Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I Reject Christianity Because It’s Not True, Part II

I continue now with the second installment of my examination of James Anderson’s responses to “four common objections” to Christianity found in the paper I Reject Christianity Because _______________ which was recently posted on the The Gospel Coalition website. (For the initial installment in this series, see Part I.)

The second objection posed to Anderson is the problem of evil:
In his Pulitzer Prize-winning play J.B., Archibald MacLeish nails it when his character Nickles declares: "If God is God, he is not good; if God is good, he is not God." How can you believe in a God who would allow so much senseless evil and suffering in the world?
In response to this, Anderson writes:
Nickles gets it exactly backwards. God is by nature good; if God isn't good, he isn't really God. Or to be more precise: if there's no good God, there's no God at all.
Of course, it would be quite easy to imagine an evil god just as Anderson wants to imagine an all-good god that is on cozy terms with evil. And of course, the evil god would probably want us to think that it’s all-good, and it would likely call itself all-good. And if it rules by fear (cf. Prov. 1:7 et al.), it would want its believers to resist questioning this on pain of that fear.

Anderson continues:
I agree that there's horrific evil and suffering in the world, which can strain our faith in God to the limits, but as a Christian I have to reject the assumption that it's senseless. It may appear senseless to us, but we don't have God's comprehensive perspective on events.
At least Anderson does not deny that there is in fact “horrific evil and suffering in the world.” But his concern is to make this state of affairs in the world compatible with his god-belief. And according to what he says here, it all boils down to your perspective. From our puny little perspective, the evil that occurs in the world “may appear senseless to us,” but ultimately we’re wrong to believe that evil is really senseless.

Recall Anderson’s point from Part I that “everyone has their own perspective on the truth, but it doesn't follow that all perspectives are equally valid or valuable.” Of course, if the Christian god is merely imaginary, then really we’re dealing with the perspective of the believer himself. After all, we learn about the Christian god from other human beings, not from the god itself. Unlike Saul the persecutor, we do not get a personal visit from the risen Jesus knocking us to the ground in a glorious explosion of light. (The late D. James Kennedy said that this omnipotent Jesus could not do this for everyone; see here.) Rather, we learn about the Christian god, its nature, its demands on our lives and income, etc., from other human beings, people James Anderson, who have promoted themselves to the world as mouthpieces for a god for which we still have no alternative but to imagine.

So Anderson rejects the view that the evil in the world is senseless. Another word for ‘senseless’ is “pointless.” And according to The Free Dictionary, antonyms for ‘senseless’ include “wise, sensible, rational, useful, reasonable, intelligent, valid, worthwhile, meaningful.” So apparently Anderson wants to think of the evil in the world as having any or all of these antonymous qualities to senselessness.

So just to be clear: when Andrea Yates murders her five children, or Tim McVeigh blows up the Fred P. Murrah Building, or when Al Qaeda terrorists hijack airlines and fly them into the World Trade Center and the Pentegon, when a college student kills 32 people at Virginia Tech, or when an abortion doctor removes an unborn child from its mother’s womb and disposes of it in the waste basket, none of this, on Anderson’s view, is “senseless.” Hitler’s death squads throwing Jews into gas chambers is not “senseless,” according to Anderson. On the contrary, Anderson says that these things are only “apparently senseless” (just as the doctrine of “the Trinity” is only “apparently contradictory”). And this all boils ultimately down to Anderson’s own perspective on this – for him, it’s only “apparently senseless,” not really senseless. In fact, according to Anderson, since “we don’t have God’s comprehensive perspective on events,” we don’t see the bigger picture and thus are deprived of the perspective that allows us to see how wonderfully glorious these acts of evil are.

Of course, if actions are not senseless, if they are "wise," "sensible," "rational," "useful," "reasonable," "intelligent," "valid," "worthwhile," and/or "meaningful," why oppose them in the first place? Why would they be contrary to what we normally consider good?
 
At any rate, now that we got Anderon's view on this straight, consider what else he says:
If there is an all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful God, then he must have good reasons for permitting the evil and suffering that exists [sic]—whether or not we ourselves can discern those reasons. The Bible gives us some insight into God's reasons for permitting evil and suffering, even if it doesn't answer all our questions.
This is right in line with Greg Bahnsen’s response to the problem of evil, which is: “God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil which exists” (Always Ready, p. 172). Just ponder that for a moment – the idea that there could be “a morally sufficient reason” for evil. What’s noteworthy is that we’re never told what this reason is, so how can we agree that it’s “morally sufficient”? And if the believer himself does not know what this reason is, how can he be justified in calling it “morally sufficient”? What could it possibly look like, this alleged “morally sufficient reason for the evil which exists”? Sadly, folks like Bahnsen and Anderson never validate the mere notion of “a morally sufficient reason for the evil which exists.” What moral code can accommodate such a thing? Clearly not a moral code that takes the antithesis between good and evil seriously!

