October 15, 2010

The Problem of Evil

The conversation has turned into the problem of evil because I mentioned the claim:

God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil which exists.

Which is not sufficient for the Atheists here. Let's readdress it since this is no light matter for any of us. Especially for the tortured children out there, that may even be being tortured by their own parents.

Bahnsen alerted me to an interesting conversation between two brothers and the following rang so true in the sentiments of many Atheists that I know.

As Dostoevsky said best "a beast can never be so cruel as a man"


The Atheists just cannot get around this reason for evil. See if this is how many of you feel:

From The Brothers Karamazov: "This poor child of five was subjected to every possible torture by those cultivated parents. They beat her, thrashed her, kicked her for no reason till her body was one bruise. Then, they went to greater refinements of cruelty—shut her up all night in the cold and frost in a privy, and because she didn't ask to be taken up at night (as though a child of five sleeping its angelic, sound sleep could be trained to wake and ask), they smeared her face and filled her mouth with excrement, and it was her mother, her mother did this. And that mother could sleep, hearing the poor child's groans! Can you understand why a little creature, who can't even understand what's done to her, should beat her little aching heart with her tiny fist in the dark and the cold, and weep her meek unresentful tears to dear, kind God to protect her? Do you understand that, friend and brother, you pious and humble novice? Do you understand why this infamy must be and is permitted? Without it, I am told, man could not have existed on earth, for he could not have known good and evil. Why should he know that diabolical good and evil when it costs so much? Why, the whole world of knowledge is not worth that child's prayer to dear, kind God! I say nothing of the sufferings of grown-up people, they have eaten the apple, damn them, and the devil take them all! But these little ones!...

While there is still time, I hasten to protect myself, and so I renounce the higher harmony altogether. It's not worth the tears of that one tortured child who beat itself on the breast with its little fist and prayed in its stinking outhouse, with its unexpiated tears to 'dear, kind God'! It's not worth it, because those tears are unatoned for. They must be atoned for, or there can be no harmony. But how? How are you going to atone for them? Is it possible? By their being avenged? But what do I care for avenging them? What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don't want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price...Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature—that baby beating its breast with its fist, for instance—and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the truth."

One must account for evil, that both the unbeliever and the believer recognizes. Bahnsen said "The subject of evil is not simply an intellectual parlor game, a cavalier matter, a whimsical or relativistic choice of looking a things a certain way. Evil is real. Evil is ugly."

This can't be a discussion as to "God is going to clear up the mess." He will, but that is not an adequately sufficient answer for the God deniers here. The question the Atheists here have is not whether God will 'take care of it' but, why did God allow it? Why is there a mess to begin with? Is God sadistic or impotent?

The Atheist is in a real quandary when he tries to argue for the problem of evil, he has to first make a moral judgment that is objectively correct. Objective moral judgments can only be grounded in the transcendent God of Christianity.

Van Til’s famously said, "A little girl was sitting on her daddy's lap, and playfully slapping his face. She could only slap his face because he allowed her to sit on his lap; she was not capable of this on her own. She had to be supported by him in order to slap him. God is like that father, and unbelieving thought is like the little girl. It uses reason to attack the source of reason. It operates on borrowed capital."

The Atheist cannot logically generate the problem of evil. Its not a problem for the believer but it is, ironically, the problem for the unbeliever. The Atheist need to make good on the statement that its evil first. Like Razi Zacharias said, Atheists are invoking a moral law in posing the question.

When Atheists say that things are evil we, as Christians, say that they are absolutely right, not relativistically right. But if atheists are going to say that is absolutely evil then you must have an absolute standard of good. Only God can provide that.

They ask if God is sadistic or impotent? But they fail to understand that those are not the only options here. The third option is the worldview of the Bible.

The Bible reveals to us that God is all good and all powerful and tells us that evil exists in the world. The Bible, because its true is consistent, and therefore those three things are consistent.

The Atheist will claim that it is not consistent and THAT is the nub of the problem here.

Atheists think its inconsistent and God thinks its consistent, who are you going to believe?

Ultimately this is a question of authority. The authority of the Atheist's logical powers verses God' logical powers. Atheists are using their logical powers to show there is no God, logically speaking. What does God tell us?

Bahnsen explains it this way. God tells us that sin has obscured our understanding. That is to say that if Adam chose to sin, Adam would enter a realm of darkness that even he would not understand. It would obscure his thinking, it would make his thinking foolish, it would thwart his ability to understand things properly.

Stand on his assumptions for a minute, follow out Bahnsen's reasoning. If the Bible's picture is true, God is all powerful, God is all good, there is evil and it makes sense that you wouldn't understand that, because evil obscured the understanding of men when it come to the ways of God. The Bible tells that we can EXPECT that to be the case. It is the case so its perfectly consistent. 

