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PHIL104 2010 Philosophy of Religion Dan Turton by x11D89e

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									Philosophy of Religion
   Lecture 1: Intro
      Dan Turton
     PHIL104-2010
    What We’re NOT Asking
• Theological questions:
  – Usually presuppose that God exists
• Descriptive Questions:
  – E.g. When exactly did the Jewish and
    Christian movements divide?;
  – Who wrote the Bible?;
  – What political and social structures
    influenced the rise of Scientology
The Kind of Thing We’re Asking

• Philosophical questions:
  – Usually makes no assumptions about the
    existence of God
• Normative Questions:
  – E.g. Is it reasonable to have religious
    beliefs?
  – Under what conditions would one be
    justified in believing (or disbelieving) in
    the existence of God?
  – Should one be required to give reasons in
    support of religious judgments at all?
      The Main Question
• For the next 9 lectures, we are
  trying to answer the question:
• Is there a good justification for
  believing in the existence of God?
• Some major arguments and
  objections to them will be
  discussed
       Words of Warning
Students
in this
class
must
respect
the
opinions
of others
when
debating
the
question
‘Does God
exist?’
       Basic Vocab(ulary)
• Theist
  – believes there is a God
• Atheist
  – believes there is no God
• Agnostic
  – is neither a theist nor an atheist
  – could think it’s equally likely that God
    exists and that God doesn’t
  – or perhaps hasn’t thought about the
    question enough to form any beliefs on the
    matter
         You are Not Alone
• Participants: 172 students in
  PHIL104

 Theists      Atheists   Agnostics


    52          42          78


   30%          25%         45%
   Advanced Vocab(ulary)
• Main Question: Is there a good
  justification for believing in the
  existence of God?
• Existence
• God
• Justification
             Existence
• Primitive notion
• To say that something (x) exists
  is not to say that:
  – there exists an idea or concept of x
  – x exists ‘in the mind’
  – x exists for me but (perhaps) not for
    you
  – it’s true for me that x exists but
    (perhaps) it’s not true for you
                    God
• An absolutely perfect being
• A first cause: a being that causes other
  things to exist but is not itself caused to
  exist
• An intelligent creator: a being that
  created the universe
• A being that possesses every property
  attributed to a being named ‘God’ in the
  Bible (Torah, Koran, etc.)
• An invisible, vastly powerful intelligence
  who deserves to be worshiped and loved
• A being who sends those who do not believe
  in him to hell, and sends those who do
  believe in him to heaven
• A perfectly loving, all powerful, and all
  knowing being
          Justification
• To say that one is
  justified in
  believing
  something is just
  to say that I have
  good reason to
  believe it
• Theoretical
  reasons
• Practical reasons
       Structure of Section
1.   Intro
2.   Paley’s Design Argument
3.   More on the Design Argument
4.   Pascal’s Wager
5.   More on Pascal’s Wager
6.   The Argument from Evil
7.   More on the Argument from Evil
8.   Even more on the Argument from Evil
9.   Summary and exam revision
                Faith
• “The whole point is to have faith”
  – If faith is believing in something
    without question, then how is faith
    in religion different to faith in
    fairies?
  – You can have faith and still be
    interested in whether there is also
    good reason to believe that God
    exists
  – You can even still have faith if you
    think that we have more reasons not
    to believe in god, than to believe in
    God
     Religious Experience
• “I have experienced God and
  require no more evidence/
  discussion that he exists”
  – So have millions of others, but lots
    of them are aligned to different
    religions
  – Our experiential evidence can be
    surprisingly deceiving
  – E.g. spiritual or religious
    experience
    • Derren Brown
Arguments Against Religion in
          General
• “No one should believe in a
  religion because they were all
  made up by people”
• Being “managed” or “conveyed” by
  people doesn’t necessarily mean
  that a religion is false
• We are being more specific in this
  course anyway
  – Focus is just on God, not religion
             Science
• “There is no scientific evidence
  for God, therefore God probably
  doesn’t exist”
• “It’s impossible to prove or
  disprove God’s existence with
  science, therefore we should be
  agnostic”
• Science is not the last word on
  the existence of God
 Philosophy of Religion
Lecture 2: Paley on Design
        Dan Turton
       PHIL104-2010
                Intro
• William Paley 1743-1805
• Watches appear to be
  designed, so they
  probably have a
  designer
• The same goes for
  natural things, e.g. eyes
• God probably exists
  because he probably
  designed natural things
How did the watch come to be?

