Why Christianity? discussion

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Other worldviews and beliefs > Evil proves Christianity

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message 1: by Ned (new)

Ned | 50 comments The presupposition of the "problem of evil" proves the existence of God. That is because evil can only be a problem if God exists. The assumption is that things shouldn't be this way, that something in our world is broken. That is exactly right and goes to the heart of the gospel message, sin, and the fall. Things shouldn't be the way they are. The Christian worldview explains and accounts for this sense of foreboding, while offering a solution. The secular worldview cannot explain it or make sense of it. To raise the very question of the problem of evil is to borrow from the Christian worldview to do it.

1.) If God does not exist, evil does not exist.
2.) Evil exists.
3. Therefore God exists.


message 2: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 303 comments Ned - that's silly! The size of our brain makes evil a distinct possibility to attain the things we think we need. Animals can't do this as they function purely on instinct. The moment free choice gets factored into existence, evil becomes an immediate consideration regardless of whether God exists.


message 3: by Rod (new)

Rod Horncastle | 469 comments Mod
No, good and evil are meaningless subjective definitions without a deity to give them weight. Like Ned said.

Like atheists who complain about fairness and equality--- the universe doesn't offer these options. They complain about religion and slavery: the universe doesn't care. It's all fair game.


message 4: by Ned (last edited May 03, 2018 06:19PM) (new)

Ned | 50 comments Robert, without God free choice doesn't exist either, but I digress. Daniel Dennett, scientist extraordinaire, agrees with me on this, and has a TED talk where he insists consciousness itself is an illusion. Like the Bible says, the fool says there is no God, and that leads to absurdity. If you can't choose anything, evil has no meaning. Besides, if evil is relative, and the absence of God assures this, it can't be defined. Like Dawkins says, DNA neither knows nor cares, DNA just is, and we dance to its music. Without God, life becomes completely incoherent, not to mention meaningless.


message 5: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 303 comments Rod, Ned - philosophers, some believing in a God and many not, have been discussing the nature of good and evil for centuries. Religion is a biased observer in this as evil in some religions doesn't translate to that in others. Jurisprudence law, as practiced in most civilized countries is a compilation of both the prevailing religious contribution and the regnant philosophic thoughts of that region. The U.S. Constitution recognizes Judeochristianic natural law along with Roman Law (often derived for the Greek, again with some Christian and some pagan components), and then enhanced by the writings of Locke and Hume. I'm a Christian, but don't take theology to the extremities of Fundamentalists where the Bible is everything. A scientist knows it's not, a thoughtful philosopher knows it's not, and a just lawmaker knows he must assemble his idea of evil form many quarters, even (Ugh!) psychology. This has nothing to do with atheists with their obsession over the current culture. Evil is a universal phenomenon and requires universal input to battle it.


message 6: by Ned (new)

Ned | 50 comments Robert,

You haven't come close to assailing the argument.

...philosophers, some believing in a God and many not, have been discussing the nature of good and evil for centuries.

Completely irrelevant. Whether philosophers or atheists or religionists speculate on morality has no bearing whatever on the truth that the God of the Bible is the source of morality, any more than speculation about the nature of air requires understanding of photosynthesis. That's like saying people have been breathing for years therefore plants are not needed to produce oxygen.

I'm a Christian, but don't take theology to the extremities of Fundamentalists where the Bible is everything.

As God's revelation, the Bible is the ultimate authority for Christians. That's not fundamentalism, that's just plain old Christianity. Regardless, the argument I presented is a logical one, and needs no appeal to the Bible to defend it. It is grounded in God's general revelation.

Evil is a universal phenomenon ...

Another irrelevant statement.

Are you seriously proposing that good and evil have any meaning apart from God? The One is which everything lives and breaths and moves?

For in him we live, and move, and have our being. Acts 17:28

If you want to assail the argument, let me give you a few things to work on.

Without God, define "good."
Without God define "evil."
Without God explain free will and agency.
Without God explain justice.
Without God explain the laws of logic. Where do they come from?

These things cannot be done from a secular, materialistic, or naturalistic framework. The bottom line is that, apart from God (that is assuming for the sake of argument that materialism could be true,) moral law becomes human convention, even if it could be established that free will could exist wholly on material grounds, which it cannot.

If your ultimate authority is not the Bible, it is something else. That thing is an idol. To take something else as the ultimate authority over God's word is to give that thing greater weight and substance. There is no higher authority than God, and the Bible is his special revelation. God swears by himself because there is no higher authority to swear by.

A worldview that says "the brain secretes thought as the liver secretes bile" is not one that explains good, evil, free will, or justice.


message 7: by David (new)

David Pulliam | 42 comments Thank you for bringing up the argument Ned.

