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  1. #1
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    The 12 Officers: giving god a free pass on evil

    The Tale of the Twelve Officers is meant to examine the most common explanations for why evil would exist in a world with a god capable of stopping evil. I believe it's been introduced on ODN before, but that was A) a long long time ago and B) I couldn't find the thread using the search features. So let's give it a fresh start.

    It begins like this:

    It was, of course, sad to hear that Ms. K had been slowly raped and murdered by a common thug over the course of one hour and fifty-five minutes; but when I found out that the ordeal had taken place in plain sight of twelve fully-armed off-duty police officers, who ignored her terrified cries for help, and instead just watched until the act was carried to its gruesome end, I found myself facing a personal crisis. You see, the officers had all been very close friends of mine, but now I found my trust in them shaken to its core. Fortunately, I was able to talk with them afterwards, and ask them how they could have stood by and done nothing when they could so easily have saved Ms. K.

    I invite you to read the entire article (it goes quick).

    Each officer allows the rape & murder to take place in much the same way we would expect a Christian-style god to, daily, watch murders & rapes. Each officer offers an explanation as to why they allowed this to happen. None of these reasons are remotely satisfactory yet they all come from arguments Christians have put forth to explain why a god would allow evil.

    For example...

    "I would have defended Ms. K," said the sixth officer, who was notoriously careful about staying out of the public eye, "but it simply was not feasible. You see, I want everyone to freely choose to believe in me. But if I were to step in every time someone was about to be raped or murdered, then the evidence would be so clear-cut that everyone would be forced to believe in me. Can you imagine a more diabolical infringement upon their free wills? Obviously, it was better for me to back off and let Ms. K be raped and murdered. Now everyone can freely choose to believe that there is this extraordinary cop out there who loves them like his own children."

    This is the all too common free will argument. As though there's no way for a decent god to avoid evil AND still allow free will. Imagine for a moment that Mrs. K was a real person and that a police officer had actually allowed her to be raped & murdered. There's no way we would accept this as a justification. So why do theists accept such arguments when it's god rather than the officer? Does the rape & murder change? No. It's just as horrible. Is god able to stop it? Yes. He has to be. So theists are simply granting god a free pass: changing the rules for him... allowing him to permit murder & rape, but still insisting he's worthy of worship.

    Topic for debate: Based on the examples given in the Tale of the 12 Officers, is there any justification for the existence of evil that doesn't invoke horrible moral &/or logical flaws? My stance is that no such justification exists.

    Now, I'd like to head off a few flawed rebuttals before they happen:

    "The officers are people and god isn't a person. So your argument doesn't work."
    This objection just isn't going to work. It is no more or less than demanding a free pass for god which is unaccepable. The officers are meant to illustrate how bad the arguments defending the existence of evil are. I'm not interested in discussing the behavior of police. Point being, if you think the analogy is flawed, you better offer something beyond a more wordy version of "He can allow it cuz he's god lol".

    "What would you accept as a justification / You won't accept any justification / etc."
    Please. Let's hope we don't have to field this one. About the closest thing I could see for a justification would be officer 13 saying, "I let Mrs. K get murdered because she was building a criminal empire and was planning on murdering millions of people. I've saved countless lives by letting her die". But even that has huge flaws (like, why did she need to die rather than simply doing something to thwart her plans?).

    Emma Watson.
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    Suffering / evil is a necessary tool for god / god uses suffering for some greater end.
    Like what? The officers sum up quite nicely how little sense this makes. And I've never understood this sort of reasoning. It's like implying that god needs or sometimes uses a shovel to make a hole in the ground. Rather than just making the hole.

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    Re: The 12 Officers: giving god a free pass on evil

    In order to appreciate good there needs to be something not good to compare it to.

    Of course that argument is flawed too. I do believe that a life with a couple rocky patches and struggle is more enjoyable than perfect bliss but to say you or someone else needs to be raped or a child needs to starve in order for you to fully enjoy your life is absurd and horrible.

    Another option, god allows everything to run on it's own with absolutely zero interference until he deems it no longer worthy. Then he floods it all and starts anew.

    The 13th officer could be comatose, brain dead, dead or on a well earned vacation.

    The 14th officer could have been stopping a rape on the other side of town, you can't expect him to be everywhere at once.

