• Evidential Problem of Evil – A highbrow threesome?

    Well, it depends on your definition of highbrow, of course. But please check out the video of myself, Counter Apologist and Justin Schieber from Reasonable Doubts discussing the Evidential Problem of Evil, going through a ton of arguments and interesting points. It was really enjoyable and we hope you get out as much enjoyment as we did! Hopefully it won’t be the last.

     

    Category: MoralityProblem of Evil

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    Article by: Jonathan MS Pearce

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    • labreuer

      Let’s posit a deity (who will be a he, for convenience) who wants us to:

           (1) know the difference between right and wrong (or good and evil)

      What acts of his would (a) help and which acts would (b) hinder such an purpose? It seems to me that his always intervening to stop evil would completely hinder (1). I’m not yet arguing for all instances of evil. Some (many?) will likely argue that:

           (2) There exist evils where no increase in moral knowledge is or ever will be gained, or
           (3) There exist evils where some divine interference would have advanced (1) more than noninterference.

      Does this framing lead anywhere interesting?

    • labreuer

      These are really fascinating conversations. Has anyone ever thought about how they will bear on us if and when we are able to create digital lifeforms which have the ability to be moral?

    • labreuer

      I loved the comment about replacing the reprobate with philosophical zombies (p-zombies). I find it fascinating that the Calvinism-Arminianism predestination debate does a lot of the exploring of this issue. I’m an staunch Arminian myself, and I find it interesting when Calvinists start thinking about the reprobate as p-zombies.

      Now, this begs the question of the p-zombie is a coherent thing. Of particular note:

      However, physicalists like Daniel Dennett counter that Chalmers’s physiological zombies are logically incoherent and thus impossible. [3][4]

      Finally, we have stories of gods visiting humans, which seem similar to the idea of p-zombies. I’m not sure if this will go anywhere, but I figure I’d start a nucleation point.

    • labreuer

      You guys mention skeptical theism around 55m (maybe a bit earlier too); I wonder whether there is a false dichotomy going on, between the following two positions:

           (1) I know of no reason for any evil.
           (2) Since we know about quantum physics, I would know the reason for at least some of the evils I consider ‘gratuitous’.

      It strikes me that if moral knowledge exists, it is in a distinct category from scientific knowledge; the two would be separated by the impenetrable barrier called the naturalistic fallacy. This means that your knowledge of quantum physics is irrelevant to understanding evil, unless perhaps there is some analogy or metaphor that can be drawn.

      I am struck by the thought that if enough people truly the Problem of Evil is a problem, then evil would be a solved problem. It’s almost as if getting rid of an omni-* deity gets rid of the problem too, meaning that there is no moral obligation to, you know, reduce the amount of evil in the world. This leads me to Christianity and what it says about the solution. That answer is Jesus and those who would follow in his footsteps, including by self-sacrificing in the same way he did—not because of their own sins, but to ‘soak up’ the consequences of sin in the world and somehow mystically make the consequences go away. Jesus suffering mission was not finished at the cross, else Colossians 1:24 and Romans 8:17 would be heresy.

      The moral task, it seems, is to look at an extant evil and ask, “How do I make this less likely to happen in the future?” For example, contrast the Indian government’s preparedness between the 2004 tsunami and the 2013 cyclone. ~250,000 deaths vs. 45 deaths; vs $4 billion vs. $696 million in damages. Now, as the article on the tsunami noted, there was a several-hour delay between what an early-warning system would have detected, and impact of the wave on shores. No such system was in place, despite it being technologically feasible. ‘We’ didn’t care enough.

      And so I wonder, how much evil is due to negligence on the part of humans? I conclude: an awful lot. And every time we reflect pain and suffering and thereby amplify it—instead of dealing with it like adults—we make the world even worse. This is actually a message I get from Romans 7: evil will be magnified until we recognize it as evil and take the appropriate actions to eliminate it. I conclude: evil occurs because we don’t actually think it’s bad enough to do what is necessarily to prevent it. Now, maybe this doesn’t cover all instances of evil. It doesn’t have to: first-order fits don’t catch second-order aspects and that’s often ok.

      Failure to fight evil would lead to lack of moral knowledge, just like failure to fight ignorance leads to a lack of scientific knowledge.

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