Two objections against the soundness of the argument:
1. Premise 1 has a weak reason for it - the reason we observe/experience evil (brokenness) is because we have not evolved enough. Evil exists because randomness has not done away with it yet. This is not an air tight reason of course but it is equal strength as pointing the existence of God. Would like to hear your response to this. You could go a number of ways, back to design v. Chance and which has more explanatory power, etc. I would advise against it mainly because we’re now moving a ay from discussing evil and have moved towards cosmology. Another route: randomness is even weaker then God because in our experience there is a big difference between random accidents that create harm but are not moral evils, they are natural evils. Maybe you have a third option as well, looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
2. The conclusion does not state that the gospel is true. Rather it states that GOD exists. We still have a long way to go before we get to the Gospel. That’s not a problem for the syllogism but more for what you’re trying to get at which is the gospel has a powerful way of explaining evil and helping us make sense of it. Is that OK? I think it is if you are trying to help someone work through an event they’re going through that is evil but as a formal argument there is a clear gap that must be cleared. I suggest you Revise the syllogism so that it either makes clear the assumption of the gospel or does away with it and you focus on a general concept of God. I am confident the latter option is not to your liking. I’d be happy to look at the second rendition of the syllogism.
Thanks for sharing and looking forward to your response.

ps did you get this from Keller’s book Reason for God? That book is amazing if you have not picked it up yet.


message 8: by Ned (last edited May 05, 2018 10:12AM) (new)

Ned | 50 comments Hi, David!

Funny you should mention Keller. I hadn’t read anything of his until recently, when I read “Walking with God through Pain and Suffering,” which I thought excellent, even though I do not agree with his criticisms of Augustine’s view of evil as privation, or his criticism of free will as an explanation for evil. But those are topics for another thread. I have not read “The Reason for God,” but I just purchased it because it was on a Kindle sale the other day and I will be reading it soon. I sought to read Keller after hearing him on an apologetics video that I enjoyed. He’s obviously a sharp guy.

I have read hundreds of books, dozens on apologetics and philosophy, so it’s hard to say where I got the argument exactly, but Frank Turek’s “Stealing from God” is freshest in my mind and he uses a similar line of reasoning. I am happy to credit him. C.S. Lewis also reasons along similar lines.

I disagree that premise one is weak. The only way to define evil is to compare it with a standard of good: an abstract/immaterial, unchanging, and objective goal. That can only be accomplished outside the naturalistic system, i.e. supernaturally. Hence, God.

For instance, you say “the reason we observe/experience evil (brokenness) is because we have not evolved enough. Evil exists because randomness has not done away with it yet.” But your unstated, unargued presupposition is teleological. That is, that there is a perfection or goal towards which things are and/or should be moving. That is a metaphysical argument. “We have not evolved enough” towards what? Who is to say when we have evolved enough, or what the destination should look like? Why should we care? For that matter, who is to say that evolution is better than devolution? Many people feel that the earth would be better off without humans, and that we are an intrusion on the natural order. We are the problem. With regard to randomness, how is one to distinguish, on material grounds, what is or is not a random event? Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t randomness (and purposelessness) an innate feature of naturalism? How does randomness just “evolve” toward non-randomness and, again, how could one possibly distinguish the two? That one state is better than another depends on the evaluator. Once the foundation, or frame of reference, is gone, it’s gone.

Another problem with your assertion is the assumption that things proceed inevitably from disorder to order on their own. Nothing in our experience supports such a notion. Quite the opposite. Absent intervention, entropy increases.

Evil is not adequately explained as mere randomness. Evil implies personification. Otherwise, why get upset over one molecule bumping into another? If materialism were true, there would be no good or evil, just bare reality, without meaning, purpose, or goal directedness. Stuff happens and that’s it (nihilism.) That is exactly the conclusion that many renowned philosophers and scientists have come to. Denial of God leads to complete absurdity. The fact that people do get upset, and fret over injustice, betrays inconsistency in the materialist mindset.

There is an interesting exchange with Richard Dawkins where he admits this. You should read it.

2. The conclusion does not state that the gospel is true. Rather it states that GOD exists. We still have a long way to go before we get to the Gospel. That’s not a problem for the syllogism but more for what you’re trying to get at which is the gospel has a powerful way of explaining evil and helping us make sense of it. Is that OK?

Yes, we mostly agree on this. My point is that, once evil and God are conceded as concepts, Christianity (and Judaism to a more limited extent) is not “a powerful way,” it is the ONLY coherent explanation and solution. All other worldviews are incoherent and inconsistent (see The Absurdity of Unbelief, by Johnson for a defense of this, also Dr. Greg Bahnsen.) The search for coherence will lead one to the gospel. This is exactly what we should expect if Christianity is true, since all truth claims are exclusive, and there can be only one Ultimate Truth. But special revelation is required to reveal that.


message 9: by Ned (new)

Ned | 50 comments I was poking around on Frank Turek's website crossexamined.org and I found this summary of the argument, which essentially restates what I posted. Mine was from memory. Everything hereafter is a direct quote from the site.