• It’s so complex
• All of it’s complex
  parts seem to
  serve minor
  functions that
  allow the whole
  watch to do
  something useful
• It appears
  designed
  Paley’s Argument from Design
(P1) It is an indisputable and yet remarkable
    fact that many watches appear to have been
    designed.
(P2) The best explanation for this appearance
    of design is that watches have been
    designed.
(P3) Inference to the Best Explanation: If an
    hypothesis H is the best explanation of an
    observation O, then it is rational to believe
    that H is true.
(C) Therefore, one should believe that
    watchmakers exist.
      Inference to the Best
           Explanation

• A theory should minimize the number
  of entities it postulates
• A theory should be consistent with the
  evidence
• A theory should make reliable
  predictions
• A theory should minimize the number
  of unexplained coincidences
• A theory should be, as far as possible,
  simple and elegant
      Inference to the Best
           Explanation

• The Knight
  Watchman’s dog
  spews watches all
  over the place
  and watch-
  sellers find them
  and sell them
• Have you ever met
  a watchmaker?
      Watchmakers Exist
• Even if we have never
  met one, Paley thinks
  we do and should
  believe in them because
  of watches
• Most importantly,
  watches really appear
  to have been designed…
• Which gives us good
  reason to think that
  they have been designed
             Design
• Intentionally
  created for
  some
  purpose(s)
• Therefore,
  requires a
  designer - an
  intentional
  creator
      The Appearance of
           Design
An object bears the marks of design
   if:
1. It is structurally complex,
2. It has a purpose or function, and
3. It has the purpose it does in
   virtue of its structural
   complexity.
• Watches really appear to be
   designed!
 (Bad) Reasons Watches Might
        Not be Designed
• Malfunction
• Some components
  do not help produce
  the main function
• You don’t
  understand how
  they work, so how
  can you say that
  they appear to be
  designed?
   Paley’s Argument - Watches
(P1) It is an indisputable and yet remarkable
    fact that many watches appear to have been
    designed.
(P2) The best explanation for this appearance
    of design is that watches have been
    designed.
(P3) Inference to the Best Explanation: If an
    hypothesis H is the best explanation of an
    observation O, then it is rational to believe
    that H is true.
(C) Therefore, one should believe that
    watchmakers exist.
    Paley’s Argument - Nature
(P1) It is an indisputable and yet remarkable
    fact that many natural things appear to have
    been designed
(P2) The best explanation for this appearance
    of design is that many natural things have
    been designed
(P3) Inference to the Best Explanation
(P4) Therefore, one should believe that a
    designer of natural things exists
(P5) God is the designer of natural things
(C) Therefore, one should believe that God
    exists
    Are Natural Objects Designed?
•  Some certainly
   appear to be so
1. The eye is
   structurally
   complex,
2. It has a purpose or
   function, and
3. It has the purpose
   it does in virtue of
   its structural
   complexity.
                    Eyes
(P1) It is an indisputable and yet remarkable
    fact that eyes appear to have been designed.
(P2) The best explanation for this appearance
    of design is that eyes have been designed.
(P3) Inference to the Best Explanation: If an
    hypothesis H is the best explanation of an
    observation O, then it is rational to believe
    that H is true.
(C) Therefore, one should believe that eye-
    makers exist.
   Paley’s Argument - Watches
(P1) It is an indisputable and yet remarkable
    fact that many watches appear to have been
    designed.
(P2) The best explanation for this appearance
    of design is that watches have been
    designed.
(P3) Inference to the Best Explanation: If an
    hypothesis H is the best explanation of an
    observation O, then it is rational to believe
    that H is true.
(C) Therefore, one should believe that
    watchmakers exist.
                    Eyes
(P1) It is an indisputable and yet remarkable
    fact that eyes appear to have been designed.
(P2) The best explanation for this appearance
    of design is that eyes have been designed.
(P3) Inference to the Best Explanation: If an
    hypothesis H is the best explanation of an
    observation O, then it is rational to believe
    that H is true.
(C) Therefore, one should believe that eye-
    makers exist.
 Philosophy of Religion
Lecture 3: More on Design
        Dan Turton
       PHIL104-2010
                   Today
• Recap of Paley’s
  argument
• Are eyes designed?
 – Science: “no”
• The fine-tuning variant
  of the design argument
 – The chances of a universe
   evolving that supports
   intelligent life is tiny
