Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Evil, Who Knows It And How? Pt. 1

Gen. 3:4-5 ~ "4-And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5-For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."

The Atheist Bus Campaign proudly hails that humanity doesn't need to worry because there is" probably no God". The American Humanists claim that we don't need God to be good and that individuals can just "be good for goodness sake". These statements assume that belief in God is nonessential to life and that an individual can discern and know what is good on their own. The problem is that in order to be good one must also know what is bad or evil and be able to distinguish the difference.

The focus of this article is to examine the human epistemology of good and evil. This is better stated as how and on what basis do individuals know what is good or bad. This article will look specifically at the knowledge of "evil" and how evil is discerned both in the life of the Christian and in the life of the unsaved or atheist.

I intend to ask and answer the following questions in this article:

1- What is evil and where does it come from?

2- How does one come to identify what is evil?

3- Can them that are lost confidently know what evil really is?

4- How is the Christian concept of evil superior to the atheistic concept of evil?

I: What Is Evil And Where Does It Come From?

In many philosophical circles, evil is defined as morally objectionable behavior or that which causes harm destruction and/or misfortune. For many, it is said that evil emanates from immorality which is the quality of not being in accord with standards of right. Evil is equivalent to being wicked or possessing iniquity.

Throughout history, it has been thought that unpleasurable things are evil. In fact the Plato's (428-347 B.C.E.) view of evil which was gained from his teacher Socrates (470-399 B.C.E.) he stated that the only reason why the pleasures of food and drink seem to be evil is that they result in pain and deprive us of future pleasures. {Plato Progaras, 353e}

Socrates (in Plato's early work) argued, that which we call evil is merely ignorance and that good is that which everyone desires. Benedict de Spinoza said that the difference between good and evil is merely one of personal inclinations:

"So everyone, by the highest right of Nature, judges what is good and what is evil, considers his own advantage according to his own temperament... ."

If you are careful to notice, the term "evil" is normally used as a descriptive based on concepts of relativistic or subjective thought. In other words "evil" according to most, is only "evil' as it relates to its relative position to an individual, culturally acceptable standards of the community or personal moral assessments. In other words "evil' as it is described in modern society is nothing more than a figment of the imagination.

Philosophically Speaking:

There are generally three types of evil pointed to in most circles:

1- Moral Evil ~ Evil as a result of choice of moral agents

2- Natural Evil ~ Evil that occurs as a result of natural circumstance beyond our control

3- Non moral Evil~ Evil that occurs as a result of accident or neglect.

Augustine To The Rescue:

St. Augustine, in his defense of the faith "On The Morals Of The Manichaens, [5.7]" set forth the concept that evil is not the absence of good, as is commonly taught in philosophical circles, but the corruption of good. His argument is summarized as follows:

1- Corruption is a general definition of evil.

2- Corruption, which is not a substance, does not exist by itself but in what it corrupts.

3- Corruption is only identified when whatever is corrupted by it looses integrity and purity.

4- That which has no integrity or purity cannot be corrupted.

5- Therefore for anything to suffer corruption or perversion implies the presence of integrity, purity and ultimately good.

In the Christian worldview evil is better stated as being the corruption of good or of what has integrity and purity, not the absence of good. In other words evil cannot be identified unless it is set against a standard that is not corrupted to begin with.

In some cases evil is the lack of an appropriate relationship between good things. Example, Boots are good, a persons face can be and is generally good, but a boot on a face is an inappropriate relationship especially when there was nothing done to deserve it.

Evil can also be the lack of something that should be there in relationship between good things. For example, the husband that mistreats his wife or father that abuses his children. He does so because he lack the love that he should have for his spouse and children, while at the same time he may either love someone else or love some other activity that assists him eliminating or lowering his love for his family. The problem is not that there is no love, love exists, but there is a serious lack of love or maybe even hatred for what should be loved.

II: How Does One Come To Identify Evil?

The Philosophical Dilemma


I point out yet another philosophical dilemma regarding evil. This deals with both the ethical view of evil and the epistemological understanding or awareness of evil. That epistemological understanding of evil simply asks or seeks to find out how one knows or identifies evil.

Views on the nature of evil tend to fall into one of four opposed camps:

Moral absolutism holds that good and evil are fixed concepts established by a deity or deities, nature, morality, common sense, or some other source.

Amoralism claims that good and evil are meaningless, as there are no deities, no moral ingredient in nature. Amoralists tend to apply a homo economicus style of making decisions in their lives.

Moral relativism holds that standards of good and evil are only products of local culture, custom, or prejudice.

Moral universalism is the attempt to find a compromise between the absolutist sense of morality, and the relativist view; universalism claims that morality is only flexible to a degree, and that what is truly good or evil can be determined by examining what is commonly considered to be evil amongst all humans.

Value Statements

The view that something is either good or bad of itself is called intrinsicism. Intrinsic values are nonderivative values. In other words something is either good or bad without regard to who or what it is good or bad to or for. There is a problem with intricism. Anything good on its own has nothing to compare itself to. In other words there is no contrast offered by which something that is truly good without respect to whom it's good to can really be assessed as being good. Therefore intrinsic worth is a circular argument in many cases.

This is where it gets interesting. For one to identify evil, one would also have to assign or have assigned a set of values as a contrast to the assessment being made. Those values may be based on subjective or objective means, but there is a value relationship and value assertion nonetheless, otherwise there can be no identification of anything evil or corrupt. Current philosophical understandings of intricism do not address this particular issue and fail to account for initial value judgements and assertions. This is done primarily due to the belief that community in many cases, is responsible for value judgements. This thought is probably one of the worst of all arguments and certainly has shown not to be the case. Why? First, because nearly all cultures, varying as they may be, and in some cases not in touch with either at all, hold to certain standards and values in high esteem that are seemingly universal, such as charity, selflessness, nurturing of others etc. These standards are always held out as being virtuous from culture to culture without having been derived from any particular culture or social setting.

Secondly, value assessments and judgements are made regularly regarding these matters outside of community from culture to culture and third, if one says that good values are learned from family and maternal "passings on", then one is right back where we started asking for the first cause of the value judgement ie: where did your mommas, mommas, momma get that from and then where did they get it from. A trail of infinite regression that leads back to a beginning either way where a standard was set forth.

Fourth, the bible accords that God is the only intrinsically good being. For something to have intrinsic value means that it can be valuable or not, good or bad, without reference to who it is good or bad for, and without reference to the reason it is good or bad. Although this statement for a philosopher is a self-defeating, in our current condition, we can identify good when we identify evil since evil is the corruption of what is good. In the case of God he is self-ascribed as the self-existent one who is good.

Exodus 3:14 ~ "And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you."

Blessed!

47 comments:

  1. Hey Harvey,

    I've been doing some study and thinking on this and I don't think God is required for moral facts.

    Consider this argument:

    1. Either God is good because God has the properties that constitute moral goodness, or the properties are good because God has them.
    2. If God is good because God has the properties that constitute moral goodness, then the moral properties are the standard of goodness -- not God.
    3. If the properties are good because God has them, then goodness is arbitrary.
    4. Therefore, either moral properties are the standard of goodness (and not God), or goodness is arbitrary.

    (To read more about this go here: http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/wes/GodGood.pdf)


    The non-theist has a perfectly good ground for moral facts and properties if she is a platonist about properties.


    Moreover, Many theists have pointed out that the belief that moral facts require theism fails. There are a number of plausible ethical theories that make no appeal to God (e.g., utilitarianism, kantianism, and virtue ethics) So, many Christian philosophers have abandoned the idea that moral facts require theism.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Cole,

    I don't agree with you assessments especially #'s 3 and 4.

