The evidential problem of evil and its problematic premise

Yesterday somebody posted the following argument on my blog in the comments section:

1. There exist instances of intense suffering which an omnipotent, omniscient being could have prevented without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse.

2. An omniscient, wholly good being would prevent the occurrence of any intense suffering it could, unless it could not do so without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse.

3. (Therefore) There does not exist an omnipotent, omniscient, wholly good being. (Rowe 1979: 336)

This is an example of the evidential problem of evil, which is the only legitimate form of the argument from evil against the existence of God (since it is generally conceded, especially since Plantinga, that the logical problem of evil is a hopeless failure as an argument against the existence of God). I think Paul Draper’s version of this argument is actually the most respectable, precisely because it is so clearly an evidential argument. However, to take Rowe’s argument as a paradigm case, obviously theologians will respond by denying the first premise, that there is gratuitous evil. They will no doubt point out that we just aren’t at an epistemic vantage point to know with any considerable certainty that gratuitous evil exists, precisely because we cannot see the end from the beginning. Any arguments to establish the first premise are always tenuous and speculative.

However, the theist may be able to respond by making theism an argument against the first premise. Theism actually entails the falseness of that premise, thus this argument has to be weighed against all arguments to think that theism is true, since the first premise stands or falls with it. It seems to me, though, that we are more justified in believing in theism than we can be for believing in the first premise.

I think that Theism is at least better established (less tenuous) than that first premise.

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About tylerjourneaux

I am an aspiring Catholic theologian and philosopher, and I have a keen interest in apologetics. I am creating this blog both in order to practice and improve my writing and memory retention as I publish my thoughts, and in order to give evidence of my ability to understand and communicate thoughts on topics pertinent to Theology, Philosophy, philosophical theology, Catholic (Christian) Apologetics, philosophy of religion and textual criticism.
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14 Responses to The evidential problem of evil and its problematic premise

  1. Tafacory says:

    It surprises me that anyone takes Plantinga’s Free Will Defense to be an adequate response to the logical problem of evil. There are numerous objections:

    1. It ignores the scope and degree of natural evil within the world. That is to say, it merely deals with moral evil which, depending on your view, is more than likely less compared to natural evil. So while it may provide an explanation or justification for moral evil, that is not what philosophers and theologians are concerned with when discussing the problem of evil.

    2. There is no logical contradiction in saying that God could create a universe or potential world in which people have free will, even libertarian forms (though such free will is not the kind we enjoy in actuality), and yet there are no examples of sin or evil. This was Mackie’s argument. If it’s even possible for such a world to exist, then God could have created it.

    3. The Free Will Defense depicts God not as a morally perfect agent, but just a good agent, all things considered. Here, a distinction has to be made between morally permissive or justifiable actions and morally right actions. A morally perfect being will never make a morally justified decision or carry out a morally justified action. This is because morally justifiable actions are more often than not morally wrong yet they occur in such circumstances so as to remove culpability from the agent in question. Take for example self-defense. Mike kills Jim in a bout of self-defense. Mike should not have killed Jim, especially if he had other tools and alternatives at his disposal, but no one will seek justice against Mike. No one will say that he acted immorally, though he did. So if God is allowing evil in any case, His nature shifts from being a morally perfect being to being a good or great moral being, not one of perfection though.

    4. If we take free will to be an intrinsic good, there is the objection as to why God didn’t allow us to exercise more free will during our lives. This is more of an evidential argument. Think of how often we use our free will: not very often. This requires some explanation though. On the whole, throughout the entirety of a person’s life, they will spend more time not using free will than using it. Furthermore, the scope of free will in comparison to what it could be is very limited. We have no free will to utilize regarding genetics, socio-economic condition, historical setting, etc. There is so much that we are not allowed to choose that it sheds great doubt on Plantinga’s claim that free will is an intrinsic good. Yet there is also the objection that free will as compared to a life of an automaton is not to be preferred. I’d personally argue this claim. In comparison, it would be more moral and better if there was no free will so as to prevent evil.

