. This is the distinction you’re getting at when you differentiate between a possible world and an actual world. What you mean by “actual” is really “feasible.” In the terminology of possible worlds semantics, there is only one actual world, namely, the world we experience, the real world. The other worlds are possible but not actual. What you want to say is that not every possible world is a feasible world for God to create. So whereas in a purely theoretical possible world, one could posit that every creature will freely receive Christ, it may well be that the quality of free will makes any feasible world where creatures freely receive Christ also a feasible world where some do not.” – Professor Craig

      It seems like God, if he were capable of doing anything logically possible, should be able to create a world were all humans have free will *and* they always freely choose to do whatever is good. If this is not possible for God, then God is not omnipotent.

      I can imagine that one criticism might be that God can’t create our nature to be such that we choose to do good acts all the time since that would mean that we don’t have “free will,” but if that is true, then how do theists want to explain how our nature came to be? If suggesting that God could have created our nature one way over the other were to undermine our free will, then any nature that God creates for us would undermine our free will. To avoid this, they would have to say that our nature is self-created, by our own will, which entails things like creation ex nihilo for our natures and un-cause causes for our wills.

    • weknow

      Craig still thinks that he had the upper hand in that debate.

      https://www.reasonablefaith

      “… the argument he presented seemed to me to rest on fundamental mistakes concerning possible worlds. Basically, a possible world is a maximal description of the way reality might be; nothing is left out of the description. A sentence is possibly true if it is true in at least one possible world, and it is necessarily true if it is true in every possible world. So, Jonathan, consider the first argument you mention. It’s immediately evident, contrary to Bradley, that heaven is not a possible world! For heaven is not maximal; it’s a part of a world, namely that part in which people are blessed for their pre-mortem response to the Gospel. Thus, heaven entails that there was a life prior to death. Now someone might say, “All right; but still God could just create a sort of heavenly existence having the same people in it without any pre-mortem life.” Let’s concede the point. But then we’re dealing with a brand new possible world, and it may not be the case that all of those people would freely believe in God if they were created in such a state. As I explained in answering the question “Why Does God Permit Suffering to Continue?” with respect to the wheat and the tares, God can’t just pluck people out of a possible world (like this one) and guarantee that they will all be believers in that different world. Notice, too, that I did not say, “There is no possible world inhabited by creatures with free will in which all persons freely receive Christ.” There is indeed such a possible world. What I said was that such a world may not be FEASIBLE for God to create. For the existence of such a world doesn’t depend just on God’s will; it also depends crucially on the free will of the persons in it. And it cannot be guaranteed that they will co-operate. If God were to try to actualize such a world, it may be that the persons in it wouldn’t go along and would abort God’s intention by freely choosing to disbelieve. This is the distinction you’re getting at when you differentiate between a possible world and an actual world. What you mean by “actual” is really “feasible.” In the terminology of possible worlds semantics, there is only one actual world, namely, the world we experience, the real world. The other worlds are possible but not actual. What you want to say is that not every possible world is a feasible world for God to create. So whereas in a purely theoretical possible world, one could posit that every creature will freely receive Christ, it may well be that the quality of free will makes any feasible world where creatures freely receive Christ also a feasible world where some do not.” – Professor Craig

      It seems like God, if he is truly capable of doing anything logically possible, should be able to create a world were all humans have free will *and* they always freely choose to do whatever is good, and, if belief in god is good, then believe in God. If it is possible, then Craig’s response is weak and unconvincing. If this is not possible for God, then God is not omnipotent.

      I can imagine that one criticism might be that God can’t create our nature to be such that we choose to do good acts all the time since that would mean that we don’t have “free will,” but if that is true, then how do theists want to explain how our nature came to be? If suggesting that God could have created our nature one way over the other were to undermine our free will, then any nature that God creates for us would undermine our free will. To avoid this, they would have to say that our nature is self-created, by our own will, which entails things like creation ex nihilo for our natures and un-cause causes for our wills.