Thursday, June 19, 2014

Arminian eugenics

Roger Olson  
You leave out that the Calvinism I am arguing against claims that this whole world and everything in it was designed, ordained and is governed by God. If God is perfectly good in any sense meaningful to us and exercises that kind of providential control, then, yes, he would have to create the best possible world. To say otherwise is to slide into nominalism and voluntarism--that God is only freely good. I think that is what most Calvinists believe (without being fully aware of it).
Problem is: Olson never gives us a reason to accept his claim. Even assuming that there's a best possible world (which I deny), why is God "only freely good" if he made a world that falls short of the best possible world?
We'd only "slide into voluntarism" if we said God made an irremediably evil world. Olson fails to distinguish between good and evil, on the one hand, and good, better, or best, on the other hand. A good God can't make an irremediably evil world. But what prevents a good God from making a good world, although he could make an even better world? 
Olson has a eugenic outlook. Take natural evils. For instance, is a world without Down Syndrome better than a world with Down Syndrome? Suppose we figure out how to eliminate Down Syndrome. In so doing we preemptively eliminate people with Down Syndrome. They are no long allowed to begin to exist. 
Is that an improvement? Improvement for whom? You might say someone with Down Syndrome would be better off without Down Syndrome–but would he be the same person? Or is something lost in the process? Not just losing the syndrome, but losing the personality. Losing character traits associated with the syndrome.
From what I've read, people with Down Syndrome can be exceptionally loving and caring. More so that many "normal" people. A world with Down Syndrome has virtues, has a quality of goodness, that's absent in a world without Down Syndrome. 
Even if the less-than-the-best possible world is less good overall than the best possible world, the less-than-the-best possible world may include a better good than the best possible world, which achieves its best status by evening out the disparities to secure a smooth, uniform consistency of goodness.  
Is the best possible world a world devoid of evils? Or is the best possible world a world in which evils are offset by second-order goods? Goods unobtainable apart from evil? 

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