Does Plantinga’s Free Will Defense succeed in describing a possible state of affairs in which God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil? Although the term “libertarianism” isn’t exactly a household name, the view it expresses is commonly taken to be the average person’s view of free will. What does it mean to say that something is logically inconsistent? free creatures is BETTER than a world without them -> God can create sig. A world of automata—of creatures that worked like machines—would hardly be worth creating. ), Mackie, J. L. 1955. Millions starve and die in North Korea as famine ravages the land. A higher moral duty—namely, the duty of protecting the long-term health of her child—trumps the lesser duty expressed by (21). It may be exceedingly unlikely or improbable that a certain set of statements should all be true at the same time. It would be one thing if the only people who suffered debilitating diseases or tragic losses were the likes of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin or Osama Bin Laden. Other solutions to the problem include John Hick’s (1977) soul-making theodicy. The Logical Problem of Evil. They claim that the problem of evil is a logical inconsistency. It does so by producing a new problem entirely distinct from the old problem of Epicurus, Hume, and Mackie, which was so influentially addressed by Plantinga. Philosophers of religion have called the kind of reason that could morally justify God’s allowing evil and suffering a “morally sufficient reason.”. Here is a possible reason God might have for allowing natural evil: (MSR2) God allowed natural evil to enter the world as part of Adam and Eve’s punishment for their sin in the Garden of Eden. Since (MSR1) and (MSR2) together seem to show contra the claims of the logical problem of evil how it is possible for God and (moral and natural) evil to co-exist, it seems that the Free Will Defense successfully defeats the logical problem of evil. 191-193) own suggestions about who is responsible for natural evil.] You would also be physically incapable of stealing your neighbor’s belongings. Another argument goes: God exists. If one is true, the other is false; if one is false, the other is true. If God existed, there would not be evil, but since there is evil, God (as religious believers define him) cannot exist. Some might think that (MSR2) is simply too far-fetched to be taken seriously. The long evolutionary process made humans into a distinguishable species capable of reasoning and responsibility, but they must now (as individuals) go through a second process of “spiritualization” or “soul-making,” during which they become “children of God.” According to Hick, the suffering and travails of this life are part of the divine plan of soul-making. However, Mackie is reluctant to attribute much significance to Plantinga’s accomplishment. This aspect of the problem of evil comes in two broad varieties: the logical problem and the evidential problem. Originating with Greek philosopher Epicurus, the logical argument from evil is as follows: If an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent god exists, then evil does not. It is, therefore, difficult to see why Plantinga’s Free Will Defense should be found wanting if that defense is seen as a response to the logical problem of evil. Journalist and best-selling author Lee Strobel commissioned George Barna, the public-opinion pollster, to conduct a nationwide survey. The logical problem of evil questions how there possibly could be evil, given a particular view of God. That certainly runs contrary to central doctrines of theism. Peterson (1998, p. 9) claims that the problem of evil is a kind of “moral protest.” In asking “How could God let this happen?” people are often claiming “It’s not fair that God has let this happen.” Many atheists try to turn the existence of evil and suffering into an argument against the existence of God. A. If that freedom were to be taken away, we might very well cease to be the creatures we are. Evil is a problem for a believer because it challenges the nature of God so it is, therefore, a logical problem. (36) God is not able to contradict himself. Soaked as it is with human suffering and moral evil, how is it possiblethat our world is the work of an almighty, perfectly loving Creator? Some philosophers feel that Plantinga’s apparent victory over the logical problem of evil was somehow too easy. Many theists answer “Yes.” If (17) were true, (9) through (12) would have to be modified to read: (9′) If God knows about all of the evil and suffering in the world, knows how to eliminate or prevent it, is powerful enough to prevent it, and yet does not prevent it, he must not be perfectly good—unless he has a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil. The atheologian is maintaining that statements (1) through (4) couldn’t possibly all be true at the same time. If God is going to allow people to be free, it seems plausible to claim that they need to have the capacity to commit crimes and to be immoral. Yes. The next step will involve providing an outline of some important concepts and distincti… Can he create a stick that is not as long as itself? But improbability is not the same thing as impossibility. For