 – So, God probably fine-
   tuned/designed the
   universe
  What is the Best Explanation
     for this Appearance?
• Theories are better if they:
  –   minimize # of entities they postulate
  –   are consistent with the evidence
  –   make reliable predictions
  –   minimize unexplained coincidences
  –   simple and elegant
• Is there a better explanation for
  eyes appearing to designed… than
  them being designed? (P2)
Evolution by Natural Selection
•    Darwin: natural objects will
     evolve to bear the marks of
     design if the following four
     conditions are met:
1.   There is variation among
     the objects/traits
2.   Traits are inherited
3.   Variation in traits is
     random
4.   The objects/organisms
     compete
   But the Eye?
    Really!?!
• "To suppose that the eye, with all
  its inimitable contrivances…
  could have been formed by
  natural selection, seems, I freely
  confess, absurd in the highest
  degree." Charles Darwin, The
 Origin of Species
• The eye gave him a “cold shudder”
 Yes, It Could Have Evolved!
• Reason tells me, that despite it being
  hard to imagine, many subtle random
  changes exposed to the pressure of
  selection over time can lead to the
  evolution of a perfect and complex eye
  from a simple and imperfect one.
  Furthermore, there exist examples of
  the steps along the way. Paraphrase of
  Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species
• From the same page!!
Dawkins on How to Climb Mount
         Improbable
• How can we get to (explain) the
  eye on top of Mount Improbable?
• To get to the eye in one leap is
  impossible
• But, if we take lots of slow steps,
  then Climbing
  Mount Improbable
  Doesn’t seem that
  hard
    Slow Steps to the Eye
• The eye didn’t just evolve in one
  step or by random
• A slow process of organisms
  competing over thousands of
  iterations gave a selective
  advantage to various stages of
  proto eyes
  – Note that the process involves
    random mutation, but it is not a
    ‘random process’
• Light-
  sensitive
  cells
• Information
  sent to
  brain
• Pin-hole
  camera
• Lens for
  focusing
• Etc
 The Evidence is Out There
• Link to more on evolution
   The Fine-Tuning Argument
(P1) It is an indisputable and yet remarkable
    fact that the universe appears to have been
    designed
(P2) The best explanation for this appearance
    of design is that the universe has been
    designed
(P3) Inference to the Best Explanation
(P4) Therefore, one should believe that a
    designer of the universe exists
(P5) God is the designer of the universe
(C) Therefore, one should believe that God
    exists
Does the Universe Appear to be
          Designed 1?
•   If the initial explosion of the big
    bang had differed in strength by as
    little as 1 part in 1060, the universe
    would have either quickly collapsed
    back on itself, or expanded too
    rapidly for stars to form. In either
    case, life would be impossible.
•   Calculations indicate that if the
    strong nuclear force, the force that
    binds protons and neutrons together
    in an atom, had been stronger or
    weaker by as little as 5%, life would
    be impossible.
Does the Universe Appear to be
          Designed 2?
•   Calculations by Brandon Carter show
    that if gravity had been stronger or
    weaker by 1 part in 1040, then life-
    sustaining stars like the sun could
    not exist. This would most likely make
    life impossible.
•   If the neutron were not about 1.001
    times the mass of the proton, all
    protons would have decayed into
    neutrons or all neutrons would have
    decayed into protons, and thus life
    would not be possible.
Does the Universe Appear to be
          Designed 3?
1. The universe is structurally
   complex,
2. It has a purpose or function
   (supporting intelligent life),
   and
3. It has the purpose or function
   it does in virtue of its
   structural complexity.
 So P1 seems correct – the
   universe appears to be
   designed
    Best Explanation for the
Universe’s Appearance of Design?
• God is all-powerful and all-
  knowing
  – He and only he has what it takes to
    design and create this marvelous
    universe
• The universe can support life as
  we know it by chance
  – Different physical laws may well
    have allowed for the existence of a
    different kind of universe and other
    kinds of life
     Intergalactic Lotto
• The odds of winning
  intergalactic lotto are
  999billion to 1
• Everyone is
  automatically enrolled
• You win intergalactic
  lotto
• Did chance or divine
  creation cause your
  win?
    Best Explanation for the
Universe’s Appearance of Design?
• God-centered explanation
  postulates one more
  entity
• The scientific explanation
  involves some pretty big
  and fairly poorly
  explained coincidences
• Which is the best
  explanation?
 Philosophy of Religion
Lecture 4: Pascal’s Wager

