Clayton wrote: I've got the numbers:
(1) There has been at least one event e in the history of the world such that anyone who could have prevented e would be morally required to do so.
(2) God never fails to fulfill a moral requirement.
(3) If God existed, e wouldn't have occurred.
(C) God doesn't exist.
Logically, it seems good to me. Let 'e' be the gang rape and butchering of a helpless woman in Darfur. Or, substitute some other event if you like.
Such an event is one God would be morally required to prevent and yet it happened.My question is whether you think God is obligated to prevent all occurrences of this type. Logically, one would have to say yes. However, this would have the implication that anyone who wanted to do something like commit a gang rape would be prevented from doing so. I don't see how God could do that without creating the World of Clockwork Orange, in which humans are systematically prevented from carrying out wrong actions. I think God has an interest in creating a world in which there free responses by human beings are free to make choice and where there are normal consequences for those actions, even if that means allowing gang rapes in Darfur and unjust invasions of Iraq.
Pre-emptive strike against the hidden goods response:
(a) If there were such hidden goods that would show that all things considered it would be wrongful to intervene on her behalf, God created us as utter moral imbeciles. Such a claim seems flatly inconsistent with the idea that God created us as morally responsible agents.(b)
Not moral imbeciles. Well, human beings with limited information. We must act not knowing all the effects of our actions. It's different with God. (I suppose some Christians, committed to the doctrine of Total Depravity, would say that we think there is unnecessary evil in the world because we are moral imbeciles). We are, however, somewhat morally challenged compared to the Almighty.
If God created a world in which her enduring such an event is a necessary part of bringing about some e' that is the hidden good, intuitively, it sounds as if God is using a person as a mere means to an end. Very un-Kantian.
Who died and made Kant the morality god? More seriously, in a heavenly future life everyone desires the happiness of everyone else, and therefore the feeling that one's intense suffering played a role in someone's enhanced ability to enjoy eternal life would also enhance my eternal life.
(c) To say that God should have let this happen to her or endorse a theory knowing this is an implication of such a theory seems to low a lack of respect for our fellow persons.
Not, on my view, if you think clearly about what it would take to prevent not only this tragedy, but all others like it.
If we ever got our hands on a person who could have prevented such a thing but didn't, we'd have a hard time preventing a mob from lynching him.
People who make comments like this seem to forget that we are talking about a being who is running the universe. Guaranteeing the nonoccurrence of a tragedy has many, far-reaching implications, implications that we as humans only have as small grasp of.
I take it that you think the reason my argument fails is that you can knowingly say:
(*) God was right to allow that woman to be gang raped and butchered.
I say that that's false and not for epistemic reasons. Now, you say that I'm making an appeal to emotion. It may well stir the emotions. Here's a question that I think is significant. I think you cannot be a decent person and believe (*). Any decent person should find that claim quite beyond belief. You would think that if theism were true, God would not put us in a position whereby the claims we are rationally compelled to endorse insofar as we believe in God's existence make us less than morally decent people. That is a second sort of argument and one that is distinct from my first numbered one.
On the contrary, I think you can be a decent person and believe that God, before the foundation of the world, predestined some to everlasting heaven and the rest to everlasting hell. (Though sometimes I wonder how they pull it off). I don't see that this affects one iota my desire to alleviate suffering, or to act in compassionate ways. Mother Teresa was someone who believed, surely, that God had permitted the great sufferings of the people with whom she dealt, but she also believed that God wanted her to do all she could to decrease the suffering of those people. Just because I think God sometimes allows the human race to be scourged does not mean that I am raising my hand volunteering for the job of being the Scourge of God.
And, kudos to Clayton for meeting the terms of my challenge. I was starting to think that the argument from evil was just an emotional objection.