example, someone who raises the problem of evil may be referring to the religious/emotional problem of evil, the logical problem of evil, the evidential problem of evil, moral evil, or natural evil, just to name a few. Process theology and open theism are other positions that limit God’s omnipotence and/or omniscience (as defined in traditional theology). He might say, “Of course he hasn’t done that. Hume establishes that the Logical Problem of Evil is an a priori (from definition) proof that God cannot exist because his characteristics contradict each other. It is not that they will contingently always do what is right and contingently always avoid what is wrong. Plantinga claims God and evil could co-exist if God had a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil. However, philosophical theodicies try to make logical sense of evil and suffering - they are solutions that make sense to … The practical problem is the challenge of living trustingly and faithfully in the face of what personally seems to be overwhelming evil. [23] This is also referred to the Darwinian problem of evil,[24][25] after Charles Darwin who expressed it as follows:[26]. People in this world couldn’t do morally bad things if they wanted to. There may be ways for Plantinga to resolve the difficulties sketched above, so that the Free Will Defense can be shown to be compatible with theistic doctrines about heaven and divine freedom. Since evil and suffering obviously do exist, we get: (13) God is either not omnipotent, not omniscient, or not perfectly good. To begin with, (MSR1) presupposes the view of free will known as “libertarianism”: (22) Libertarianism=df the view that a person is free with respect to a given action if and only if that person is both free to perform that action and free to refrain from performing that action; in other words, that person is not determined to perform or refrain from that action by any prior causal forces. What would it look like for God to have a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil? A version of the problem of evil, perhaps by Epicurus, goes as follows: If a perfectly good god exists, then evil does not. Cancer, AIDS, famines, earthquakes, tornadoes, and many other kinds of diseases and natural disasters are things that happen without anybody choosing to bring them about. The existence of evil makes God's existence logically impossible. Omnipotence, according to Plantinga, is the power to do anything that is logically possible. Examines both the logical and probabilistic arguments against God from suffering and evil. The Logical Problem of Evil: Evil is a problem for a believer because it challenges the nature of God so it is, therefore, a logical problem. [4] One version of this problem includes animal suffering from natural evil, such as the violence and fear faced by animals from predators, natural disasters, over the history of evolution. In fact, it appears that even the most hardened atheist must admit that (MSR1) and (MSR2) are possible reasons God might have for allowing moral and natural evil. An action is morally significant just when it is appropriate to evaluate that action from a moral perspective (for example, by ascribing moral praise or blame). W2, then, is also possible. Atheologians claim that a contradiction can easily be deduced from (1) through (4) once we think through the implications of the divine attributes cited in (1) through (3). Your first reaction to this news might be one of horror. The popularity of this kind of argument has led Hans Küng (1976, p. 432) to call the problem of evil “the rock of atheism.” This essay examines one form the argument from evil has taken, which is known as “the logical problem of evil.”. Most philosophical debate has focused on the propositions stating that God cannot exist with, or would want to prevent, all evils (premises 3 and 6), with defenders of theism (for example, Leibniz) arguing that God could very well exist with and allow evil in order to achieve a greater good. To create creatures capable of moral good, therefore, he must create creatures capable of moral evil; and he cannot leave these creatures free to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so…. If you wanted to tell a lie, you would not be able to do so. To refute the logical version of the internal problem of evil, the theist does not have to suggest a plausible or likely solution‑-all he has to do is suggest a possible one. The dissatisfaction many have felt with Plantinga’s solution may stem from a desire to see Plantinga’s Free Will Defense respond more generally to the problem of evil and not merely to a single formulation of the problem. (MSR2) seems to be asking us to believe things that only a certain kind of theist would believe. The Logical Problem of Evil. (19) God is doing something morally inappropriate or blameworthy in allowing evil to occur. The fact that W3 is impossible is centrally important to Plantinga’s Free Will Defense. Something is dreadfully wrong with our world. Plantinga, however, doesn’t take God’s omnipotence to include the power to do the logically impossible. It is omnibenevolent, meaning perfectly good, meaning does no harm to anyone or anything. Even though it is widely agreed