    God reveals himself to help us identify his goodness. God is good by virtue of his nature. There is nothing necessary to confer goodnes upon him. His self existence is the reminder of that.

    This even confers to the goodness that he possesses as a method of communication toward mankind.

    Secular philosophy has no accounting for this and believes that goodness can only be in relationship to something. This is why I believe that Paul says that philosophies of men are "vain" they have no way to account for self-existant goodness.

    Secondly, the athiest concept of evil is only an illusion without the absolutism and objectiveness of moral good and moral values. If there is absolute moral values that preclude that there must be a moral value giver. Anything else or anything that occurs outside of that parameter is merely subjective.

    I propose that the atheist knows moral values BUT the only way they can know them is through and by the absolute moral and objkective value standards of God EVEN IF they don't know God.

    In other words "goodness for goodness sake" is silly empty notion because goodness can mean anything to anybody that they wish it to mean at whatever time of convenience they wish. God standards are not arbitrary, they are absolute.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Harvey,

    You say God is good by virtue of His nature. A person's nature is that set of properties which she posseses in every possible world in which she exists. To say that God is by nature loving, just, faithful, etc. is to say that He posesses these properties in every world in which He exists. This is thought to be every possible world for God.

    Since you identify the ultimate standard of moral goodness with God's moral nature, you are identifying it with a set of properties and it is these properties that are doing the real work in your theory of value.

    Is God good because He has these properties? Or are they good because God has them? If we take the first view then God is not the ultimate standard of goodness. If we take the second view then goodness is arbitrary.

    So, I think the argument stands.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Cole,

    One thing that would help is if you define arbitrary because that covers a lot of ground but the aspect that I think of deals with illogical formulation of ideas etc. not based on rational or logical thought.

    If that's what you're saying I understand what you are asking and I can only say that God is Logos...his logos or logic is NOT arbitrary. Under your second premise, you wish to state that God has simply "whimmed" aspects of his goodness to be deemend "good" this would mean that if he wanted murder to be "good" he could have simply called it good and the whole argument gets silly from there...

    Look, God is. He communicates his attributes. His attributes are part of his nature. There is no variance in his nature. His nature is not limited to what has been communicated to us...therefore your argument is at best incomplete and unclear.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Interesting blog, Harvey. A little over my head in some places, but this is clear to me:

    "the athiest concept of evil is only an illusion without the absolutism and objectiveness of moral good and moral values. If there is absolute moral values that preclude that there must be a moral value giver. Anything else or anything that occurs outside of that parameter is merely subjective."

    "Evil, who knows it and how" - Good, who knows it and how.

    Genesis 1:31
    And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

    Man was corrupted in the Garden, so I don't see how we can make judgments about good apart from God because those judgments are ultimately based on our selfishness, agenda, needs (usefulness) and corrupted rationality.

    The Sermon on the Mount, for instance. The standrads Jesus set forth there are unlivable, and I agree with CS Lewis that Jesus used the sermon partly to show us something - just how far we fall short in the eyes of our good and loving Father (and how much we need a Savior).

    I wonder what secular philosophy would say about "if your right eye offends you, pluck it out".

    ReplyDelete
  6. Laura,

    As you can see my approach to this topic is not the standard approach that most critics and even philosophy takes. They take for granted that they can judge what "evil" is right away. I say even if they can judge what evil is it is ONLY against the backdrop of God's moral absolutes that they can do so...subjective value judgements of evil are only illusions as they are products of what one "thinks" is right and wrong and not based or rooted in Objective moral values...

    In short the godless NEEDS God to attempt to reconcile what evil is...Current philosophy doesn't address this particular issue as it's more at the heart of the matter.

    So it's pretty deep. Christians should know that the "devil" or "serpent" did what he was known for in the garden...he lied! When they ate they went blind...their knowledge didn't actually increase...I believe that's the key to fully understanding this.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Harvey said "the "devil" or "serpent" did what he was known for in the garden...he lied! When they ate they went blind...their knowledge didn't actually increase...I believe that's the key to fully understanding this."

    Very cool - I never looked at their "blindness" before, just focusing more on the fall.

    I gotta tell you - Awhile back I got really tired of my atheist friends quoting their atheist philosophers like Bertrand Russell and Sarte, etc. at me all the time so I did some research into them and found just a cesspool of filthy living coming from these great thinkers who were telling us how WE should live, what life is all about and how we should function in life.

    So I asked them "How has (Bertand Russell) changed your life"? and I'd get stuff like "he's insightful and interesting". Whereas Christ totally transforms our lives. And unlike the great philosophers, Jesus lived His morality.

    If you are looking for an interesting read, the book is call "Intellectuals" by Paul Johnson.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Harvey,

    What you are saying is that God is essentially loving and just. Since God does not decide what His own moral nature is and since God's nature is suppose to fix the nature of moral goodness then God has no control over what counts as morally good.

    You have substituted necessary truths about God for necessary truths about moral goodness. But even if this makes all moral truths depend on God, it is not sufficient to put them under His control.

    You mention the laws of logic when you say God is logos. But I don't think God is required to ground the laws of logic either. The laws of logic exist of metaphysical necessity. They are true in all possible worlds and exist in all possible worlds. They cannot fail to exist. But if this is true then they require no outside ground for their existence. For they can't fail to exist; if the reason why the laws of logic exist is because it's metaphysically impossible for them to fail to exist, then one can hardly ask for a better reason for their existence than that.

    logical truths can be grounded in inclusion, preclusion, and compatibility relations among property structures. So, for example, it's a necessary truth that whatever's blue is colored. Why? Because being blue includes being colored. That is, the property, BEING COLORED, is a sub-complex of the property, BEING BLUE.

    [For the details about this account, see Tony Roy's online paper, "Making Sense of Relevant Semantics"]

    Let me put it to you this way. The laws of logic exist of metaphysical necessity and therefore don't require any explanation for their existence in terms of of something beyond themselves. Just as you believe God exists of necessity and doesn't require any explanation of His existence in terms of something beyond Himself. If the laws of logic require an explanation in terms of something beyond themselves then so does God.
    They both exist of necessity.

    What do you think?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Cole,

    Let me chew on what you're saying for a minute but I'll tell you this...you're focusing on the moral nature of God...I am focusing on how man percieves morality and specifically evil in general. There is some overlap, but that's not specifically the focus.

    Let me get back.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Laura,

    You're absolutely correct. one trend that exists amongst the most vehement critics is an inability to live right...I mean they have all types of hangups and proclivities. Many of them try to escape the absolute truth of God's word by minimizing it. I mean if God isn't real then they have no reason to feel guilty or condemned right?

    It's merely a trick of the mind and a game that's played on their minds by the enemy of our souls. Plain and simple.

    That's an interesting thought about Adam and eve isn't it? Paul constantly tells people to "wake up" and all kinds of things to indicate that we are dead and not fully aware of our condition. I simply say that noone is fully aware without Jesus.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Cole,

    You said:"Since God does not decide what His own moral nature is and since God's nature is suppose to fix the nature of moral goodness then God has no control over what counts as morally good."

    I have a problem will all kinds of things in this statement especially when anything is describes as being "out of God's control" Simply put, we have no description of that anywhere within the biblical context so that's foriegn territory no matter how you look at it.

    I believe that where you're going is toward first cause...like the chicken and the egg??? God simply is. He simply exists. The charecteristics of God do not make him who he is although they describe him especially in his dealing with mankind. There is no "first cause" that would make God have the attibutes he does. He simply is. Once again philosophical examination can only relate to causes and effects, god is outside of that realm and I propose that philosophical methods of discovery are woefully inadequate in describing him. It's the equivalent of expecting a car to fly...both are transportation and both will get you from point A to point B but you can't superimpose the expectations of a airplane on a car no matter how ergonomically it's built...even a Saab isn't a plane.