  3. #3
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    Re: The 12 Officers: giving god a free pass on evil

    Quote Originally Posted by Kong View Post
    Another option, god allows everything to run on it's own with absolutely zero interference until he deems it no longer worthy. Then he floods it all and starts anew.
    Indifference and malevolence don't sound very wothy of worship to me.

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    Re: The 12 Officers: giving god a free pass on evil

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    The Tale of the Twelve Officers is meant to examine the most common explanations for why evil would exist in a world with a god capable of stopping evil. I believe it's been introduced on ODN before, but that was A) a long long time ago and B) I couldn't find the thread using the search features. So let's give it a fresh start.

    It begins like this:

    It was, of course, sad to hear that Ms. K had been slowly raped and murdered by a common thug over the course of one hour and fifty-five minutes; but when I found out that the ordeal had taken place in plain sight of twelve fully-armed off-duty police officers, who ignored her terrified cries for help, and instead just watched until the act was carried to its gruesome end, I found myself facing a personal crisis. You see, the officers had all been very close friends of mine, but now I found my trust in them shaken to its core. Fortunately, I was able to talk with them afterwards, and ask them how they could have stood by and done nothing when they could so easily have saved Ms. K.

    I invite you to read the entire article (it goes quick).

    Each officer allows the rape & murder to take place in much the same way we would expect a Christian-style god to, daily, watch murders & rapes. Each officer offers an explanation as to why they allowed this to happen. None of these reasons are remotely satisfactory yet they all come from arguments Christians have put forth to explain why a god would allow evil.

    For example...

    "I would have defended Ms. K," said the sixth officer, who was notoriously careful about staying out of the public eye, "but it simply was not feasible. You see, I want everyone to freely choose to believe in me. But if I were to step in every time someone was about to be raped or murdered, then the evidence would be so clear-cut that everyone would be forced to believe in me. Can you imagine a more diabolical infringement upon their free wills? Obviously, it was better for me to back off and let Ms. K be raped and murdered. Now everyone can freely choose to believe that there is this extraordinary cop out there who loves them like his own children."

    This is the all too common free will argument. As though there's no way for a decent god to avoid evil AND still allow free will. Imagine for a moment that Mrs. K was a real person and that a police officer had actually allowed her to be raped & murdered. There's no way we would accept this as a justification. So why do theists accept such arguments when it's god rather than the officer? Does the rape & murder change? No. It's just as horrible. Is god able to stop it? Yes. He has to be. So theists are simply granting god a free pass: changing the rules for him... allowing him to permit murder & rape, but still insisting he's worthy of worship.

    Topic for debate: Based on the examples given in the Tale of the 12 Officers, is there any justification for the existence of evil that doesn't invoke horrible moral &/or logical flaws? My stance is that no such justification exists.

    Now, I'd like to head off a few flawed rebuttals before they happen:

    "The officers are people and god isn't a person. So your argument doesn't work."
    This objection just isn't going to work. It is no more or less than demanding a free pass for god which is unaccepable. The officers are meant to illustrate how bad the arguments defending the existence of evil are. I'm not interested in discussing the behavior of police. Point being, if you think the analogy is flawed, you better offer something beyond a more wordy version of "He can allow it cuz he's god lol".

    "What would you accept as a justification / You won't accept any justification / etc."
    Please. Let's hope we don't have to field this one. About the closest thing I could see for a justification would be officer 13 saying, "I let Mrs. K get murdered because she was building a criminal empire and was planning on murdering millions of people. I've saved countless lives by letting her die". But even that has huge flaws (like, why did she need to die rather than simply doing something to thwart her plans?).

    Emma Watson.
    I will not be distracted. I will not be distracted. I will not be distracted. I will not be distracted...

    Suffering / evil is a necessary tool for god / god uses suffering for some greater end.
    Like what? The officers sum up quite nicely how little sense this makes. And I've never understood this sort of reasoning. It's like implying that god needs or sometimes uses a shovel to make a hole in the ground. Rather than just making the hole.
    By the rules of logic is the following true? There is not contradiction between God and the existence of evil as long as it is even possible that God has a morally sufficient reason for permitting it.