    5. Some philosophers have even argued that free will does not exist, using the Bible as a foundation for such a claim. Others just argue that free will does not exist but is merely neurological trickery. While I personally do not accept such arguments as being successful, it is another objection that can be raised against the FWD. Check out this site for one such example: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/niclas_berggren/theodicy.html

    6. There is also the objection, similar to that of natural evil, regarding the suffering of other living organisms. For example, Plantinga’s FWD does not explain animal suffering. They seem to suffer without purpose. While humans have an ultimate purpose for evil and suffering, i.e., drawing closer to and maintaining a relationship with God, animals do not have such a purpose. Their suffering from moral and natural evil seems to be worthless insofar as we can tell. They seem to be put on this Earth to be hunted, tortured, abused, and eaten by humans and other animals. But would an omnibenevolent God allow such purposeless suffering to occur?

    Thus, you have at least 6 reasons why the FWD does not succeed. And this doesn’t even deal with the concept of transworld depravity in detail. I’m sure several more objections could be leveled against that alone.

    • Well, I composed a response… There is almost enough here for another short blog post, but I’ll leave it in the comments section since I don’t think the points are very interesting. I would like to remind you, kindly, that the logical problem of evil has absolutely nothing to do with the concern for plausibility, but rather has to do with what is, and what is not, logically possible. With that said, I’ll jump right into my responses.
      1. The first objection is that Plantinga’s answer does not deal with natural evil, which is patently false. The genius of Plantinga’s argument is precisely that he can account for natural evil with an appeal to the use of free will. For instance, by appealing to the view that Angels, who in Medieval theology have a great deal to do with the operations of the physical world, sinned (even prior to Adam and Eve sinning) and thus introduced a primeval chaos into the physical order. This possibility diffuses the logical problem because it is logically possible, and if true it would effectively explain natural evil in its full scope. If this is difficult to accept or swallow, then just recall that the answer doesn’t have to be plausible in order to diffuse the ‘logical’ problem – The logical problem is solved if there is any logically possible world in which there is no contradiction between the suffering we observe and God’s existence. Plantinga was only here concerned with diffusing the logical problem, and he has succeeded (it would take a rather poor philosopher, or a very clever objector, to disagree). There are other logically possible solutions as well. There is one I thought of recently as I was thinking about CERN and the multiverse hypothesis. Imagine that in the future we are able to recreate the ‘big bang’ event with such precision that we, in effect, create another universe. Suppose then that in some logically possible world, where there are no instances of suffering (or at least gratuitous suffering) some human scientist acting as a morally free agent whose technology allows him to create universes as he pleases, creates a universe with our kinds of life forms and instances of natural evil (suffering). That’s at least as plausible (and I would argue less plausible still), and yet I have trouble imagining that a Naturalist could not even imagine this (presumably the objector is a Naturalist). More to the point, it is logically possible, in which case, again, all natural evil would be reduced to instances of moral evil.
      2. The distinction analytic philosophers make here is between worlds which it is logically possible that God be related to as creator, and worlds which are logically feasible for God to create. It is not logically feasible for God to create any world in which he ensures that some morally free agent exercise their free will in such a way that it doesn’t occasion suffering. It is logically possible that God make a world, and that all free agents in that world freely choose never to sin – but this world isn’t feasible for God to create. I have posted about this variously before, and I think there are some interesting thought experiments which may furnish an objection to my response here, but in any case this is the standard response and I strongly believe that it works (if you’d like to see my ruminations to the contrary, which were only ruminations following a train of thought, see this post here: https://thirdmillennialtemplar.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/logically-possible-worlds-god-could-feasibly-create/).
      3. Here, I must confess, I’m not sure the objection is even coherent. Perhaps you mean something rather peculiar by the word ‘justified’, as you seem to indicate, but certainly all one would have to do is reject that definition of justification. It is sometimes morally good, even laudable, to occasion suffering – certainly Christians would say that not only based on the impetus for saying that based on monastic principles, but also, because of the example which Christ provides on the cross, Christians would be tempted to say that occasioning suffering may be morally laudable, even where such suffering did not, strictly/logically speaking, have to take place. There are some cases were the only way to purchase some great good is to allow for the occasion of suffering (or else at least the near occasion of suffering). This all belongs to the standard Christian apologetic.