#3 The POE is a problem because we forget that evil is evidence for the existence of God.

When you admit the existence of evil, i.e., things that are really wrong, you are acknowledging the existence of objective moral values. This seems to be problematic for both the atheist and the relativist considering the atheist cannot adequately ground objective morality, and the relativist assumes morality is relative.

The atheist or relativist may call upon the theist to give an account for the internal consistency of the theist’s worldview given the existence of both God and evil, but as soon as the atheist or relativist acknowledges that evil is real they have subsequently surrendered their worldview since they are assuming an objective standard of moral goodness. By “objective” I mean independent of what people think or perceive.[11] Complaining about evil assumes that evil is a real thing that it is objectively wrong; otherwise, we could simply dismiss the atheist or relativist by saying “that’s just evil for you.”

So where does this objective standard of morality come from? The only suitable grounding for objective morality is an objective moral law-giver: God. Ironically then, the existence of evil can be turned into an argument for the existence of God:

If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
Evil exists.
Therefore, objective moral values exist.
Therefore, God exists.[12]

This argument is logically valid. The skeptic concedes premise two by raising the problem of evil in the first place, e.g., “Why does God let bad things happen?” Therefore, the argument hinges on premise one. However, in reflecting on premise one it seems clear that if there is no God, then there is no objective grounding for moral principles which apply to all people, in all places, at all times. Morality would be relegated to cultural conventions or individual ethical subjectivism. William Lane Craig sums it up this way:

Although at a superficial level suffering calls into question God’s existence, at a deeper level suffering actually proves God’s existence. For apart from God, suffering is not really bad. If the atheist believes that suffering is bad or ought not to be, then he’s making moral judgments that are possible only if God exists.[13]

In short, when the atheist or relativist raises qualms about God allowing evil he implicitly admits to an objective standard of morality which his own worldview cannot account for, but which the Christian worldview can. In other words, in order to complain about evil and raise the objection in the first place, atheists, skeptics, and relativists must borrow from Christian moral capital and the Christian worldview.


message 10: by Chad (new)

Chad (chadjohnson) | 63 comments Ned wrote: "I was poking around on Frank Turek's website crossexamined.org..."

Weird... I was watching a Frank Turek YouTube video for the first time in my life at the exact moment I got the notification for this post...

In the video I watched... he was asking the question of non-Christians... "If I could prove to you beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christianity is true, would you become a Christian?"

He uses that question to test the waters... if non-Christians answer "no" to that question, then they are not honestly seeking truth. Until they are seeking truth or broken to the point of needing truth, it is almost impossible for them to become a Christian.

I've enjoyed reading this thread. I tend to mostly agree with Ned and what he said in his OP. If I remember correctly, C.S. Lewis talks about this to some degree in Mere Christianity although it has been a number of years since I read that so I might be wrong.

Even though, I mostly agree... I think you need to change up the wording a bit.

I do not believe evil exists.

Just like... cold does not exist. A hole does not exist. Darkness does not exist.

Cold is the absence of heat. A hole in the ground is the absence of dirt. Darkness is the absence of light... you get my drift...

If there was no ground... there could be no hole.
If there is no good... there can be no evil.

God is Good. God is Love. There is evil and hatred in the world where there is the absence of God in the lives of men.

When I say God is Good. I'm not say he is good like I might say... Rod is a good person... or this soup is good. When I say God is Good... I mean he is the definition of good. His goodness cannot be in the presence of anything that is not good. Without God being Good, we would have no notion of what good is... therefore we would have no notion of what evil is... and since we have a notion of what evil is, God exists.

There is this other thing that non-believers like to bring up. Why did God create evil? Again... evil does not exist. It is not a created thing. God did not create evil, but He does allow evil things to happen. If God had not allowed for the possibility of evil, both mankind and angels would be serving God out of obligation, not choice. He did not want “robots” that simply did what He wanted them to do because of their “programming.” God allowed for the possibility of evil so that we could genuinely have a free will and choose whether or not we wanted to serve Him.


message 11: by Ned (new)

Ned | 50 comments Chad,

I agree with the Augustinian view of evil as a deprivation or corruption in an existing thing, thus it has no "positive" existence in itself. I prefer to say that evil is not a "thing" rather than that evil does not exist. It is an emotional subject and people easily misunderstand even carefully worded arguments. Philosophers I encounter have no problem with referring to evil as a reality, just as long as we explain what we mean. It exists as an abstract idea, or real deprivation in a good thing, or as an opposition to God's character and design. We have to refer to it somehow, given the limits of language. If evil doesn't exist, how can we have a discussion about it? I just think we need to be careful not to minimize the reality of evil and its effects in peoples' lives. Balance is required.