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    Re: The 12 Officers: giving god a free pass on evil

    Quote Originally Posted by estill View Post
    By the rules of logic is the following true? There is not contradiction between God and the existence of evil as long as it is even possible that God has a morally sufficient reason for permitting it.
    No. It's not true. It fails Hume's test:

    "Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?"

    You keep asking is it possible that god has a morally sufficient reason for permitting evil. But this is a non-issue. The real question... which (given your track record on this subject) I'm going to Challenge to support a claim. you to address... is this: Why would a non-malevolent, all knowing being capable of doing anything logically possible allow a situation where evil is possible? The only answer is "he wouldn't". So the god you're arguing in favor of is a malevolent god.

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    Re: The 12 Officers: giving god a free pass on evil

    Quote Originally Posted by OP
    Topic for debate: Based on the examples given in the Tale of the 12 Officers, is there any justification for the existence of evil that doesn't invoke horrible moral &/or logical flaws? My stance is that no such justification exists.
    Introducing the 13th officer.

    What are you so upset for, you don't really believe rape is "wrong" anyway. Why should I stop someone from doing something that is little more than "unfashionable". He may as well have farted at the dinner table. You tell me when a crime has been committed and I will stop it. You see there is no such thing as a "horrible moral". All morals are equally valid, but why am I telling you this, you already know as much.

    The biggest problem with "evil" is not God's problem it is atheist's problem. Because you need to validly justify your horror of an "evil" act, before God ever needs to justify allowing it.

    Or is it that you are so blinded by your arbitrarily defined evolutionary moral code which could have just as easily glorified having your "wife" have sex with you, then cut your head off and eat it (see Praying mantis), that you forget that you don't have a valid reason to be horrified at the rape to begin with.

    Honestly, until atheists can construct a "morality" that actually means something, there is no need to answer their crys of fowl.

    For your cry'S of fowl.. I respond

    You say the rapist did something wrong?


    13th officer "WHO SAYS".
    To serve man.

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    Re: The 12 Officers: giving god a free pass on evil

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    Suffering / evil is a necessary tool for god / god uses suffering for some greater end.
    Like what?
    Like deciding for oneself whether or not to commit evil.

    We are beings who have free will and choosing to refrain from evil is only possible if one has the option of committing evil.

    Assuming having free will is a "greater good", then the ability to commit evil is necessary for a greater good.
    Last edited by mican333; August 3rd, 2011 at 12:13 PM.

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    Re: The 12 Officers: giving god a free pass on evil

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    No. It's not true. It fails Hume's test:

    "Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?"

    You keep asking is it possible that god has a morally sufficient reason for permitting evil. But this is a non-issue. The real question... which (given your track record on this subject) I'm going to Challenge to support a claim. you to address... is this: Why would a non-malevolent, all knowing being capable of doing anything logically possible allow a situation where evil is possible? The only answer is "he wouldn't". So the god you're arguing in favor of is a malevolent god.
    Hold on I'm not done with this point. Hume's test is not some sort of logical standard. You have a hidden premise that it is impossible for God to have a morally sufficient reason. Can you prove that?

  9. #9
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    Re: The 12 Officers: giving god a free pass on evil

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    Introducing the 13th officer.

    What are you so upset for, you don't really believe rape is "wrong" anyway. Why should I stop someone from doing something that is little more than "unfashionable". He may as well have farted at the dinner table. You tell me when a crime has been committed and I will stop it. You see there is no such thing as a "horrible moral". All morals are equally valid, but why am I telling you this, you already know as much.

    The biggest problem with "evil" is not God's problem it is atheist's problem. Because you need to validly justify your horror of an "evil" act, before God ever needs to justify allowing it.

    Or is it that you are so blinded by your arbitrarily defined evolutionary moral code which could have just as easily glorified having your "wife" have sex with you, then cut your head off and eat it (see Praying mantis), that you forget that you don't have a valid reason to be horrified at the rape to begin with.

    Honestly, until atheists can construct a "morality" that actually means something, there is no need to answer their crys of fowl.

    For your cry'S of fowl.. I respond

    You say the rapist did something wrong?


