Screwing for Virginity

Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Let's play a game

Who's up for a round of Modern philosophy of religion?

Resolve these seemingly incompossible propositions:

1. God exists and is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good.
2. Evil exists.


a. A perfectly good being would always eliminate evil so far as it could.
b. An omniscient being would know about all evils.
c. There are no limits to what an omnipotent being can do.

Possible strategies:

The Best of All Possible Worlds Defense
Free Will Defense
Soul-Making Theodicy
Abandonment of Proposition 1

Play begins to the dealers left.


  • At 8:45 PM, September 12, 2005, Blogger Evan said…

    why are we assuming a perfectly good being would eliminate evil wherever it could?

  • At 9:12 PM, September 12, 2005, Blogger Buddy said…

    It seems self-evident. Are you suggesting that a perfectly good being might allow evil even if it could eliminate it? If so, why?

  • At 10:20 PM, September 12, 2005, Blogger Calvin said…

    for greater good?

  • At 10:27 PM, September 12, 2005, Blogger Chris said…

    The Greek categories of omnipotence and omniscience aside, I would also like to ignore the "metaphysical or theological conundrum" and return to the story.
    In the biblical narrative we see a God that is taking responsibility for evil (even though humanity is responsible for evil in God's good Creation). In the Old(er) Testament we see Israel as the people who are to bear God's solution, however they become part of the problem. Nevertheless, God remains faithful to unfaithful Israel.
    God then takes human flesh in Christ, working within his Creation, within his chosen people, taking Israel's fate upon himself, and the weight of the world's evil upon himself. The Gospels tell the story of God taking responsibility for the evil in the world.
    We are now part of this story. The call of the Gospels is to implement this "good news", God's victory over evil, in the world. The Church is to put the cross into practice as what God wants to do, by his Spirit, in the world, through his people.

    That's all I am going to say for now. I plagarized a majority of this from NT Wright in his "Evil and the Justice of God" lecture series, but it can also be found in the biblical narrative which I also did injustice too. However, it was a nice breather from Wittgenstein's "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus".

  • At 10:35 PM, September 12, 2005, Blogger Buddy said…

    Come on Dish. Play the game.

    What do you mean by greater good? Are you suggesting that the greater good is contingent upon the existence of evil?

  • At 10:57 PM, September 12, 2005, Blogger Buddy said…

    Assuming you are in fact playing the game using an unorthodox strategy, how does your defense differ from the free-will or greater good defense?

  • At 7:49 AM, September 13, 2005, Blogger Evan said…


    kick me squarely in the teeth if i'm off my rocker here, but shouldn't we assume that if God has always been (and has always been good) that he was around before vocabulary? and that if God is good he would be the measuring stick for all that is good. and since evil does exist in the world, and God is good, that evil MUST be able to co-exist with good. we shouldn't try to change God to fit our definition of good, we should change our definition of good to fit God. God said creation was "good" and about 3 seconds later here comes the tempter (evil in the good creation?) i dunno... but my teeth are prepared for your boot.

  • At 9:52 AM, September 13, 2005, Blogger Buddy said…

    Remember, this is just a game.

    You've certainly said nothing warranting amateur dental work (besides, I won't be up for kicking for several months).

    If God is the standard for good, and he does not oppose evil, but allows it to continue for whatever reason (perhaps Calvin's greater good), does that mean that we are not to oppose evil either, but just try to co-exist with it? If not, where does our standard for morality come from?

  • At 11:57 AM, September 13, 2005, Blogger Buddy said…

    I'm adding a proposition, since we seem to be moving in that direction.

    d. It is logically impossible for an omniscient, omnipotent being to have a morally sufficient reason for allowing or bringing about evils.

  • At 2:49 PM, September 13, 2005, Anonymous rachel said…

    Okay, boys, step back.

    First off, I think we should be careful about casually grouping together what God "brings about" and what God allows. Allowing evil to come to be seems to be a passive action, not an active one. Would such a passive action negate the concept of God's goodness?

    If I decided to go out and kill Andrew tonight, it would be my decision. By not intervening, God would allow it to happen. But this allowance is not a casual action.

    The issue here is that God could help if he wanted to, and by the Judeo-Christian moral framework, one would think that he would have to do so in order to remain a perfectly good being. But I tend to think that this concept of morality is trumped by God's love for us in that he allows us to use free will. If God were to interact in every situation where humans make the wrong decisions or do something immoral, then...well, you know the argument.

    I don't know, that's all I'm coming up with at the time. It seems to resolve it in my mind. That, and the fact that God is above human logic and we can not rationally explain away his actions.

    Although I could always give the token Calivinist answer that they give every time they don't know how to respond to an argument:
    "Who are you to question my God?!?"

  • At 3:03 PM, September 13, 2005, Blogger Buddy said…

    You don't see allowing evil that you could prevent as participation in it?

    Since the free-will defense has become so popular, let me ask this. Could God have created free beings who would always choose right? If so, why didn't he? If not, is he truly omnipotent?