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Rom 12:21

To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech.
Proverbs 8:13

To go so far as to deny the existence of evil entirely is problematic.


message 12: by Chad (new)

Chad (chadjohnson) | 63 comments Ned wrote: "Chad, I agree with the Augustinian view of evil as a deprivation or corruption in an existing thing, thus it has no "positive" existence in itself. I prefer to say that evil is not a "thing" rathe..."

Agreed. Nicely put.


message 13: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 303 comments Ned - it would be nice as a scientist that I could just hold up a book or a being as "the Truth" without demonstrating unequivocally that truth. Holding God or the Bible as a standard for truth is fine for believers, but it doesn't hold water in an argument with a nonbiased referee. Evil is demonstrably true, God is not. The two shouldn't be in the same syllogism as you use them. You can define many examples as evidence for an intelligent Creator, but nothing approaching a provable "Truth".


message 14: by David (new)

David Pulliam | 42 comments Ned, thank you for your response. Good point about evolution having a teleological assumption. So there’s two ways of going at this point in regards to premise one. The first way is to say that the teleology of the universe stems from God. This is what you want. Second, you could go the route of saying that things that survive and minimize pain and suffering will continue to evolve and those that don’t will cease to exist. To ask why this is the case is is like asking why does God exist. Both are brute facts What do you think? At this point in the line of discussion I’m having trouble seeing which is more persuasive. Both lines of thought lead to “brute facts” so to speak. So both are equally weak which is all I need to make premise 1 weak and reject it. Thoughts?

Also, and I’m having trouble fleshing this out in my mind right now, but could perhaps premise 1 have hidden assumption that contains conclusion? Premise 1 might actually state that(If ~G then ~E *G) which is non-sensical. I know you’re not stating it but I’m objecting that you’re assuming G.

Ok, how? I think I got it. When you say that evil but definition assumes an objective good that exists outside of space and time, isn’t this God? So to postulate your definition of evil is to assume God exists.

I think an easy way for you out of this is to say that I’m creating a straw man. You’re probably right. This is not flushed out very well but besides it being a strawman what do you think? Perhaps make it stronger.


message 15: by Ned (last edited May 07, 2018 07:27PM) (new)

Ned | 50 comments Robert,

Your empiricist mindset is not rationally defensible, i.e the statement that all truth is empirically verifiable or it doesn't count is self defeating. The statement itself is not empirically verifiable. This is a well known deficiency that I invite you to investigate, which is why philosophers abandoned empiricism in favor of postmodernism.

Whence then, truth? I'll get to that in my response to David.

" Evil is demonstrably true, God is not."

Wrong. Evil is abstract and metaphysical or conceptual. It cannot be defined apart from a similarly metaphysical idea of good or perfection. What is "obviously" an undesirable evil to you will be disputed by someone else to be a desirable good. Without an objective, universal standard, all attempts to define evil fail.

The argument for God from objective moral values is not "my argument." The syllogism is merely the same argument with a different emphasis. It goes back centuries.


message 16: by Ned (last edited May 07, 2018 07:30PM) (new)

Ned | 50 comments BTW, a good illustration of this is a triangle, which does not exist in reality. The perfect triangle is an abstract, universal standard to which all other triangles are compared. Good must be something like this, since this same lack of perfection is everywhere in our universe. Mathematical concepts like 2+2=4 are not subject to proof, they must be assumed as true, without proof, before what we consider proofs can get off the ground. Thus, all worldviews come down to an assumed set of starting presuppositions, accepted without proof. This must be so, when one thinks about it, because the only other alternative would be an infinite regression of proofs. Somewhere, one must stop. Where you stop determines your core values.


message 17: by Ned (last edited May 08, 2018 07:04AM) (new)

Ned | 50 comments David,

Good point about evolution having a teleological assumption. So there’s two ways of going at this point in regards to premise one. The first way is to say that the teleology of the universe stems from God. This is what you want. Second, you could go the route of saying that things that survive and minimize pain and suffering will continue to evolve and those that don’t will cease to exist.

Without God, there is no warrant for teleology. To presume that things are directed toward some future goal or purpose is to borrow from a worldview other than naturalism or materialism. Chance and randomness do not have goals, nor do they care about inevitable results. With respect to chance and randomness, destruction and chaos are as good as peace and order, injustice as good as justice. It isn't about what I want, it is about straightforward logical deduction. When a builder begins a house, he has a plan or vision in his mind and directs events toward that outcome. Teleology is a feature of intelligence. The belief that life somehow inevitably progresses toward something better is not supported by evidence. Said belief is religious or philosophical, which is the very thing the adherent purports to deny. What we actually observe around us, not postulate, are entropy and death.