    You said:" You have substituted necessary truths about God for necessary truths about moral goodness."

    What I am saying is that God is the basis or root of all truths we call necessary. Many non-theists and even some religio-pontificators etc don't believe in essential truth (ie: abosulte truths)I am saying that god is the source of all absolute moral values and those things are rooted within his goodness.

    You said: "But even if this makes all moral truths depend on God, it is not sufficient to put them under His control."

    Not saying that they are under his control. Saying that they have been communicated from him to mankind. What man does with it through the lens of sin is obvious...they abuse his goodness.

    You said:"You mention the laws of logic when you say God is logos. But I don't think God is required to ground the laws of logic either."

    God superceeds all logic I would readily agree, but God is not irrational neither does he or has he communicated out of "whimsicalness". He works orderly and in order including his thoughts. You used arbritrary and that's an inaccurate description of the nature of God.

    Regarding laws of logic you said:"They are true in all possible worlds and exist in all possible worlds. They cannot fail to exist. But if this is true then they require no outside ground for their existence."

    Now you apply a rationalle to logic that you don't apply to God for some reason. The opposite is true...logic is NOT self existent, only God is. Logic is a tool that he uses within this world to communicate to mankind. however he superceeds logic in his ways and understandings.

    You said this:"If the laws of logic require an explanation in terms of something beyond themselves then so does God.
    They both exist of necessity.


    No not true. God being the logos applies by the same function as God being love, peace, etc. There are description of his nature that is self-existent. As stated above logic etc are merely methods and means of communication and attributes that he has communicated to us. This is part of how we are created in his "image" and "likeness".

    Simply put, logic and all things could simply cease to exist by command of God and yet God is not supported or restricted by any of those things and would not suffer a loss of goodness or nature as a reult of what he controls and brings to an end.

    So philosophy is inadequate in perceiving God for all the reasons and then some that I describe.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Harvey,

    If God is outside the realm of causality then He stands in no causal relations with His creatures. Causality is a temporal concept.

    EG1 - In our experience, causes always bear a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to, or perhaps simultaneous with, their effects.

    The conclusion of EG1 is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation. Even if one grants (as many philosophers do not) that some causes are simultanious with their effects, those causes are themselves states of other things that pre-exist the effects in question. Example:

    Suppose that one thinks the pressure of a man's posterior is simultanious with the depression in that cussion. The pressure is due to the position and posture of the man's body, and this in turn is a state of something - the man's body - that existed before it was in that state. The total cause thus includes something - the man's body - that existed prior to the depression in the cushion.

    For something to be "prior to" then it must exist in time.

    a) If X creates Y, then X must exist temporally prior to Y

    b) But nothing could exist temporally prior to time itself (for that would involve existing at a time when there was no time, which is a contradiction)

    c) It is impossible for time to have been created

    d) Time is an essential component to the universe

    e) Therefore, it is impossible for the universe to have been created

    f) It follows that God does not exist.

    Since God does not exist then He can't be the explanation for moral facts or the laws of logic.


    And as scientists have pointed out without time, relationships are impossible.

    Most philosophers would also agree with me that the laws of logic, the moral law, and other abstracta exist of metaphysical necessity. That is, they cannot fail to exist. Or to put it another way, they exist in all possible worlds. They think this for a number of reasons. One reason is that since they seem to be timeless, spaceless, and acausal, then it would seem that they are immune to the conditions of concrete existence that render the latter contingent (e.g, if they're timeless, then they neither come to be nor pass away; if they're acausal, then they seem immune from things causing them to come to be and pass away, etc.)They seem to hold of logical necessity. They are not just true, but necessarily true and therefore true in all possible worlds. It's natural to think they exist in all possible worlds. But if so they don't need an explanation for their existence in terms of something beyond themselves. For they can't fail to exist; if the reason why they exist is because it's metaphysically impossible for them to fail to exist, then one can hardly ask for a better reason for their existence than that.

    The non-theist has a perfectly good ground for moral facts and properties if she is a platonist about properties, just as a non-theist has a perfectly good ground for mathematical facts and properties if she is a platonist about mathematical objects and properties.

    Moral facts don't require theism.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Cole,

    I'll start with the end of your commentary first because it shows how far off track you've become with this complete argument:"Moral facts don't require theism."

    That's not what this article addesses. But the truth is that humans don't know moral facts without the intervention of God period.

    So yes the sinner knows morality to some extent although they debate over the nature of morality that's aside from the point. The ONLY way a sinner knows anything about morality is because of God. Maybe that's be more clear in part 2 of the article which is scheduled for publication tomorrow.

    Then you render this which is difficult to understand:If God is outside the realm of causality then He stands in no causal relations with His creatures. Causality is a temporal concept.

    God IS outside the realm of causality as he is an uncaused cause. God exists outside of the realm of time but supernaturally intervienes within time for his purposes. God als has intimate relationship with his creatures in both a temporal now and in etenity on an eternal basis...That's the biblical description of God's relationship to man. What you're saying is conflicted and certainly NOT how God has chosen to relate to us. Now there are only 3 kinds of beings to begin with. 2 of them do not describe God, self caused and caused by another. God is uncaused which means that he is a necessary, eternal, and infinite being.

    Then you said this fiasco:

    a) If X creates Y, then X must exist temporally prior to Y

    God exists eternally prior to Y(if Y is us and or time itself or the universe)

    b) But nothing could exist temporally prior to time itself (for that would involve existing at a time when there was no time, which is a contradiction)

    No, God exists BEFORE time from what we call eternity and is without time. He moves within the realm of time to deal with man, because he is also fully omniscient. Time was created by him to fulfill his puropse. Time changes whereas God doesn't. In your view time would actually be god bringing him about into existence at some point...that's NOT biblical theology in any sense.

    c) It is impossible for time to have been created

    Maybe according to Bertrand Russell but the things that are impossible with men are possible with God...I guess the philosophical circles didn't get that memo. In fact time is actually an irrelevent and nonessential aspect of existence. To the point the fact that time changes is the strongest indication that time was created at some point. There is no infinate regression of time that is an absurd argument.

    d) Time is an essential component to the universe

    In the metaphysically known universe yes, but we also live in a universe that has immaterial realities that are unrestricted by time. Moral values just happen to be one of those unrestricted immaterial items that have no time restriction.

    See part 2

    ReplyDelete
  14. Cole

    Pt. 2

    e) Therefore, it is impossible for the universe to have been created

    Carl Sagan's arguments were bunk too. Empirical data suggest that the universe was created or came into existence at some point. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, the motion of the universe, and the radiation echo all give highly persuasive data that the universe had a beginning.

    You are arguing or have presented the eternal universe argument, and that flies in the face of all available and extant data. The universe was not and is not eternal and shows evidence of time and time restrictions.

    Another proof is that the universe is changing. As stated that indicates it being finite.

    f) It follows that God does not exist.

    Doesn't follow and the argument fails as always.

    Since God does not exist then He can't be the explanation for moral facts or the laws of logic.

    Once again that argument fails and if he doesn't exist it can't be on the basis of this faulty argument...back to the drawing board with that one.

    You said:The non-theist has a perfectly good ground for moral facts and properties if she is a platonist about properties,

    False, non-theists only have a subjective basis for moral facts. If there is anything considered to be universally good or evil it is only known through the lens of God's revealing and order within the realm of time.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Harvey,

    I'm not saying that our universe did't come into existence. What I'm saying is that without temporality there is no causality. Causality implies a tempral context. You said earlier that God is beyond such a context. If there's no time there's no causality as I showed above. And then I moved into my argument.

    Again here's the principle:

    EG1 - In our experience, causes always bear a temporal relation to their effects. They are either temporally prior to, or perhaps simultaneous with, their effects.