      4. There are two responses to this point. The first is that it is an evidential argument, and thus at best would still have absolutely nothing to do with Plantinga’s argument against the advancement of any logical problem of evil. To make this a defence of the logical problem of evil you would have to argue that there is some logically necessary connection between frequency and value. That seems very speculative at best, and on the face of it I wouldn’t intuitively accept that. If I did, I would be worried about the fact that this may be the only planet with intelligent morally significant agents. Some philosophers have tried to argue to the contrary that the rarer something is the more valuable it is objectively, but I wouldn’t buy those arguments either. It seems to me that there is NO logical connection between frequency and value, period. I can’t see how free will being uncommon would entail or imply that it isn’t an intrinsic good. Second, I think we use Free Will more than you realize; we use free will when deciding what to wear in the morning, what to eat, how to respond to people who interact with us, when to sleep, and so on. Perhaps you would be tempted to finesse your argument here by saying that these are at least not morally significant choices, but of course they are morally significant from a Christian perspective (and more importantly, it is logically possible that they be morally significant, which is all that is required to diffuse the force of the argument as a defence of the logical problem).
      As a final point to add to this fourth response, you said that it may be better for no free will to exist so as to prevent evil. The Christian instinct is deeply opposed to this suggestion, which is also the suggestion of the Buddha. In essence, it is the suggestion of the suicide – that to die would be better than to suffer. The Christian attitude is to accept the bitter with the sweet, and to recognize in the bitter, a the fruit of a sweetness which could not otherwise have existed. In any case, without free will there could be no communion of love between God and man, which is the ultimate ‘end’ (telos) of the act of creation in the first place.
      5. I have written about such arguments before. I will say that neither the philosophical nor theological (reformed) arguments against the reality of free will are, to my mind, very impressive (on either theological or philosophical grounds). In any case, as this is simply an argument from authority, and as I’ve dealt with the neurological trickery arguments elsewhere, I will leave it at that. Except to say, again, that so far there is still no way to re-establish the logical problem of evil.
      6. This is perhaps the only really good point, or at least the best point. However, as I’ve already demonstrated in my response to your first objection, there is a logically possible way to account for that evil. You might argue that it seems obviously gratuitous, but there are other logically possible ways out (I might, for instance, agree with Descartes in saying that animals aren’t conscious at all, and thus cannot suffer anymore than machines, but only act in such a way as to maximize survival and reproduction, etc). I think such an answer is wrong, but the point is that it is logically possible. Indeed, it is logically possible that all the evidence we have for thinking that animals were around before human beings and suffered in this world prior to human perceivers witnessing such events could be called into question – it is logically possible. It isn’t very plausible, and thus isn’t satisfying, which is one of the reasons I have, two years ago, devoted a paper to developing an eschatological theodicy for animal suffering. However, the point right now is not about plausibility (which the paper tries to work its way towards), but rather about the logical problem of evil.
      With respect to transworld depravity, recall that Plantinga is a Protestant, not a Catholic, and Catholics will not be keen on believing in transworld depravity for theological reasons – but in any case so long as it is logically possible for God to exist and transworld depravity to be false, the logical problem of evil would still remain dead and buried if you gave arguments to think that transworld depravity somehow entailed that God did not exist.

      In short, to my mind, not one of these points is even properly an objection to Plantinga’s answer to the logical problem of evil. Moreover, your manner of answering makes me wonder if you took the time to read Plantinga carefully or at all. If not, I highly invite giving him an honest read. If you have, then I apologize for being presumptuous in venturing a guess. Thank you for your comments, and feel free to comment whenever and wherever you like. Also, due to the haste with which these responses were composed, I would appreciate any criticism and interaction if I have made any mistakes, misunderstood you, or overlooked anything of importance.

