Questions to answer:
1. Explain one of the arguments (theodicies) that is often used to counter the Problem of Evil. Do you think it is a sound argument? Defend your position.
2. Explain why many think that the existence of evil posses a problem for believing in a theistically defined God. The overall argument rests on an often unstated premise, that a morally good person will eliminate evil wherever and whenever possible. But, is this premise true; is it always true that a morally good person will eliminate evil whenever and wherever possible? Are there circumstances when a morally good person will allow evil to exist? Defend your position.
3. Explain Aquinas’s Argument from Gradations and why it is important? Does he need this in order to complete his argument there being God as traditionally defined by theism? Is this a good argument or does Descartes’ Evil Demon pose a serious problem for it?
Aquinas & the Cosmological Arguments: Crash Course Philosophy #10 (Links to an external site.)
Anselm & the Argument for God: Crash Course Philosophy #9 (Links to an external site.)
Intelligent Design: Crash Course Philosophy #11 (Links to an external site.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s06w4pXvUyk (Links to an external site.)
Philosophy: Problem of Evil Part 1 (Links to an external site.)
Philosophy: Problem of Evil Part 2 (Links to an external site.)
Philosophy: Problem of Evil Part 3 (Links to an external site.)
PHILOSOPHY – Epistemology: The Will to Believe [HD] (Links to an external site.)
PHILOSOPHY – Religion: Pascal's Wager (Links to an external site.)
Does God Exist
What a theory is designed to do?
–Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) : For everything that exist there must be an explanation (cause).
–A true idea makes sense of the world and is not contradicted by experience (W. James)
Religion. at least theistic religions, satisfies these two criteria
–Explanation -We are here because God created us
–Prediction – We will be rewarded if we lead a moral life
Is there a rational justification for belief?
Must keep three possible positions separate
–1. P is true
–2. Person A believes p to be true
–3. Person A is rationally justified in believing p to be true
Together these three positions make up an adequate theory of knowledge
We are concerned with number 3
Does person A have rational justification for believing P?
This question pertains to the logical , not psychological, justification for believing p
Besides having ‘faith’ that God exists, are there any rational arguments that proves that God exists?
1. P (God exists) is either true or false. There either is, or is not, a God.
2. Simply believing p is not a rational (logical) justification for believing p.
3. Believing in p because doing so makes us happy, or provides structure and meaning to our lives is a psychological justification for believing p, not a rational (logical) justification for believing p.
4. Having a rational (logical) reason for believing p can strengthen our faith and give us reason to believe that p (God exists) is true.
5. Not having a rational (logical) reason for believing p does not prove that –p (God does not exist) is true.
6. Not having a rational (logical) reason to believe in p simply means we cannot know that p is true.
7. We can still believe p
–1) The concept of God is as a being than which none greater is conceivable.
–2) If God does not exist, then there is a different being that is conceivable who has the same attributes as God, but who additionally has the attribute of existence
–3) The latter being would then be conceivable as a being greater then God.
–4) But that is impossible, since it contradicts the concept of God in 1).
–5) Therefore the concept of God includes the attribute of existence – that is, God exists by the very nature of the conception of God.
In Medieval philosophy there was a distinction between existing in the mind as an idea and existing in reality as an object. If God existed only in the mind then there is a conceivable being that exists in both the mind as an idea and existing in reality as an object and that being would be more perfect than one exciting only in the mind as an idea.
–P1. By definition, God, if He exists, has all perfections
–P2. Existence is a perfection
–Therefore God exists
Cosmological Argument 1
1. Every being is either a dependent (contingent) being or self-existent (necessary) being.
2. Not every being can be a dependent being. (PSR)
3. Therefore, there exists a self-existent (necessary being)
Cosmological Argument 2 (Aquinas)
1. A contingent being exist
2. This contingent being has a cause for its existence (PSR)
3. The cause of its existence is something other than itself
4. What causes this contingent being to exist must be a set that contains either only contingent beings or at least one non-contingent (necessary) being.
5. A set that contains only contingent beings cannot cause this contingent set of beings to exist. (PSR)
6. Therefore, what causes this contingent set to exist must be a set that contains at least on non-contingent (necessary) being. (Argument from Necessity)
7. Therefore, a necessary being exits.
Argument from Principle of Plenitude: (Aquinas)
1. Given a universe of infinity and richness any real possibility must occur at least once.
2. God’s existence is a real possibility
3. Therefore, God exists
Argument form Gradation (Aquinas)
Designed to show that God is completely good
Things exist from lower to higher orders of complexity.
This includes the notion that there are degrees of goodness from pure evil to pure goodness.
Teleological Argument (Aquinas)
1. a, b, c, and d, all have properties P and Q.
2. a, b, and c all have property R as well.
3. Therefore, d has property R too (probably)
This is an inductive argument. The conclusion can be false even if the premises are true. Conclusion are only probably true.
1. Boats, houses, watches, and the whole experienced world have such properties as ‘mutual adjustment of parts to whole’ and ‘curious adapting of means to end.’
2. Boats, houses and watches have the further property of having been produced by design.
3. Therefore it is probable that the universe also has this further property, that it too was produced by design.
The characteristics of a traditional theistic God
–Has all perfections (is a perfect being)
–Creator and sustainer of the universe
1. If God is omnipresent, where did God put his creation? There seems to be a contradiction here insofar as if God is everywhere there is no place to put His creation. If His creation is a part of God then His creation always existed or is is not perfect in that there is something He lacks, His creation, that He needed.