Bahnsen goes on to use an analogy, we are in a house that has something wrong with a door knob that can be only opened from the outside, form the inside you cannot turn the knob at all. Strange thing. Late at night, utterly dark and we tell our kid "Don't go in there and shut the door, if you do you won't be able to get out. It will be dark, the door will be locked, and no way out."

Let's assume the child does it anyway. Here you have this child locked in this room, you can let him out, child cannot even find the door knob now because its utterly dark! If you will, his understanding has been obscured.

What would you think of a child sitting there in the room saying "It cannot be true that I have a good father! If there's a way out of this room its got to be possible for me to know the way out of this room"?

It doesn't follow at all does it? There is a way out of the room, but just because its dark, and just because the door is locked from the inside, he can't do it himself and he can't get out.

The point is that God is all powerful, all good, and evil exists in the world and evil has affected your ability to understand it properly. That is what the Bible teaches. Now, if that is true, it is consistent. Its the question now, is that worldview right or is the Atheist's worldview right. Remember, before you get attempted to follow the atheistic worldview, he cannot even account for evil. We, as Christians, can.

Now, at this long point, the question is about ultimate trust. Do you trust your own reasoning abilities so much that you can say that you are not in that locked dark room, Mr. Atheist? Or do you rather trust, although you can't understand it, although its a mystery to you, that you can put yourself in the hands of an all good, all powerful God and say 'His wisdom is above my wisdom, and I trust Him for the outcome.'

What is the nature of sin? The nature of sin is questioning the standards of God. It started with Eve and Adam. We put our minds above God's mind.

Job had the problem of evil pressed upon him. His family, wealth, and heath was taken away from him. Everything seemed to be gone. Job cried out 'I want an answer!' God said to Job, first you answer me... 

After you read chapters 38-42 of the Book of Job you see how God deals with the problem of evil when men try pressing it upon Him and His wisdom. In the end Job placed his hand upon his mouth and said 'I am undone. I'll say no more' and after that was comforted.

"Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted." ~Matthew 5:4

bit.ly/PoEvil  

53 comments:

  1. Allow me to import a couple of ideas I started exploring in comments on the previous post.

    It's quite a weird statement, Dan, to claim that the problem of evil is a problem for people who don't believe in god, but not a problem for those who do.

    Absent any gods, evil and suffering are readily explicable as part of the nature of the world in which we exist. They only become problematic if we imagine an all-powerful entity exists who comports with our ideas of "goodness".

    Moral standards are not absolute, but contingent on the existence of sentient, conscious agents who have certain features. Our moral standards are formed and understood on the basis of what it means to exist as a human being.

    If we had different features, we would have different moral standards. It is largely for this reason that although our empathy allows us to feel for the suffering of a wildebeest being eaten alive by hyenas, we do not judge the hyenas as evil. And if no humans existed, there would be no human moral standard.

    It is for this reason, I think, that the majority of gods conceived by human cultures are anthropomorphic. They must have recognisably human features in order to mean anything to humans. This is also why many people persist in supposing that an all-powerful, all-knowing, universe-creating entity would actually care about small naked apes on a relatively insignificant planet.

    As for the issue of whether to believe human authority or divine authority, well, I will always take the word of a being who can demonstrate his existence over that of a being who never has done so. You've stated that you don't believe it's your job to convince unbelievers, Dan, but I would be willing to bet that were you to stumble across conclusive evidence of your god's existence, you would be trumpeting it from the rooftops.

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  2.      "Bahnsen goes on to use an analogy, we are in a house that has something wrong with a door knob that can be only opened from the outside, form the inside you cannot turn the knob at all. Strange thing. Late at night, utterly dark and we tell our kid 'Don't go in there and shut the door, if you do you won't be able to get out. It will be dark, the door will be locked, and no way out.'"
         What would be your moral assessment of the father if he caused that doorknob to be malfunctioning like that? We do not consider the father evil because the malfunction is beyond (or at least effectively beyond) his power to prevent.
         I have seen many attempts to explain away the problem of evil. On close examination they all assume a less-than-omnipotent god. Who knows? That might even be the case. You might be more persuasive if you concede that there are things beyond your god's power.

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  3. DD,

    >>Dan, but I would be willing to bet that were you to stumble across conclusive evidence of your god's existence, you would be trumpeting it from the rooftops.

    Do you have a ladder I can borrow?

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  4. DormantDragon:

         Of course he would be willing to shout real evidence off the rooftops if he had it. He is already ready to shout his current garbage off the rooftops. I don't understand why he thinks anyone should be impressed with "your ability to reason is evidence for the baloney-man" and "if you deny that the baloney-book is evidence for the baloney-man it is due to your presupposition that the baloney-man does not exist." (Substitutions have been made to demonstrate the ill-formed nature of Dan's would-be argument. This is not intended as a conclusive proof that the baloney-man does not exist.