    The conclusion of EG1 is constantly confirmed and never falsified by emperical observation. Even if one grants (as many philosophers do not) that some causes are simultanious with their effects, those causes are themselves states of other things that pre-exist the effects in question. Example:

    Suppose that one thinks the pressure of a man's posterior is simultanious with the depression in that cussion. The pressure is due to the position and posture of the man's body, and this in turn is a state of something - the man's body - that existed before it was in that state. The total cause thus includes something - the man's body - that existed prior to the depression in the cushion.

    If there is no time no Causality. There can't be a timeless first Cause. Science teaches us that there is no time "prior" to the Big Bang. No time, no cause. No cause, No God. Maybe science is wrong and there is time prior to the Big Bang. But if there's time then why not space, matter, and energy? So, maybe our universe was given birth an eternal universe that exists outside our universe. The argument from Causality to God fails. All the evidence indicates that there is no time at the Big Bang singularity. Therefore there's no Cause. No Cause, No God.

    Moreover, Motion is change in location over time. Without time there is no change in location, and so no motion.

    No time no motion.

    Since there is no motion without time God can't move or act if He is timeless. He can't do anything and therefore He can't choose to create, act, or think. In order for God to act or move or choose to do something He would have to be in time since there is no motion without time. If He's timeless He becomes frozen.

    A timeless God cannot move or do anything. A timeless God could not have created the universe.

    I also gave two reasons why morality and other abstracta exist of metaphysical necessity. If you ask me how I explain the existence of such thigs, I say you're falsely assuming that they need an explanation. They can't fail to exist. In which case they're in no need of explanation in terms of something beyond themselves. Also, non-theists aren't commited to crude materialism, especially since abstract objects exist of necessity, and thus need no explanation -- much less of an explanation in terms of the material world.

    It doesn't take a God to reveal to us moral truths. Many atheists believe in such things without any reference to God. Many theists have also pointed out that the belief that moral facts require theism fails. There are a number of plausible ethical theories that make no appeal to God (e.g., utilitarianism, kantianism, and virtue ethics) So, many Christian philosophers have abandoned the idea that moral facts require theism.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Cole,

    You said: You said earlier that God is beyond such a context. If there's no time there's no causality as I showed above. And then I moved into my argument.

    Cole, eternality is beyond time and without time. (e-no and tern-time) Further because he does not change he is further unrestricted which obliterates other parts of your argument in this response:

    Mal. 3:6~“For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”

    Time only measures change. Since God does not change his is not subject to time neither indeed can be. So the critic’s arguments fails with false assumptions from the beginning.

    You said: Again here's the principle:

    God is an uncaused cause. Repeating the argument that I’ve already picked apart does nothing to further or make the argument better as if it all of a sudden gets good. It only gets worse because it’s bunk. Sorry but it is.

    You said:If there is no time no Causality.

    That only applies to the metaphysical world. Causality states that every LIMITED thing is caused by something other than itself God is UNLIMITED and the statements doe not apply to eternity. So point refuted.

    You said: There can't be a timeless first Cause.

    There is an ETERNAL uncaused cause. This is technical but you’ve got to get the description right. Remember there is no need for time in eternity especially as that pertains to God as he is unchanging.

    You said: Science teaches us that there is no time "prior" to the Big Bang.

    Science only pontificates what happened as a result of the big bang or IF there was a big bang and how that may have occurred. This statement also shows that at the very least time began when the big bang occurred…God exists BEFORE that bang…that’s what eternal means. Case closed…go to another point.

    You said: No time, no cause. No cause, No God.

    This is probably the worst argument I’ve ever seen because it even denies OUR very existence as human beings…if there was no time and no cause then what caused us??? So this argument refutes first cause and the big bang itself. That’s a JOKE! This is a self refuting statement…please burn the book that you got this garbage from-LOL!!!

    You said: Maybe science is wrong and there is time prior to the Big Bang.

    Maybe God just exists as he said and he existence is without time from a place and to a place called eternity??? Do ya think!!!

    You said: But if there's time then why not space, matter, and energy? So, maybe our universe was given birth an eternal universe that exists outside our universe.

    What the heck??? A universe within a universe...Cole I think your head is hurting...cause my eyes are hurting readin’ this my friend.

    See part 2

    ReplyDelete
  17. Cole pt. 2,

    You said:The argument from Causality to God fails.

    No the argument for causality is very good and highly effective.

    1- The universe had a beginning and is limited~ Science confirms that the universe had a beginning and is limited.

    2- Anything that has a beginning must be caused by something else ~ Science also confirms this

    3- Therefore the universe was caused by something else and that something else is God who is an uncaused cause existing without time from eternity...

    Now for the critic to say that this isn’t true, (which by the way is an absolute statement- which indicated the acceptance of absolute values as long as they have nothing to do with God…In fact this is the point of the article…the nontheist can’t believe in absolute values statements or moral judgements such as we see that has been placed into this) Let the critic provide the alternatives (they are limited) so that we can see the plausibility by comparison. If not God then who or what?

    All the evidence indicates that there is no time at the Big Bang singularity.

    All evidence indicates that a singularity could not have occurred without a cause but that’s another story to a die hard dogmatist isn’t it?

    You said: Therefore there's no Cause. No Cause, No God.

    There’s no me and you so we’re all figments of one another’s imagination??? I hoped I had a better imagination

    You said:No time no motion.

    This is silly...God does not have time and extension in space therefore he’s excluded from anything that sounds this dumb. Your arguments are ad hoc and have no root in refuting the description of God from his word. Spirits are non caporal beings so this whole fiasco doesn’t even apply and since it doesn't apply God wouldn't be restricted by time in any manner.

    You said:I also gave two reasons why morality and other abstracta exist of metaphysical necessity.

    First methaphysical naturalism cannot measure moral values and therefore cannot account for it. Moral values are not empirical as they do not exist within the genome either so they can’t be observed genetically. To make a “metaphysical necessity” argument is another SILLY notion…basically saying “we have values because we need them or because we should have them” That’s stupid! Who says we should have values since you can’t observe or find them or account for them by any metaphysical means? In fact natural selection has no discernment of moral good or moral evil so the answer is not there. Once again this is another bad argument full of potholes for sure.

    Secondly, you fail to understand that humans are limited. Absolute moral values cannot emanate from limited creatures. Only values relative to their existence come from limited creatures. We can display morals that we have or believe but we are not those very morals by nature. One such absolute moral value is love. Is love wrong? NO. Is love a universally accepted good moral value? YES. How and why? Not because of men because men are not absolute neither are they the source of love...but guess what? God is love (1 John 4:16) by his very nature. This is the place where the absolute universally accepted moral value of love comes from God not men as men CHANGE and God does not. Humans have love but God IS love. Human have moral values but God IS moral values. Out of his necessity as being perfect those values are GOOD. The atheist cannot fully learn this love because they don’t give themselves to learn God. One little caveat is that we can learn love through people but what does that get us…a subjective understanding of what love is! Either way we’re right back to where we started...the only way that a person can know absolute values and in this case even identify evil or know good is because of GOD plain and simple. All other identification outside of him is based on SUBJECTIVE values and understandings…Please don’t repeat the argument…it’s garbage and I feel adequately refuted.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hey Harvey,

    I guess we are going to have to agree to dissagree. I think your arguments are flawed just as you think mine are flawed. The Christian cannot show that he is in a rationaly or morally superior position than the atheist. I must conclude that neither can the atheist. After having this discussion I'm going to have to agree with the Christian philosopher Kelly James Clark.
    Reason is not neutral. It does not stand overlooking the evidence without prejudice and bias especially on matters of fundamental human concern. We cannot stand outside ourselves to compare our beliefs to the reality we suppose they tell us about. We are stuck within ourselves and the world as it presents itself to us. We are finite, and limited creatures and all that attends to this fact. There are other alternatives views to ethical theories that have no reference to God. Moreover, there are an infinite number of logical possible explanations. I don't see how you can claim to have the best possible one. God is only one possibility out of an infinite number.