  • At 3:12 PM, September 13, 2005, Blogger Evan said…

    we are to oppose evil. but what should that look like. i would argue that bombing "evil" countries is not overcoming evil with good, but is attempting to overcome evil with evil.

    if the church took a pro-acvtive stance and didn't turn a blind eye to such matters because our "christian" government is handling it. maybe we wouldn't have so much confusion about what it would mean to oppose evil.

    Jesus had every opportunity to wipe out evil while he was here on earth. many jews expected him to do that. but he didn't. at least, not in a way they expected.

    what Jesus came for was much broader than wiping out evil, he came to redeem creation. and that falls squarely on our shoulders. so it's not really a question of why isn't God doing all he can to wipe out evil. but why aren't we doing all we can to wipe out evil.

  • At 3:15 PM, September 13, 2005, Anonymous rachel said…


    What's an example of this "evil that you could prevent as participation in it"? I'm a bit confused by that description.

    As for if God could have created perfect beings...I have no idea. But regardless, it was us he created.

  • At 3:22 PM, September 13, 2005, Blogger Buddy said…

    Let me rephrase: If I can prevent evil, but don't, am I not participating in it?

    If people around me are starving, and I have the means to end it, but I don't, am I not implicated in their suffering? Am I not participating in that evil? I could argue that I am only passively allowing it, but that does not absolve me of responsibility.

  • At 3:52 PM, September 13, 2005, Blogger Racie said…

    Can God create free will beings who would always choose right?

    I think what you're asking is if God could create a being that is less than omniscient and less than omnipotent who could still make his/her own choices AND could always make a perfect choice.

    Well, there are intelligent beings who it seems can choose to do right or wrong and have always chosen to do good. They would be the good angels. Yet clearly some of the angels chose evil. So in reference to your question they (as a race) aren't any better off than we (in fact, some are much worse off). It's hard to compare the human condition to these beings because we don't know a lot about them.

    You are proposing that God could make a being like himself (in moral ability) yet unlike him (in omniscience, etc). Maybe that isn't possible and I don't think saying that it might not be possible is really questioning God's omnipotence. There have always been conundrums in the omnipotence question. Another example would be the age old "could God create a rock so heavy that he couldn't lift it?"

    Anyway, I don't think we can say whether God could do so or not.

  • At 4:10 PM, September 13, 2005, Blogger Buddy said…

    What I am questioning is whether the free-will defense actually addresses the issue at hand. Actually, I'm denying it altogether, but phrasing it in the form of a question in order to generate more discussion, because I love it.

    God could have created free beings who never chose evil. Free-will does not require that evil exist, so the free-will defense does not explain how a perfectly good, omnipotent, omniscient God can co-exist with evil.

  • At 1:05 PM, September 14, 2005, Blogger Ryan said…

    Just because a being is perfectly good Himself, doesn't mean that He would be obliged to turn all evil into good. So instead of being obligated to eliminate all evil that is within its power... in order to maintain its goodness, a perfectly good being only needs to eliminate all evil within itself.
    if God defines good, and therefore evil is defined as a perversion of God, or something along those lines... It is impossible for a perfectly good God to commit evil, since what they do defines the word good. So in order for a good God to eliminate all evil from itself, it simply needs to exist. by the way, evan, I think you are saying great things and you should not live in fear for your teeth.

  • At 1:09 PM, September 14, 2005, Blogger Ryan said…

    also, it should be noted that it was not Calvin who said "who are you to question God?" it was Paul. He was asking that in response to people questioning the justice of God predestining some things for noble purposes, and other things for destruction.

  • At 4:21 PM, September 14, 2005, Blogger Buddy said…

    A perfectly good being would not only eliminate all evil within itself (itself a problematic statement because a perfectly good being would have no evil in itself to eliminate), but would also not bring about evil or allow evil that it could prevent.

    If I bring about evil or allow it to happen when I could oppose it, you would not call me a good person, even by the definition of good that is derived from God's goodness. Also, God would not expect beings created in his image to oppose evil if he himself did not oppose it but saw it as necessary.

    I feel the need to point out that in this game we are not questioning God, but the Modern philosophical tradition and perhaps some of our own ideas.

  • At 7:24 PM, September 14, 2005, Blogger Buddy said…

    Calvin and Evan,

    On your own blogs, each of you has suggested that good people must do all that they can do combat evil, to the point of sacrifice. Yet in this discussion, you have both suggested that allowing evil to continue is not inconsistent with goodnes. Can you explain this apparent inconsistency?

  • At 11:20 PM, September 14, 2005, Blogger Debbie said…

    God could remove all evil if he saw fit to do so, but then what learning would our mortal state bring? Not much different from a watchful parent letting his child make a mistake, knowing full well the consequences and having all power to intercede and stop it from happening. Doing so would only postpone the inevitable learning of that life's lesson. Unfortunately we live in a world full of God's children choosing to do evil, still yet to learn all of life's lessons.