2. If God is all-knowing how can I have free-will? If God knows that I will go the the movie tomorrow night then I must go to the movie or He cannot know that I will go to the movie. This assumes that knowledge of p requires that p cannot be false. (Plato’s idea of knowledge being certain and unchanging or Descartes’ idea that knowledge must be certain an indubitable.)
3. If God is perfect, do I have free-will? ,Free-will implies a choice. II God is perfect then what choices does He have to make? If God does not have free-will insofar as He has no choices to make, then how can He give us something He doesn’t possess?
4. God ‘loves me like a father (parent)’ why doesn’t He stop suffering? Do not good parents try to eliminate the suffering that their children are going through?
The Problem of Evil (Hume)
1. If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, present everywhere and completely good then He would eliminate evil.
2. Evil exists
3. Therefore, either God does not exist or He is not all-knowing, all-powerful, -present everywhere, and/or completely good.
This is a deductive designed to show that the existence of evil is contradictory to there being a God as defined by the theist.
Rests on an unstated premise that a good being will eliminate evil wherever and whenever possible.
Possible solutions: Theodicy – The existence of evil and the existence of God are not contradictory.
–Free-will defense (Augustine, Plantinga). A being with free-will is better then one without free-will. God have us free-will to choose between alternatives that are good or evil. If we choose evil, it is our fault not God’s.
–Necessary for certain types of good (Aquinas) – how can we have forgiveness (a good), if there is not something to forgive (an evil)? Think of certain virtues like charitableness, caring, etc., how do these make sense if there is not evil in the world that these virtues can try to overcome?
–Soul-making (Hicks and Adams) Essentially God created us as imperfect beings who goal is to enter into a loving relationship with God and become more perfect through that relationship.
–The best of all possible worlds (Leibniz) – Insofar as God is perfectly good then anything He creates is the best possible creation, all things considered.
–God’s perfect knowledge _ The reason why God allows evil to exit is in Hi mind and because of our imperfect knowledge we will not know this reason, only that it exists given how we define God theistically. (Draw a circle; this represents God’s knowledge. Draw a circle within the larger circle; this represents human knowledge.)
–The whole is more important then its parts (Aquinas) – Here is an analogy: Think of a medicine pill; some of the ingredients may be harmful in-themselves, but when taken together the resulting pill is good.
To believe or not believe; that is the question.
William K. Clifford argues that we have a moral and epistemic duty not to believe something for which we lack sufficient evidence. He argues that we lack sufficient evidence that God exists so therefore we should not believe that God exists.
1. We have a moral and epistemic duty not to believe something for which we lack sufficient evidence.
2. We lack sufficient evidence that God exists.
Conclusion: Therefore we should not believe in God
Quoting Clifford: “To sum up: — We may believe what goes beyond our experience, only when it is inferred from that experience by the assumption that what we do not know is like what we know. We may believe the statement of another person, when there is reasonable ground for supposing that he knows the matter of which he speaks, and that he is speaking the truth so far as he knows it. It is wrong in all cases to believe on insufficient evidence; and where it is presumption to doubt and to investigate, there it is worse than presumption to believe.” (William Clifford, The Ethics of Belief, Contemporary Review, 1877)
In The Will to Believe, William James counters this argument by claiming that even when we lack sufficient evidence to believe in God then we can choose to believe in God. He argues that as long as the issue is a ‘live ‘option for a person, one that has not be contradicted by that person’s experience, then that person can choose to accept it as true – that person can ‘will’ it to be true. To paraphrase James, “a true idea is one that makes sense of the world and has not been contradicted by experience.” This means that if an idea such as there being a God as defined by the theist and that idea makes sense of the world and your experiences within it, and if this idea has not been contradicted by any of your experiences, then it is morally, as well as epistemically, acceptable for you to believe that it is true.
Essentially, Clifford is an empiricist and is arguing for a correspondence theory of truth where an idea is true if and only if it agrees with, or copies, the way the world actually is. So if we cannot determine the way the world is, we should not put our stamp of approval, or disapproval for that matter, on what we think is the case. In absence of sufficient evidence we should remain agnostic about the truth of any proposition (remember Descartes third option regarding how we can epistemically react to any give proposition).
James is also an empiricist but he seems to be endorsing a broader, more open, interpretation of the correspondence theory by incorporating ideas from the coherence theory of truth. According to James, who is an epistemic pragmatist, “True ideas are those that we can assimilate, validate, corroborate and verify. False ideas are those that we cannot. That is the practical difference it makes to us to have true ideas; that, therefore, is the meaning of truth, for it is all that truth is known-as.” (William James, Pragmatism, Lecture 6) Because we may have no reason to discount p we can accept p if it meets the above four criteria. (Remember our discussion of The Web of Belief.) If we can assimilate p (any preposition that asserts something about the way things are) into a set of beliefs that we already accept as true then we can validate, corroborate, and verify p based on our ability to assimilate p. According to James, if p ‘works’ to explain our existence and helps to order our lives and make our lives meaningful and significant then we can choose to believe that p is true. Interestingly, this means that p (Gods exists) can be true of one person and false for another in James’ account of knowledge. Why is this?