        Dan Turton
       PHIL104-2010
              Today
• Decision Theory
  primer
• Pascal’s Wager
• Practical reason for
  being a theist (of a
  particular type)
• Because of heaven
  and hell, the
  expected utility of
  belief in god
  outweighs disbelief
 Primer on Decision Theory
• We are practically rational to the
  extent that we do what’s in our best
  interests.
• Utility is a measure of our happiness
  or preference satisfaction.
• Decision Theory: we do what’s in our
  best interests when (and only when) we
  perform actions that maximize our
  expected utility
    Decision Theory tries to be
              Precise
•       In order to determine which action
        maximizes expected utility, we need
        to set up a consequence matrix,
        which includes:
    –    all relevant choices available to the
         agent (in the left column)
    –    all relevant possible outcomes after the
         agent has acted (in the top row)
    –    the probability of each outcome-choice
         pair (in parentheses next to the utility
         values)
    –    the utility of each outcome-choice pair
         (in each of the remaining empty boxes)
             ‘The One’
• So, you have met
  ‘the one’ in your
  PHIL104 lecture
• You are
  agonizingly in
  love with
  him/her
• What should you
  do??
      A Consequence Matrix
Getting     You don’t   You get Expected
                                   How likely
‘the one’   get to go   to go out Utility
to go out   out with    with          are
with you    them –      them –     outcomes
            (“no”)      (“yes”)    given the
Ask them    [0.8]       [0.2]      decision?

                                    Must add
Don’t ask   [0.99]      [0.01]       up to 1
them                                  going
                                     across
      A Consequence Matrix
Getting     You don’t   You get Expected
‘the one’   get to go   to go out Utility
to go out   out with    with
with you    them –      them –     Calculate
            (“no”)      (“yes”)
                                      the
Ask them    [0.8]*-20   [0.2]*50
                                   expected
            = -19.2     = 10
                                    utility for
                                      each
Don’t ask   [0.99]*-10 [0.01]*75   choice/out
them        = -9.01    = 0.75
                                   come pair
      A Consequence Matrix
Getting     You don’t You get      Expected
‘the one’       Compare the out
            get to go to go        Utility
to go out     expected with
            out with utility for
with you         each choice –
            them –      them
            (“no”)      (“yes”)
Ask them    [0.8]*-20 [0.2]*50     -19.2 + 10
            = -19.2     = 10       = -9.2


Don’t ask   [0.99]*-10 [0.01]*75 -9.01 + 0.75
them        = -9.01    = 0.75    = -8.26
   Decision Theory
     Helps Us…
• … To see how dire our
  lovestruck position is
  – Neither of the two options
    available to us will produce
    positive utility!
• The best choice is not to
  ask though
  – It minimises our disutility
    (suffering)
• But, maybe we should make
  the decision in a couple of
  days…
  The Whole Consequence Matrix