    Let me give you an example of two rational philosophers who look at the same evidence and come to two different conclusions:

    First the theist Richard Swinburne:

    A similar pattern of argument [as I use in my discussion of the cosmological argument] from various other phenomena of such as the existence of concious beings, the providential ordering of things in certain respects, the occurance of certain apparently miraculous events in history and the religious experiences of many millions is....available to establish theism (when all the arguments taken together) as overall significantly more probable than not.


    Then on the other side you have the atheist J.L. Mackie:

    all the evidence that they can muster is easily explained in natural terms, without any improbabilities worth taking into account. Conciousness and the actual phenomena of morality and valuing as a human activity are explained without further improbabilities, given that the natural world is such to allow life to evolve, so the only improbabilities to be scored against the naturalistic kind of explanation are whatever may be involved in there being causal regularities, the fundamental laws and physical constants being as they are, and there being any world at all...In the end, therefore, we can agree with what Lapace said about God: we have no need of that hypothesis. This conclusion can be reached by an examination precisely of the arguments advanced in favor of theism, without even bringing into play what have been regarded as the strongest considerations on the otherside, the problem of evil and the various natural histories of religion. When these are thrown into the scales, the balance tilts still further against theism....The balance of probabilities, therefore, comes out strongly against the existence of a god.

    Two reasonable people looking at the same set of evidence reaching two different conclusions. Christian philosophers as well as atheists have studied theist arguments and have found them to fall short of demonstrative proofs. There seems to be an eagerness among theists to confirm what they already believe or what they want to believe. This is also true of the atheist. The arguments on both sides seem to me to confirm what the theist and atheist wishes with all her heart to be true. There is alot of disagreement among the professionals on all these issues.

    Like I already said above Christian philosophers are starting to abandon the idea that moral facts require theism. The arguments aren't there.

    Anyway, good talking to you.

    ReplyDelete
  19. In the eyes of the atheist, they want the argument to be a draw...but I believe I've more than demonstarated that it's not a draw and theism is the only valid place that one can look for all morality.

    We can agree to disagree but the arguments of Russell, Sagan and Swinborne fail dramatically.

    Then to fall back on a "metaphysical necessity" for the source of morality is A COMPLETE JOKE like I said. Morality isn't a necessary part of anything for a naturalist...that's what so comical to me...natural selection is blind, does not discern between good and bad in any way and morality has no genetic pattern or trace...metaphysical necessity" is only made up jargon to try to fit and make it work because all else fails...

    What makes this even better is that it was ancient people who penned these concepts by the direction of God. We have what are supposed to be the most knowledgeable individuals examining this stuff and they can only resort to made up fairy tales to try to overcome things that have been written for thousands of years...That is sooooooo funny to me...

    God is described as being, uncaused, non-coporal and eternal and omniscient and omnipresent...Those desciptions of him debunk every theory against why he can't exist as we've seen in this commentary...In fact as we've seen the atheist paints themselves so deeply into a corner to try to deny God that they even deny the possibility of their own existence...That is FUNNY-LOL

    Yea we'll disagree for real...but I think we all know why we certainly disagree with the viewpoints that you've presented, whether you espouse them or not.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Cole pointed out this argument,

    1.Either God is good because God has the properties that constitute moral goodness, or the properties are good because God has them.
    2. If God is good because God has the properties that constitute moral goodness, then the moral properties are the standard of goodness--not God.
    3. If the properties are good because God has them, then goodness is arbitrary.
    4. Therefore, either moral properties are the standard of goodness(and not God), or goodness is arbitrary.


    This is a Bertrand Russell argument where he asks how God got moral law, as Cole asks...He too locks himself into an "either/or" argument and it is overcome just like I've stated within the article and in this forum.

    Norman Giesler and Ron Brooks argue the same points I do this way in their book "When Skeptics Ask".p.30

    "Our convention is that moral law is rooted in God's good and loving nature. This is not an ultimate beyond God but within Him. And it is impossible for God to will something that is not in accordance with his nature. God is good and cannot will evil arbitrarily. So there is no dilemma"

    As I've demonstrated and as Giesler and Brooks confirm, whatever punch Russell thought he had doesn't exist and the argument is untenable.

    Mackie follows the same path and makes a multitude of sloppy mistakes including assuming (as we've seen) that there is anything, including natrual selection, which even comes close to providing a basis for morality. Those theories are totally invaluable to anything especially among honest scholars.

    He further has no consideration for the destruction of "freedom" in his assumptions...To destroy freedom or free-will would be evil and do more damage...Mackie knows absolutely NOTHING about such a concepts and bases freedom in the multitude of choices available rather than in the unfetterd ability to make a choice. I address that specifically in Part 2 of this article...

    That's why these godless theologues are not worth the paper on which they write. They are truely blind.

    I believe Christians can be more confident than ever that God is not only the moral law giver, but that no man can know or assess evil without the objective standards of God and by virtue of that, he exists.

    1- If objective moral values exist, then god must exist.
    2- We know that evil exists and evil is a negative objective moral value.
    3-Therefore God exists.

    Plain and simple if we know virtuous or even non-virtuous moral values exist, we know God exists...Peorial can dance around it all they want to, it all leads back to God!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Here's another little something I found:

    "The position of the modern evolutionist...is that humans have an awareness of morality...because such an awareness is of biological worth. Morality is a biological adaptation, no less than are hands and feet and teeth.... Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, [ethics] is illusory. I appreciate that when somebody says, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves…. Nevertheless…such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction and…any deeper meaning is illusory"Michael Ruse, "Evolutionary Theory and Christian Ethics," in The Darwinian Paradigm (London: Routledge, 1989), pp. 262, 26869.

    Dr. William Lane Craig brought this up in a debate with Dr. Richard Taylor. He summarized this notion like this:

    "Moral values are simply rooted in sociobiological evolution, that have passed down as certain taboos and certain commands, but they have no objective validity in terms of their moral rightness or wrongness."

    He concludes what I concluded, that a sociobiological process is blind and totally inept at providing any sort of essential or necessary morality for mankind in an of itself.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Got a little more insight into this "metaphysical necessity" jargon also. Here's the quote from Any Rand which I'll have a post on also because she helped mess the country up:

    ""Ethics is an objective metaphysical necessity of man’s survival, not by the grace of the supernatural, nor of your neighbors or your whims, but by the grace of reality and the nature of life."..."All that which is proper to the life of a rational being is the good, all that which destroys it is evil."

    Dr. William Lane craig responds thusly:
    See, hers is that selfinterest ethics, and it seems to me that that is just patently false. Many times selfinterest and morality go in different directions, particularly when it comes to acts of selfsacrifice and compassion. It seems to me, too, that what she said about something that betters the lot of mankind (or something to that effect) is good, and what doesn’t is evil—that’s purely arbitrary. I would like to pose to her the question: Why human beings? Isn’t that just a form of specieism? Why do you seem to like human beings among all the species that have evolved, to define moral good and evil? That’s arbitrary, on a naturalistic worldview. On a theistic worldview, I have a basis for that, and that answers the first part of the question: namely, that human beings are persons, they are created in the image of God and are therefore intrinsically valuable. And our goal in ethics is to conform ourselves to the moral nature of God, to become like Him. That’s the purpose of ethics as I see them.

