Theodicy: solution lies in definition of God (Introduction)

by dhw, Wednesday, August 18, 2021, 12:34 (66 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: […] 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.

DAVID: As before, viruses and bacteria are doing good 99% of the time, their main purpose. When they get in the wrong places they are bad.

We have taken them as examples of the “evil” which is the fundamental problem of theodicy: if God is omnipotent and perfectly good, how can we explain the existence of evil in the world that he created? You simply dodge the question if you focus all your attention on the good. If he designed the forces of evil, he can hardly be perfectly good. If he is perfectly good, but they simply went their own way independently of his control, he is not omnipotent. I have offered a possible solution to this problem and also an explanation of the vast higgledy-piggledy bush of life forms that have come and gone during the history of evolution: namely, that he created a free-for-all (though retaining the option to dabble if he wanted to). The free-for-all fits in exactly with your proposal that bad viruses and bacteria “get in the wrong places”. You can even draw a parallel with us humans: we are also free to “get in the wrong places”.

I shan’t repeat the quotes and my comments, as our exchange makes the arguments clear.

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

dhw: 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.

DAVID: The article shows how us believers approach thinking about God as a non-human and never consider Him as an experimenter, a spectator of free-for-alls and all your other strange concoctions of God's thoughts. It is why the word allegorical comes up in discussions of attempting to describe him. You try to distort my attempts to describe Him, as humanizing, but all I present is a purposeful God that you then call a derogatory control-freak.

We are discussing Feser’s vision of God as all-good, immutable, all-knowing, all-powerful, simple, doesn’t do any reasoning because his knowledge and wisdom are perfect etc. I ask how Feser knows all this. How do you and he know that God is incapable of experimenting, getting new ideas, learning, deliberately giving up control of evolution, as you believe he deliberately gave up control of human behaviour? I offered you “control freak” as a counter to your silly dismissals of my various alternatives as “bumbling, weak, namby-pamby” etc., but you don’t like it if I use a derogatory term – that is your privilege.

DAVID: Note you are using an allegorical humanizing term. Your so-called theistic hat is wildly askew. The bolds are a perfect example of humanizing God. In the first you want Him spectating.

You have said yourself that you are sure he watches us with interest.

DAVID: In the second bold you resent being limited in your areas of criticism of God, in which you totally humanize Him to make your criticisms.

There are no criticisms of God in any of my alternative theistic theories! I do not regard it as a criticism of God to see him as possibly being comparable - though of course in his uniquely divine manner - to an experimental scientist, or a painter who gets new ideas as he goes along, or a novelist who allows the characters to take over the story. Feser makes similar comparisons (plus a builder). What I resent is Feser’s assumptions – which you obviously share - that God has all the attributes you both want him to have, and that any alternative is to be dismissed, no matter how logically it fits in with life’s history.

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