Theodicy: solution lies in definition of God (Introduction)

by dhw, Thursday, August 19, 2021, 11:35 (65 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.

dhw: 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.

DAVID: Just as we wander around and do our own thing (free will) bacteria are free to roam. God is not a personal puppeteer just as He doesn't monitor each organic molecule at work.

According to you, he knew these bacteria would cause trouble and tried hard to provide counter measures, but left it to us humans to deal with those he couldn’t cope with. Hardly the hallmark of a God who is always in total control. But see our next exchange:

dhw: 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”.

DAVID: Yes life is a free-for-all, but not evolution.

How do you know? If your God gives organisms the means of adapting autonomously to different surroundings, why should he not provide them with the means of autonomously inventing new ways of adapting to different surroundings?

FESER

DAVID: Feser asked for limitations in implying various possibilities in descriptions of God.

If Feser is free to inform us that his God is all-good, immutable, all-knowing etc., does that mean he has a divine right to stop me from proposing that God – if he exists – might experiment, get new ideas as he goes along, create a free-for-all? You have said yourself that we can only form our subjective impressions of God by studying his works. These are manifested by a vast bush of life forms which have come and gone, often eating one another, often ravaged by disease, sometimes destroyed by natural disasters, and the vast majority having no link whatsoever with humans. You have agreed that all my alternatives explain the history of life. How do you and Feser know that none of them are correct, and we must all accept your unprovable theory that your God’s nature corresponds exclusively to such human concepts as good, immutable, all-knowing etc.?

DAVID: […] you want Him spectating.

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

DAVID: Allegorically, not in a human sense.

What on earth does that mean? What does watching with interest symbolize?

DAVID: […] you resent being limited in your areas of criticism of God, in which you totally humanize Him to make your criticisms.

dhw: There are no criticisms of God in any of my alternative theistic theories! I do not regard it as a criticism of God to compare him - 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.

DAVID: I'll make my same point. Theists view God in certain ways which limits the expanse of what might be implied as to His thinking and possible intentions.

And you think I have tunnel vision! In any case, you are wrong. There are deists who think their God set creation in motion and then left it to run its own course, there are process theologians who believe God is constantly in the process of becoming (i.e. not immutable), experiences and loves the process of changing nature, and is “the great companion – the fellow sufferer who understands” (Oxford Dic. of World Religions), and there are theists who believe in multiple gods that manifest multiple human characteristics. How dare any theist insist that God must only be viewed his way and no other?

DAVID: Your approach is uninhibited and wide open to all imaginations possible.

My approach in all cases has been to find a rational explanation for the history of life as we know it. You have agreed that every single one of my theistic proposals is logical, unlike your own, which leaves you with premises you simply cannot explain.


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