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  5. Of course he would be willing to shout real evidence off the rooftops if he had it. He is already ready to shout his current garbage off the rooftops.

    You're right, of course, Pvblivs. Although I imagine there would come a point at which the schtick would change from "I'm not here to convince anyone" to "this is convincing proof".

    Although perhaps I was being rather too generous, in supposing that Dan would actually recognise the difference between what would and would not be evidence for his god's existence. At some point he must have been convinced by the same non-arguments he regurgitates here, so it's a safe bet that his bullshit detector is malfunctioning.

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  6. What is the nature of sin? The nature of sin is questioning the standards of God. Stated with Eve and Adam. We put our minds above God's mind.

    Ah, yes. The Catholic upbringing is all coming back to me now. Switch off your brain, don't think, just accept and obey.

    Job had the problem of evil pressed upon him. His family, wealth, and heath was taken away from him. Everything seemed to be gone. Job cried out 'I want an answer!' God said to Job, first you answer me...

    After you read chapters 38-42 of the Book of Job you see how God deals with the problem of evil when men try pressing it upon Him and His wisdom. In the end Job placed his hand upon his mouth and said 'I am undone. I'll say no more' and after that was comforted.


    Just like the abusive husband reassures his wife that he really does love her, just as long as she submits to him in everything and never complains about the continual beatings. The analogy with your god is shamefully easy to draw, Dan...

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  7. Dan, you and others may find it instructive (or at least interesting) to read this essay, which, although not dealing directly with the problem of evil, does explore the problems inherent in insisting that Biblical morality is absolute and that your god is consistent.

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  8. Pvb,

    >> Substitutions have been made to demonstrate the ill-formed nature of Dan's would-be argument. This is not intended as a conclusive proof that the baloney-man does not exist.

    Good to see your internal conversation of reason is getting the best of you, keep up the good work.

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  9. Dan:

         "Good to see your internal conversation of reason is getting the best of you, keep up the good work."
         If you have any compelling reason to believe that your god exists that would not also hold for the baloney-man, feel free to present it. But your arguemtns for your god sound just like equivalent arguments for the baloney-man.

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  10. I have to ask, Pvblivs: is the Baloney Man meaty and delicious?

    Dan: Objective != Absolute. Absolute implies that something would be true in all cases everywhere: Objective is merely something we can all agree on. Certain ethics, stemming from impulses biological in nature, are objective: none are absolute. Killing humans is no more wrong in a universe absent humans than killing purple nurgles is in this universe.

    But since your argument boils down to "You won't understand my argument until you accept my conclusion! Waaah!" it hardly needs one of your "debunking atheists" to pull apart it's individal premises. Not that that's going to stop anyone.

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  11. *Ahem* ^^ That was me. ^^

    Sorry 'bout that.

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  12. "Quasar",

    >>Objective is merely something we can all agree on.

    So let me get this straight first, 'Jason'. To you 'objective' means subjectively argumentum ad populum? What dictionary are you using? Here I thought it was undistorted by emotion or personal bias, but what do I know.

    >>Killing humans is no more wrong in a universe absent humans than killing purple nurgles is in this universe.

    How can it possibly be wrong within your borrowed worldview? I say borrowed because if killing humans are wrong, you need to first make a moral judgment that is objectively correct. Objective moral judgments can only be grounded in the transcendent God of Christianity. There is no other avenue.

    Why is it wrong to kill weaker humans to feed your family? Why is it perfectly acceptable in nature, like fish, but not humans? Otherwise, its confirmed that atheists eat babies. 'Not that that's going to stop anyone'.

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  13. Even Darwin believed in absolutes.

    "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down." ~Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

    :7)

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  14. "So let me get this straight first, 'Jason'."

    My name is actually James. Jason is a mentally ill 17yo fictional character who believes in demons. He was invented as a trolling mechanism when I became tired of Ray Comfort's persistant dishonesty, and was going to ask him for help with his illness. Given Ray's belief in demons, rather than attempting to get Jason to a psychiatrist like any sane, responsable individual would do, Ray would likely offer help that would be irresponsable and may even be detrimental.

    Unfortionately, my personality does not respond well to the concept of decieving even a slimy con-artist like Ray, and certainly not the others who post on Rays site, so I chose to discontinue this line of expression without doing anything. The name "Jason17" was a leftover I forgot to clean up.

    The full story of the only time I've ever attempted to troll (honesty is a curse, it really is) can be found here.

    "To you 'objective' means subjectively argumentum ad populum?"