    13th officer "WHO SAYS".
    You are abusing the English language by changing the definition of harm. If you want to argue that raping and murdering innocent women is acceptable, then I shall simply consign your argument to the waste basket. Whether you think your morality is based on an all-knowing god or you acknowledge that we collectively determine morals based (we hope) on common sense / reason / avoidance of needless harm.... yeah, no one finds rape acceptable. The point of this debate is to show that there is no acceptable answer for why a Christian-style god would allow evil. Stating that atheists don't have a basis for determining what's evil A) doesn't make god's inaction any less acceptable, B) thus, isn't really on-topic and C) it's not acceptable with anyone. If you want to argue that collectively acknowledging that rape is a bad thing doesn't really make rape a bad thing, do it in another thread. I'm not going to be replying to you again on this subject; only for on-topic replies will I get involved.

    ---------- Post added at 04:13 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:38 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    Assuming having free will is a "greater good", then the ability to commit evil is necessary for a greater good.
    I am unconvinced of this.

    Apologists posit that there "free will" and "suffering" are locked together. But I don't see why. Consider for a moment, the virtual world of Second Life. In it, you create an avatar and guide it around. This avatar does not grow old. It doesn't need to eat, sleep, deficate, or urinate. It will never get sick. It cannot be injured in any way. It can create virtual objects from thin air and can exist in an ever expanding landscape. It can fly, teleport, and communicate with anyone in real time regardless of their "distance". So while I'm willing to entertain that suffering could exist, I'm not seeing how. There's certainly a lot less than in the real world. Point being, the avatars in Second Life aren't mindless automotons. They have every bit as much intelligence and free will as the people sitting in the real world guiding them. So, if I'm a Christian-style god, why can't I set things up that way? Why can't I make the real world function similar to second life? The answers, sadly, always sound like the justifications the officers offered. We hear ridiculous things about "original sin" and the like.

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    Re: The 12 Officers: giving god a free pass on evil

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    I am unconvinced of this.

    Apologists posit that there "free will" and "suffering" are locked together. But I don't see why. Consider for a moment, the virtual world of Second Life. In it, you create an avatar and guide it around. This avatar does not grow old. It doesn't need to eat, sleep, deficate, or urinate. It will never get sick. It cannot be injured in any way. It can create virtual objects from thin air and can exist in an ever expanding landscape. It can fly, teleport, and communicate with anyone in real time regardless of their "distance". So while I'm willing to entertain that suffering could exist, I'm not seeing how. There's certainly a lot less than in the real world. Point being, the avatars in Second Life aren't mindless automotons. They have every bit as much intelligence and free will as the people sitting in the real world guiding them. So, if I'm a Christian-style god, why can't I set things up that way? Why can't I make the real world function similar to second life? The answers, sadly, always sound like the justifications the officers offered. We hear ridiculous things about "original sin" and the like.
    Can you commit murder in Second Life? Can you rape and torture another person's avatar? Can you steal their possessions, set fire to their house, or lock them up in a jail? Can you harm someone's avatar in any way? If not, then avatars do not possess as much intelligence as the people sitting in the real world guiding them.

    Oh, and if real life were Second Life, I'd shoot myself in the face. That **** looks boring.
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    Re: The 12 Officers: giving god a free pass on evil

    Quote Originally Posted by estill View Post
    You have a hidden premise that it is impossible for God to have a morally sufficient reason. Can you prove that?
    Yes.

    A being as intelligent and powerful as god should be able to create a universe where suffering isn't ever necessary. Look at the Second Life example I gave to Mican. It's not hard to contrive a world where suffering doesn't exist and free will does. The fact is that suffering does exist (in great amounts for many children in third world countries). So, if you're idea of god is one that somehow lets suffering exists then one of the following must be true:

    • God isn't smart enough to create a universe where suffering doesn't exist. We know this one fails because third rate programmers tossed together Second Life so it's really not that hard.
    • God is malevolent for allowing instances of suffering. We know you don't want your idea of god to include "malevolent".
    • You're abusing the definition of "evil" by insising it's reconcilable with a non-malevolent god. It isn't. There is no moral justification for tsunamis killing babies.
    • Emma Watson.


    So, address my challenge or concede the argument.

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    Re: The 12 Officers: giving god a free pass on evil

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    Yes.