Consider what the concept ‘good’ must mean as Christianity informs it, to say that the (unidentified) “reasons for permitting the evil and suffering that exists” are “good reasons,” as Anderson baldly asserts. Such a concept could not be so distinguished from evil as to imply any opposition or incompatibility between the two. In Christianity, good and evil can co-exist. Accordingly, the good can tolerate the evil, the good can accommodate the evil, and as the gospel story of Jesus’ sacrifice clearly models, the good can appease the evil by sacrificing itself to the evil.

This is what happens when concepts are divorced from facts that we discover in the world by looking outward - i.e., when concepts are divorced from objective content and are instead contrived deliberately in allegiance to some imagined paradigm. In religion, looking inward and consulting one’s own imagination, wishing and emotions hold epistemological primacy over looking outward at the facts we discover in the world through perception. The history of philosophy, taking a sharp turn for the worst with Kant, is full of examples of what Rand called rationalism - i.e., deduction without reference to reality. Observe for example the impact that Kant has had on physics (I refer readers to Jan Irvin’s interview with David Harriman (Part 2) for some mind-blowing insight on this point particularly).

This is not a caricature of Christianity. We saw in my previous installment that, for the believer “truth fundamentally is whatever conforms to the mind of God” (Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings & Analysis, p. 163). How can one know what “conforms to the mind of God”? We do not find a god when we look outward at reality and examine the facts we discover there. On the contrary, we would have to look inward and consider what we imagine this god to be and what its mind supposedly contains. As one Christian apologist put it,
We conceive of how reality must be in light of how God is (in cases where the Bible doesn’t describe how a certain part of reality is. It’s all systematic in nature, which is appropriate for a worldview.).(Details on this can be found here)
Here we can compare the Christian model of “knowledge” with the Objectivist. Suppose you receive a box delivered to your doorstep addressed to you. You were not expecting any delivery, and even though the package is addressed to you specifically, there are no other markings indicating what may be inside it. On the Objectivist approach (i.e., the approach to knowledge which looks outward at the world of facts), we will open the package and take a look inside. But on the Christian model described here, this would not work. The Christian model would have us look inward at the contents of our imagination, specifically what we believe “how God is” in order to “conceive of how reality must be” (for clearly we’re not going to find out what’s in the box by reading Leviticus!).

Additionally we are told (Greg Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings & Analysis, p. 165n.33) that
In God’s thinking, there are not facts that are newly discovered or contingent (or, as Van Til sometimes put it earlier in his career, God’s knowledge is exclusively analytical, not synthetical). This is because God is the Creator of all facts, and the facts are what they are in terms of God’s sovereign plan; thus, to know something “outside” Himself, God need only “analyze” or consult His own mind.
So this imagined construct of the Christian god is the epistemological model for the believer himself. Like the god he imagines, the believer does not discover truths by looking outward - especially in the case of notions such as good and evil, which are determined exclusively by the sovereign mind of the Christian god – but by looking inward and “conceiv[ing] of how reality must be in light of how God is.”