    No. If I was using the argumentum ad populum logical fallacy, I would be saying that a) it was something that the vast majority believe (as opposed to "all"), and b) as a result of this, it was a correct belief. My statements do not match this format, so your accusation is unfounded.

    If something is undistorted by emotion or personal bias, then it is agreeable to all individuals using the same logical framework. Since all humans use the same logical framework (the one you claim comes from God), then an objective statement is agreeable to all humans.

    We are saying the same thing using different words, but you are the one claiming that a statement cannot be undistorted by emotion or personal bias without first agreeing that your diety exists, itself a very very emotional and personal claim.

    How can it possibly be wrong within your borrowed worldview? I say borrowed because if killing humans are wrong, you need to first make a moral judgment that is objectively correct.

    No I don't. I can make a subjective moral judgment that killing people is wrong. Even better, I can appeal to the common impulses shared by the majority of humans, which objectively do exist, that killing is wrong. Empathy is objective.

    Objective moral judgments can only be grounded in the transcendent God of Christianity. There is no other avenue.

    Repetition does not equal truth. Give me a reason judgements undistorted by emotion or personal bias must first require me to accept a very emotional and very personal claim.

    Why is it wrong to kill weaker humans to feed your family?

    It is always wrong to kill, hense our revulsion as a species at doing so, even in necessary circumstance. Some situations may make it necessary, but they can never make it right.

    Even Darwin believed in absolutes.

    A few minor points:
    a) argument from authority only works when your opponent thinks the authority is, in fact, an authority on the subject being discussed.
    b) Darwins statement uses the word as an expressive. It sheds no light on his beliefs.
    c) Dictionary.com: 4. used emphatically to express complete agreement or unqualified assent.
    d) You're absolutely an idiot. Do I magically believe in absolutes now, just 'cause I use the word? Oh wait, you're a presuppositionalist: of course I do.

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  15. Dan, you posted,

    I say borrowed because if killing humans are wrong, you need to first make a moral judgment that is objectively correct.

    First of all, you completely missed the point about the relativity of the proposition, "Killing humans is wrong", which would have no meaning in a universe in which humans did not exist.

    Secondly, why must there be any complete objectivity to moral judgements? Why should such judgements not be subject to circumstances?

    Even you, I suspect, with your religious presumption of absolute truths, could not with any credibility say that it is always absolutely morally wrong to kill a human being in any and all circumstances.

    If another human being is trying to kill you without an acceptably just cause, is it wrong for you to kill them in self-defence? If a human being has shown themselves to be a manifest danger to other, comparatively innocent human beings, is it wrong to safeguard the others by killing the dangerous human? And finally - a subject quite relevant to me, since the subject of voluntary euthanasia has been recently debated in our state parliament in Western Australia - is it still wrong to allow another human being to end their own life if, from their point of view, their life has become intolerable due to unrelieved suffering?

    Finally, and perhaps the most important of all considerations with regard to morality is this - why is collective human judgement to be disregarded in favour of an unverifiable divine imperative when it comes to matters affecting human beings? Certainly humans are prone to imperfection, but if one considers the vast amounts of suffering imposed, throughout the course of our history, by assumed religious moral absolutes, how can one even seriously consider religious moral law to be in all cases superior to 'mere' human moral considerations?

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  16. DD,

    >>Even you, I suspect, with your religious presumption of absolute truths, could not with any credibility say that it is always absolutely morally wrong to kill a human being in any and all circumstances.

    Wow, a plethora of fallacies. Lets see, we have hasty generalization, argumentum ad ignorantiam or false dichotomy, with a sprinkle of reductio ad absurdum on the top.

    The Bible says to not murder anyone, but if they do as it says on the very next page, he shall surely be put to death. (Exodus 21:12) It is perfectly acceptable to kill someone. I say again its perfectly acceptable to kill someone according to the Christian worldview. What is NOT acceptable is to murder someone. The difference is Howard Huge.

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  17.      "I say again its perfectly acceptable to kill someone according to the Christian worldview. What is NOT acceptable is to murder someone. The difference is Howard Huge."
         And any killing that a christian wants to do will be redefined as "not murder" I mean, really, the bible has people taking over a land and mercilessly killing every man, woman, and child among the existing inhabitants and calls it "god's righteous judgment." If that isn't murder, then the word is without meaning.

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  18. "And any killing that a christian wants to do will be redefined as "not murder" I mean, really, the bible has people taking over a land and mercilessly killing every man, woman, and child among the existing inhabitants and calls it "god's righteous judgment." If that isn't murder, then the word is without meaning."

    Would you kindly explain your aversion to using basic rules of capitalization? I suspect it is because you are motivated by hate more than anything else.

    Hope this helps: http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/capital.asp

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  19. Would you kindly explain your aversion to using basic rules of capitalization? I suspect it is because you are motivated by hate more than anything else.

