Sunday, February 04, 2007

Blanshard on The Problem of Evil

"The treatment of evil by theology seems to me an intellectual disgrace. The question at issue is a straightforward one: how are the actual amount and distribution of evil to be reconciled with the government of the world by a God which is in our sense good?" -Blanshard, Reason and Belief, 546


Well that's the problem, isn't it? Talk about stacking the deck in your favor. I can just as easily say:

"The treatment of evil by atheology seems to me an intellectual disgrace. The question at issue is a straightforward one: how are the actual amount and distribution of evil to be considered problematic with the government of the world by a God which is in God's sense good?"

Furthermore, why is "our sense of good," considered good? Is it "good" to allow mothers their own "choice" in the matter of the unborn they carry? To not tie them down with the hassle of children (mistakes) if they don't want to be? To complain about a God who (allegedly) commits mass murder, while we do the same, seems a bit prejudicial. Seems a bit hypocritical. And, just who is the "we" Blanshard is referring to? Cannibals? Christians? Islamic terrorists? Secular humanists?

At any rate, as you can see with Blanshard, the problem of evil for most atheologians stems from what they take to be good or evil. But I don't think it's an understatement to claim that most people would agree with the tautology that if the secular humanist assumes that man is the highest standard, and then gets to define evil as whatever is offensive to man, or lowers him from his exalted platform, and good as whatever lifts man up, places him on the pedestal he deserves, then the argument from evil which runs thus: The amount of evil in this world is hard to reconcile with a God who is supposed be good in the above sense of good, seems to follow most naturally (at least if you're a moral realist).

But without that assumption, without the importing of secular humanism on to the Christian God, the argument doesn't even get off the ground. The great Blanshard's argument was foiled before it began. It may cause secular humanists to pat each other on the back while they mock the Christian God at their candlelight dinners, but the theist doesn't even bat an eyelash at this. It doesn't register on our radar. People say that the problem of evil is a problem for the theist too. But what is the problem of evil? If it's really no more than what Balnshard suggests - that God isn't good in the sinners sense of good - then, rather than having a problem, I wholeheartedly concur. But this is about as problematic as saying that my 7 year old can't hit hard in the Mirco Cro Cop sense of "hit hard."

You want some advice from a Christian theist? You want to have us take seriously your problem of evil argument? Well, I suggest an argument which shows that if the Christian worldview were true, what God allows and ordains is atrocious. That is, give a de jure objection that is not independent of the de facto question. Sure, we may have a psychological problem with evil, we may fail to act consistent with our worldview by not trusting God that he "works all things together for good after the council of His will," but as for an objection aimed at the rationality of belief in God, or against God's existence, though we may try to help you see the error of your argument, it really doesn't cause us to bat an eyelash.

35 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Doubting Tom2/04/2007 1:59 PM

    "Most people who bring up the problem of evil do so because they feel that the evil they observe in the world contradicts their idea of God,"

    Most people who bring up the problem of evil have been told that God is good, and good is usually taken to mean the opposite of evil, such that good cannot be blended with evil without compromising the good. So when they're told that an all-good God reigns over the world, there's an obvious conflict here. The only real solution to this is to adopt a God which is indifferent to good, such as a God who has a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil.

    "and what kind of a world this imagined God would govern."

    And since imagination is what we have to go by in considering these things, I would imagine that a world created by an all-good god would reflect its all-goodness. If it had the power to create in the first place, and it were a perfect creator, then it would be very hard to imagine it creating a world that is not all-good.

    Tom L.

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  3. Tom says: "Most people who bring up the problem of evil have been told that God is good"

    So you're saying the atheist argument stems from what you've been told. Fine, but you might also try listening to what we say about why a good God would allow evil. It's as if you condemn the theist's argument after only listening to half of it.

    Tom: "And since imagination is what we have to go by in considering these things, I would imagine that a world created by an all-good god would reflect its all-goodness."

