Theodicy: solution lies in definition of God (Introduction)

by dhw, Tuesday, August 17, 2021, 10:39 (364 days ago) @ David Turell

Transferred from Miscellany:

Back to theodicy: fixing genome mistakes
DAVID: [...] Look at your age and mine, and we made it this far with the errors happening. That is a firmly acceptable result, isn't it?

dhw: Once again, you are trying to solve the problem of “evil” by telling us how wonderful everything is. Since we are taking “bad” bacteria and viruses and other forms of disease as our examples, I really cannot believe that as a retired doctor you are unaware of the appalling suffering caused by the bacteria and viruses and malfunctioning bodies in humans all over the world, the vast majority of whom do not live to your age or mine. Why, in your eyes, is their suffering a firmly acceptable result of your God’s deliberate designs (“bad” bacteria and viruses) or lack of control (his “editing mechanisms” frequently fail)?

DAVID: I've given all the answers you need previously. You look at third world populations and lament their plight. Our old age occurred in more advanced civilizations in our countries created by advanced human thinking and endeavor. Our 'luck' is much more than pure luck, obviously. I remind you where advanced human have dominion (as God intended) we do very well. Unfortunately, not all humans are currently equal, and yes, those of us who are in good circumstances should help improve the others.

Well done us. But the problem of theodicy is not solved by telling us how clever we are, or how we richer people should help poorer people. So please explain why your God deliberately designed the bad viruses and bacteria which he knew would cause such appalling suffering.

Thank you for editing this huge article. In turn I will pick out some salient points.

FESER: “when one properly understands what God is and what morality and moral agents are, it simply makes no sense to think of God as less than perfectly good or as morally obligated to prevent the evil that exists”.

How can Feser possibly know that His understanding is the “proper” one? And why does he talk of “preventing the evil that exists” if he believes that God created everything that exists? The burning question is why your God created evil in the first place, as exemplified by his design of destructive bacteria and viruses (we can take their destructive powers as analogous to the selfish destructive behaviour of us humans).

FESER: But the “logical problem of evil” implicitly presupposes that God is himself part of the natural order, or at least causally related to it in something like the way that entities within that order are related to one another.

Yes, causally related. How can you detach the creator from his creation? Is he or is he not responsible for what he created? That is the problem of theodicy.

FESER: Rather, he is the necessary precondition of there being any natural order at all, just as an author is the necessary precondition of there being any novel at all and a painter is a necessary precondition of there being any painting at all.

Precisely. And if the novel or painting is a mess, who is responsible for the mess? (NB I am not saying the whole world is a mess – I find it exquisitely beautiful in parts, but theodicy focuses on the dark side of life.)

FESER: God’s causing the natural order is analogous to a human being’s building a house or making a sculpture, but it is very far from being exactly the same sort of thing as that, given divine immateriality, immutability, eternity, simplicity….

A good analogy, and I have no idea why he wishes to somehow disown it, or why he should take it for granted that his God is immutable and simple. How does he know that God has always known everything for ever and ever, as opposed to possibly for ever and ever creating, experimenting, coming up with new ideas….?

FESER: For example, God does not come to know things or engage in any sort of reasoning process […] his knowledge and wisdom are perfect. God’s manner of knowing the natural order does not involve any sort of observation of it, because he does not need to be (nor indeed can be, given his immutability) affected by anything distinct from himself in order to know it.

Again, how the heck does Feser know all this? He creates his own vision of God, and thinks this somehow proves that any other vision must be false! ID doesn’t require any reasoning, and his God doesn’t watch us because he knows what we’re doing anyway. It makes you wonder why he bothered to create life and the universe in the first place!

DAVID: […] The entire essay explains the points I presented.

It explains nothing. It merely glosses over the problem of theodicy as you do, by making assumptions about the nature of God. The basic argument: you can’t blame God for creating evil because he is all good. You can’t attribute human thought to him except those human thoughts which categorize him as all good, immutable, all-knowing, simple etc.

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