    Or possibly, Stormbringer, he does it becuase we don't capitalise titles when used instead of a name? Your deities name is "YHWH" or "Jesus." He is a god. It doesn't matter if he is also the only god according to your theology: there is only one president of the US, but we don't capitalise the title unless the narrative or quote is directly addressing him.

    "Oh God, why do you torment me so?" is correctly capitalised.
    "Who is god?" is also correctly capitalised.

    Fair is fair, though: "Christian," should be capitalised.

    Your turn: why do you pick on grammer whilst pointedly ignoring the content of the post you choose to attack?

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  20.      "Fair is fair, though: 'Christian,' should be [capitalized.]"
         I disagree. It is an adjective turned noun and those do not warrant capitalization. However, I am not interested in picking grammatical nits, and so will generally not draw attention when someone's capitalization style differs from my own. (I may make mention when someone deviates from his own style for the apparent purpose of expressing an insult.)

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  21. Stormbringer:

         You might wish, if you bother reading this, to consult your own link. There is nothing there which disagrees with the capitalization in my sentence. And, in case you're confused, "christus" is an adjective meaning "anointed."
         By the way, if you want to get people to think, you might try addressing the content of my comment. It's far more effective than creating a distraction and accusing me of being "filled with hate."

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  22. Much amusement and interest to be found in catching up with the comments on this post.

    Stormbringer, any particular reason you gave your name backwards here? Were you perhaps thinking that people would skip over your posts if they recognised your tag?

    And, Dan, how do you, as a bible-believer, discern the difference between justifiable killing and murder? If one appeals to bible stories, the difference seems arbitrary at best. Did your god really have concrete reasons for ordering the killing of women and children who probably had no say in the behaviour of their menfolk? Or are you simply saying that killing is not murder if it is arbitrarily ordered by your god?

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  23. DormantDragon Asked Dan the following: Or are you simply saying that killing is not murder if it is arbitrarily ordered by your god?

    When pressed, this is exactly what they fall back to: murder is unjust, whereas killing is not. Thus, when God snuffs out human lives, it's referred to as "killing".

    It's one more example of Christian moral relativism.

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  24. DD,

    Come on, give me some credit. If I wanted to be skipped over and ignored, I'd post as PVboy or maybe Miles Prower (sound it out, it's funny). All the identity clues are there, no attempt to fool anyone.

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  25. PVboy, you're bitter because you've been caught and exposed in lies again. One simple thing is my name, which came from a song, not a sword story. My icon is a variation of the album cover, and I know that you saw the article on where the name came from.

    No, I maintain that you are full of hate because that's all you do. Everything about you is negative and hateful. Have you written more than two articles that are not hating me, Dan, God, Jesus? "Poor, poor, persecuted me", cries PVboy in his mother's mildewed basement.

    You've been publicly humiliated and proven wrong, and proven a liar, several times, but have only admitted to one mistake. (I admit to my mistakes, and I did so freely both times...no refunds on the jokes.) Drop us a line if you grow up. Kthxbai.

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  26. Stormbringer:

         "One simple thing is my name, which came from a song, not a sword story."
         The sword story came first. And if, like Dan here, you "don't believe in coincidences" the album had to have been based on the story. Tell you what. I'll use a simple criterion. If you call me "Pvboy" in your first attempt to address me when claiming that you did not base the name off of the story, then you are just making an excuse. If you can't give me enough respect to use the correct name, then you can't be expected to show enough respect to tell the truth. On the other had, if you correctly said "Pvblivs" in that comment, then I will take your claim at face value. Let's take a look. Oh, too bad, you said "Pvboy." I guess that means you're lying -- not like "he's got nothing you need; he's gonna make you bleed" is indicative of high moral caliber anyway.
         "Everything about you is negative and hateful. Have you written more than two articles that are not hating me, [and other entities real and imagined]?"
         I don't hate you. I laugh at you. But I don't hate you. But then, you seem to see all dissent as "hate." Here's a challenge. I don't think you can do it. Spend two weeks arguing against the positions of people that disagree with you. Do not attribute any motive to any of these people. Just argue against their positions. As I said, I don't think you can do it. You don't even take the time to understand the positions of others. You just say "filled with hate" and use that as an excuse to ignore everything they say.

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  27.      "You've been publicly humiliated and proven wrong, and proven a liar, several times,..."
         Sorry, you'll need to tell that one to Tattoo. I am not involved in the fulfillment of fantasies.
         "I admit to my mistakes..."
         I've never seen that. There may have been an occasion when it happened and I missed it. But you usually recast your mistakes and downright lies as "jokes."