    Imagination is what you have to go by if you're critiquing a world that you imagine. If you're going to critique the world as Christians believe it exists, and point out flaws in the Christian view, then you have more than your imagination to go on. You have our Scriptures. That's the point that's being made in the original post: the classic atheist argument about the problem of evil doesn't phase us because it doesn't take into account anything like our ideas about what the definition and/or purpose of evil might be. You destroy the god of your imagination: hey, great. But that's not my God.

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  4. Doubting Tom2/04/2007 5:21 PM

    "So you're saying the atheist argument stems from what you've been told."

    Of course. I did not posit an all-good god to begin with. The believer did.

    "Fine,"

    There you go then.

    "but you might also try listening to what we say about why a good God would allow evil."

    I have.

    "It's as if you condemn the theist's argument after only listening to half of it."

    I didn't condemn anything.

    "Imagination is what you have to go by if you're critiquing a world that you imagine."

    No, imagination is what I have to go by if the standard I'm supposed to assume in judging the world is available only by means of imagining it. Different thing.

    "If you're going to critique the world as Christians believe it exists, and point out flaws in the Christian view, then you have more than your imagination to go on. You have our Scriptures."

    Your "Scriptures" merely fuel the imagination. That's the point. Do you not imagine your Jesus going to the cross? Or do you have no imagination at all?

    "That's the point that's being made in the original post: the classic atheist argument about the problem of evil doesn't phase us because it doesn't take into account anything like our ideas about what the definition and/or purpose of evil might be."

    That's not necessarily true. You do hold that evil and good are opposites, do you not? You do hold that your god is all-good and not evil, do you not? So already there are some base-points that the atheist can use in considering how well the Christian's theology comes together. Beyond that, we can inquire: what is the bible's definition of 'good' and 'evil'? I asked Calvindude this, and he got all flustered. Care to see?

    "You destroy the god of your imagination: hey, great. But that's not my God."

    If my imaginary god is easy to destroy, how much easier is it to destroy yours? See, I already did.

    Tom L.

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  5. "The treatment of evil by theology seems to me an intellectual disgrace. The question at issue is a straightforward one: how are the actual amount and distribution of evil to be reconciled with the government of the world by a God which is in our sense good?" -Blanshard, Reason and Belief, 546


    I think its pretty clear that what the author means by "good" in the above quote is simply the normal usage of the term:

    caring; motivated by a concern for the well-being of others.

    Both christian and atheists can probably agree on that meaning of the word and agree that God is generally defined as good in that sense.

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  6. David Ellis,

    "Both christian and atheists can probably agree on that meaning of the word and agree that God is generally defined as good in that sense."

    No we can't.

    ~Paul

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  7. So you consider God to NOT be caring and motivated for the well-being of others?

    A telling admission.

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  8. David Ellis,

    So you consider God to not be the God of the Bible but then you somehow think your point refutes the God of the Bible? A telling admission.

    God is motivated by His most holy will, to accomplish His purpose, for His own glory.

    ~Paul

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  9. So you consider God to not be the God of the Bible but then you somehow think your point refutes the God of the Bible? A telling admission.


    I don't believe in God. I leave it to theists to describe the supposed entity they call God.

    Most, if I asked if they believed God was caring and concerned for the well-being of others would say "yes, of course".

    Am I to understand you would not reply with a yes to that question?

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  10. Doubting Tom said:

    "Most people who bring up the problem of evil have been told that God is good, and good is usually taken to mean the opposite of evil, such that good cannot be blended with evil without compromising the good. So when they're told that an all-good God reigns over the world, there's an obvious conflict here."

    Obvious on what grounds? How are you defining good and evil? According to secular ethics or Christian ethics?

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  11. david ellis said...

    "The treatment of evil by theology seems to me an intellectual disgrace. The question at issue is a straightforward one: how are the actual amount and distribution of evil to be reconciled with the government of the world by a God which is in our sense good?" -Blanshard, Reason and Belief, 546


    I think its pretty clear that what the author means by "good" in the above quote is simply the normal usage of the term:

    caring; motivated by a concern for the well-being of others.