  • At 11:32 PM, September 14, 2005, Blogger Buddy said…

    So a responsible parent would allow a child to put a Jewish man in an oven in order to learn a lesson? Or kill a baby she didn't want? Or wipe out an entire people group because he wanted their land? All in the name of "learning a lesson"?

    A parent allowing a child to learn from her mistakes is an inadequate metaphor. It ignores the vast and heinous nature of evil in the world. I think the millions of Jews burned at Birkenau, aborted fetuses, and Native Americans would agree.

  • At 10:42 AM, September 15, 2005, Blogger Racie said…


    You seem to be defining God with our cultural definition of morality. If the point of this game is to question "the Modern philosophical tradition and perhaps some of our own ideas" then don't you feel that the definition we've set up for what is good should be questioned as well? Perhaps we've wrongly defined what's good and evil.

  • At 4:03 PM, September 15, 2005, Blogger Buddy said…

    If you can offer me another definition, I would be happy to hear it. But to say that good does not oppose evil, or that evil can be part of a greater good renders both terms meaningless.

  • At 6:33 PM, September 15, 2005, Blogger Ryan said…

    The definition of good is God. Whatever you are supposing God must do or must not to be good is imposing a standard used to judge the standard. The Bible gives us no other standard by which we are allowed to evaluate God's actions, He is the standard. You're saying that we're not to judge God, but you are making assumptions based on what you think He would need to do in order to fit your understood definition.
    Based on the definition that the Bible gives us, which is that God is good and nothing else... God only needs to exist and He is automatically good. Therefore, whatever He does or does not do is good, automatically. By trying to put another standard by which to evaluate His goodness, you are violating the only standard you've got.

  • At 6:39 PM, September 15, 2005, Blogger Buddy said…

    In that case, what do we mean by good in any other case? We say that opposing evil and refusing to cause evil is good. What is the basis for that statement if God does not himself do so?

    Either the statement "opposing evil is good" is false, or God's being perfectly good is logically incompossible with the existence of evil.

  • At 10:47 PM, September 15, 2005, Blogger Buddy said…

    The definitions of good and evil have taken a few hits, but they are standing strong.

    Good and evil are opposites; this is self-evident in their definitions. Thus, that which is defined as good opposes (opposite) evil by its very nature, just as anything that is called evil is called such because it opposes good.

    If you wish to challenge these self-evident definitions, the burden of proof lies with you, because grammar, history, and tradition all support the definitions I've been insisting upon.

  • At 12:51 PM, September 16, 2005, Blogger Ryan said…

    What I wish to challenge is that God must do something in order to maintain His goodness. The Biblical definition is that God's goodness is self-evident, automatic, not earned or put into practice.
    My point being, God does oppose evil, He has to. By that I don't mean that He has to choose to, I mean that it's absolutely impossible for Him not to, since He defines good and all He does or doesn't do maintains His goodness automatically.
    So where does that take us? How can God create disaster (Isaiah), send evil spirits to people (Saul), harden people's hearts (Pharoah) and will His innocent son to suffer and die a brutal death (Isaiah)... how can He do these things and maintain His goodness? My answer to that would be because He did them. Because He can't violate His perfect nature, what He did was good. If that doesn't jive with the traditional definition of good, I'll still take it any day because I feel it's the Biblical definition.
    It seems that you are leaning towards either God not being perfectly good, or not powerful enough to destroy the evil. Is that correct? Or are you just pointing out that it's logically very difficult to grasp?

  • At 4:36 PM, September 20, 2005, Blogger Buddy said…

    The point of this game was to reveal the incompossibility presented by Modern philosophy and that so long as Christian philosophers accept the terms of the argument, they are incapable of offering an adequate response.

    The problem with the problem as presented above is that it does not take into account the story, and a response requires no appeal to the story.

    That said, according to the story, the Modern "Problem of Evil" is not our problem.

  • At 10:32 PM, November 18, 2005, Anonymous j said…

    so you are taking the postition that, because the problem of evil as posited by modern philosophy does not take into account the metanarrative of the bible, it is not our problem? to take and hold this position you first have to realize these questions are not unique to modern philosphy, rather they originate in medieval philosophy. much of what st. augustine wrote was in responce to the Manicheans assertions of God. St. Augustine went to great lenghts to protect the goodness of God. even so much to call good the essence of goodness it self. obviously, as it is stands now, he did not sum up the problem, rather he turned to determinism. anyways. a bit of a tanget, but a tangent with a purpose i suppose. considering this problem in form (logic) is unique to modern philo, however in content, is not, how can you base your argument that because modern philo does not recogonize the metanarrative as part of the answer when the problem is not rooted in moder philo. does not the problem stem from the story itself? ie: the introduction of evil into the world via the fall of angels?

    also, granting that your arguemnt sound, you have a question to answer. while the problem may not be that of the christian philosopher working within the realm of chrsitian philosophy, what of the philosopher who is christian, however works within the realm of the secular world?

    yet another question, if this is not a argument to be wrestled with in this form, what form are we to wrestle it. because by throwing out this argument it seems that you are still left with a god who introduced evil into the world.


Post a Comment

<< Home