To ask why this is the case is is like asking why does God exist. Both are brute facts What do you think? At this point in the line of discussion I’m having trouble seeing which is more persuasive. Both lines of thought lead to “brute facts” so to speak. So both are equally weak which is all I need to make premise 1 weak and reject it. Thoughts?

So, as I said in the previous comment (16,) all worldviews must start by assuming a few brute facts and build from there. In that sense you are correct. However, this does not place all worldviews on equal footing with regards to outcome or testability. Assessing worldviews is like a game. If one maintains integrity, it works as follows.

1) Assume starting presuppositions.
2) Whatever happens, be consistent from there. Borrowing from another worldview, or refusing to be consistent with the starting presuppositions is cheating!
3) Internal contradictions falsify the worldview, try again.

In this way, one is led to truth. One finds again and gain that people would rather live with incoherence than change their minds. Some, but not all. Some come to Christ. To choose to live with internal inconsistency and incoherence (lack of peace) is to refuse to live with integrity.


message 18: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 303 comments Ned - if I were you, I'd stay away from scientific terms as you obviously don't understand entropy or evolution. All is not entropy or death, that tendency can be overcome by energy. Witness the universe. By all scientific reckoning, all thermodynamic reactions should have taken place by now and the universe should have imploded, but unknown sources of energy are keeping it intact. Now, THAT is a reasonable argument for an intelligent Creator and Maintainer, not your meaningless, circular arguments. As for evolution, it's a fact borne out by Homo Sapiens. Once we quit gnawing on bark, we didn't need the ridiculously strong jaws and musculature one still witnesses in a gorilla. The head could reshape itself and allowed for a larger brain cavity. I don't believe the evolutionary claim that life initialized from random chemical interactions, nor do I think Man is on the evolutionary tree, yet a limited scope of evolution is a fait accompli. God created both life and Man as well as the Big Bang at T=0. Religion and science should co-exist as both fall under the provenance of God. Vying for supremacy gets us nowhere other than clinging to outdated notions that merely show our intransigence and ignorance.


message 19: by Ned (new)

Ned | 50 comments You didn't click on the link, did you, Robert? Energy without direction is meaningless. I understand it well enough.


message 20: by Rod (new)

Rod Horncastle | 469 comments Mod
Telling someone that they don't understand Evolution is like saying that they just don't get how Unicorns are magical horses.
...a roomful of 6 year olds start arguing with you.

Same as fossil fuels.


message 21: by Chad (new)

Chad (chadjohnson) | 63 comments Not trying to be mean Robert... But just because you are a scientist, doesn't mean you are automatically the smartest guy in the room. Scientific concepts can be understood by us mere mortals even if our given professional background is not scientific in nature.


message 22: by Ned (last edited May 09, 2018 07:28AM) (new)

Ned | 50 comments Robert evidently thinks his version of science is all there is. (Macro)Evolution does not equal science, and it's hardly a foregone conclusion. It's a failed theory on its last legs.

Witness the universe. By all scientific reckoning, all thermodynamic reactions should have taken place by now and the universe should have imploded, but unknown sources of energy are keeping it intact. Now, THAT is a reasonable argument..

Or it could be reasonable evidence that the universe isn't nearly as old as the majority of scientists insist it is. But that doesn't match the billions of years narrative, so rescuing devices have to be employed (extra energy "has" to be coming from somewhere. Oh, and there's a magic Oort cloud out there somewhere.) And where does this "implosion" business come from? That's employed by people who wish for an eternal universe, but have no evidence to support it. So they invent a bouncing universe story.


message 23: by David (new)

David Pulliam | 42 comments Sorry Ned I feel Ike were miscommunication get. The second option is a non-teological option. Yes it’s weak but no less weak then what you’re assuming as well. All I have to do is show that premise 1 has an assumption which is weak and can be replaced with an equally weak assumption which causes the argument to fall through. Feel free to look back at my comment. I was hoping we could follow the train of thought to a conclusion. I get the sense you are not interested in doing that.


message 24: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 303 comments Folks -evolution isn't as simple as you'd like it to be. Because it involves a genetic manipulation and actually getting that new variant into the 1 chromosome (gamete) responsible for reproduction and then keeping it there through successive generations instead of having the organism revert to the original is an extraordinarily complex mechanism. So complex, that in nature (without a breeder intermediary) I attribute it to God. Through an intelligent Creator this vehicle for genetic change was baked into the system. Without change, a static individual is a sitting duck for every virus, bacteria, or fungus to get a read on. Evolution (or if you simple can't stand the term), genetic modification is a necessity of survival. Most evolutionary biologists are indeed atheists, but proving how life started or actually placing Man as a mere descendant of predecessor primates has proven difficult. Like any technical field there's a lot of blather and hype and people trying to hijack the specialty. Eventually, I believe it will be found that, starting with monkeys, all upper primates were created by God - there's just too much difference between a lemur and a monkey and too short a time frame for evolution to be operative.