that Plantinga’s Free Will Defense describes a state of affairs that is logically possible, some of the details of his defense seem to conflict with important theistic doctrines. Logical problem of evil. All you need is a possible x. [4] It seems that, although Plantinga’s Free Will Defense may be able to explain why God allows moral evil to occur, it cannot explain why he allows natural evil. It is important to note that (MSR1) directly conflicts with a common assumption about what kind of world God could have created. But evil of this sort is the best hope, I think, and maybe the only effective means, for bringing men to such a state. Many theists maintain that it is a mistake to think that God’s omnipotence requires that the blank in the following sentence must never be filled in: According to orthodox theism, all of the following statements (and many more like them) are true. To refute the logical version of the internal problem of evil, the theist does not have to suggest a plausible or likely solution‑-all he has to do is suggest a possible one. They note that philosophers have always believed it is never rational to believe something contradictory. (17) It is possible that God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil. (14) God is omnipotent, omniscient and perfectly good. (18), combined with the assumption that God does not have a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil, yields. We said above that a set of statements is logically inconsistent if and only if that set includes a direct contradiction or a direct contradiction can be deduced from that set. That is, that person would not be able to choose any bad option even if they wanted to. It certainly seems so. The problem of evil is certainly the greatest obstacle to belief in the existence of God. Alvin Plantinga (1974, 1977) has offered the most famous contemporary philosophical response to this question. A world of sig. U. S. A. Returning to the main issue, there does not seem to be anything impossible about God causally determining people in every situation to choose what is right and to avoid what is wrong. According to Plantinga, people in the actual world are free in the most robust sense of that term. Current discussions of the problem focus on what is called “the probabilistic problem of evil” or “the evidential problem of evil.” According to this formulation of the problem, the evil and suffering (or, in some cases, the amounts, kinds and distributions of evil and suffering) that we find in the world count as evidence against the existence of God (or make it improbable that God exists). According to classical theism, the fact that God cannot do any of these things is not a sign of weakness. The LPE in its most basic form is a sort of trilemma, where supposedly only two of the three premises can … In response to the logical problem of evil, notable philosopher Alvin Plantinga describes such a possible reason in his famous Free Will Defense: A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being equal, than a world containing no free creatures at all. As a result, the problem of evil is often regarded as one of the greatest threats to religious belief,causing many religious writers to scramble to find a wide variety of solutions. Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. University at Buffalo From what I understand, according to the Bible, Satan is the root of all evil, not God. Our hypothetical person does, however, have complete freedom to decide which of the two good courses of action to take. Logical problem of evil First, it can be formulated as a purely deductive argument (logical version of the argument) that attempts to show that there are certain facts about the evil in the world that are logically incompatible with the existence of God. People can freely choose to do what is right only when their actions are not causally determined. Some theists suggest that perhaps God has a good reason for allowing the evil and suffering that he does. Denying the truth of either (1), (2), (3) or ( 4) is certainly one way for the theist to escape from the logical problem of evil, but it would not be a very palatable option to many theists. (MSR2) claims that all natural evil followed as the result of the world’s first moral evil. Plantinga (1974, p. 190) writes. As it stands, however, some important challenges to the Free Will Defense remain unanswered. If God were to have a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil, would it be possible for God to be omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good, and yet for there to be evil and suffering? He suggests the following as a possible morally sufficient reason: (MSR1) God’s creation of persons with morally significant free will is something of tremendous value. God uses evil for a greater good. Evil is a problem, for the theist, in that a contradiction is involved in the fact of evil on the one hand and belief in the omnipotence and omniscience of God on the other. They may not represent God’s actual reasons, but for the purpose of blocking the logical problem of evil, it is not necessary that Plantinga discover God’s actual reasons.

the logical problem of evil

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