    A being as intelligent and powerful as god should be able to create a universe where suffering isn't ever necessary. Look at the Second Life example I gave to Mican. It's not hard to contrive a world where suffering doesn't exist and free will does. The fact is that suffering does exist (in great amounts for many children in third world countries). So, if you're idea of god is one that somehow lets suffering exists then one of the following must be true:

    • God isn't smart enough to create a universe where suffering doesn't exist. We know this one fails because third rate programmers tossed together Second Life so it's really not that hard.
    • God is malevolent for allowing instances of suffering. We know you don't want your idea of god to include "malevolent".
    • You're abusing the definition of "evil" by insising it's reconcilable with a non-malevolent god. It isn't. There is no moral justification for tsunamis killing babies.
    • Emma Watson.


    So, address my challenge or concede the argument.
    I agree with your argument. However, you are arguing the wrong thing. God did not create a universe where evil was necessary but potential.

    So the question again. Can you prove that it is impossible for God to have a morally sufficient reason to create a universe where evil was potential?

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    Re: The 12 Officers: giving god a free pass on evil

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    Apologists posit that there "free will" and "suffering" are locked together. But I don't see why. Consider for a moment, the virtual world of Second Life. In it, you create an avatar and guide it around. This avatar does not grow old. It doesn't need to eat, sleep, deficate, or urinate. It will never get sick. It cannot be injured in any way. It can create virtual objects from thin air and can exist in an ever expanding landscape. It can fly, teleport, and communicate with anyone in real time regardless of their "distance". So while I'm willing to entertain that suffering could exist, I'm not seeing how.
    But who says that is ultimately a more rewarding, and therefore better, "game" than the one we are playing now?

    Is playing a game about mountain climbing more exciting than actual mountain climbing (with its risk of actual death)? And in fact, isn't the risk of death the very reason certain activities are more desirable to those who enjoy them?

    And likewise aren't your actual wise decisions (to do good, to avoid evil, to learn from your mistakes) where your consequences "mean more" have more positive effect on your being than in a world where nothing can really go wrong so who cares if you make the worst mistake you can make or the greatest achievement you can attain? What's the difference between failing to graduate from high school and getting your doctorate? How can one ever get much satisfaction from achieving great things when achieving great things is just a wave of the hand?

    In your imagination you can device an easier world and a world that has no suffering, but it's by no means a fact that you have imagined a more rewarding reality for its denizens than the one we inhabit.

    To continue with this, one my best vacations was going to Burning Man and the difficulty of getting there and being there was part of it. If I could see the things that I saw there and do the things that I do there anytime that I want with no challenge at all - just blip! and I'm there and blip! I'm back home and in my bed and I could do it anytime that I want to so my attendance is not limited to at least a year (and in reality it's probably a one-time thing for me), then it becomes about as exciting as visiting a local art event that's always open (even if it's great, it will get old soon enough). Your reality would rob me of some of the most exciting things that I've experienced.

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    Re: The 12 Officers: giving god a free pass on evil

    Quote Originally Posted by estill View Post
    I agree with your argument. However, you are arguing the wrong thing. God did not create a universe where evil was necessary but potential.
    I'm not arguing the wrong thing. The potential for evil and actual evil are only things that would be allowed by a malevolent god. You can't give god a pass by saying he only created the potential for evil. Remember what we're dealing with here: a god who's (by your standards) many magnitudes more intelligent than all of humanity combined and capable of doing anything logically possible. Now hold that thought for a moment. Think of a contractor building a house for your young children. "I built your kid an awesome playroom that he's gonna spend a ton of time in because it's really fun. But it has a deadly snake pit in the middle... which will kill your kid if he ever falls in it. If the spikes at the bottom of the long pit don't do him in, the snake venom will." Even if this contractor doesn't push the kid into the pit, he's still a jerk; a malevolent son of a ***ch who could end the lives of your children. Because creating the potential for evil is an evil act. That's what you're missing. So now, imagine the contractor isn't making your house. Imagine god is designing your house, but it still has the snake pit. Now we have TWO problems:
    • The same one from above. Creating the potential for evil/suffering is an evil act.
    • Somehow, we have to reconcile how something that is (allegedly) not malevolent is committing an act of malevolence. Because god should be able to build a house that doesn't require a snake pit. It doesn't matter what end goal god has planned for people: he should be smart enough to achieve that end goal without a snake pit in the nursery.