      • Tafacory says:

        2. So what about those who say that Heaven resembles, or even is, such a world in which free will and lack of suffering/evil exists? If Heaven is such a world in which the entities have libertarian free will yet the presence of evil/suffering was lacking completely? If God can make Heaven, which seems to be an unfeasible world, why did He not just make Earth into Heaven and skip the middle man? Furthermore, what determines whether or not a world is feasible to God or not? What prevents God from creating those unfeasible worlds?

  2. Those are good questions which are easily answered (the best kind). What makes a world infeasible for God to create is that it is not logically possible for God to guarantee the existence of that world – as is the case with the world in which God guarantees that people freely choose exactly as he would will them to.

    Second, it is important to remember that heaven is not a logically possible world – rather, the notion of heaven (at least when that word is used eschatologically) refers to the end (Telos) of this world. In other words, a world like ours with free will is the condition without which heaven is not possible, but heaven itself is not a logically possible world, since to have heaven entails having a world like ours first.

    Now, there is one question you ask which is actually truly a deep and difficult question: how can free will and lack of suffering both exist in heaven? Some theologians have suggested that free agents will have the ability to sin in a mundane sense, but yet will perpetually (rather than constantly) choose not to sin as one single and eternal reflexive response to the option to sin. Some others have suggested that sin is not practically possible if one has the beatific vision (though the trick with this is that it isn’t clear from Scripture or Tradition whether Satan or other angelic hosts who fell from their angelic office had the beatific vision or only something proximate to it). In the history of Christianity this question has been tackled by a few theologians who have come out with some very interesting answers which are now considered heretical (with good reason, but they’re interesting nevertheless). For example, Origen suggested that since free will would exist in heaven, there would inevitably be a second fall, and a third, and so on ad infinitum. Others like John Calvin suggested simply that there is no free will. I myself prefer the first answer I gave, which see’s eternal existence, or existence in heaven, as being qualitatively different: it is qualified or characterized by a perpetual state of adoration (or, for those in hell, desolation). A person in heaven has free will, and yet their nature becomes such that there are some actions which they can no longer do (just as God has free will, and yet it isn’t possible for him to do any evil, since that would be against his nature). The exercise of free will is always determined by the extent of a man’s rationality and will/nature – the man in heaven is simply a new creation in such a way that his nature precludes man from sinning.

    • Tafacory says:

      So I’m still a bit confused. Does the first answer basically boil down to an issue with omnipotence? Such as God could not guarantee the existence of such a world and that is why it is not logically feasible? Because it transcends God’s abilities or comes close to it?

      And I don’t really see our world as being a necessary condition for Heaven. I can’t put my finger on the reasoning but something strikes me as prima facie odd.

      And those are interesting responses. I’ll have to read up on them more. It seems like the most practical would be lack of free will altogether but I know many theologians would deny such a possibility.

      • The first answer does indeed boil down to omnipotence. One is tempted to say it isn’t logically possible for God to make anyone do anything freely, since that involves a contradiction in terms. Since Omnipotence is modally constrained, it isn’t a challenge to the doctrine of omniscience that God isn’t able to do the logically impossible – thus God cannot create a square-circle or a married bachelor, not because of any lack on God’s part, but rather because what is being proposed represents an abuse of language and doesn’t refer to any scenario at all. Now, of course, the trouble is that it technically is possible that God create a world of free agents, and it is possible that in such a world no free agents ever chose to sin – but it isn’t possible that God ensure that the world he creates will actualize the scenario where “no free agent ever chose to sin”. That’s all analytic philosophers of religion mean when they say that some world is not feasible for God to create, since it remains, in one restricted sense, “logically possible that God create that world.” It ‘transcends’ God’s abilities only in the sense that it is modal non-sense to suggest that it is within the capacity of God to make man do anything freely.

