sábado, 16 de abril de 2016

A Moral Problem of Evil.

I dedicate this post to Stephen Law, hero of analytic and sophisticated yet down-to-earth atheism.

One of the most difficult problems that theism has to face is of course the problem of evil.
Its usually takes two forms: a logical one and an evidential one. The first line of attack infers from the existence of evil and other premises that God doesn't exist. It is, therefore, a deductive argument, or at least so claim its proponents. If the theist says God allows evil because of free will, she has to face serious challenges, two of which immediately come to mind: the problem of natural evil (e. g. tsunamis, earthquakes, etc.) which aren't caused by a free agent, and the problem of heavenly freedom, which is very nicely introduced in the following video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9HhjKPuOJ4 . It is possible, however, for the theist to take another less employed argumentative route, mainly to invoke a thesis that draws on a different fact or purported thesis than free will (for instance soul-making). Nevertheless, problems arise also under this view, since this take on the matter (and this includes skeptical theism) is subject to a variety of epistemic problems, most notably the so-called "Evil God Challenge" introduced and made popular by Stephen Law (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TU54EYkap5Q for a quick introduction).
There are other atheistic kind of arguments which draw on the existence of evil as well. These more recently proposed (and hopefully more philosophically updated) argumentative structures, known as "evidential problems of evil", even though they accept that God and evil may be compatible, infer that the atheist position is more compatible with the latter than theism (at least as traditionally conceived). Evil, the argument goes, significantly lowers the probability of the theistic claim, although it doesn't vanish it to zero.
Now I am ready to introduce a novel argument from evil, which I consider a good philosophical tool when debating the theist. This is a moral argument based on the premise that a state of affairs (call it S) with a cancerless world is better and more desirable than the actual state of affairs, ceteris paribus.
Here is the argument in a deductive form.

(1) Achieving S is a good thing
(2) If a omnipotent being G existed, G would be able to achieve S (from the possibility of S being the case and the definition of omnipotence).
(3) If an omnibenevolent being G existed, G would want to achieve S (from 1 and the definition of omnibenevolence).
(4) If God exists, an omnipotent and omnibenevolent being exists (by definition).
(5) If God exists, a being capable of (and willing to) achieve S exists (from 2, 3, & 4).
(6) If God exists and he has no morally sufficient reason for not achieving S, then S would be the case (from 5 and God's perfection which presumably includes maximal rationality).
(7) S is not the case (Factual truth).
(8) If God exists, he has a morally sufficient reason for not achieving S (from 6 & 7).
(9) If God exists, then there is a morally sufficient reason for not achieving S (from 8 and God's perfection with presumably includes inerrancy).
(10) If there is a morally sufficient reason for not achieving S, then S is not desirable (by definition)
(11) If God exists, then achieving S is not desirable (from 9 & 10).
(12) Achieving S actually is desirable.
(13) God doesn't exist (from 11 & 12).

What do you think of this argument? Is it successful? Which do you think is the most convincing argumentative path the theist might take?

Written and translated by Michael Janou Glaeser.

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