On this view, truth is not based on facts which obtain independently of consciousness. On the Christian view, there is no such thing as a fact which obtains independently of consciousness to begin with. As James White puts it, “Any fact, that is a fact, is a fact because God made it that way” (The Dividing Line Broadcast aomin.org, quoted in The Portable Presuppositionalist, p. 215). Van Til concurs with this analysis (Introduction to Systematic Theology, 10, 236; quoted in Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings & Analysis, p. 230n.165):
God is completely self-comprehensive. God is absolute rationality. He was and is the only self-contained whole, the system of absolute truth. God’s knowledge is, therefore, exclusively analytic, that is, self-dependent. There never were any facts existing independent of God which he had to investigate.
Thus according to Christianity the subject of consciousness (in this case, “God’s mind”) creates all facts anyway. So they could never serve as an objective reference point to inform our knowledge, including concepts such as ‘good’ and ‘evil’. Besides, the Christian conception of ‘objectivity’ – itself a distortion which sacrifices itself to divine subjectivism – is about having the “right presuppositions,” not about deferring to facts that we discover in the world by looking outward. As Bahnsen puts it (Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings & Analysis, p. 286):
objectivity in the Christian worldview is not a matter of having no presuppositions… but a matter of having the right presuppositions – that is, having the divine point of view gained through revelation.
So building the hierarchy of knowledge on the basis of facts which we discover by looking outward is out. As Van Til states about defending the Christian religion (The Defense of the Faith, p. 7):
It is impossible and useless to seek to vindicate Christianity as a historical religion by a discussion of the facts only.
Indeed, the Christian needs something that holds epistemological primacy over facts – his pre-conceived notions, his prior commitment to the conclusion that Christianity is true, his “right presuppositions.” Van Til also tells us (The Case for Calvinism, p. 128-129; quoted in Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings & Analysis, p. 102) that:
All men do their thining on the basis of a position accepted by faith.
How does he know this? Well, we are not to question Van Til. He speaks for the Christian god and therefore we are to accept his word on his say so, as divinely authorized pronouncements. But what’s clear here is that a fact-based position is ruled out from the very outset. And this is further confirmed when Van Til states (The Defense of the Faith, p. 215):
The final point of reference in all predication must ultimately rest in some mind, divine or human.
Which can only mean that the facts we discover in the world by looking outward and identify according to an objective method cannot be “the final point of reference in predication.” This is ruled out from the outset “by presupposition.” For the Christian, presuppositions always come first, because in Christianity consciousness holds metaphysical primacy over existence.

So according to Christianity, instead of looking outward at the world and going by the facts that we discover in it, we are to look inward and consult our imaginations, our feelings, our wishes, perhaps even our dreams (!) in order to gain “the divine point of view… through revelation.” (Of course, appealing to “revelation” is insurmountably problematic, as I demonstrate in my blog The Futility of the Apologetic Appeal to “Revelation”.)

The result of all this mess is to divorce concepts from reality and force them to serve an imaginary construct in place of reality, giving us the horrid nightmare we find in Christianity: a man can open fire on a university campus, killing himself along with 32 other individuals, and this is ultimately deemed “good” since “God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil which exists” and the “reasons” it is said to have “for permitting the evil and suffering that exists” are said to be “good reasons.”

When it is affirmed on top of this that “God controls whatsoever comes to pass” (Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, p. 160), or as Bahnsen confirms this when he writes ( Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings & Analysis, p. 489n.44):
God controls all events and outcomes (even those that come about by human choice and activity).
then incidents such as the Virginia Tech Massacre, which rational people will condemn as evil atrocities (since they occur as a result of abandoning the moral code of life), are held by Christians to have been part of “God’s plan” all along. On this view, man’s life and its objective needs play no role in determining what is “good.” The conditional nature of man’s life, the fundamental alternative he faces (life vs. death), his need for values, his need for reason, etc., are irrelevant to the Christian notion of “good.” Only by divorcing moral concepts from man’s need for values can one come along and posit the notion of “a morally sufficient reason for the evil which exists” and suggest that there’s such a thing as “good reasons for permitting the evil and suffering that exists.” This Christianity is no friend of man. Far from it!

In the Christian’s hands, then, the concept ‘good’ becomes an anti-concept. Ayn Rand explains what an anti-concept is as follows (“Credibility and Polarization,” The Ayn Rand Letter, I, 1, 1):
An anti-concept is an unnecessary and rationally unusable term designed to replace and obliterate some legitimate concept. The use of anti-concepts gives the listeners a sense of approximate understanding. But in the realm of cognition, nothing is as bad as the approximate.
The legitimate concept which the Christian version of “good” is intended to obliterate and replace is the objective concept of good which is formed on the basis of factual input and is relevant to man’s need for a code of values which guides his choices and actions. When Christianity bases its notion of “good” on the whims of an imaginary being and insists that there’s such a thing as “good reasons for permitting the evil and suffering that exists,” what use does it have for human beings who still face the fundamental alternative of life vs. death, who still need values in order to exist, who still need an objective method of factually determining what is a value and what is a threat to his life? The answer is: None at all.