message 25: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 303 comments Ned - just because the Bible doesn't tell you anything about energy is no reason to think it is directionless thus meaningless. Once again, God created energy to accomplish things, many of which we (scientists) haven't fully grasped. I am trying to reconcile science and religion and present evidence for God from a scientific standpoint. Why do you fight that? I know, some cavemen didn't want fire either because it was too hot for their kitchen. This would be Ok if it was just your ignorance, but your whole Fundamentalist congregation won't produce any groundbreaking scientists because they're afraid of any form of advancement.


message 26: by Robert (last edited May 10, 2018 01:11PM) (new)

Robert Core | 303 comments Chad - this board that Rod has set up is so far, great. No one says his debate opponent prays to a false Jesus or, because he doesn't believe the Bible must be read literally, is somehow unfit for salvation. What we can say is that a hobbyist who dabbles in our specialty isn't quite as well informed as the specialist himself. You, Ned, or Rod is perfectly justified in voicing that I may not understand all religious nuances because that's not my primary field of study. Fair enough, but I reserve the right to attempt to separate fact from fiction in the scientific realm where too many, both atheists and believers, abandon what they know to be true in favor of keeping with their faith or lack thereof.


message 27: by Ned (last edited May 11, 2018 07:08AM) (new)

Ned | 50 comments David,

Sorry Ned I feel Ike were miscommunication get. The second option is a non-teological option. Yes it’s weak but no less weak then what you’re assuming as well. All I have to do is show that premise 1 has an assumption which is weak and can be replaced with an equally weak assumption which causes the argument to fall through. Feel free to look back at my comment.

I'm doing my best, David. There is no such thing as an argument with no starting assumptions. If what you say were true, knowledge would be impossible. The conclusions that follow from the assumptions are where the rubber meets the road. That is the point I made and it's directly relevant.

One may assume, as you say, the universe is teleological, or non-teleological. Only in a teleological universe can evil be a reality in any definable, objective sense. If there is no purpose, you do not get to randomly insinuate one based on your preferences, such as the absence of pain, necessity of order, human progress, prescriptions for behavior (such as complaining your opponent is not arguing to your liking, and violating some universal precept of conduct,) concepts of justice, etc. Those things are not logically necessary or inevitable or likely in a non-teleological reality. You're back to square one. The reality that there are things that are objectively evil at all times in all places (if you choose to accept it) proves God. To reject God is to reject universal moral law. This isn't complicated.

I was hoping we could follow the train of thought to a conclusion. I get the sense you are not interested in doing that.

That's not at all fair. I've engaged you as directly as I can.


message 28: by Ned (new)

Ned | 50 comments Robert,

Ned - just because the Bible doesn't tell you anything about energy is no reason to think it is directionless thus meaningless.

You don't even make arguments, just ad hominem insinuations. My statement is hardly controversial. Why would you think that energy unguided by intelligence is capable of creativity? It's irrational. If that were true, we could just go around releasing bursts of energy and picking up the produce. It seems to me that your comments thus far are completely absurd for one claiming to be a Christian. Your concept of God appears to be one who is out there somewhere, but irrelevant to reality. That's just functional atheism.


message 29: by Ned (new)

Ned | 50 comments Robert,

Please lay out your scientific rationale for moral prescriptions and prohibitions. Does moral law precede man, or did it evolve with man? If the former, then what in the world have you been carping about all this time? If you think the latter, I'll pray for you. Maybe you can tell me at what period in human history rape became unacceptable. Was it before or sometime after man started walking upright?


message 30: by Ned (new)

Ned | 50 comments
In late August the New York Times, the Times of London, and many other media venues were abuzz with yet another “scientific” study claiming that Darwinian processes have given us genetic proclivities toward sexual immorality. The New York Times headline read, “Scientists Say Women Are ‘Genetically Programmed to Have Affairs’ — It’s Like ‘Mate Insurance.'”

This is not a radically new theme, as evolutionary psychologists have been promoting the general idea for years that human sexual immorality has evolved because it gave reproductive advantages to the transgressor. On August 15, 1994, for example, Time magazine had emblazoned on its cover: “Infidelity: It May Be in Our Genes.”

Various evolutionists have devised theories about how just about every form of sexual behavior could be selected for by evolutionary processes, including rape. It took a good deal of mental gymnastics to explain homosexuality as a reproductive advantage for an individual. But scientists can invent some very interesting stories to cover up the fact that they do not have one shred of empirical evidence that these things are really so. (Is this how science is supposed to be done?)