    Both christian and atheists can probably agree on that meaning of the word and agree that God is generally defined as good in that sense.

    *****************************************

    At this point you have to ask if ellis is merely playing dumb, or if he really is as dense is he seems to be. No matter how often he's corrected on this point, all he can do is to repeat his original, oft-refuted claim ad nauseum.

    How obtuse does he have to be for the correction to never once sink in? It takes a real effort to be that thick.

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  12. "How are you defining good and evil? According to secular ethics or Christian ethics?"

    How does "Christian ethics" define good and evil? I'd really like to see these definitions.

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  13. David Ellis,

    I don't suppose you do believe in God, but you at least agree that there's an *idea* of him. My point is that your problem of evil, directed at the idea you have of God, does not refute the biblcial conception of God. You're not refuting the biblical idea of God, and so all I'm saying is that you shouldn't pretend the argument from evil refutes the Christian conception of God as laid out in the Bible. I'm just asking you to be intellectually honest, that's all. I mean, I admit that the arguments against evolution which employ an idea of 'randomness,' which is not the idea of 'randomness' supposed by the evolutionist, don't work. I try not to hold on to critiques which mischaracterize just so I can say, "I refuted such and such." Do you disagree with this idea?

    Now, you say,

    "Most, if I asked if they believed God was caring and concerned for the well-being of others would say "yes, of course".'

    But above you used the term 'motivated.' Why leave that word out this time? And, 'caring' in relationship to what? I care for my family, so I'm caring. I care for you and yours as well. Does that mean I should support your family? Furthermore, should God be concerned for the well-being of the rapist over against the rape victim? Now that you've removed the term which rendered your claim false, I don't even know what you mean. I don't even know how to apply it to us now. But that was your so-called general idea of 'good' that we all share. But surely that I'm caring doesn't imply I care for all people *in the same way.* And that I "care for others' well being," doesn't mean that I care for the pedophile's "well being." If he feels that he should be able to molest children, otherwise he'll "suffer," why should I allow him to be able to do that in the name of "caring for his well being?"

    It's all very jumbled now.

    ~Paul

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  14. My point is that your problem of evil, directed at the idea you have of God, does not refute the biblcial conception of God. You're not refuting the biblical idea of God, and so all I'm saying is that you shouldn't pretend the argument from evil refutes the Christian conception of God as laid out in the Bible.


    Please refrain from attributing to me views and opinions I have not expressed. I have said nothing about the problem of evil on this blog. I simply discussed the common usage of the word "good":

    caring, concerned for the well-being of others

    and pointed out that both atheists and christians commonly use the word in this sense and that most christians would describe God as good by this definition.

    I never even mentioned the problem of evil.


    qulex said...
    "How are you defining good and evil? According to secular ethics or Christian ethics?"



    I, for one, am willing to discuss any definition of the terms you wish to bring up.

    As for myself, I use the word "good" as meaning, as I said before, caring and concerned for others and evil as meaning the opposite, either wishing harm to others or, at least, being indifferent to their well-being.

    This seems a usage of the words that is common to both christians and secularists.

    But if you have another definition then I'm open to discussing that as well.


    And, 'caring' in relationship to what? I care for my family, so I'm caring. I care for you and yours as well. Does that mean I should support your family? Furthermore, should God be concerned for the well-being of the rapist over against the rape victim? Now that you've removed the term which rendered your claim false, I don't even know what you mean. I don't even know how to apply it to us now. But that was your so-called general idea of 'good' that we all share. But surely that I'm caring doesn't imply I care for all people *in the same way.*


    My Goodness!! Is it really so difficult to understand my usage of the word "caring". I am not using it in any idiosyncratic sense. I am using the word 'caring' in the simple sense of empathetic. That is, generally concerned about and sympathetic to the feelings and needs of others. In other words, in the way which would be utterly clear and acceptable to you any time other than if we were discussing religion.