Getting     (“no”)       (“yes”)     Expected
‘the one’                            Utility
Ask them    [0.8]*-20    [0.2]*50    -19.2 + 10
            = -19.2      = 10        = -9.2
Don’t ask   [0.99]*-10   [0.01]*75   -9.01 + 0.75
them        = -9.01      = 0.75      = -8.26
Ask them    [0.5]*-20    [0.5]*50    -10 + 25
+ pimped    = -10        = 25        = 15
Don’t ask   [0.95]*-10 [0.05]*75 -9.5 + 3.75
+ pimped    = -9.5     = 3.75    = -5.75
         Wrong Question
• Pascal thinks that ‘what is God?’
  and ‘does God exist?’ are the
  wrong questions
  – These questions involve the
    infinite and so are beyond us
• He thinks we should ask ‘should
  we believe in God or not?’
  – Theoretical reasons are
    inconclusive, but
  – We have practical reasons to believe
       How Will You Bet?
• You have to play
• If you choose A, I flip a coin
  – ‘Heads’ = you get the worst existence
    possible and it continues for ever
  – ‘Tails’ = you have a normal
    unrestricted life
• If you choose B, I flip a coin
  – ‘Heads’ = you get the best existence
    possible and it continues for ever
  – ‘Tails’ = you have a normal life, but
    slightly more restricted than
    normal
           Pascal’s Wager

Should I   God       God        Expected
believe in Exists    doesn’t    Utility
God?                 exist
Believe   [0.5]*∞    [0.5]*10   ∞+5
          =∞         =5         =∞

Don’t     [0.5]*10   [0.5]*10   5+5
believe   =5         =5         = 10
   Standard Presentation of
        Pascal’s Wager
Should I   God      God        Expected
believe in Exists   doesn’t    Utility
God?       (p≠0)    exist
Believe   [p]*∞     [1-p]*-10 = ∞



Don’t     [p]*-∞    [1-p]*10   = -∞
believe
            The Upshot?
• If the standard Pascalian setup of the
  wager is correct, then we have a good
  (practical) reason to believe in God
Should I   God      God        Expected
believe    Exists   doesn’t    Utility
in God?    (p≠0)    exist
Believe    [p]*∞    [1-p]*-10 = ∞


Don’t      [p]*-∞   [1-p]*10   = -∞
believe
 I Can’t Make Myself Believe in
              God!
1. I can’t force myself to believe in
   God!
  •   Pascal: you should learn from those who
      have converted to theism
2. Even if I could, then God wouldn’t
   appreciate my only believing in him
   for my own best interests!
  •   Perhaps God doesn’t mind as long as you
      believe
  •   It may start like this, but turn into
      belief regardless of your interests
 Philosophy of Religion
Lecture 6: The Argument
       from Evil
       Dan Turton
      PHIL104-2010
              Today
• Based on Dostoevsky’s
  ‘Rebellion’…
• Being clear about what
  God and evil are
• Asking why God might
  allow evil
• Concluding that even if
  there is a reason for
  the evil, it’s probably
  not good enough
           What is Evil?
• All things equal, a
  state of affairs is
  evil if it involves
  the suffering of an
  innocent
• The more suffering
  of innocents in any
  situation, the more
  evil it is
• There can be other
  types of evil
Varieties of Evil
• We can
  distinguish
  between the
  following kinds
  of evil:
  • Natural evil v.
    human evil
  • Necessary evil v.
    unnecessary evil
  • Mild evil v.
    horrendous evil
           What is God?
• God is, by definition,
  omnibenevolent, omnipotent and
  omniscient
 • An individual x is omnibenevolent if
   and only if it is perfectly loving
   • (all good/perfectly good)
 • An individual x is omnipotent if and
   only if it can do anything
   • (all powerful)
 • An individual x is omniscient if and
   only if it knows everything
   • (all knowing)
      The Argument from Evil
(P1) If God exists, he is omnibenevolent,
  omnipotent and omniscient. [By Definition]
(P2) An omnibenevolent being would prevent
  any unnecessary evil if she could and knew
  how.
(P3) An omnipotent being could prevent all
  unnecessary evil.
(P4) An omniscient being would know all about
  unnecessary evils and how to prevent them.
(P5) Therefore, if God exists, there is no
  unnecessary evil. [From (P1), (P2), (P3) & (P4)]
(P6) But there is unnecessary evil. [Evidential
  Premise]
(C) Therefore, God does not exist. [From 5 & 6]
 P6) Dostoevsky’s Examples of
 Unnecessary Horrendous Evil
• A 5-y.o. girl is mistreated by her
  parents, beaten, forced to eat her
  own excrement etc.
• A young boy is ripped apart by
  hounds in front of his mother
• A soldier cuts an unborn baby out
  of it’s mother’s womb, throws it
  in the air and catches it with his
  bayonet
Is that Suffering Unnecessary?

