Saturday, 20 July 2013

The Problem of the Problem of Evil

I've been getting schooled! ... by Dr Jack Crabtree about the problem of evil. Unsurprisingly, I have some problems with it. Now, fine, for this we have to assume a god. Moreover, they are assuming a Christian God, but a lot of it smacks of trying to justify their assumption that god has to be good because they can't accept an evil god. And, moreover, we have Crabtree's version of how he interprets the bible, so I can only talk about what he's presented. And I have questions, although of course I can't ask him and he can't answer.

One basic context he assumes is the analogy of god as the author and we as scripted beings. But we still have free will, and which allows us to rebel against god or not... but if everything is scripted, isn't our rebelling scripted? Crabtree doesn't quite address that point, so I'm not sure. To me, that sounds like cognitive dissonance. [I did hear, elsewhere, that if Adam and Eve hadn't eaten of the apple, committed that original sin, then the story couldn't have happened, so they were forced to commit that evil for god. No free will.]

But we are scripted beings, fine, and so for there to be a story god wants to tell, there needs to be evil and suffering (which are different things). As long as the story is morally good, then everything is fine. Which we can't know because we can't know the whole story. But we can look around and say 'given what we can see, what can we reasonably assume?'

[Crabtree makes a big point about how if you arrive at hating god for emotional reasons, then no philosophical arguement will work. Fine. Same holds for all those other beliefs you hold. I hope you haven't got emotional reasons for believing in god then, because then there's no point argueing that with you.]

One thing that comes from that is what of intercessory prayer? Well, that's just characters in the story talking with Story God, not god god. What of suffering? Well, are they suffering all the time? Don't they get a respite? And as long as they have a good relationship with god, then it doesn't matter anyway. And speaking of suffering, only if there is more suffering that needed for the story god wants to tell is there a problem. But we can't know that either. (Skirting arguement from ignorance there.) But if we assume there is no more suffering that necessary, then what we have in this world is the minimum necessary suffering, not one iota more (as that would make god evil). That also means that god cannot (as in it is impossible) tell this story with one iota less suffering. All those children have to be sold into slavery, those wasps need to get impregnated with parasite eggs and eaten from the inside out, that fish has to be covered in oil and suffocate, every single one of those has to happen, one less and it won't be the story god wants to tell.

But could god be evil and tell this story? Crabtree answers that by imaging a straw man evil god, that is capricious and in any given moment it's a 50/50 chance of evil happening. What? So no evil god wouldn't be able to set up a world in which there is suffering and evil and people thinking it is good? Really? Only one type of evil god is possible?

But my main question comes to: even if we take god to be good, and god to be the author: is this a story he is really wanting to tell? What if this is just a homework assignment for some writing 101 class, and this is just god being really bad at being an author? Perhaps god can tell a redemption story without the evil, but just not yet? Given god a few years, and maybe a decent editor. Good god, yes. Competent god...?

As you might be able to tell, I'm unconvinced. Crabtree might have answers for all this (I'm sure he'd be able to come up with something given time). But there is some question that relates to this that is more interesting (allow me to rephrase the Euthyphro dilemma): is this morally good because god wrote it? Or is god writing it because it is morally good?


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