Darwinism and the Sexual Revolution


Bottom line: any human behavior is "scientifically" justifiable.


message 31: by David (new)

David Pulliam | 42 comments Ned I never said there is no assumption I said the arguments assumption is just as weak. Thank you for trying but all you’re doing is repeating yourself.


message 32: by Ned (last edited May 11, 2018 09:55AM) (new)

Ned | 50 comments David,

Weakness is in the eye of the beholder. Whether the assumptions are just as weak depends on the logical consequences of assuming them. The premises lead to radically different results, so whether you feel one or the other is "weak" depends on whether the conclusions stemming from them are reasonable.

1) If there were no laws of logic, we could not make an argument.
2) We can make an argument.
3) Therefore, there must be laws of logic.

The above follows the same form. By your standard, the entire argument could be summarily rejected because premise one is "weak" and an opposing premise equally valid. That's absurd. The argument is self-verifying, since one would have to use laws of logic to defeat it. The proof is contained within the argument. The argument I have presented is just as strong.


message 33: by David (new)

David Pulliam | 42 comments Ned, thank you for working through this with me.

The reason I am saying both are equally weak is because both are brute facts that have equally good explanations for the existence of evil.


message 34: by Ned (new)

Ned | 50 comments David,

...equally good explanations for the existence of evil.?

You haven't demonstrated that. Is abortion a good or an evil? Infanticide? Malthusianism? Homosexuality? Extinction? 1,000 other things?

Depends on who you ask. Or who has the bigger stick, more likely. Certainly not on some appeal to universal authority.


message 35: by David (new)

David Pulliam | 42 comments Good question, how do you define evil in your argument? I’m not asking to disagree with your definition but to create common ground so we can see if my objection actually works.

I saw earlier you mention Augustine’s definition of evil, as an absence of good/being, would that be it?


message 36: by Ned (new)

Ned | 50 comments David,

Many people think that the Christian conception of evil is only that which is commanded or prohibited by God. But that isn't quite right. On the Christian view, God is the ultimate embodiment of goodness and perfection. He is goodness itself. Therefore evil is anything that is contrary to God's being, character, and design. Murder is wrong whether written in a code or not. It is eternally wrong because it is an affront to God himself. I do agree with the Augustinian view, but it has no meaning without determining what is good in the first place.

I agree with this.


message 37: by Tyrone (new)

Tyrone Wilson | 75 comments Ned wrote: "David,

Many people think that the Christian conception of evil is only that which is commanded or prohibited by God. But that isn't quite right. On the Christian view, God is the ultimate embodime..."


AMEN to that, Ned!


message 38: by David (new)

David Pulliam | 42 comments Ned, sounds good, no pun intended. I agree that in order to follow Augustine’s definition we have to define goodness as well.

So with your definition of evil, premise would could reasonably be restated as: If God does not exist then what is an contrary to His being does not exist. Is this agreeable? I’m not sure it is, sounds off.


message 39: by Ned (new)

Ned | 50 comments David, I would say that if God didn't exist, nothing at all would exist. God being the ultimate reality. Nothing can exist contrary to the nature of a non-existent thing, or in accordance with it either. Non-existence has no properties.

If evil="what is contrary to God's nature", then I do not see why that cannot stand in. It doesn't seem to have the same definitive ring, but I think that's because we are less accustomed to the terminology.


message 40: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 303 comments Ned - I'm not sure how this debate took a moral twist. Are you saying something besides Man has morality? Religion is for Man, but science tries to understand everything. I'm not trying to make ad hominem statements, but it is difficult to discuss large universal concepts with those of a narrow persuasion.


message 41: by David (new)

David Pulliam | 42 comments Ok so if premise 1 says “If God does not exist then that which lacks God’s being/existence does not exist” then things get really tricky here because it begs a question, how does that which lacks Gods existence not exist unless God exists? Hard question, I know. Let me rephrase if that helps: what’s the difference between God not existing and that which lacks Gods existence? Please feel free to ask me to rephrase the question if it’s not formed to your liking.


message 42: by Ned (last edited May 14, 2018 06:40AM) (new)

Ned | 50 comments Robert, the entire argument is a moral argument. The basis for your surprise that the argument took a moral turn eludes me. In fact, it didn't turn at all. It's the entire point. No possibility of ultimate moral judgments exist apart from God.

David,

Ok so if premise 1 says “If God does not exist then that which lacks God’s being/existence does not exist” then things get really tricky here because it begs a question, how does that which lacks Gods existence not exist unless God exists?

I'm not sure I follow just yet, but let me rephrase based on the terminology earlier introduced.

1) If perfection does not exist, imperfection does not exist.
2) Imperfection exists.
3) Therefore perfection exists.

