To set the stage, I had presented the following, bare-bones presentation of the argument from evil:
1.God is omnipotent
2.God is benevolent (or omnibenevolent)
3.There is evil
4.Given (3), either God is able to prevent evil, but unwilling (pace #2), or else he is willing to prevent evil, but unable (pace #1), in which case there is no God.
Now for Loftus:
JOHN W. LOFTUS SAID:
“Let's just look at what God can do with water. Can God turn water into wine?”
Which nicely misses the point. By turning water into wine, the water ceases to be wine. The medium of wine is not interchangeable with the medium of water. It is not physically possible for these two substances to share all the same properties in common.
So all Loftus has done is to prove my point rather than disprove it. A finite medium isn’t infinitely elastic.
Thanks, John. You always prove my point by missing my point. Keep up the good work.
“But do you deny that the greater power someone has then the more moral responsibility such a person has? If I had no means to stop a pair of thugs from beating someone to death, then I do not have the same moral guilt that a superman would have for not doing anything about it.”
i) Well, for one thing, it rather depends on who they’re assaulting. If they beat Bin Laden to death, why should I wish to intervene?
Indeed, for me to intervene and save the life of a mass murderer would be immoral.
ii) You see, there’s an equivocal quality these examples. On the one hand, they appeal to our human instincts. Our natural empathy. But that is also an appeal to our human ignorance.
On the other hand, they put us in the place of God. What would we do if we had godlike powers?
Well, if I had godlike powers, I would know the consequences of saving any particular individual from death or injury.
iii) Apropos (ii), there is also the tacit assumption, in all his examples, that these evils are befalling the innocent.
a) Now, human beings can be innocent in relation to one another. I may not have done anything to you to justify what you do to me.
But I’m not innocent in relation to God.
b) I’d add that, left to my own devices, apart from common grace, I would be quite prepared to wrong you if I had the opportunity and it served my self-interest.
c) Likewise, a particular evil may not correspond to a particular sin. But the fact that I’m a sinner leaves me justly liable to harm, even if the harm I suffer is not a targeted judgment.
“Is there something that is impossible for God to do in our world? What would that be, according to you? Just curious. I'd like to know. Specify, specify, specify. What exactly are you talking about here?”
I’ve answered that question in great detail in the past when you came up with your silly birdman “improvement.”
Why would I waste time repeating myself here and now when you ignored my arguments then and there?
“Really? Then this is only because the believer has not spelled out what she believes about God's goodness. I'm listening.”
Loftus is listening with earplugs. I’ve discussed this all before.
The goodness of God includes the justice of God.
Because the goodness of God is the summum bonum, knowing the goodness of God is also the summum bonum.
This includes an existential knowledge of his justice and mercy. Hence, the fall, followed by redemption. Election and reprobation. Heaven and hell.
Ask me something I haven’t told you before, John.
“Now let's say you believe it's good for God to send people to hell, and that it's good for God to do nothing about the many tragedies that happen on a daily basis, as well as the historic ones, like Katrina, the Indonesian tsunami, or the 9/11 attack. That's what you believe, correct?”
No, it’s half-truth. I believe it’s good for God to send people to hell.
I don’t believe that God does “nothing” about many tragedies. Everything happens according to plan, right on schedule. Providence never misses a beat.
“Then I have all I need to mount my internal critique. I will press you on why you believe these things are good, especially when an omnipotent God could easily have averted them all.”
Here is where, once again, Loftus cannot grasp the nature of an internal critique.
I don’t have to prove that these things are good. The nature of the internal argument from evil is not to show that any particular premise is *false*, but to show that the set of premises are mutually *inconsistent*.
If successful, a side-effect would be to falsify at least one premise. But it doesn’t single out any one of the premises. It doesn’t falsify one premise over another.
And that’s assuming the exercise is successful.
As far as my own burden of proof is concerned, all I have to show is that the evils he cites are not incompatible with the character or purpose of God in Scripture.
Once again, this is not a question of veracity, but consistency. I don’t have to show that any or all of the premises are true, only consistent.
Remember, the internal argument from evil attempts to pose a logical *dilemma* for the believer.
So the question at issue is not whether the syllogism is true or false, but merely valid or invalid. Not false, but fallacious.
“Why didn't he do anything, I'll ask? You will try to offer reasons why he didn't. I will question these offered reasons and ask you to clarify and explain them.”
Well, that would be a first. You might begin with my reply to Jim Lazarus.
“Now, if in the end you choose to believe in your God in spite of the glaring problems you have in explaining the presence of intense suffering, then you've left the discussion and punted to faith.”
i) There are no glaring problems to explain.
I may be moved by evil, but I’m unmoved by the *problem* of evil. Why? No God, no evil.
Take God out of the equation and you *solve* the problem of evil by committing moral suicide.
ii) Always keep your eye on Loftus’ bait-and-switch tactic. The problem of evil is not about just any kind of evil, but *gratuitous* evil.
Loftus likes to make things easy on himself by dropping that key modifier.
“Since if we're talking about suffering we need instances of it to know exactly what we're talking about.”
True, except that he’s picking out instances of what *he* deems to be evil, according to his own value-system and/or instinctual reaction.
At that point, the internal argument collapses into an external argument.