    Any Rand's understandings were highly confused and I believe is one of the protaganists of the problems we face with the world economy...this rational self-interest garbage is the backbone of greed and "get them before they get you" mentality.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I also believe that the critic misses the point...God is moral eternally...men run into that standard in time and are introduced to certain moral aspects that existed eternally...

    This is very important because the picture is not that God is taking something off the shelf to prescribe for the problem he's dealing with. In fact nothing has to be taken off a shelf or otherwise because the good value IS who HE is. Then finally, HE has spoken it through the light of conscience and that's the ONLY way men recognizes what is true or false, good or bad or right or wrong, because sin crippled the ability of man to guage it otherwise.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Harvey,

    I understand that you are saying moral truths are grounded in God's nature. Since you identify the ultimate standard of moral goodness with God's moral nature, you are identifying it with a set of properties and it is these properties that are doing the real work in your theory of value.

    Is God good because He has these properties? Or are they good because God has them? If we take the first view then God is not the ultimate standard of goodness. If we take the second view then goodness is arbitrary.



    The sort of arbitrariness here isn't captured in terms of strict conditionals and possible-worlds semantics, but rather in terms of counterpossibles (counterfactuals with impossible antecedents). These are the sort involved in per impossibile reasoning. Sometimes the semantics of strict conditionals are too coarse-grained to capture certain facts, as some entities are necessarily co-extensive, and yet neither entity depends on, or obtains in virtue of, the other. This seems to be the case with respect to God and goodness: if God is a necessary being, and truths about goodness are necessary truths, then there is no possible world at which God and goodness come apart. Therefore, if we're interested in investigating the relationship between God and goodness, we need to switch from strict conditionals to counterpossibles to evaluate claims about this relation.

    So the criticism captured by this half of the New Euthyphro Dilemma is that if the properties that constitute God's nature are good merely in virtue of the fact that God instantiates them, then (perhaps per impossibile) if God had been (for example) selfish and spiteful, then it would've been good to be selfish and spiteful. But this is absurd; therefore, the properties that constitute God's nature are not good merely in virtue of the fact that God instantiates them.

    So, I think the argument holds:

    1. Either God is good because God has the properties that constitute moral goodness, or the properties are good because God has them.
    2. If God is good because God has the properties that constitute moral goodness, then the moral properties are the standard of goodness -- not God.
    3. If the properties are good because God has them, then goodness is arbitrary.
    4. Therefore, either moral properties are the standard of goodness (and not God), or goodness is arbitrary.

    This causes a serious problem for your theory of value. You cannot claim moral superiority.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Cole,

    You said:"Since you identify the ultimate standard of moral goodness with God's moral nature, you are identifying it with a set of properties and it is these properties that are doing the real work in your theory of value."

    That's an incorrect assessment Basically your saying if wood is wood because it is wood then it's the wood that's making it wood.

    Cole that is BACKWARDS reasoning and exactly what you're doing. It's some sort of logical fallacy maybe an equivocation, I don't know but it makes no sense This KILLS your whole conclusion. To say because something is what it is is somehow a false relationship is ridiculous.

    Your argument is invalid for all the following reasons which have been clearly named in this thread:

    1- God is eternal. His goodness derrives from his nature which is eternal.
    2- The essence of his nature is what man discovers in time. God's stance on evil and sin have always existed just as his loving nature does. There is no point at which these elements were created therefore any arguments stating arbitrariness is invalid.
    3- God's nature is not evil, as he has described that he cannot be tempted with evil neither does he tempt any man with it.
    4- The critic is left with trying to determine where values come from if they do not come from God. What are the alternatives?
    a- moral necessity~ INVALID. Natural selection does not distinguish or provide for morally necessary value systems
    b- Culturally defined ~ INVALID. Many values including values of love are universal in nature. even negative objective values such as hate have universal standards against such. This displays a universal consistency of values that define culture rather than culture defining the values.
    c- Genetically (naturally) defined ~ INVALID as referenced by (a) above and also noted that animals do not hold standards of morality of any sort. Why would natural selection or the genetic code "skip" animals if we're from the same RNA and DNA?

    Evey instance that you can offer that accounts for it is only a fantasy. To say that "it just is" begs the question...HOW is it?

    The BEST answer and the answere that addresses every point in an orderly and logical fashiopn is to simply concede that Objective Moral values come from God the creator of men...It is HE who spoken through eternity giving men a sense of moral right and wrong and translated that to manking as moral "oughtness". Therefore your premise fails while this yet stands:

    1- If objective moral values exist, then God must exist.
    2- We know that objective moral values exist whether good, or bad.
    3-Therefore God exists.

    That's what stands. Russell's argument has been recognized as inadequate for over 30 years. Sinnott-Armstrong offers a much better argument, doesn't emplore the fallacies of Russell but falls on his face too.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Harvey,

    I understand Russel's argument and this is not it. It's a new form of the Dilema for people like you who claim moral truths are rooted in God's nature. If God's nature is good then He has the properties of goodness. And this just pusshes the problem back further as I already noted. I understand what you are saying when you say morality is rooted in God's good nature. Go back and re-read what I said.

    Even The Christian theist Swinburne doesn't think that moral arguments succeed. He doesn't even think they make good C-inductive arguments for theism. For he takes moral truths to be necessary truths, akin to mathematical truths (e.g., 1+1=2), in which case they would exist even if God did not.

    So, Your argument isn't convincing.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Cole,

    The argument is convincing and exhausts the alternatives. Where the critic such as yourself fails is that God's existence is necessary. Further scripture defines God as meeting all tests for what we would consider to make such an argument successful.

    First necessary means that his existence is a perfection which can be attributed to the most perfect being having no beginning and no end as he describes himself within scripture and at no point can "come to be". He is uncaused.

    Second, God is unchanging and unlimited and all knowing.

    These are the criteria that would be essential IF his nature or essence were moral and not merely contrived.

    When the scripture said that God is love 1 John 4:16 there was no quantitave value added, there was no condition or quality added etc. he is this. This is simply one vale but it is a absolute good moral value which scripture traces that comes from God to man and flows through his church.

    Can sinners love without God? Obviously they do. Is there love any less valid? Of course not. How does one know what love really is? By the objective moral standards of God as no other sytem or method adequately explains the how, why, or the "oughtness" of love.

    1- If absolute moral values exist. God exists.
    2- Absolute moral values exist.
    3-Therefore God exsits.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Harvey,

    Moral values are necessarily true and therefore true in all possible worlds. The exist of necessity and therefore don't require and outside source to explain their existence. If they require an explanation then so does God. They both exist of necessity. Non-theists aren't commited to crude materialism, especially since abstract objects exist of necessity, and thus need no explanation -- much less of an explanation in terms of the material world.

    I would say that your argument makes it rational to believe in God but it's not a proof.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Cole,

    You said:Moral values are necessarily true and therefore true in all possible worlds.

    God is necessary and exists in all possible worlds. In fact no world exist without his creating it period.

    You said:The exist of necessity and therefore don't require and outside source to explain their existence

    God being an uncaused canse does not require an outside source of explaination for there is no explaination for him. He just is. You attribute this same accreditation to abstract objects by stating the following:

    since abstract objects exist of necessity, and thus need no explanation

    God is the same but back that up much further to a being that is uncaused has no beginning and no ending. Sets forth moral statement by nature declaring his goodness to all men. In other words it would have been a logical contradiction for God to have created a "good" creation if his nature were arbitrary or inconsistent.

    His creative abilities reflect his nature. His creation was good. His nature is good. This is reflective of his eternal not temporal disposition.

    ReplyDelete
  30. So far as the "proof" of God, the argument for morality would have to interlock with aother arguments such as cosmological, teleological and ontological.