This goes back to the Augustinian argument about evil having no properties of its own. It is not a physical thing. It is not a thing at all. It is a corruption of preexisting things, a negation of goodness. I've never seen a defeater of this argument. It seems intuitively true. Take, for example, a finger. A cut in the finger is an evil. The finger exists apart from the evil cut. The cut cannot exist apart from the finger. To describe something as evil is to say a thing is not the way it is supposed to be. Evil only makes sense in relation to perfection or goodness.


message 43: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 303 comments Ned - I'll leave you to your recounting of philosophic arguments about morality and perfection. These are unattainable by Man and only exist in theory. I'll stick to what has been demonstrably proven and is actually useful. I doubt if a nuclear bomb is moral, but it is eminently useful and perfect in a pinch. Best wishes in Christ - I think science and religion are reconcilable but I seem to be one of the few. Knuckledraggers in both camps wish to insist on their supremacy which doesn't bode well for the future. Guess that's why Revelation was written.


message 44: by David (new)

David Pulliam | 42 comments Thanks for the clarification, how is that different then how I revised the premise? We seem to be saying the same thing.


message 45: by Ned (new)

Ned | 50 comments David,

I'm just trying to clarify and make sure I understand correctly. Are you disputing the notion that imperfection must assume the existence of perfection or that evil must assume the notion of goodness? You can say the argument is question-begging, but that doesn't solve anything. The fact remains that morality and evil are relative and ultimately meaningless, absent a transcendent definition. I would be curious for you to state your worldview, and how you give an account of a coherent definition of evil while rejecting a moral lawgiver. To borrow from Ravi Zacharias, every worldview must give an account of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. The Christian worldview can do this coherently. All worldviews use circular arguments as a starting basis. That's just the nature of the beast. They do not all lead to satisfying results. You've said that a naturalistic worldview (per my understanding, feel free to restate) explains the existence of evil as well one that assumes a transcendent lawgiver. You have yet to give an accounting for that statement. I do not think it can be done.


message 46: by Ned (new)

Ned | 50 comments Robert,

These are unattainable by Man and only exist in theory.

Perfection is unattainable in theory, but it does not follow that 1) it does not exist 2) it is irrelevant 3) it should not be idealized (a goal for which to strive that the Bible calls holiness.) My argument is merely offered as a proof for God's existence that requires grappling with. If moral law is not absolute, transcendent, and purposeful then it ultimately does not apply at all. Any conflict with science that you perceive in that statement is philosophical, and not scientific at all.


message 47: by David (new)

David Pulliam | 42 comments Good point Ned, I’m a Christian, member of the RPCNA and have a background in philosophy. I’m just working through your argument, seeing if it is sound.

So back to the argument, my thought is that existence = goodness and so the way you’ve tweaked premise 1 doesn’t change how I tweaked it. It seems the same to me.

Genuinely I’m not trying to set up a trap or do a gotcha. I’m just processing the argument.


message 48: by Ned (new)

Ned | 50 comments This passage reiterates my argument, but it is worth a look. Excerpted from the book I'm reading currently, Atheism Kills: The Dangers of a World Without God – and Cause for Hope

Worse yet, it [atheism] is an ideology that leads inescapably to either an annihilation of all those who think differently or, at the very best, passively allows evil through the door. Why? Because by definition, atheism doesn’t even recognize evil as “evil.” And in so doing, that passivity helps evil grow. The only thing to save our civilization is a truly abiding belief in a God who demands goodness and justice among us, based on one guiding and clear moral set of standards. Without that, we can expect only destruction of all we have created and hold dear. And without God, as I will discuss later, there can be no wisdom. Without God, there can be no justice.

The atheist will insist otherwise: he will say we don’t need God to be good. He will say he doesn’t need God to recognize evil. But to say that is intellectually dishonest to the very premise of everything he believes: that there is no meaning to life itself, that everything is random, and that good and evil are merely phantom structures that society creates to keep everyone in line. In my atheist days, I knew that in a world where everything is the result of mere randomness, the happenstance occurrence of atoms colliding with each other with no guiding principal, then no one event was “better” or “superior” than another. It would be like saying this or that action in a jungle, such as the swaying of a monkey or a leaf falling from a tree or a bug burrowing into the ground, is better than other actions that might be happening in the jungle. The jungle is the jungle, where things just happen—not good nor evil.


message 49: by Rod (new)

Rod Horncastle | 469 comments Mod
I often hear atheists accuse religion of slavery-- yet, in an atheistic world: there's nothing wrong or evil with slavery. The universe does not care either way.


message 50: by David (new)

David Pulliam | 42 comments Hi Ned,

I read the passage you quote. Thank you for that. I'm zeroing on premise 1, specifically that it says: “If God does not exist then that which lacks God’s being/existence does not exist.”

I think rephrasing it this way makes it clear what question needs to be answered, how does that which lacks Gods existence not exist unless God exists?

I understand the argument in general, but my question specifically has to do with premise 1. Hope that makes sense. Let me know if you would like the question to be rephrased.


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