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  28. Oh boy. Now PVboy is losing his mind more than ever. I'm being accused of traveling time just to spite him. At least, it must be that, because I "created" a site just to prove him wrong. Except that the posting was from April. Love them peyote buttons!

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  29.      "Love them peyote buttons!"
         Hmmm... Stormbringer does peyote. That explains quite a bit, actually. I, on the other hand, am so concerned about possible side effects of drugs that I will let a headache go for a day or two before I take Tylenol or Advil for it.

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  30. Is Stormbringer a Stormfront kind of person?

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  31. ATVLC, You're probably right. But also, I'm an affront to many people.

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  32.      "ATVLC, You're probably right. But also, I'm an affront to many people."
         Yeah, the ones who believe in honesty and integrity.

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  33. SB, far be it from me to suggest how people should enjoy spending their time online, but it seems like your purpose here is nothing more than trolling Pvblivs.

    Again, that's your business. But I have to ask, seeing as you've recently found God again, isn't this behavior a bit 'incongruous'?

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  34. Dan, what is the most evil thing that has happened in your life?

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  35. Rufus: “Dan, what is the most evil thing that has happened in your life?”

    Probably me (chuckle).

    But seriously folks, for anyone who might be interested, I have posted a reply to Dan’s post on the problem of evil on my blog. You can find it here:

    Some Thoughts on Presuppositionalism and the Problem of Evil

    Regards,
    Dawson

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  36. Rufus,

    >>Dan, what is the most evil thing that has happened in your life?

    Wow, what an extremely introspective question. Nice. If I do answer it I wish you to reciprocate the question...wait... this should be a new post. It would be worth exploring and collaborating about though. Give me a day, I have too much on my plate right now. Stay tuned.

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  37. Burner,

    >>Probably me (chuckle).

    Hardly, you would be in the category on the other end of the spectrum.

    Maybe if you were a bit more introspective instead of your positional dogmatism you wouldn't feel that you were evil. Granted you are evil, as we all are, but you are in a battle of your own consciousness. That is a battle I don't wish on anyone. I pray for your peace instead of your current internal conflicts.

    I will read your response when I get time. I am sure I will have to set a boat load aside to read it, right? Yup, just looked at how long it is. *whew

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  38. Dan: “Hardly, you would be in the category on the other end of the spectrum.”

    That means on the good end of the spectrum, does it not?

    Dan: “Maybe if you were a bit more introspective instead of your positional dogmatism you wouldn't feel that you were evil.”

    Actually, Dan, in case you didn’t catch it, I was being sarcastic. The fact that you tend to avoid interacting with my counterpoints suggests that you want to keep away from me, as if you thought I were some kind of threat to you. Hence the call for humor in response to Rufus’ question.

    Dan: “Granted you are evil, as we all are, but you are in a battle of your own consciousness.”

    What “battle of [my] own consciousness” do you have in mind here? A battle between which opposing sides? Keep in mind, Dan, it’s not my worldview which divides a man against himself, splitting him into two incompatible elements, both symbols of death – a ghost and a corpse. These are the two warring sides of the human condition according to Christianity. Its solution: one is to “deny himself” (i.e., suppress his own nature, his identity) and take up an instrument of torture and execution (“his cross”) and follow a something which he can only imagine (cf. Mt. 16:24). Since none of this is the heritage of my worldview, it appears you may be projecting here, and ignoring the psychological monstrosity of the worldview which you promote on your blog.

    Dan: “I will read your response when I get time. I am sure I will have to set a boat load aside to read it, right? Yup, just looked at how long it is. *whew”

    Do you have some kind of aversion to reading? I read about 80-100 pages a day. My interaction with you and Bahnsen is hardly “long” so far as I see it. If it only took me two hours to write it, it shouldn’t take you half that time to read it. Or, do you just not like to read?

    Regards,
    Dawson

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  39. Bahnsen Burner:

         "Do you have some kind of aversion to reading?"
         I want to be fair to Dan, here. I will note that, in my case, I can read for hours and lose all track of time -- if I find what is written interesting. Alternately, I can get bored with something and put it down within a minute if I do not find it interesting. I have visited your blog and I generally cannot get through one of your posts. Your style feels tedious to me. I'm sure you think you're making important points... and maybe you are. But reading what you have written feels like a chore.

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  40. Pvblivs replied to Bahnsen Burner,

    Your style feels tedious to me. I'm sure you think you're making important points... and maybe you are. But reading what you have written feels like a chore.

    I could actually make these same comments about several of Dan's posts - the long, rambling ones that quote Bahnsen and other presuppers, especially.

    The other factor at work is that, having spent the past few years doing a fair bit of reading on the subjects of atheism and religious belief, I have yet to encounter an 'argument' for theism that has not been thoroughly debunked by atheist thinkers.