    Remember that god has few limitations. One of them is that he cannot do things that are logically impossible. He can't make square circles or married batchelors. But Creating a universe where the potential for evil/suffering does not exist isn't a logical impossibility. So it's within god's ability to create. But suffering exists. So we're back to Hume's objection: "Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?"

    ---------- Post added at 05:30 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:15 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    But who says that is ultimately a more rewarding, and therefore better, "game" than the one we are playing now?
    Careful. You're treading close to MindTrap's argument here. I'm not interested in abusing the definition of harm, evil, or better. If you think that "better" is reconcilable with the following...
    • ..."aging and eventually dying" is superior to "living forever"...
    • ..."lonesomeness" is superior to "staying connected"...
    • ..."disease" is superior to "never growing sick"...
    • ..."stuck on the ground" is superior to "able to fly"...
    • ..."crippled" is superior to "immune to all injury"...


    ...then I submit that you're being contrary for the sake of being contrary. And that does not add to our debate. As for this sentiment:

    Quote Originally Posted by Micanikes
    And likewise aren't your actual wise decisions (to do good, to avoid evil, to learn from your mistakes) where your consequences "mean more" have more positive effect on your being than in a world where nothing can really go wrong so who cares if you make the worst mistake you can make or the greatest achievement you can attain?
    As you are so fond of pointing out to me, something is possible unless it's proven impossible. Since we're talking about a god who can play with the parameters for the universe, there's no reason god can't make the experiences of Second Life-esque world far more fulfilling than those of the real world. Ultimately, you don't know what it would feel like to live forever, fly, teleport, etc. The only thing we can say is that if an all knowing non-malevolent omnipotent being exists (he doesn't), the statement "The being known as god could make reality far more thrilling and fulfilling for humans than it already is" isn't a logical impossibility.

    So by the logic you're so fond of, it's possible.

    So then why do we have suffering in our world? Again, it goes back to Hume's statement: "Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?"

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    Re: The 12 Officers: giving god a free pass on evil

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    Each officer allows the rape & murder to take place in much the same way we would expect a Christian-style god to, daily, watch murders & rapes. Each officer offers an explanation as to why they allowed this to happen. None of these reasons are remotely satisfactory yet they all come from arguments Christians have put forth to explain why a god would allow evil.
    First off, I reject your use of the phrase "we would expect". You don't speak for me. I seriously doubt you speak for any Christian, and I strongly suspect you don't speak for anyone but yourself. Thus the "we would expect" is simply a rhetorical device meant to artificially supply that which follows with a weight of opinion it simply doesn't have. It's you, Zhavric, who are making this argument, not "we". It's your expectation that a "Christian-style god" operates "in much the same way" as these twelve metaphorical cops.

    Secondly, the cops in the parable can't do double duty. If they represent the various theodicies Christians have offered (and assuming for the moment this is believable without any demonstration), then they don't represent God, but rather certain Christians' speculation about why God allows evil. Do we need to demonstrate that no one, Christian or otherwise, actually knows the mind of God by simply knowing that God has ultimately revealed some of His nature to us through the incarnation of His only-begotten Son, Jesus? Or that absent this impossible knowledge any theodicy is speculation?

    So, this entire exercise, then, is a judgment not on God's reasons for allowing evil, but on the speculations of Christians (supposedly) as to those reasons. In short, this OP doesn't even begin to address the mind of God, or God's purposes in allowing evil, but rather the weakness of Christian speculation as to those reasons. On that basis, it's a strong argument, but then did we really need a strong argument showing us that pure speculation is never very trustworthy? I know I sure didn't.

    And finally, why should I accept without any demonstration or documentation, that simply because someone crafts a parable consisting in Christian theodicies, where the author admits up front that he's re-written it three times in three years, adding nine theodices to the original in the process, that this article represents anything like an accurate survey of Christian theodices? I certainly don't find the author admitting that his further research in two years has uncovered three times the amount of his original material strong evidence the project was undertaken in any serious way, and lacking that evidence, have no reason to treat the article seriously. Since it is the entire basis of your OP's question, it follows I have no good reason to take your OP's question seriously.

    But these objections pale in comparison to the fatal flaw we'll discover together in the balance of this repsonse to the balance of your OP:

    For example...