        With respect to heaven: do you think maybe that’s because you have some idea of heaven which differs considerably from the idea theologians have? In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, heaven is defined in part as the beatific vision:
        ” 1024 -This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity – this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed – is called “heaven.” Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness.”
        “1027 This mystery of blessed communion with God and all who are in Christ is beyond all understanding and description. Scripture speaks of it in images: life, light, peace, wedding feast, wine of the kingdom, the Father’s house, the heavenly Jerusalem, paradise: “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

        1028 Because of his transcendence, God cannot be seen as he is, unless he himself opens up his mystery to man’s immediate contemplation and gives him the capacity for it. The Church calls this contemplation of God in his heavenly glory “the beatific vision”: How great will your glory and happiness be, to be allowed to see God, to be honored with sharing the joy of salvation and eternal light with Christ your Lord and God, . . . to delight in the joy of immortality in the Kingdom of heaven with the righteous and God’s friends.”

        Notice that all this language involving ‘seeing’ God, being in communion with him, being his friends, etc – requires, as its precondition ‘love’. Love, however, is impossible without free will, for without free will compulsive love is artificial. However, if one is free to love, then one can truly love – God thus makes man free to love him. The man who seeks after God with faint breath and anticipation, loves him, and God invites man into “the mystery of the divine life of the Trinity”. All this is heavily theological of course, but the point remains philosophical as well: communion in the sense the Catholic faith envisions and invites man to hope in, requires as its precondition Love freely chosen. Therefore, heaven, understood as the communion and beatific vision itself, requires the freedom of choice – the arena of which is now, in a fallen world, here in this life.

        Certainly Catholics would deny that we can have the beatific vision without free will – Calvinists and other Protestants don’t only believe that man does not have free will in the Libertarian sense, but also believe that heaven is not, strictly speaking, living in “the mystery of the divine life of the Trinity.” This represents one of the most central points of division between typically reformed theologies, and Catholic theology.

  3. Tafacory says:

    Thanks for clearing that up. So if I understand you correctly, a world in which every person has free will but does not choose to sin is essentially a logical impossibility for a person who is free cannot be determined (in any 4 senses of the word) to do something or refrain from doing something. So in essence, the objection to this argument would come from a non-incompatibilist point of view? Critics of the argument must show it logically possible or even probable that actions can be casually determined and still free but if they do so, it creates problems for the incompatibilist (libertarian) assumption that this argument maintains.

    As for love/Earth being a precondition for Heaven, I don’t think that it’s so much my personal theology as the fact that the whole situation seems to be a glory mongering effort by God. Insofar as I can tell it would have been more excellent, more moral, more perfect, whatever you want to call it, if God had not created anything, if God had merely existed alone. The fact that He created is enough in itself for me to doubt His existence without even adding problematic situations in which a being cannot be omniscient, omnibenevolent, and omnipotent at the same time. So there’s that.

    • Thank you again for your thoughts. Briefly, here’s how I would want to respond:
      Concerning the first issue, you are precisely right that somebody cannot be at once determined (even if predestined – notice there is a theological and philosophical distinction between the two terms) to do something, and free to do it. The Catholic is an incompatibilist with respect to Liberum arbitrium and any kind of determinism. Indeed, I think all good philosophers are incompatibilists with respect to them as well.

      Second, I think your intuition concerning creation is simply cowardly in the most profound sense. I will try to explain what I mean.

      Consider that although God, as Trinity, is entirely sufficient, but that by his nature he can will to share himself (since the model of the trinity is one which implies that all three persons share each other perfectly), the fact that he did is something of itself good. The fact that love involves risks is part of what makes it so beautiful – the man who says that “it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” is expressing something of the courage and excitement about life which characterizes Christian Orthodoxy. On the other hand, the objection you propose is the feeling both of the suicide and of the nihilist – and maybe more of the nihilist than the suicide, since even the suicide loves the good, and loves it so much that she cannot bear its absence. One might say that the romance of the Christian philosophy is in part that it is characterized by Kenosis – this outpouring, crazy, scary love. In essence, Christianity and nihilism are opposed in principle as radically as black is to white.

      However, to a man who thinks that God, in daring to create so dangerous a world, acted imprudently, and thinks it would be better that nothing exist than that everything exist, since everything includes some very painful and awful things, I do not know what to say – I don’t even know if I should say anything. The idea remains that Love is worth it – one who does not share this courageous attitude of taking the sweet with the sour can never truly understand the whole “religious feeling” of Christianity. They are left with nihilism. The nihilist is really, underneath it all, a coward about everything.