    The problem of evil is a pretty good example. There are no arguments, as far as I have seen, that can successfully absolve the Christian god of responsibility for the evil in the world, if such a being actually exists. Spin as many words around it as you like, but I don't think there's any way you can make a new and successful argument here.

    I would be impressed if Dan or any other Bahnsen groupie could offer an explanation or demonstration of what a morally sufficient reason for evil might be, rather than simply asserting it without support; but I rather suspect that won't be forthcoming.

    What I have come to expect instead from evangelical apologists is a kind of Orwellian doublethink even more pronounced that what I grew up with as a Catholic, one that exposes Dan's frequent appeals to logic and reason as the sham they surely are.

    "'What are the stars?' said O'Brien indifferently. 'They are bits of fire a few kilometres away. We could reach them if we wanted to. Or we could blot them out... For certain purposes, of course, that is not true. When we navigate the ocean, or when we predict an eclipse, we often find it convenient to assume that the earth goes round the sun and that the stars are millions upon millions of kilometres away. But what of it? Do you suppose it is beyond us to produce a dual system of astronomy? The stars can be near or distant, according as we need them.'"

    Anyone else spot the similarity?

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  41. Just in case anyone wasn't sure (and because I forgot to include the attribution), the above quotation was from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four - probably the single most frightening book I have ever read.

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  42. Hi Dan. I'm trying to set up a debate with Sye (although he's being curiously shy) on Skype.

    As I'm organising it I'm extending an invitation to participate to the various people who have either supported or opposed him and PA.

    Let me know if you'd like to join in.

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  43. Let's just grant for the purposes of this post that Hell is a real place. I won't even make anybody prove that it exists. I'll also grant that it is possible for people to go to Hell for any length of time. And let's also grant that terrible things happen in Hell, and that it's a place I don't want to go. Even under these circumstances, should I be repenting to the Christian god to save myself from Hell? I don't think so. Why? Because they still haven't demonstrated HOW a person gets to Hell. Even Christians can't agree amongst themselves on how one gets to Hell. Some say it's for not accepting Jesus. Others say that it's based on the sins a person commits in their lifetime. I'm sure there are other beliefs as well, but it's not important.

    The point is that unless they can provide some evidence that their claim about how to get to Hell is correct, I have no reason to believe it. There is exactly the same evidence that I get to Hell by not accepting Jesus as there is evidence that I get to Hell by not eating my vegetables. Or by eating them. Or by believing in gods. Or by not believing in gods. Or by not blowing myself up for Allah. Or by turning the lights off when I go to sleep. Or by wearing red shoes. Every option you can possibly think of for how to get to Hell has exactly the same objective evidence to back it up. Zero.

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  44. I like your post. It's very well thought out. I think a more solid solution, though, which also fits Christian scripture, is the Defense from Free Will, by Plantinga. It is impossible for God to make a world of free agents who cannot choose evil.

    More info:

    http://philosophiesofmen.blogspot.com/2011/01/problem-of-evil.html

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  45. Ninja,

    Thanks for introducing me to Alvin Plantinga, I like him. I certainly will be posting about his work in the future. Nice job.

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  46. Also Ninja,

    Notice that Plantinga says or makes the exact same point as Bahnsen at around 8:11 of this video. Admittedly, I am liking Plantinga more and more as I listen to him/ read about him. I am excited, again thanks.

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  47. This seems to be misguided. The problem of evil is an problem that is internal to the Christian worldview. It may also be a problem for the atheist worldview as well - internally - as you attempt to demonstrate.

    Simply saying that atheists have a problem is interesting, but completely avoids the actual issue.

    Interestingly enough, you write:

    "Now, at this long point, the question is about ultimate trust. Do you trust your own reasoning abilities so much that you can say that you are not in that locked dark room, Mr. Atheist? Or do you rather trust, although you can't understand it, although its a mystery to you, that you can put yourself in the hands of an all good, all powerful God and say 'His wisdom is above my wisdom, and I trust Him for the outcome.'"

    I cannot see how this even makes sense.

    Let's see:
    1. If you can't understand it, then what exactly are you 'trusting'? Ignorance?
    2. If you can't trust your own reasoning abilities, then how exactly are you supposed to determine *which* revelations of God should be trusted?

    Seems that this, "God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil which exists. ", simply begs the question.

    How do we know this?

    You write:

    "The Bible reveals to us that God is all good and all powerful and tells us that evil exists in the world. The Bible, because its true is consistent, and therefore those three things are consistent."

    Trouble is, we can't trust our autonomous reasoning, so how can we determine if the Bible is indeed God's revelation?

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  48. Meatros,

    I think your question are addressed in my newest post.