    "I would have defended Ms. K," said the sixth officer, who was notoriously careful about staying out of the public eye, "but it simply was not feasible. You see, I want everyone to freely choose to believe in me. But if I were to step in every time someone was about to be raped or murdered, then the evidence would be so clear-cut that everyone would be forced to believe in me. Can you imagine a more diabolical infringement upon their free wills? Obviously, it was better for me to back off and let Ms. K be raped and murdered. Now everyone can freely choose to believe that there is this extraordinary cop out there who loves them like his own children."

    This is the all too common free will argument. As though there's no way for a decent god to avoid evil AND still allow free will. Imagine for a moment that Mrs. K was a real person and that a police officer had actually allowed her to be raped & murdered. There's no way we would accept this as a justification. So why do theists accept such arguments when it's god rather than the officer?
    Your premise for all twelve is that God is the cop of the world, but the truth is, on Christian theism at the very least (and this is what we're all interested in, because you introduce "God" in the above as "a Christian-styled god") God is not the cop of the world, but its Lawgiver and Judge (the term "judge" here used in its ancient sense that today is understood better as "jury"; the entity that provides the "verdict", a word that means "truth"). This fact renders the entire OP one colossal, indeed, in my experience, which is not small in these matters, a historic strawman fallacy. Need I add this is also its fatal flaw?

  16. #16
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    Re: The 12 Officers: giving god a free pass on evil

    @cstamford

    Regarding your "we would expect" opening: I really don't know what to make of that. Each of the 12 officers' explanations comes from Christian arguments. Soooo... yeah. That's all you guys. Seriously, I say things like "we would expect to see" because I'm going by the definitions and claims that Christians have made. I didn't come up with it. *shrugs* Moving on.

    Regarding your comment on knowing the mind of god. I could care less what the mind of god is. That's beyond the universe of discourse here. The issue what has been claimed so far by Christians: that god is not malevolent, that he's intelligent enough to create the universe and capable of doing anything logically possible. The point is that these claims don't reconcile with a universe with suffering in it.

    You went on to call the 12 Officers points "pure speculation". We're not speculating per se. I'm just trying to point out that your idea of what god is doesn't make any sense without abandoning reason. If you don't like any of the explanations the officers offered, then feel free to provide a different one. But evading the issue by calling it speculative doesn't add to our debate. i.e. it still leaves us with a god whose mind we don't know save that he's (as Hume pointed out) malevolent or impotent or non-existent. And I know you're not happy with that.

    this article represents anything like an accurate survey of Christian theodices?
    Cool. Show some sources that demonstrate where the 12 Officers goes astray from what Christians offer as argumentation.

    This fact renders the entire OP one colossal, indeed, in my experience, which is not small in these matters, a historic strawman fallacy.
    So, then you'd agree with the statement "God can allow rape and murder to happen because he's god", correct?

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    Re: The 12 Officers: giving god a free pass on evil

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    you forget that you don't have a valid reason to be horrified at the rape to begin with.
    Are you being serious? Rape is wrong only because god says so? If god said rape was cool or if you ever stopped believing in god, exactly how long do you think it would take before you committed your first rape? I think it is safe to assume, god or no god, a combo of rape, torture and murder is universally agreed to be horribly and undeniably wrong.

    until atheists can construct a "morality" that actually means something, there is no need to answer their crys of fowl.
    I was going to recommend this book http://www.amazon.com/Moral-Minds-Na.../dp/0060780703 but while I was looking it up I saw Harvard recently fired the author for scientific misconduct so take that with a grain of salt. I will recommend this instead http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthyphro_dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    Indifference and malevolence don't sound very wothy of worship to me.
    Depends on how bad you want a ticket on the ark and of course if you believe the story is true.

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    Re: The 12 Officers: giving god a free pass on evil

    Quote Originally Posted by Kong View Post
    I will recommend this instead http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthyphro_dilemma
    I'm familiar with it. What about it exactly? It's a false dilemma. How so, is explained on the very page you linked.
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    Re: The 12 Officers: giving god a free pass on evil

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    No. It's not true. It fails Hume's test:

    "Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?"
    First a trivial objection: you're implying this is Hume's argument, when if it belongs to him at all (and not having read his body of work I can't say one way or the other) it does so only as his version of a much older argument form, with Epicurus normally held to be its author.

