Monday, April 29, 2013

"God can't stop it!"

rogereolson says:
April 25, 2013 at 12:29 pm

I think our disagreement must lie in our perspectives about divine permission. I see God as sometimes (perhaps often) permitting evil because he cannot stop it–not due to any lack of power but due to what I can only call (for lack of a better term) rules that only he knows.

rogereolson says:
April 25, 2013 at 12:43 pm

But, speaking only for myself now, I agree that “all this is inexplicable” except by appeal to 1) the fallenness of the world due to sin (Romans 8), 2) rules God knows, understands and abides by, and 3) the particularities of situations that no one but God fully understands (that determine when God can and cannot intervene). Again, I’ll suggest a good book for you to read: Evil and the God of Love by Christian philosopher Michael Peterson. Philosopher Keith Ward has also written much on this subject. C. S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain is also helpful.

rogereolson says:
April 23, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Imagine a world exactly like ours except that God gives clear warnings to everyone who might be affected by evil or calamity. Then read C. S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain. Also, stop thinking of God’s foreknowledge as providentially advantageous–as if foreknowing something is going to happen makes it possible for God to change what is going to happen.

rogereolson says:
April 25, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Well, we see things differently. What else is there to say? We’ve discussed this here many times. I’m not sure you understand what is meant by a “non-whimsical world.” It’s a world where human actions have somewhat predictable consequences. Where, for example, gun don’t turn to putty every time someone aims one at an innocent person. It’s a world where moral actions, including incompetent ones, have consequences.

rogereolson says:
April 25, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Well, you already said what you think. If you ask me, the “cause of the curse” is not God but, as you imply throughout, us. It is the natural consequence of our racial disobedience (distancing ourselves) from God.

There are three fundamental problems with Olson’s theodicy of natural evil.

i) On the one hand, Olson invokes a natural law theodicy, of the sort popularized by C. S. Lewis. According to this argument, God can’t routinely interfere with the laws of nature because human existence requires a high degree of stability and predictability.

If, however, accidents and natural disasters are intrinsic to the natural-law structure of the physical world, and God can’t meddle with the uniformity of nature, then in the world to come, humans will continue to die from accidents and natural disasters. Yet that conflicts with the eschatology of Scripture, according to which the saints will not be subject to death and in the world to come. 

Perhaps Olson would postulate that the world to come may have different natural laws, but in that event, it isn’t naturally necessary for people to die from accidents and natural disasters here and now, if God can coherently change the laws of nature.

ii) On the other hand, Olson also attributes accidents and natural disasters to the fall. But if accidents and natural disasters are due to the fall, then that’s not intrinsic to the natural law structure of the physical world. If accidents and natural disasters are the result of the fall rather than creation, then God can prevent accidents or natural disasters without suspending natural laws or destabilizing the natural order.

iii) Apropos (i-ii), Olson is trying to ride two horses at once. He can’t consistently say accidents and natural disasters are built into the physical, causal structure of the world and also attribute the same phenomena to the fall. 

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