Famous atheist philosopher lightly disses me. (Awesome.)
Well, I guess I should be happy that a philosopher of Stephen Law’s stature (Senior lecturer at Heythrop College in the University of London, and editor of philosophical journal Think.) should feel obliged to respond to my criticisms of his arguments against the existence of God in his debate with Dr. Craig. However, his response, in my mind, leaves room for doubt whether he’s even understood his own evil-god argument and the burden that falls on him to show why it’s coherent.
BTW just posted this on Randal Rauser’s blog. It’s relevant to John’s [me] extraordinarily persistent misunderstanding of my argument.
“When faced with the evidential problems of good and evil, Craig just got super-skeptical. What we see around us gives us not the *slightest* reason to suppose there’s no all-powerful, all-evil God. Yeh, right!
Yet, before they see the implications, Christians almost invariably do agree that evil god is a non-starter on the basis of what they observe around them (I should have done a straw poll on the night, early on).
Only when it dawns on them what the implications of this are do they suddenly get extraordinarily sceptical. That degree of highly-implausible skepticism requires a really good supporting argument. You can’t just assert it’s true. And we didn’t get one on the night.”
Actually, I don’t see anything here that leads me to believe I’ve misunderstood Stephen’s evil-god argument at all.
Stephen is really just saying that the existence of evil and suffering in the world makes it more plausible than not that a good God doesn’t exist.
Suffice to say, goading him into giving reasons as to why he believes a good God cannot have morally sufficient reasons for allowing suffering and evil to exist fell on deaf ears.
All he’s really saying in the above response is that “Christians almost invariably do agree that evil god is a non-starter on the basis of what they observe around them” and therefore the same arguments used to validate a good god can be used to do the same for an evil God, rendering both concepts equally plausible, and therefore implausible.
Problem is, it doesn’t matter if some “Christians” believed what they observe around them proves an evil god cannot exist”, what matters is that NO theologian, and certainly not Dr. Craig, believes this.
The moral character of God cannot be ascertained by looking at the good and evil in the world. So, the evil in the world cannot be used as evidence that a good God cannot exist. In fact, it’s even arguable that, absent revelation, there’s any reason to think God is good.
Although there may be various philosophical reasons for believing God is good –like the anti-Manichaeism view of good and evil which claims evil is the privation of good, making evil ontologically posterior to good; or the belief that good is a great-making property and is therefore more likely to be, as opposed to evil, a property of God, and so forth– the best reason, however, that leads Christians to believe God is good is Jesus of Nazareth. If Jesus did in fact resurrect, an event which I believe there is good evidence for, then this validates the character of the God he was revealing.
While the resurrection was one of Dr. Craig’s opening arguments, it was left scarcely touched by Stephen.
Some anonymous atheist summarized Stephen’s over-all position quite succintly:
“[I]t seems clear to me that law’s argument is that all the argumentation used by theists in favor of their god can just as easily be used to argue for the existence of an evil god. Therefore, even if their arguments were valid, it would not necessarily lead to their belief system at all. If theodicy is meant to explain why evil can exist in a good world (which seems to be a challenge), then by all means one can with just as much justification, claim that any alleged supernatural event, from the resurrection, or even the mormon plates as someone mentioned, could easily be created by an evil god intent on causing humans pain, frustration and empty hope.”
Needless to say, it’s quite laughable to determine that someone who’s suddenly faced with a resurrection event, and who was previously agnostic of God’s moral character, will find it reasonable to conclude that an evil-god is just as likely as the God whom the resurrected individual was actually revealing.