    Second, you're using this argument as a "test" here, which implies it's a sound argument, which it isn't in that it contains at least one premise that is either false, or cannot be demonstrated to be true. To illustrate: the unstated proposition grounding the first premise above states that omnipotence is capable of any conceivable action, which we know to be false on it's face. For this premise is based on yet another false proposition: that omnipotence includes the ability to bring about what raw power itself is incapable of bringing about. Evidently, the thinking here is that the addition of omniscience renders omnipotence the capability to bring about what omnipotence alone is incapable of bringing about, but why think that? If a state of affairs S can't be brought about by an exercise of raw power, then why suppose it can by a combination of power and intellect? How does intellect find a way for power to do what power can't do? I see no reason to think it can, regardless of how much there is of it brought to the task. If you do, then you're certainly being coy about expressing those reasons.

    You keep asking is it possible that god has a morally sufficient reason for permitting evil. But this is a non-issue.
    Then you should demonstrate it's a "non-issue", shouldn't you?

    The real question... which (given your track record on this subject)...
    You sure you want to make people's "track record on this subject" a part of the debate?

    The real question...which I'm going to Challenge to support a claim. you to address... is this: Why would a non-malevolent, all knowing being capable of doing anything logically possible allow a situation where evil is possible? The only answer is "he wouldn't".
    That is not the only answer; rather the only answer you're willing to entertain. The other answer is so simple and obvious it's difficult to explain your epistemic blindness to it: A good God would allow evil He could prevent if He had a good reason for doing so.

    I have the same reason myself for not stopping crime. My reason is I'd have to become a senior citizen vigilante to start the business of stopping crime. To me that's a very good reason for not starting a project of personally stopping crime. Now maybe you don't happen to think, as I do, that that's a "good enough" reason, and that I should be held accountable for my failure to stop all the crimes I could have had I become a senior citizen vigilante. Maybe you feel the evil these crimes represent could never be balanced by the evils me becoming a SCV might bring about in society as a whole...to which I'd reasonably respond, who cares...who are you that I should take your judgments seriously? And I'm only a man! Take this and multiply it ten thousand fold, and you'll begin to grasp how unseriously Christians take these sorts of arguments, and reasonably so.

    Further, there is no good reason to suppose that you, or I, or a council of the world's greatest philosophers are qualified to say that all the reasons we can think up are all the possible reasons a good God could have for allowing evil.

    In summary, then, your operative premises seem to be:

    1.) You are fully aware of every possible reason a good God could have for allowing evil in the world, and

    2.) Your personal knowledge of transcendent moral imperatives is such that it renders you capable of accurately deciding whether any reason a good God has for allowing evil in the world is "good enough".

    I think everyone can see that (2) actually rests on yet a third premise:

    3,) Your personal knowledge of transcendent moral imperatives is superior to any a good God who allows evil to exist could have.

    I have no reason to accept any of the above as true propositions, and you've provided none.

    Finally, let's take note of what the argument from evil, especially as formulated by (according to you) Hume, actually does? We've seen what it doesn't do, which is provide us a logical contradiction in the conjunction of the concepts "an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good God" and "evil exists in the world this God created". So what does it do? Simply this: it asks theists to give a reason why such a God would create such a world, which, as we've already seen, they could only do through sheer happenstance, and never know they'd done it having done it! In short all the vaunted atheistic argument from evil does is ask theists to do what is impossible for them or anyone else to do, and then try to make some logical connection between their inherent inability to adequately explicate the mind of God in a particular area of concern, and God's ability to exist!

    From a purely logical standpoint, the atheistic argument from evil has got to be the trashiest argument in all of philosophy, and yet it strongly continues to exert a force in the debate far beyond its intrinsic merits as a logical argument. This suggests another thread asking the queston, why is this the case and what does it suggest about those strongly influenced by it to deny the existence of the omnis-God?

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    Re: The 12 Officers: giving god a free pass on evil

    It's a false dilemma. How so, is explained on the very page you linked.
    I disagree that the responses prove it false.

    What about it exactly?
    Is rape wrong because god says so? If yes, then rape would be good if god said so, right? And atheists would be ok with rape because they don't listen to god, right?

    If you answer yes to all three questions then there should be a 13th officer that thought there was no crime being committed.

    As an atheists, I find that insulting.

 

 
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