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  15. David Ellis,

    You used your definition of good to support Brand Blanshard's argument from evil, it's a bit disingenuous to now say you're not trying to bring up, or defend, the atheist argument from evil. Nothing but cheap, sophistic tactics coming from you now.

    With respects to your 'caring' business. I now submit that you've made Blanshard's case most trivial. But, I still don't understand it. And shouting and exclamation points don't help. Are you "generally concerned about" the "needs" of the pedophile? I think if people follow the analysis applied to your statements they'll conclude that you either don't know what you're talking about, or that your claim as it bears on Blanshard's argument, is simply trivial and uninteresting.

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  16. You used your definition of good to support Brand Blanshard's argument from evil, it's a bit disingenuous to now say you're not trying to bring up, or defend, the atheist argument from evil


    No, in fact, I didn't. I am, frankly, rather fed up with discussing the problem of evil. I've discussed it on two other blogs recently and am quite tired of it. What was of interest to me wasn't defending the problem of evil. It was your characterization that there is a fundamental difference between the concept of morally good as it is used by christians and nonchristians. It seems to me that both usually use the word to mean much the same thing.

    So, to be clear, I care not a bit about discussing or defending the problem of evil. I find much more interesting the subject of the concept of good and your claim that your concept of the good as a christian is fundamentally different from that of a secularist like myself.


    Are you "generally concerned about" the "needs" of the pedophile?


    I am generally concerned that others not suffer. For example, if someone proposed a law that we torture pedophiles I would be opposed to it. As my mother always said, "two wrongs don't make a right".

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  17. David Ellis,

    Well then my first answer sufficed. There is a fundamental difference. Because the secular humanist places man on a pedastal. You indicate that you're generally concerned that man not suffer, and so if God does anything to humans which cause them to suffer, he's then not 'good,' in this sense. My God is the standard and exemplar of good in my worldview. So, no need to debate this one anymore.

    You said,

    "I am generally concerned that others not suffer. For example, if someone proposed a law that we torture pedophiles I would be opposed to it. As my mother always said, "two wrongs don't make a right".

    Well then what of the pedophile who says that the mere existence of laws which deny him his happiness cause him to suffer? People suffer in jail. I mean, just what do you propose here. As it turns out, you have a wild view of 'caring' for the 'well being of others.' This certainly isn't my view. I don't care for the well being of others when that means victims don't receive justice.

    Indeed, our very debate about this presupposes my side. If we didn't have different views on 'good' and 'caring' and what constitutes the 'well being of others,' then I don't think we'd be debating, do you?

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  18. You indicate that you're generally concerned that man not suffer, and so if God does anything to humans which cause them to suffer, he's then not 'good,' in this sense.


    Try responding to what I actually say rather than putting words in my mouth.


    There is a fundamental difference. Because the secular humanist places man on a pedastal.


    I do not place humans on any pedestal. Humanity is neither an object of worship nor reverence for me. I do not have to put someone on a pedestal to sympathize with them.



    Well then what of the pedophile who says that the mere existence of laws which deny him his happiness cause him to suffer?


    When did I ever say a concern for the suffering of others means that its possible to eliminate all suffering? If it were possible to give some sort of treat to the pedophile so that he is no longer attracted to children I would advocate doing so.....but we do not have that capability.



    My God is the standard and exemplar of good in my worldview.


    Lets get to the heart of the matter. Please define the word "good" as you are using it in the above sentence.

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  19. David Ellis,

    It seems we disagree about 'good.' Therefore what you said was your only purpose for coming here seems to be fulfilled.

    God's character defines what goodness is. We could engage in a systematic treatment of the topic, but a descent on is found in Frame's Doctrine of God, pp. 402-445. So, you can read that for a homework assignment. As for the topic you said you came here to discuss, I think we settled that, right?


    Anyway, I find your claim about pedophiles interesting. Why give them the treat? Maybe they think they're good. Just fine. And so it appears that even on your own terms, you have disagreements about what is good abounding. Indeed, it looks as if *you're* defining what good is; and pedophiles aint it! Thus we come full circle. Man thinks he can define what good is, and then bring charges against God based on them. I bet if there was a "treat" to make God beter, you'd want to give it to him.