Also, by saying that their god has “a morally sufficient reason for the evil which exists,” Christians are in effect saying that their god does not have a morally sufficient reason to oppose and destroy all evil, or to have prevented all evil in the first place. Wouldn’t an “all-good God” that is both omniscient and omnipotent be able to cook up some “good reasons” to take a firm and unflinching stand against evil? Well, since it is their god and their imaginations are ultimately what determines its god’s perspective on things, we have to take their word for it. In the end, their worship of such a being tells us something about their character as human beings.

But there’s still more. Anderson premise his notion of “good reasons for permitting the evil and suffering that exists” on the notion of an “an all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful God.” What does it mean, then, to say that this god is “good”? John Frame provides us with an answer here (“Divine Aseity and Apologetics,” Revelation and Reason: New Essays in Reformed Apologetics, p. 116):
God’s goodness is not a standard above him, to which he conforms. Rather, his goodness is everything he is and does.
Stipulations about the Christian god such as this serve to put a seal on the anti-conceptual nature of the Christian worldview’s theodicy in particular and understanding of good and evil in general. Since the Christian god is imagined as “control[ling] whatsoever comes to pass,” it can only be inferred, on this premise, that whatever happens is whatever the Christian god has planned to happen. If a gunman shoots up a school or if a hijacker flies a commercial jet into a busy downtown building, it is not enough simply to say that this god “permitted” these actions (which, according to the moral code of life, would be bad enough!), it would have to be said that it had “planned” such events from the beginning of time. Essentially, everything that happens in the universe, including throughout human history, is how the Christian god manages everything it is imagined to have created. Whether it’s your own child graduating from college with honors, or a terrorist blowing up a crowded city bus, it’s all “God’s will.” And since this is all owing to what the Christian god “is and does,” all these things are examples of “God’s goodness.”

Thus the assertion that the Christian god’s “goodness is everything he is and does,” coupled with the view that “God controls whatsoever comes to pass,” can only mean that, in the final analysis, there is no distinction between good and evil to begin with. Thus the destruction of moral concepts such as ‘good’ and ‘evil’ (along with others, such as ‘culpability’, ‘responsibility’, etc.) is accomplished in full given the doctrinal commitments which Christians find themselves needing to affirm in defense of their god-belief. They say their god is a “personal being.” But what could be more impersonal than a being which is said to have “good reasons for permitting the evil and suffering that exists”? What could be more impersonal than a worldview which so effectively erases the distinction between good and evil?

Anderson actually thinks the problem of evil points to the existence of a god which has “good reasons for permitting the evil and suffering that exists.” He writes:
In the end, the reality of evil and suffering actually reinforces my belief in God, for if there were no God there would be no ultimate basis for distinguishing between good and evil.
This statement is quite ironic for it is the Christian worldview, given its notion that there exist “good reasons for permitting the evil and suffering that exists,” which puts the good on cozy terms with the evil, as if they can co-exist and cooperate together, thus entirely blurring the meaning of the concept ‘good’. Indeed, if the Christian god has “good reasons for permitting the evil and suffering that exists,” what exactly distinguishes it from a god which freely uses evil means whenever it chooses? And what distinguishes that from an outright evil god? All three variants would pose an unpredictable yet highly potential threat to human life in essentially equal measure. Indeed, if the Christian god has “good reasons for permitting the evil and suffering that exists,” why does Christianity have a devil in the first place? What new role does a Satan serve, when the Christian clearly has “good reasons for permitting evil and suffering” already? More blank out.

So it is not the Objectivist worldview, for example, that is blurring the distinction between good and evil. Objectivism has the moral code of life which teaches us to distinguish between that which is pro-life and that which is anti-life. And that which is anti-life is never good; and that which is pro-life is not anti-life. On an objective - i.e, fact-based - understanding of good, there can be no such thing as a “good reason… for permitting the evil and suffering that exists,” just as on an objective understanding of morality, there can be no such thing as “a morally sufficient reason for the evil which exists.” Morality is governing choices according to rationally determined values. Evil is that which threatens and/or destroys values. The notion of “a morally sufficient reason for the evil which exists” would mean a morally sufficient reason to destroy that which morality is all about protecting. Similarly the notion of a “good reason” for “permitting evil” would mean a “good reason” for destroying the good. Both are self-destructive notions, and yet they’re the best that Christians can produce in reaction to the problem of evil. I’m glad these aren’t my problems!

The alternative to the moral code of life is some form of the code of death; for example, one which says that a god which directs all of human history according to some inscrutable “plan” has “good reasons for permitting the evil and suffering that exists” and ultimately calls all evil acts “good” since they were planned by an “all-good” god all along.