    I think this is one piece to the puzzle and is very convincing even if it doesn't ultimately pin down the existence of God. What it does do is take away all of the other parameters for morality and does what I call a reverse skepticism...ie: OK, so you think that you can be moral without God? Well, how is that and what is the "oughtness" that makes you do that? There are limited answeres and all of them fall under the weight of objective scruitiny.

    Theism is the best answer out of them all without questions and addresses all the bases that need to be covered. That's why I don't agree with weak scholars who abandon this approach...it makes more sense than any alternatives.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Harvey,

    You still have to take into consideration the arguments on the other side of the scales.

    The anti-creation argument

    The Transcendent-Personal Argument

    The incoherence-of-Omnipotence argument

    The argument from evil

    The argument from nonbelief

    The arguments from incoherence

    The argument from confusion

    It seems when we take into consideration all the evidence the scales tip and balance themselves out. You can't claim rational superiority either.

    ReplyDelete
  32. When each of these so called arguments against God is examined they all fall short as they have done for many years.

    The critic will always be a critic until something happens to them deeper than any argument can go. When these arguments are refuted what will the critic do? Simply create another criticism or will they surrender and repent? That's the real argument. How long is one willing to carry the burden of self and sin in spite of the fact that God exists, he's the only logical reason for existence, and the facts support his existence?

    Atheism of all world views is probably the most empty. It hails a mindless chasim of random chance creates all that we know and hold dear only to be met with emptiness and oblivion at the end of it.

    They say that's reality but in reality that's sad and if so, the universe without God is worse than any god could ever be to people and all of creation. I'll take the reality of God and Jesus any day my friend!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Harvey,

    The arguments for God's existence have been examined and they fall short as well. They're not proofs and when they are taken together with the arguments against God's existence I think the scales ballance themselves out. Even if the arguments make it more likely than not that Theism or maybe Christianity is true (like William Lane Craig belives) this is still not sufficient to believe that it's true.

    As Alvin Plantinga has stated:

    "But if my only ground for Christian teaching is its probability with respect to K, and all I know about that probability is that it is greater than .5, then I can't rationally believe that teaching. Suppose I know that the coin you are about to toss is loaded. I don't know just how heavily it is loaded, so I don't know what the probability is that it will come up heads, but I do know that this probability is greater than .5. Under those conditions I do not believe that the next toss of the coin will come up heads. (Of course, I also don't believe that it will come up tails; and I suspect that it will come up heads.) All I know is that it is more likely than not to come up heads; and that's not sufficient for my sensibly believing that it will. The same goes in this case: if what I know is only that the probability of Christian belief (with respect to K) is greater than .5, I can't sensibly believe it."

    ReplyDelete
  34. Cole,

    It's not even close. The evidence for God is readily available. Look at these comments:

    “Some philosophers have contended that the existence of evil is logically inconsistent with the existence of the theistic God. No one, I think, has succeeded in establishing such an extravagant claim”~ATHEIST William L. Rowe, “The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism,”American Philosophical Quarterly 16 (October 1979): 41n1

    Natural evils, like miracles, don’t compel or guarantee belief, but they have significant potential to awaken human beings to their vulnerability, finitude, and need for God.”~Dr. Paul Copan critique of "The Impossibility Of God" available at CRI at www.equip.org

    “…like it or not, we must admit that the universe’s energy was somehow simply “put in” at the creation as an initial condition, which strongly supports the doctrine of creation out of nothing.”~P. C. W. Davies, The Physics of Time Asymmetry (London: Surrey University Press, 1974), 104.

    In addition atheism doesn’t even make sense. Explain how personhood could emerge from impersonal processes, reason from nonrational workings, and value from valueless events. Theism and specifically Christian belief solves these problems that atheism can’t even get a grasp on addressing.

    So far as Platinga’s comments regarding probability, is he a historian? No he’s a philosopher. Historical studies are done off of historical criteria which include probability. He has set forth excellent material confirming Christianity from a philosophical standpoint so I doubt if he’s rendered an essay that would undermine it. So I don’t understand the reference.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Harvey,

    I understand those quotes you provided. My point is that you have to look at all the evidence and weigh the probabilities. I'm not saying that the problem of evil makes theism inconsistent. But it does provide some non-coercive evidence for the other side.

    Alvin Plantinga along with others like William Lane Craig have calculated these probabilities and the conclusion is that Theism is more likely than not. My point in quoting Plantinga was to show that this is not sufficient to believe that it's true. Alvin does however believe that his reformed epistemology is sufficient for warranted belief in God. But the Christian philosopher James Sennette has shown that his epistemology fails. Again, we have disagreement among the proffessionals on the issues. The fact is, is that we cannot conclude based on the arguments that God exists. I'm not saying belief in God is irrational. I'm saying that the evidence isn't sufficient to establish it's truth. I do believe that the evidence however makes it rational to believe in some sort of Divine Being.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Also Harvey,

    You quoted Geisler and Brooks as saying:

    "Our convention is that moral law is rooted in God's good and loving nature. This is not an ultimate beyond God but within Him. And it is impossible for God to will something that is not in accordance with his nature. God is good and cannot will evil arbitrarily. So there is no dilemma"


    The idea that the moral law is rooted in God’s nature doesn’t solve the problem either. This creates a problem that cannot be solved. It just pushes the problem back further. You say God is good by virtue of His nature. A person’s nature is that set of properties which she posseses in every possible world in which she exists. To say that God is by nature loving, just, faithful, etc. is to say that He posesses these properties in every world in which He exists. This is thought to be every possible world for God.

    Since you identify the ultimate standard of moral goodness with God’s moral nature, you are identifying it with a set of properties and it is these properties that are doing the real work in your theory of value.

    Is God good because He has these properties? Or are they good because God has them? If we take the first view then God is not the ultimate standard of goodness. If we take the second view then goodness is arbitrary.

    Again, the sort of arbitrariness here isn’t captured in terms of strict conditionals and possible-worlds semantics, but rather in terms of counterpossibles (counterfactuals with impossible antecedents). These are the sort involved in per impossibile reasoning. Sometimes the semantics of strict conditionals are too coarse-grained to capture certain facts, as some entities are necessarily co-extensive, and yet neither entity depends on, or obtains in virtue of, the other. This seems to be the case with respect to God and goodness: if God is a necessary being, and truths about goodness are necessary truths, then there is no possible world at which God and goodness come apart. Therefore, if we’re interested in investigating the relationship between God and goodness, we need to switch from strict conditionals to counterpossibles to evaluate claims about this relation.

    So the criticism captured by this half of the New Euthyphro Dilemma is that if the properties that constitute God’s nature are good merely in virtue of the fact that God instantiates them, then (perhaps per impossibile) if God had been (for example) selfish and spiteful, then it would’ve been good to be selfish and spiteful. But this is absurd; therefore, the properties that constitute God’s nature are not good merely in virtue of the fact that God instantiates them.

    So, I think the argument holds:

    1. Either God is good because God has the properties that constitute moral goodness, or the properties are good because God has them.
    2. If God is good because God has the properties that constitute moral goodness, then the moral properties are the standard of goodness — not God.
    3. If the properties are good because God has them, then goodness is arbitrary.
    4. Therefore, either moral properties are the standard of goodness (and not God), or goodness is arbitrary.

    God is not the best explanation of morality even if it is an extension of His nature.

    You cannot claim moral superiority.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Cole,

    You said:"This creates a problem that cannot be solved. It just pushes the problem back further."

    If that were for something that were created, or sel created you would be correct, however God is uncaused and any rule of infinate regression DOES NOT apply to him. I mentioned that earlier in the posts so this was alreary addressed:

    2- Anything that has a beginning must be caused by something else ~ Science also confirms this

    That only applies to the metaphysical world. Causality states that every LIMITED thing is caused by something other than itself God is UNLIMITED and the statements doe not apply to eternity. So point refuted.