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  20. I have a co-worker who was for many years a professing Christian. But in recent months he has drifted from the faith, citing the problem of evil as the most significant factor in his alienation from the Lord. He finds it very, very difficult to reconcile the existence of an all-good and loving God with things like the 2004 tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, famines and plagues which ravage human populations. I've tried praying and using some of the points raised against the POE in this blog, but it does not seem to be working. He says I'm trying to rationalize the existence of evil without actually reconciling it with the existence of God. Any suggestions?

    Humbly,
    David Chao

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  21. Anyway, I find your claim about pedophiles interesting.


    Do you really think the question of how to treat a person who gets pleasure from harming others presents some sort of enormous problem for a person of a caring nature?


    Indeed, it looks as if *you're* defining what good is; and pedophiles aint it! Thus we come full circle. Man thinks he can define what good is, and then bring charges against God based on them.


    Of course I'm defining the word "good". I'm defining what was meant by the term, as I understand it, in the quote from Blanshard.

    That is, that he was using it as synonymous with "caring" or "empathetic".

    Thus, by that usage, the question "is God good" does not mean that one is imposing a particular moral system on God. It simply asks a question about God's disposition:

    is he caring and empathetic?

    is he concerned for the well-being of others?

    Surprisingly, you seemed to answer no to these questions. Do you stand by that?

    And now, to get back to the issue of what you mean by "good" I must point out you never answered my question. You never defined the word "good" as you were using it in the sentence "My God is the standard and exemplar of good in my worldview. "

    You only replied:


    God's character defines what goodness is.


    But that doesn't tell us what you mean by "good" or "goodness" in either sentence. You have said you don't mean the same thing by the word that I normally use it to mean (caring; empathetic).

    So what are you using it to mean?

    Define the word. Is that actually so hard for you to do?

    For example, since you seem to have such a hard time defining the word, do you mean by "good":

    moral rightness

    If so, fine. That is a legitimate and frequent use of the word. But that fact doesn't change the fact that the usage Blanchard and I were employing is also a normal and legitimate usage of the term. To criticize his statement by reference to a usage of the word different from the one he actually meant is simply to create a strawman of his comment---and that's exactly what you did.

    But to get back to a question I find fascinating, let me ask again for clarities sake:

    Is God of a caring nature?

    You seemed to answer no earlier. I want to give you a chance to clarify, just in case you didn't actually mean what you appeared to be saying.

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  22. John Beversluis has argued that “If the word ‘good’ must mean approximately the same thing when we apply it to God as what it means when we apply it to human beings, then the fact of suffering provides a clear empirical refutation of the existence of a being who is both omnipotent and perfectly good. If on the other hand, we are prepared to give up the idea that ‘good’ in reference to God means anything like what it means when we refer to humans as good, then the problem of evil can be sidestepped, but any hope of a rational defense of the Christian God goes by the boards.” [C.S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion (Eerdmans, 1985)].

    So you have a choice to make, don't you?

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  23. John W. Loftus said:
    John Beversluis has argued that “If the word ‘good’ must mean approximately the same thing when we apply it to God as what it means when we apply it to human beings, then the fact of suffering provides a clear empirical refutation of the existence of a being who is both omnipotent and perfectly good. If on the other hand, we are prepared to give up the idea that ‘good’ in reference to God means anything like what it means when we refer to humans as good, then the problem of evil can be sidestepped, but any hope of a rational defense of the Christian God goes by the boards.” [C.S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion (Eerdmans, 1985)].

    So you have a choice to make, don't you?

    ******************************

    1. Is this supposed to be an internal or external version of the argument from evil.

    2. No, suffering doesn't afford any evidence against the existence of God. The argument from evil turns on the allegation of *gratuitous* suffering.

    Is Loftus too dense to absorb that distinction, no matter how often it's explicated in the theodicean literature? Or does he have no choice but to misrepresent the issues since he dealt himself a losing hand?

