Return to David's theory of evolution and theodicy (Feser) (Evolution)

by dhw, Friday, September 15, 2023, 11:11 (20 days ago) @ David Turell

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.

dhw: Who judges what is the “proper” understanding? If there is a God who created what Feser calls the “natural order”, and the natural order produces evil, how does that mean God must be perfectly good? Of course he’s not “morally obligated” to prevent the evil. He does what he wants to do! How does Feser know that his God doesn’t WANT the evil that has emerged from the natural order?

DAVID: Remember the word 'sin'? We are warned about sinning by God!!!

God has never warned me about anything. When did you last talk to him? However, according to your theory, even if he warned us, it can only have been lip-service since apparently he knew in advance exactly what sins we humans would commit!

FESER: But the “logical problem of evil” implicitly presupposes that God is himself part of the natural order.

dhw: No it doesn’t. Like the author and painter Feser introduces later, he can create his work without being part of it! An implicit presupposition might be that an all-knowing God knew his work would result in evil, in which case Feser’s approach fits in perfectly with a God who set up the system, and then allowed it to develop in one great free-for-all.

DAVID: He didn't control any organism from free will, freedom of action.

Yes, a free-for-all, which means that God is NOT part of the natural order. But if he created the natural order, and opted to allow all the evil he knew the free-for-all would produce, how does that come to mean that he is “perfectly good”?

FESER: Sometimes what is good for one kind of physical substance, given its nature, will be bad for another kind, given its different nature.

dhw: Spot on. By killing us, certain bacteria are bad for us, but good for themselves. When Jack murders or rapes Jill, he may do so because he thinks it’s a good thing for him to do. And of course an all-knowing God is not obliged to intervene if he set the whole system up as a free-for-all.

DAVID: Agreed. Everyone consumes necessary daily energy.

The need for daily energy has nothing to do with war, murder and rape. My point is that if God wanted evil, of course he would not be “morally obligated to prevent the evil that exists”.

FESER: the Thomist holds that the language we use when describing God and his causal relationship to the world must be understood in an analogical way, where analogy is a middle ground sort of usage lying between the univocal and equivocal uses of terms.

dhw: Sheer obfuscation. When Feser describes God as “perfectly” good, what is the analogy? When you say God “enjoys” creating, what is the analogy? If the words don’t mean what you think they mean, you should not use them in the first place!

DAVID: When they apply to God they have a special meaning only partially known to us. (Pure Adler)

We invented the words. There is no “special” meaning. We simply don’t know if the words apply to him.

FESER: The overall order is good, and the badness that accompanies it is a necessary part of that good, without which that particular kind of good could not exist. You might have a world with things that looked like lions but did not eat gazelles, but they would not be lions. If you want lions, the occasional dead gazelle is part of the package.

dhw: The overall order is good for the lion and bad for the gazelle. I suggest that human free will is good for humans when it leads to love and kindness, and bad for humans when it leads to war, murder and rape. If Feser’s God exists, he created this natural order, which has resulted in the good and the bad. Yes of course it would be a different world if lions didn’t eat gazelles and if humans didn’t murder one another and if there were no environmental disasters. The question is how a God who created a system which produced evil can still be “perfectly good”. Ah, maybe “perfectly good” is an analogy for a sort of perfect goodness mixed with imperfect badness. Who knows? Maybe Feser and his fellow Thomists shouldn’t bother trying to describe God at all, since none of their words mean what they say.

DAVID: I pity you. All of this theism is perfectly clear to me. The words imply a sense about God at our level of understanding, but realizing we do not know how the words exactly apply to God. An easy concept to understand.

What is easy to understand is that we don’t know if God is all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing, enjoys, is interested etc. If you and Feser don’t know if God is “perfectly good” in our sense of the words, then don’t tell us he is “perfectly good”.

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