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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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