      • Tafacory says:

        I appreciate the discussion. Thanks for clearing things up for me regarding Plantinga’s Free Will Defense. As for your personal attack, though disguised as a friendly critique, your opinion about me as a human being does not bother me. I know that I am not cowardly. You take my view of existence, which questions the very goodness and value of life, and say that it is cowardly, yet I can raise the same objection against you. I can argue that you’re a coward for practicing a religion. The very fact that you have to resort to such outlandish stories and trickery (the authority of the Bible, the resurrection of the dead, a virgin birth, etc.) to deal with the harshness of reality is more than ample evidence to support that claim. I can claim that you’re a coward because you don’t know how to accept death without the help of a proxy that softens the blow. I can claim that you’re a coward because you let others tell you how to feel about the condition of the world, the seriousness of “sin,” and a variety of other topics as well. I can state that you’re cowardly by refusing to accept the evidence against Christianity and for Atheism (or Buddhism or Agnosticism or Islam or Hinduism or Jainism). I can declare that you’re a coward because you only act morally in hopes of obtaining permanent residency in a castle in the sky rather than actually hoping to help others. I can go on, but I think when the overall case is made, Atheists are far less cowardly than Theists because we face reality as it comes. We do not try to distort it or shape it or mold it into something we like or fancy. We accept it and force ourselves to change our thinking, our behaviour, and our worldview. So in one sense, we are made weak by the lack of control in our lives but we display courage by not making up stories that lead us to believe that we’re actually in control or that anyone is actually in control of heir ultimate destiny. The claim can be used both ways.

        All the best.

  4. Oh my goodness, it seems I was gravely misunderstod. In no way did I intend my last reflection on nihilism to be a personal attack on you – I wouldn’t dare. IN fact, my presumption about you was just the opposite; I presumed that you were not, at bottom, a nihilist. I intended to demonstrate the precise absurdity of true nihilism. That true nihilism is a form of cowardice is, I take it, so clear and evident as to frustrate contradiction. If you are a coward, that is to say a true nihilist, then it would not be because of anything I said. However, if you entertain and even champion the opinion that nothing is better than everything it seems that you affiirm the axiom of nihilism. I do not easily believe the person who feigns such a philosophy, anymore than I believe that anyone truly rejects the principle of non-contradiction. If they did, then they could not prefer eating to not eating, nor sleeping to insomnia. In short, their practice betrays their mask. Likewise you being alive, refusing to blow yourself up in the name of destruction itself, or to kill yourself in the name of death, is itself testimony enough for me that you are not yet a full convert to nihilism. Nihilism on atheism is existentially responsible, and even a matter of propriety. It is no more a coincidence that, while not all atheists are nihilists, all nihilists have been atheists than that while not all theists have been rationalists, all rationalists have been theists. Nihilism on atheism is only as absurd as Atheism. Nihilism on Theism, however, is absurd since it entails acting out on a conviction which itself reflects a contradiction – if God exists (and is good, which is part of his definition as an idea and inseperable from the idea of his essence/existence) then we know that creation must be good. It is only on Atheism that we cannot rationally work out whether everything is better than nothing. You yourself are not a Theist, I take it, and though an atheist you cannot be a true nihilist. I therefore presumed you were not truly a coward, but only meant to demonstrate to you that your response was one with which, not only do I disagree, but one with which you do too.

    Moreover, with respect to the personal attack on me, no doubt intended to be a response in kind to the interpreted tone of my last comment, I should perhaps restrict my comments to these few: first, it strikes me as a strange allegation for you to charge me with, especially as I am a convert who was once nearly Muslim, and at a later time nearly a convinced humean naturalist. The charge would be as strange as if you were to have called me fat while I was anorexic. Moreover, it strikes me as a strange caricature of Christianity altogether – hardly could you call a martyr a coward. Insane perhaps, and to be pitied for false hope, but certainly nothing shy of brave in the highest degree. Whatever is comforting in Christianity, it cannot be accused of being tailored for popular consumption. No religion so adamantly demands mortification while inviting man to the extremities of Joy. The very point being that its joy does not come from the comforts of this world.

