Victor Reppert has been debating the problem of evil. He makes a number of useful points along the way. But a few comments caught my eye:
“I'm not even assuming the doctrine of everlasting punishment here. That's not entailed by theism.”
i) One doesn’t have to get drawn into a debate over eternal punishment to debate the problem of evil, and this can be a diversionary tactic, so, to that extent, I agree with him.
ii) It’s also true that eternal punishment is not entailed by theism. It’s a contingent truth, related to other contingent truths. In a sinless world, there would be no need for hell.
But by the same token, one could also say that theism doesn’t entail a divine incarnation, piacular sacrifice, or resurrection of the Messiah. These are also contingent truths.
But even though *theism* does not entail these events, *Christian* theism most certainly does. So I’m unclear on how far Reppert takes his taking his disclaimer. Where does he draw the line, and why?
“I can imagine all sorts of things that would refute theism. If it were discovered that someone were in hell forever simply because of a divine fiat when that person could have been just as easily saved would do it for me.”
i) That’s an odd statement. How would this example refute theism? Doesn’t his example assume theism?
If God didn’t exist, then there would be no hell—and even if there were a hell, one wouldn’t find someone in by divine fiat. Conversely, if someone is there due to a divine fiat, then God must exist.
So what this amounts to, at most is that Reppert would fear rather than revere such a God—and not that such a God would be nonexistent.
ii) How would the fact that God could save Attila the Hun, but damns him instead, refute theism? Why is God under some obligation to forgive Attila the Hun? Do the victims of Attila the Hun share Reppert’s moral intuitions?