    ReplyDelete
  49. I have reviewed Plantinga's God, Freedom and Evil on Amazon, addressing one of the rebuttals you have attemped.

    http://www.amazon.com/review/R3C8NXQ509YAAP/ref=cm_aya_cmt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0802817319#wasThisHelpful

    "Why the Free Will Defense Fails

    The Problem of Evil is an insurmountable one for Christians (and all other theists who believe in a perfectly loving, all-powerful and all-knowing god). There have been intense and motivated efforts over the past two millennia to defend such a position rationally, and they have all failed. Miserably. Utterly. And in many cases, dishonestly.

    Some approached involve invoking an unknown "greater good" defense (which throws god's omnipotence under the bus. An omnipotent deity could simply actualise a desired goal without needing to use suffering as a "middle man"). Attempts to shift the problem by asserting that human happiness is not the goal of life (but knowing god is) removes the omnibenevolence and omnipotence of god (if you love someone, you don't want them to suffer. It really is that simple).

    Here, Plantinga takes the old canard of free will. Unfortunately, free will is meaningless unless everyone has an equal amount of it. This is undeniably NOT the case. Not everyone is given the same lifespan, physical strength, mental acuity, political clout, financial resources, and so on. Plantinga is pontificating from the luxurious confines of his residence, funded by conveniently gullible sheep. This has certainly damaged his ability to empathise with the billions who live on less than a dollar each day. And the thousands who starve to death every time the Earth completes a full rotation.

    Plantinga also, perhaps unwittingly, advocates a social Darwinism in which the rich and physically powerful are able to murder, rape and steal from weaker individuals (and are therefore less able to exercise their own free will to prevent their own suffering). Plantinga worships a cosmic pedophile who revels in granting freedom to abhorrent individuals while getting his jollies from seeing the most vulnerable suffer and die in agony (only to get thrown into even more torture in the Christian vision of hell).

    Lastly, a loving god would take away free will from those who would willingly surrender it in return for a life without suffering. Funnily enough, Plantinga seems to believe in a heaven without suffering but with all the bells and whistles of freedom. So why not create that universe from the get-go and stick with it? Why create a universe with even the possibility of corruption? It certainly is not something a perfect god would do. Then again, a perfect god would not blackmail beings he supposedly loves for eternal worship."

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    Replies
    1. I appreciate your comment, but before we address that you have made some assumptions of your point that you will have to defend before the claim is even valid. Like Razi Zacharias said that I highlight in one of my posts, you have just invoked a moral law, or standard in raising that claim that your worldview cannot account for. That is your presupposition of the claim, is it not? Otherwise, the claim self destructs.

      You're complaining about something that, if your atheistic worldview we're true, would be impossible for you to do. Namely, complain about the evil that exists, and that is a contradiction that needs to be fleshed out first.

      Delete
  50. "Atheists think its inconsistent and God thinks its consistent, who are you going to believe?

    Ultimately this is a question of authority. The authority of the Atheist's logical powers verses God' logical powers. Atheists are using their logical powers to show there is no God, logically speaking. What does God tell us?"

    However, God has to exist for this argument to work. God can only have better logical powers if God exists. And looking at various other pieces of evidence from other debates, I would say he doesn't. Which makes this argument null and void for me.

    Also, yes, I do trust my reasoning abilities, because it would be nonsensical to do otherwise. You argument only proves that there is a possibility that there is a God, and if there is then it solves the problem of evil. But the atheist's argument works perfectly well if we assume there is no God. So, once again, we have to look at other pieces of evidence to decide if God exists. Using good reasoning and logic- as is the best way to decide things generally, rather than putting your trust in a questionable being- makes me conclude there is no God.

    You can keep your mindless faith as apposed to logic. But I don't feel the presence of any God, and without being given proper proof that there is one, then I see no motivation for me to do so.

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    Replies
    1. I am sure you would grant that some people have invalid reasoning, I just want to know how you're certain you are not one of those people? People with invalid reasoning would not know their reasoning is invalid. So how do you know you're not one of them?

      Delete
  51. Why does "The Problem of Evil" need to deal with humans having free will and choosing to do evil?

    My problem-of-evil is neonatal cancer (as an example). Humans - other than being the victims - have nothing to do with it. If your god is omnipotent and omniscient, he put the cancer in every baby who suffered it. By any human standard, that's evil.
    What is more innocent than a newborn baby?
    If the suffering is "a gift", then what differentiates one innocent newborn from another, such that one deserves to suffer and another does not? Why are not all newborn humans gifted with cancer... or none, by the omnipotent god who absolutely decides these things (if it exists as described, then it is responsible)?

    Omniscience with omnipotence is incompatible with omni-benevolence. Unless you can can find a definition of love that involves the infliction of cancer. I don't want your love, nor that of your god.

    Fortunately, I am in no danger of either.

    ReplyDelete

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