    I will end by saying that the object of my comments has been not to accuse you of nihilism, but rather to point out that your philosophy is tip-toeing on the precipice of it. I am not trying to call you a coward, I am trying to inspire you away from the cowardice of nihilism. As a final request, I hope that you will not allow the misinterpretation of my last comment to act your excuse to not continue challenging me, and allowing me to challenge you, and to engage in a spirit of charity and dialogue. You are always welcome to post comments on my blog, and I promise never to personally attack you. Thanks for the great discussion.

    • Tafacory says:

      Tyler,

      Let me apologize. I did fly off the handle because I thought that you were directly accusing me of being a nihilistic coward. I apologize for not reading critically because that was an incident that could have and should have been avoided. To conclude with that, no hard feelings?

      As for the offer of challenges, I agree. I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on my articles and I know there will be instances in the future in which I challenge your beliefs and statements. I hope we can continue to do so in a respectful manner and I appreciate the dialogue.

      All the best.

      • No problem. I certainly should have been more careful. It is understandable that if you interpreted my comments as a personal attack that you would feel personally attacked. I hope I’ve dispelled that impression – however, I must say I’m slightly unimpressed. Most people wouldn’t have reacted so viscerally as to not only offer such an elaborate personal attack, but also advertise that attack on their own blog :p. I’m poking fun a little, but the point is this: I’m generally interested in arguments. I won’t embarrass you by commenting on that particular post on your blog – I imagine your audience would rather the romance of an atheist showing up some religious nut anyway. However, judging by what I’ve seen on your blog, there is hardly anything else, at present, which I am tempted to comment on. I’ll keep an eye out for any interesting arguments, but until I find one I’m likely to remain a spectator.

        I look forward to seeing any of your comments which you may want to leave to any of my previous posts (you might like the one on Christopher Hitchens). In fact, I’d still like you to comment on this post sometime, as the point of the post was to provide a response in principle to all the evidential arguments from evil for the non-existence of God (the note on Plantinga was really just mentioned in passing).

        In any case, there were certainly no hard feelings on my end (I actually had quite a laugh, though I don’t mean to be flippant about hurting your feelings – that isn’t something I’m proud of). I’ll be more careful in the future. In the meantime, I’d like to invite any challenge you’d like to offer me in the form of an argument, or even objections to some of my arguments – anything I can analyse will be more than welcome.

        God bless.

  5. I see that you deleted your blog post entirely – along with my comment in which I said I looked forward to your argument that Atheism had some positive features (presumably you meant existentially). I had provided some tips about how such an argument might go – pointing out that for a strong argument you would need to argue that some positive feature was entailed by Atheism. More weakly you could argue that some positive feature is compatible with Atheism, and also peculiar to Atheism. I pointed out that in order to convince ‘the sceptics’ of your position you would have to negotiate objections not only from the Theists to your right, but also from many Atheists to your left (such as Nietzsche). My comment was intended as a friendly challenge, and I made no reference to this particular conversation – I doubt one of your readers would have stumbled onto my blog, found this particular post, and then read through the comments here.

    Having seen my first challenge to you disappear was a little disappointing. I thought I had composed that comment carefully too, so I found myself taken aback when it was entirely deleted. What’s particularly ironic (I’m only poking fun) is that the slogan of your blog reads: “A place where ideas are forever etched upon the wall that is the Internet.”

    I want to reiterate again that I am not bothered about your overreaction, so I hope you didn’t feel compelled to delete the post for that reason.I was, however, disappointed to see no argument (at least as of yet) for that very controversial position which you wanted to defend. If ever you decide you want to attempt such an argument, please feel free to let me know about it and I’d be delighted to take a look and tell you what I think. In the meantime, I’d like to re-invite you to comment on my blog if you find an argument worth criticizing, and also invite you to consider reading G.K. Chesterton. I just have a feeling you would get something out of reading him (especially books like ‘orthodoxy’).

  6. Pingback: Are worlds comparably good or bad? | Third Millennial Templar

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