•    Ivan discusses a few reasons why it
     might be considered necessary, but
     rejects them:
1.   We need evil to understand good
2.   Humans allowed evil by choosing free
     will
3.   All humans must suffer for the
     mistakes of our ancestors
4.   God has a plan which makes this
     suffering necessary for us all to
     share harmony in the end
We Need Evil to Understand Good
• Evil and good are like two sides of
  a coin
  – you can’t have a 1-sided coin
  – could you know dark without light?
  – Good would be meaningless normalcy
    without evil
• Ivan: If the price to know goodness
  is so high, then I would prefer we
  knew nothing of goodness
  – Perhaps we could know goodness by
    evil occurring to adults only
Evil is a Necessary Consequence
        of Human Freewill
• God gave humans the power to
  choose to be good or evil
  – We would be like ants without this
    choice
  – A consequence is that sometimes we
    choose to be evil
• Ivan?: If such great evil results
  from our freewill, then God
  should never have let us have it
   We All Must Suffer for the
   Mistakes of our Ancestors
• Adam needn’t have eaten the
  apple, but he did
  – This made him guilty, and
  – Us guilty too, since we are of him
• Ivan: Our real-world sense of
  justice does not allow guilt to be
  inherited
  – Why does God allow it?
  – It doesn’t make sense to us
God’s Plan Requires the Evil
• We cannot fathom God’s infinite
  goodness, power and intellect
  – All suffering that we see is necessary for
    the ultimate good of us all being united in
    harmony
  – (Or some other great good)
• Ivan: it’s unfair that some innocents
  suffer in this plan, esp. children!
  – I won’t go to a heaven where the mother of
    the killed baby/child forgives the evil
    people who caused innocents to suffer for
    their own pleasure!
Is that Suffering Unnecessary?

1. We need evil to understand good
2. Humans allowed evil by choosing
   free will
3. All humans must suffer for the
   mistakes of our ancestors
4. God has a plan which makes this
   suffering necessary for us all to
   share harmony in the end
• Any other ideas how to make the
   evils we see necessary?
Philosophy of Religion
Lecture 7: More on the
 Argument from Evil
      Dan Turton
     PHIL104-2010
                Today
• Recap
 – Argument from Evil
• Mackie
 – Evil and God are logically
   incompatible
• Rowe
 – Evil and God are not
   logically incompatible,
 – But evil provides a good
   reason to be an atheist
 – But, we should still be
   friendly
          Mackie on Evil
• Thinks the argument from evil
  shows that most forms of theism
  are internally inconsistent
• Theists believe all of these 3:
  – God is all-powerful
  – God is all-good
  – There is evil in the world
• But no more than 2 of these could
  be true at any one time
Mackie Considers Responses
• He finds that all of them don’t
  fully work
• They generally alter the
  definitions of the important
  terms
       Evil is an Illusion
• There is no evil, just the illusion
  of evil because…
  – E.g.
  – Change is required for evil and
    nothing actually ever changes
  – All of our worldly perceptions are
    illusory
• This illusion sure seems mean
  (evil) though!
God’s Plan Requires the Evil
• We cannot fathom God’s infinite
  goodness, power and intellect
  – All apparent evils are necessary for
    the ultimate good - being united in
    harmony
  – So apparent evils are really just part
    of the overall good
• But apparent evils are actually a
  bit evil
  – If we can imagine a way to bring about
    the great good without evil, then an
    all-powerful being could do it
Good cannot Exist without Evil