Does Anderson offer an argument for his claim that “if there were no God there would be no ultimate basis for distinguishing between good and evil”? No, he only issues questions:
How could anything be literally evil in a godless, purposeless, ultimately meaningless universe? If humans are just one of the many accidental products of mindless natural processes, why would our experiences have any special significance?
Apparently we’re supposed to have no answers here and throw up our hands and say “Duh, I donno! Must be God did it!” But such ignorance seems to be all that Anderson has going for his position. The answer to these questions is: we have the moral code of life.

Anderson concludes the section with the following:
The universe neither knows nor cares—but God does.
Only don’t get your hopes up, for this god has “good reasons for permitting the evil and suffering that exists.” That’s the measure of how much it “cares.” It “cares” so much that you might be the next victim of a drive-by shooting, earthquake, schoolyard shooting, terrorist attack, etc. Let’s not forget that Christianity styles its god as a “parent” of sorts, having fathered a son. But look how much it “cared” for its own son: it stood by while vicious men tortured and executed its child, and it chose not to intervene and protect its own child. This is “good”? If that’s “good,” what worse would one have to do to be evil? Again, if this is the behavior of an “all-good God,” how does it distinguish itself from a god that is willing to compromise the good with the evil? How does it distinguish itself from simply an evil god which insists that its followers call all its actions “good,” even though no rational human would turn his back on his own values in such a manner? Hopefully Christians do not try to emulate their god’s behavior, for it cursed Adam the first time it made a mistake, and then stood by allowing evil people to torture and execute its own child. As a former Christian (so-called “apostate”), I have to wonder, what exactly did this accomplish? The world is still full of evil people. But now the evil-doers have been appeased. If the goal of the passion of Christ was to open the floodgates for evil to have its reign in human culture, history shows that it was very successful!

It doesn’t stop there. Even though we’re told that the Christian god “cares,” it would still be fully justified in snuffing out your life in an instant by any means it desires, since according to this caring worldview, you were conceived in sin and judged a “sinner” long before you were even conceived. It is so “caring” that it did not stop the “curse” of sin and death before you were conceived. It is so “caring” that it allowed the “curse” of sin and death to afflict the human race to begin with. It is so “caring” that it planned that the”curse” of sin and death would infect the entire human race from the very beginning. It “cared” so much that, instead of coming down and showing itself to Noah’s contemporaries, and teaching them in a loving, parental manner, it chose to drown them all in a sudden, violent, worldwide flood that wiped them all out. Now, between a “universe that neither knows nor cares” and the Christian god that “cares” in this fashion, what exactly is the difference? Surely, we can imagine that this “caring” god will one day vanquish evil, but so long as it is a “good” god, given Christianity’s mangled notion of “good,” on what basis, even within Christianity, can one entertain the notion that it will not always have “good reasons for permitting the evil and suffering that exists”?

Christian apologists have invented this theodicy – i.e., the claim that the Christian god has “good reasons for permitting the evil and suffering that exists” – since previous attempts to resolve the problem of evil were themselves theologically problematic (e.g., they denied the Christian god’s “all-goodness,” its omnipotence, or some other attribute which Christians ascribe to their god that they do not want to give up). But as can be seen here, the theodicy which Anderson champions only serves in destroying the distinction between good and evil and consequently the Christian worldview cannot distinguish the god its believers imagine from an evil god or a god which is simply willing to compromise good with evil. These problems are not the creation of non-believers. On the contrary, they are the result of attempting to build a worldview on a fantasy that has no basis in reality, to affirm as “truths” notions which have no basis in facts. This can only guarantee that such a worldview’s notions will have no relevance to reality. But notice how the problem of evil does arise when trying to cohere theism with facts that we cannot avoid in reality, such as the fact that there is indeed evil in the world. So there’s evil in the world, and yet Christians imagine that the world was created by an all-good, all-powerful god. These are the points which typically figure in apologetic attempts to unravel the problem of evil.

But they seem to have forgotten one, namely the claim that the Christian god is also perfect. Since their god is supposed to be a creator and also perfect, then the Christian god is supposed to be a perfect creator. A perfect creator would not create anything that is imperfect; if it created something that was imperfect, it could not be considered a perfect creator. And yet, the world is full of imperfections, evil among them. So how could one rightly say that the world was created by a perfect creator? The “logic” of apologetic attempts to deal with this problem will baffle any mind seeking non-contradictory answers. I refer readers to my blog Was Adam Created Perfect? for more discussion of this problem. Readers may also enjoy my own interaction with Greg Bahnsen’s attempt to resolve the problem of evil in my blog Greg Bahnsen on the Problem of Evil.

