03 Atheism - The Problem of Evil a To the extent that there...

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The Problem of Evil a. To the extent that there is disorder (evil) in the universe, the teleological argument for God’s existence fails. b. If there is a God (who is all good and omnipotent), then there would be no evil (unnecessary pain and suffering). There is evil (unnecessary pain and suffering). Therefore, there is no omnibenevolent and omnipotent God. c. This problem is not only a philosophical/intellectual question. It is also a personal one. What about Jews during the holocaust? d. Ancient World distinguished 2 kinds of evil: i. Moral Evil – moral agents upon moral subjects. Moral agent is a being that is free to choose its own behavior. As far as we know, human beings are the only moral agents around. A moral subject is anything that can feel pain. Human beings can feel pain as well as some non-human animals. Moral evil ranges from hurting someone’s feelings up to the Holocaust in Germany. ii. Natural Evil – Congenital birth defects, natural disasters, diseases, etc. (Not talking about birth defects caused by human stupidity). e. There are two kinds of evil, there are two problems of evil. i. How can God be reconciled with Moral Evil? Why would God allow into the scheme the design of the Ku Klux Klan or Holocaust? 1. Most common way to get God off the hook is called the “free will defense” – that God in order to design and create us as we are it was necessary for God to give us free will (the ability to choose our behavior). The responsibility for moral evil resides with us, not God. The other half of the defense is that God does not step in to stop immoral/evil acts because to do so would take away our free will. Three criticisms: a. The free will defense confuses actions with abilities/capacities. Free will is an ability to choose among alternative courses of action. If that is true, then to stop an evil act is not to eliminate an ability to do the act but only to stop the act. God could stop an evil act without affecting the free will of a person who committed the act. Policemen do this all the time. (God and even a being less than God [a pretty super-duper being] could have stopped the holocaust by giving 1-3 of the top Nazis an aneurism. Or even foreseeing the future could have stopped the family that generated Adolf Hitler.) b. A possible-world criticism: Imagine 2 worlds A and B each of which are worlds that God could have designed and implemented. In World A God designs and creates human beings with free will (free to choose alternative courses of action). In World B God creates humans with free will, but in World B God implants in us distaste for hurting or harming. In world B the thought of hurting or harming is unpleasant, somewhat repulsive. [Even if you dislike licorice you can grit your teeth and eat it though. So
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This note was uploaded on 02/21/2008 for the course PHI 151H taught by Professor Dearmey during the Spring '08 term at University Of Southern Mississippi .

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03 Atheism - The Problem of Evil a To the extent that there...

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