• But, God is omnipotent, so he can
  make good exist without evil
• Omnipotence = being able to do
  anything that is logically
 possible
• Good is logically possible
  without evil (unlike relative
  terms e.g. bigger/smaller)
   We Cannot Appreciate Good
          without Evil
• Our perceiving suffering in the world
  creates a juxtaposition with the goods
  we see, making them much better
  – The net result is more goodness overall
• Surely there is enough evil in our
  history and imaginations to juxtapose
  the goods we see?
• Only a tiny amount of non-horrendous
  suffering is needed for this and we see
  more than that
     Some Evil is Needed for
      Expression of Virtues
• The whole world is better if there is
  evil because it allows for heroism,
  compassion, benevolence etc.
• But evil also allows vices of cruelty,
  malevolence, callousness, cowardice
  etc
• There doesn’t seem to be a net gain
  here
• And why let innocents like children be
  the target of vices?
   Evil is Due to Freewill 1
• Is it better on the whole to have
  freewill?
  – How much evil can we bear for freewill?
  – Is there more or less evil than that?
• ‘Free’ choices are constrained already
  – Why do we not have the freewill to choose
    from just the neutral and good options?
  – Imagine if we never thought of the
    possibility of doing evil
  – If God is all-powerful, then he either
    controls our choices or they are random
  – If we really have full freewill, then God is
    not all-powerful
   Evil is Due to Freewill 2
• If we really have full freewill, then
  God is not all-powerful
  – God could prevent willful acts of
    human evil but refrains from doing
    so…
• But why would he do this?
  – because freedom to carry out evil
    deeds outweighs the evil
    consequences?
• But this is not justice as we know
  it!
 The Paradox of Omnipotence
• Can an omnipotent God create rules
  that restrict itself?
• Can God make a rock so heavy that
  it is un-liftable? …YES
 – Can God lift that rock? …YES
 – Contradiction
• Can God make people with complete
  freedom of choice? …YES
 – Can God control those people? …YES
 – Contradiction
  What about Natural Evil?
• Natural evil is not caused by
  freewill
  – Is there another reason why natural
    evils are necessary?
• Consistent laws of nature
  required to allow freewill to
  operate properly
  – Couldn’t consistent laws of nature
    prevent all natural suffering?
  – E.g. natural force-fields for babies
                 Rowe
• Just because we can’t see why an evil
  might be necessary does not mean that
  it cannot be necessary
• Therefore, the Argument from Evil
  does not logically prove that an all-
  knowing, -powerful and -good God
  does not exist
• But, not knowing a good reason for why
  evil is necessary does give us a reason
  to be atheists
• Is it reasonable to believe that all of
  the evil in the world is necessary for
  some greater good? …No
     Varieties of Atheism