    Anything described as being from from eternity that is an uncaused cause as we see with God, need not follow a pattern of infinite regression as you so suggest. That pattern would be only for limited things, created within our time space continuum. Now repeating an already address argument isn't good, it shows no or little effort to move along or recevie certain facts being set forth.

    You have repeated this more than 5 times and I won't keep going around it because it was bunk then and it is still bunk:

    Since you identify the ultimate standard of moral goodness with God's moral nature, you are identifying it with a set of properties and it is these properties that are doing the real work in your theory of value."

    The properties are WITHIN his natrure. Similat to what I said about the ridiculous notion of wood...is wood wood because it's wood? If it is there's no problem BECAUSE IT'S WOOD!!! If it were something else then there would be a problem.

    Wood has to possess no other properties to be wood, but wood itself!

    God's moral nature is revealed to man through time but is eternal. I spoke of love previously, I'll take another one of God's inability for moral evil such as lying:

    Look it's this simple. God cannot lie In fact it is impossible for him to lie:

    Num. 23:19a ~ "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man that he should repent:"

    Titus 1:2 ~ "In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began."

    Secondly there is no changing in him or his promises and his promise is without lies:

    Heb. 6:17-18 ~ "17-Wherefore god, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his council, confirmed it by an oath: 18- That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled fro refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us."

    It is amazing that in no country or society is lying considered a positive moral virtue. Why? This has been communicated to men vis a vis the moral nature of God. How do I know this...ANY metaphysical system that you can name and have named cannot account for why a lie wouldn't be good...The fittest (the best liar) would survive with it, it self serving by nature etcx...all those elements that are necessary for naturalism to thrive but yet we don't see lying hailed a a positive virtue...

    This is because of the objective moral standards of God whether one is aware of it or not is aside from the point. The only reason that lying is considered bad is because of God not MAN, society of humanity...

    See pt. 2

    ReplyDelete
  38. Pt. 2

    Therefore your argument is GARBAGE...The moral argument for God's existence yet STANDS:

    1- If absolute moral values exist. God exists.
    2- Absolute moral values exist.
    3-Therefore God exsits.

    The critic believes that absolute values are a human convention. However for the reasons stated in the article that cannot even begin to be a viable answer.

    Your efforts to get around this only display what the sin nature has always done, try to make God a nonessential part of the equation of life. Notice how that effort is a totally self-serving proposition and another display in my view that morality CERTAINLY can't come from men as sin positions us to be totally sefl serving.

    The facts are that you would have no concept or discernment of good bad or evil or good without HIM.

    God is the ONLY explaination for morality whether the critic likes it or not. All other alternatives are either ad-hoc or bankrupt.

    Unless you have something new please don't resubmit this argument, I believe it has been thoroughly refuted.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Hey Harvey,

    I think I solved the problem of evil and suffering. I'm not saying I know why God allows it but I think I can show God does nothing wrong in allowing it. Because of this I think the scales tip significantly over to justify theism.

    My solution to the problem of evil and suffering runs like this:

    Grace by it's very definition is something we don't deserve. Whether it's common grace or saving grace. You cannot deserve as a non-being to be created and placed on this earth and have all your needs met by God. Nothing and nobody deserves God's grace so God is never obligated to show grace to His creation. He's the Creator. He has rights and prerogitives that we don't. Since God is never obligated to show grace or be merciful to His creation then He does nothing wrong by witholding His grace and allowing evil and suffering. Since God does nothing wrong by allowing evil and suffering then He remains good. Since He is good then He obviously has a morally good justifiable reason for allowing evil and suffering even if I don't know what that reason is. Logical explanations as to why are infinite and I'm not infinite. I'm finite and I can't fully comprehend the infinire. In order for me to know why God would allow something to happen I would have to get inside the mind of God. I'm not God. Of course God could reveal to us some His reasons if He chose to. But I don't think we could ever know all His reasons.

    What do you think?

    I call it the freedom of God defense.

    ReplyDelete
  40. OK Cole, I'm gonna chew on that one a day or so. This focuses on the "free-will" of God himself?

    I'll get back.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Yep,

    Since God isn't obligated to be merciful or gracious to His creation then it frees up His will. He's not under any compulsion to show grace. Whether it's common grace or saving grace.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Harvey,

    Let me put it to you this way and then I'll shut up.

    Grace is unmerited favor. God owes no one grace. This is so because of the very nature of grace as unmerited favor. If God were obligated to give grace it would no longer be grace. The very nature of grace is that it is never owed.

    Withholding grace could only be unjust if God owed us grace but grace is unmerited and so it is never owed.

    The way I see it there is common grace and saving grace. Common grace refers to God's gracious activity in sustaing all creation. This grace is called common because it falls on all creation including all humans and all creatures. God was under no obligation to create a world. You cannot desrve as non-being to be created. This applies to all creation including humans and animals. You cannot deserve as a non-being to be created and placed on this earth and have your needs met by God. Nothing and nobody deserves God's grace so God is never obligated to show grace to His creation. He's the Creator. He has rights and prerogitives that we don't. Since God is never obligated to show grace or be merciful to His creation then He does nothing wrong by witholding His grace and allowing evil and suffering. Since God does nothing wrong by allowing evil and suffering then He remains good. Since He is good then He obviously has a morally good justifiable reason for allowing evil and suffering even if I don't know what that reason is. Logical explanations as to why are infinite and I'm not infinite. I'm finite and I can't fully comprehend the infinire. In order for me to know why God would allow something to happen I would have to get inside the mind of God. I'm not God. Of course God could reveal to us some His reasons if He chose to. But I don't think we could ever know all His reasons.

    God doesn't owe His creation anything. He doesn't owe me anything.

    ReplyDelete
  43. That's the Soveriegnty of god defense and I know that reform circles see it that way. Now, I've seen this defense someplace also, the only thing it seems to leave out is the omniscience and free-will portion...

    The critic tries to establish that well God knew I was going to fail and IF he was a good father he'd protect his children (us) from failing and for him not to extend grace makes him defecient and unloving in character.

    So that's the line of reasoning that needs to be overcome with this argument, BUT I guess it doesn't necessarily have to be overcome because God can do what he wishes with his creation because he is soveriegn.

    So that's valid and I see where you're going with it.

    Good job!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Yea, it would fall under the Reformed tradition. I think I may be headed back in that direction.

    Thanks for your input.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Also Harvey,

    I think what is assumed in the arguments for evil is that God is under obligation to be merciful to His creation.

    But I don't think this is the case for reasons already given.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Cole,

    I think you're on point with this. God does not have to provide grace to anyone as grace is unmeritted favor. So nobody can buy the grace of God at any cost.

    For the critic who says, "well a good Father shows mercy to his children" this argument DOES NOT exclude that mercy, it only points out that God is not under OBLIGATION or restraint etc. to show mercy. In short he does, and he will, but man can't make him do it as man does not have the knowledge or the "why" in order. God adjudicates out of his omniscient knowledge which is to be learned in the future.

    Moral evil however is actualized through man's free-will choice.

    Rom. 9:14-15~"14-What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15-For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."

    This scripture was in reference to Moses request to see God's face:

    Ex. 33:19~"And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy."

    That's the key to this argument in a sense, the world is wanting to see god's face to try to bring him into question, but what did God say:

    Ex. 33:20~"And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live."

    Thank God for the prepared place "within the rock" to perceive him and WE know that rock is Jesus!

    ReplyDelete
  47. That was well said Harvey!

    This is Cole by the way. I changed my name.

    ReplyDelete

Please send me an email if you try to post a comment and cannot do so. Dunamis1@netzero.com. Thanks.