    3. Notice how Loftus fails to address Manata's specific counterexamples.

    Is it good treat a child rapist the same way you treat a rape victim?

    Manata's counterexample isn't prized on a distinction between divine and human morality, although there are occasions when that distinction is germane.

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  24. David Chao said...
    I have a co-worker who was for many years a professing Christian. But in recent months he has drifted from the faith, citing the problem of evil as the most significant factor in his alienation from the Lord. He finds it very, very difficult to reconcile the existence of an all-good and loving God with things like the 2004 tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, famines and plagues which ravage human populations. I've tried praying and using some of the points raised against the POE in this blog, but it does not seem to be working. He says I'm trying to rationalize the existence of evil without actually reconciling it with the existence of God. Any suggestions?

    *************

    1. One of the problems is that your friend seems to be operating with a double standard. It's okay for him to raise intellectual objections to the Christian faith (e.g. the argument from evil), but it's not okay for you to present intellectual counterarguments.

    So he levels an intellectual objection, but retreats into anti-intellectualism as soon as he's answered on his own grounds. Ask him if he's being consistent.

    2. Also ask him if still believes in good and evil as an atheist? If he doesn't, then where does that leave the problem of evil?

    If he does, then how does he justify moral absolutes in a godless world?

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  25. John, I think it necessary, to avoid needless long-winded exchanges of noncomprehension on Pauls part that you define the word "good" as you were using in the above post.

    I presume you mean by "good" the same thing I was talking about:

    caring, empathetic, concerned for the well-being of others.

    Paul seems to prefer to use the word "good" in the sense of "morally right" which has led to his misunderstanding of what was meant in the quote that prompted this discussion---the idea that the secularist is trying to impose some moral system of his own on God rather than, what was actually meant, to be puzzled at what seems to him a clear contradiction in the idea that a caring person would set up conditions so as to cause horrendous, apparently unnecessary, suffering---an action generally (to say the least) not expected of people who care about others.

    Personally I'm not so much interested in the POE (which I've discussed to the point of exhaustion with the topic recently) as that Paul seems to think God is not of a caring nature. But I leave it to him to clarify the matter if that isn't what he meant.

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  26. 2. Also ask him if still believes in good and evil as an atheist? If he doesn't, then where does that leave the problem of evil?

    If he does, then how does he justify moral absolutes in a godless world?


    Again, you are using the word "good" to mean morally right when he is more likely using it to mean caring (the statement specifically refers to a "loving god").

    The issue of whether there are moral absolutes on atheist is actually irrelevent to that question---the issue isn't whether God is immoral if he allows such things but whether allowing such things is in the character of a loving being---whether there is a plausible reason why a loving being would behave in such a way.

    He apparently thinks that idea is implausible.


    1. One of the problems is that your friend seems to be operating with a double standard. It's okay for him to raise intellectual objections to the Christian faith (e.g. the argument from evil), but it's not okay for you to present intellectual counterarguments.


    That isn't a double standard. He simply finds his friends counterargument to be implausible and unconvincing.

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  27. David Ellis,

    "Do you really think the question of how to treat a person who gets pleasure from harming others presents some sort of enormous problem for a person of a caring nature?"

    I'm just trying to analyze what you mean by caring so I can tell you if God is or isn't caring in *your* sense. As of now, no, He is not. But this isn't so much as a telling admission as it is pointing out that we have different definitions of 'good,' or different standards.

    At the end of the day though, if you make it general enough, then I fail to see Blanshard's problem. It looks like you have two hills to clime.

    "Of course I'm defining the word "good". I'm defining what was meant by the term, as I understand it, in the quote from Blanshard.

    That is, that he was using it as synonymous with "caring" or "empathetic".'


    Well why think he meant it that way? You think it's so 'obvious' that that's how he meant it, but your definition seems to be the 6th one that comes up under good. Indeed, its a multifarious term, and I don't even think you're in a position to tell us that's what Blanshard meant.