• Unfriendly Atheism:
  – Theistic belief is not rationally
    justifiable
• Indifferent Atheism:
  – Agnostic about whether theists’
    belief in God is rationally
    justifiable
• Friendly Atheism:
  – Some theists’ belief in God is
    rationally justified
        Friendly Atheism
• Can a Friendly Atheist really think
  that they are justified in not
  believing in God while theists might
  well be justified in believing in God?
• We can think of the Argument from
  Evil as a reason not to believe in God
  and the Fine-Tuning Design Argument
  as a reason to believe
• Throw in religious experience for the
  theist but not the atheist and both
  seem to be reasonably justified in
  their beliefs
Philosophy of Religion
Lecture 8: Even More on
the Argument from Evil
       Dan Turton
      PHIL104-2010
                   Today
• Recap
  – Mackie, Rowe and ‘Ivan’ on the
    Argument from Evil
• Howard-Snyder
  – There are reasons why evil
    might be necessary, some of
    which we can’t even imagine
  – Do these reasons (taken
    together) justify the huge
    amount of evil in the world?
  – We cannot be sure that they do
    not
  – We should not even say it is
    likely that they do not
        Howard-Snyder
• Not all of the article will be
  covered
• He discusses some theodicies
  (explanations of why evil is
  necessary)
• But, he thinks theists don’t
  really need them because the
  argument from evil contains a
  bad noseeum inference
        Evil and Suffering
• “the history of our planet is… stuffed
  with undeserved, horrific evil and
  suffering”
• Intentional human evil
  – A child dies from abuse by its parents
    every 6 hours in the US
• Unintentional human evil
  – On a boiling hot day, a Kentucky professor
    left his child in the back of his car all day
• Natural evil
  – Children and animals suffer because of
    famine, disease and natural disasters
          Two Problems
• The practical problem of evil
  – Assumes God exists
  – Observing evil may cause a theist to
    despair or rebel against God
  – Like ‘Ivan’: “put God on trial for
    negligence and gross incompetence”
• The theoretical problem of evil
  – Does not assume that God exists
  – Is evil evidence that we should not
    be theists?
  – “Philosophical twaddle” is his focus
 Why Does God Permit Evil?
• Why do so many innocents suffer?
 – And why do they suffer so much?
• When asked like this, an
  assumption is hidden
• The questioner assumes that:
 – If we cannot give a good reason for
   why God permits this suffering, then
   there is no good reason
 – This assumption is wrong
  Is God only Semi-Potent?
• Theists might say that
  God is not all-powerful
• Problem:
 – How can a being be
   powerful and
   knowledgeable to create
   and sustain the universe
   but not be powerful enough
   to prevent evil?
 – Is there something special
   about evil that makes him
   powerless to stop it?
      Why the Evil, God?
• “If there was some greater good
  that could not possibly occur
  unless evil were permitted, it
  might well figure in God’s reason
  to permit evil.”
• Theodicies:
  – Attempts to explain why God permits
    evil
  Punishment
   Theodicy
• God is justified
  in punishing
  evildoers
• But what about
  natural evil?
• This response
  doesn’t get
  anywhere without
  reincarnation
    Counterpart Theodicy
• Good requires evil to exist and
  vice versa
• But God is omnibenevolent
  – Just before God created the
    universe, only he existed
  – God is all-good (no evil)
  – Therefore, good can exist without
    evil
      Free Will Theodicy
• Self-determination is the greater
  good for which we must
  countenance evil
• But why not block others from
  harm without evil-doers
  realising?
 – Then I can still determine my
   character and actions, but no
   innocents suffer as a result
  What about Natural Evil?
• The free choices of nonhuman
  people (e.g. Satan & his demons)
  causes all natural evils
• But, science can better explain
  natural evils than Satan and
  demons can
  – This will not convince any atheists
    Natural Law Theodicy
• Without rigid laws of nature, we
  would live in a random world
  where fruitful exercise of
  freewill would be impossible
  – I want to hug you but my limbs act
    so erratically that I poke you in the
    eye and crush your ribs
  – The natural laws that govern the
    movement of physical bodies also
    result in earthquakes and landslides
           “The Reason”
• There are reasons why evil might
  be necessary
  – Let’s call all of them together “The
    Reason”
• “would The Reason justify God in
  permitting so much evil rather
  than a lot less?”
  – E.g. same but no dementia or Ebola
    virus or genocide
  – The Reason does not justify so much
    evil
    The Argument from Amount
1) There is no reason that would
   justify God in permitting so
   much evil rather than a lot less
2) If God exists, then there must be
   such a reason
C) So, God does not exist

•    2 is usually conceded… but is 1
     true?
 Noseeum Inferences
• I can’t see it
• So, it’s probably not there
• Good noseeum inferences
  – Looking for milk in the fridge
• Bad noseeum inferences
  – Looking for slugs in the
    garden
• Is it reasonable to believe
  that we are very likely to
  see (comprehend) the thing
  in question?
    Noseeum ‘The Reason’
• So far as we can tell, there is no
  reason for God to permit so much
  evil
• Therefore, there probably is no
  reason for God to permit so much
  evil

• Is this a reasonable inference to
  make?
  – Are we likely to see (comprehend)
    The Reason if there is one?
Chances of Comprehending The
           Reason
• There are several reasons to doubt
  that we could understand it
• We have finite intellect
  – We’re unable to understand infinite goods
• There are probably lots of goods we
  are yet to discover
  – We’re limited by evolution in this
• The Reason is probably too complex
  for us to understand
  – Great goods are often complex e.g. wine
 Is there Unnecessary Evil?
• And how sure can we be?
• Does our inability to see a good
  reason for so much evil justify belief
  that there isn’t one?
• Where is the burden of proof here?
  – Definitely on anyone trying to convert
    someone else either way
• We can imagine a world with lots of
  goods, and without so much evil…
  – but what of the greater goods that we
    don’t know about?
  – That depends… are there any?

								
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