The conclusion here is inescapable: the predicament which Christianity finds itself in is irresolvable. The insistence that Christianity is true can only mean that something must go. Since Christians do not want to give up their fantasy-god, and since denying the fact that evil occurs in the world would be obviously nonsensical, Christians choose to sacrifice the concept of good by throwing it under the bus. Consequently the Christian worldview has no conceptual basis for any moral pronouncements.

by Dawson Bethrick

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5 Comments:

Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

Hello friends. Good job Dawson. Thanks.

Anderson claimed: "Nickles gets it exactly backwards. God is by nature good; if God isn't good, he isn't really God. Or to be more precise: if there's no good God, there's no God at all."

Presuppositional apologists almost always make this same mistake. They ascribe responsibility for some aspect of human cognition, understanding, or life to the alleged intrinsic attributes of their god while forgetting that their god is arbitrarily defined as necessary "creator" of existence such that all in existence is contingent to their god's creative act. This makes them vulnerable to a materialist apologetic explored by Francois Tremblay on his strongatheism.net site.

http://www.strongatheism.net/library/atheology/materialist_apologetics/

It's very easy to model an argument on Tremblay's essay against presuppostionalism's points. I did one for logic on my silly blog at

http://robertbumbalough.blogspot.com/2008/08/logic-arises-from-material-existence.html

A version of this argument deployable against the presup assertion that 'The Good is an aspect of Yahweh's intrinsic characteristics.' could be structured like this.

The good is all that is proper to the life of a rational being. This comes about from the relationship between any rational being's consciousness and existence; it's necessary for the rational being's survival. The good is ultimately derived from the Law of Identity, A=A. The nature of existence is that every thing that exists has a specific set of characteristics, and to command nature, it must be obeyed. The good does not transcend reality.

a. The good is necessary for human survival.

b. If theism is true, then divine creation obtains.

c. If divine creation is true, then all in existence is contingent to Y ahweh's act of creation, and nothing in existence is necessary.

d. If theism is true, then the good cannot be necessary. (from b and c)

e. Theism is false. (from a and d)

One could go through the seven supporting counter argument points supplied by Tremblay and compose version that are applicable to 'the good'. (My reworking of FT's essay has problems that need resolving, so I'll have to revisit it sometime soon to craft a revised version.) The main point though is that the presup apologist is easily refuted by materialist tactics.

Additionally, when presupp apologists claim their God is the good and deploy the morally sufficient reason theodicy (MSRT):

1) They rob the concept of good of content.

2) Their use of MSRT is a stolen concept fallacy because a mind to have a reason, it must think and thinking entails weighing, comparing, contrasting alternatives against a standard. But the presuppositionalist God is alleged to be perfect, immutable, omniscient, and have contra-casual freewill. Hence, it cannot change states, or learn, or discover conclusions deductively, or make decisions based on reasoning. They are stealing the concept of cognition and applying it to an imagined entity that by arbitrary definition cannot think.

Many Thanks and Best Wishes

March 20, 2014 7:35 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

@Robert

Of course the presupper will object to your definition of good. For them good is whatever god arbitrarily decrees. I really don't think most of them can conceptually separate in their minds god (an entity) from good (a standard). Its a massive conflation of meaning they suffer from and makes your argument incomprehensible to them. The concept of an evil god to them is a contradiction.

March 20, 2014 10:00 AM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

Hi Justin

You're correct. How about this version.

The essence of God is the good.

a. The good is necessary for human survival.

b. If theism is true, then divine creation obtains.

c. If divine creation is true, then all in existence is contingent to God's act of creation, and nothing in existence is necessary.

d. If theism is true, then the good cannot be necessary. (from b and c)

e. Theism is false. (from a and d)

Does this version work? How can this be adapted to work for presup claims about "the good".

March 20, 2014 11:02 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

@Robert

Thats much better, very clever. The only way they can attack this revised version as far I can see is to call premise 3 into question. However they can hardly do that as that would call into question the divine punishment that in their eyes is required to enforce morality in the first place.

March 20, 2014 12:42 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

er correction, I meant to say call into question premise A, the good is necessary for human survival.

March 20, 2014 12:44 PM  

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