    But my point about your defining it is that what you're meaning by 'caring' and 'well being of others' has a humanistic quality to it that my definition does not have.

    Again, though, make it vague, general, and broad enough, sure, God's caring. But at this point, in the land of extreme vagueness, there's no way one could make the argument from evil. So I happen to think Blanshard meant more by the term.

    "If so, fine. That is a legitimate and frequent use of the word. But that fact doesn't change the fact that the usage Blanchard and I were employing."

    It's not been established that Blanshard was using it in the same way you are. Nice try, though. Even if he were, that doesn't change the fact that (a) as he defines those terms, my argument still stands, (b) and as he leaves them vague, ambiguous, generalized and the like, he has no argument (and neither do you). On your understanding, if you had the power, you would not hurt people, and you would just zap them and make them all better. Okay, on *this* understanding of caring, God is not caring in this way. Your view undermines the rights of the victim. No justice. Turn a blind-eye toward their crime. Give them "treats" and make them all better. Well, that's not the way God runs his universe. Eye for an eye, tooth for tooth. The punishment fits the crime. But if you want to say, "no, I'm not saying any of that, I'm just saying 'caring.'" My rfeply there is, okay, God is caring, but no argument from evil can be drawn from (b).

    'Good' can be applied to objects, people, etc. So I'm not going to write out a lengthy post analyzing that concept for you. I've already told you where to look for one. Furthermore, there are many legitmate ways people could use that term, as you point out. But until those ways are broken down and anayzed, we don't really know what one is saying. That's what I'm doing here.

    "But to get back to a question I find fascinating, let me ask again for clarities sake:

    Is God of a caring nature?

    You seemed to answer no earlier."


    Well let's not be disingenuous. Earlier you said that God was *motivated* by care and concern for others. Now you're saying "is God caring." Both very different. Anyway, I answer the same way to your *second* question the way I have been: "Depends on what you mean." I mean, God wouldn't "give a treat to a pedophile" so as to make him better while forgoing any punishment of the type that fits the crime. So I guess he's "not caring" in your sense. But, he does provide rain and food for people, allows them to live longer than they deserve, etc., and so this is caring in another way.

    Basically, the whole debate here is due to your failure to want to be rigerous and tough minded.

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  28. But my point about your defining it is that what you're meaning by 'caring' and 'well being of others' has a humanistic quality to it that my definition does not have.


    It seems to me that I and christians use the word caring in the same sense. But if you think there is some fundamental difference in your definition of the word please present it.


    Give them "treats" and make them all better.


    Perhaps you didn't understand from the context that I meant to type treatment not treat.


    On your understanding, if you had the power, you would not hurt people, and you would just zap them and make them all better. Okay, on *this* understanding of caring, God is not caring in this way. Your view undermines the rights of the victim. No justice.


    Obviously if we can detect such tendencies and give effective treatment for them before they are acted on then there is no issue of punishing them to satisfy a victims desire for revenge (which seems to be what you mean by justice; correct me if I'm mistaken).


    Well let's not be disingenuous. Earlier you said that God was *motivated* by care and concern for others. Now you're saying "is God caring." Both very different.


    Actually, what I first said was by good I meant "caring" and "motivated by concern for others". Later, I simply said caring and concerned for others.

    Do you really think there is some fundamental difference between someone who and "caring and motivated by concern for others" and someone who is "caring and concerned for others"?

    Really, you are bringing up the most utterly inane and silly objections conceivable.

    Its becoming a real waste of time.

    And, yet again, you sidestepped defining the word "good".

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  29. David Ellis,

    Let us know if you want to interact with my posts, are spend time trying to grasp the argument. If what I'm posting is inane, silly, and a waste of time, then move on. I'm satisfied with the analysis and argumentation above. Are you on your end?

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  30. If you are unwilling to even define the word "good", whose definition is central to this discussion, then indeed I am.

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  31. David Ellis,

    Forgot to point this out:

    "Obviously if we can detect such tendencies and give effective treatment for them before they are acted on then there is no issue of punishing them to satisfy a victims desire for revenge (which seems to be what you mean by justice; correct me if I'm mistaken)."

    Ellis' program calls for punishing innocent people. That's the fruit of the deterrative approach.

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  32. David Ellis,

    There are many ways one could define that and use that word. It is used in respect to things. Good inrespect to what? A good lawn mower? My car is good for transportation, not so much living in.

    For God, it can be used to refer to his perfections. For man it can be said that he is in line with God's character and desires.

    Furthermore, you've defined 'good,' but so what? You've *not once* shown that Blanshard means it in that way. And so your stated only point for coming here hasn't so much as been argued for, let alone proven.

    Lastly, we needed to take a look at your definitions and understanding of caring before I can even begin to answer you. You don't want to apply the appropriate amount of brain cells towards coming to a resolution, then indeed, we are done.

    best,

    ~PM

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  33. P.S.

    Again, if you've followed my analysis above, if good simply means "cares for others," then yes, God "cares for others." Indeed, all the member sof the trinity 'care' for eachother. So in this sense, God has been eternally good.

    But, if you followed my argument, you'll note that I said Blanshard can't mean *that* because it's so vague and ambiguous you couldn't possibly make an argument from evil from *that* understanding. It would be child's play to slice and dice if one even could. Blanshard was smarter than that, ergo, Blanshard didn't mean it in this hayseed, simplistic way you're using it.

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  34. Forgot to point this out:

    "Obviously if we can detect such tendencies and give effective treatment for them before they are acted on then there is no issue of punishing them to satisfy a victims desire for revenge (which seems to be what you mean by justice; correct me if I'm mistaken)."

    Ellis' program calls for punishing innocent people. That's the fruit of the deterrative approach.


    Excuse me, how would it be punishing someone to detect and correct a tendency toward psychopathic, pedophilic or other destructive and antisocial behavior if its roots could be detected early. If, as an example, one found a genetic root to pedophilia (not claiming there is one, I don't know) and could correct the flawed gene while they were an infant then that would hardly be punishment.


    Furthermore, you've defined 'good,' but so what? You've *not once* shown that Blanshard means it in that way.


    Have you shown that it was meant in the sense (presumably moral rightness) that your criticism of the quote is based on?

    If that interpretation is incorrect and mine is what he meant then your criticism entirely misses the mark.

    So, if you want to discuss the context of the quote I'll be glad to do that.


    But, if you followed my argument, you'll note that I said Blanshard can't mean *that* because it's so vague and ambiguous you couldn't possibly make an argument from evil from *that* understanding.


    There is nothing vague and ambiguous about the concept of goodness being used to mean "of a generally sympathetic, caring nature". You're simply being deliberately obtuse.

    And this form of the POE works perfectly well. In fact, its a better form of the argument than basing it on the concept of moral rightness since it avoids getting swamped in a side-argument over meta-ethics.

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  35. David Ellis,

    "Excuse me, how would it be punishing someone to detect and correct a tendency toward psychopathic, pedophilic or other destructive and antisocial behavior if its roots could be detected early."

    Thanks for admitting that you *don't* think pedophiles should be punished. So, if that's your view of 'caring,' then no, God is not 'caring.'

    "If, as an example, one found a genetic root to pedophilia (not claiming there is one, I don't know) and could correct the flawed gene while they were an infant then that would hardly be punishment."

    How about for a "gay gene?" Anyway, so you basically want a Orwellian state. I mean, if the people "in charge" get to decide what "normal" is, who keeps a watch on them. I fear your position would degenrate into one of those awesome sci-fi movies we all love to watch.

    "There is nothing vague and ambiguous about the concept of goodness being used to mean "of a generally sympathetic, caring nature". You're simply being deliberately obtuse."

    Okay, then if this is the bed you're making, lay in it. From God being "generally sympathetic and caring," you can't mount any problem of evil argument. So, good job destroying Blanshard for us. (And, despite what you think, the above is vague and ambiguous and overly generalized.)

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