I don’t think anything absolutely disproves it (if e want to get technical). But DA wants to know how atheists can show “why and how the other person should be “bound” to the moral observations”. One argument, known as the free will defense, claims that evil is caused not by God but by human beings, who must be allowed to choose evil if they are to have free will. As I’ve shown, atheism is quite compatible with reprehensible behavior (mean people). Good is so present it seems to be the fabric of the universe. A good world filled with good things to enjoy. but what about the problem of good ? The latter presupposes that there are things that are indisputably wrong, and agreed to be so by all, as virtually self-evident. Atheism obviously has no such scenario, since it denies the existence of God, the afterlife, human immortality, heaven, and hell, so my statement is absolutely true, as to atheism. When you think of it, the Problem of Evil is the dual of the Problem of Good. It’s obvious what it means. For those who prefer hot dogs, prima facie, what is wise for them to do (again what they “ought to do”) is eat hot dogs. The key word is ultimate: it’s a “logical reduction to . The “Problem of Good”: Dialogue w Atheist Academic. It has no bearing on my overall argument. depends on what you want. It can be shown that all societies agree on basic moral principles. We can’t turn around, look out a window or walk down the street without running into goodness. We would be back to Dostoevsky. We can get to that in due course. We kind atheists would say, we hope you act kindly! . Regardless, nothing here is relevant to the issue of whether God exists. Job went through this. Faith. Let’s see how it went! The problem of good is not defined (as far as I can see), but if the POE [problem of evil] is the argument where evil disproves a perfectly loving being, the POG seems to … DA claims that the EPOE (the only POE worth discussing, since the LPOE [logical problem of evil] is quickly a failure) fails, but he doesn’t (yet) show that to be true. But of course, what is “reprehensible” and “mean”? If you can be there it will be a good thing. People who want a kind world should be kind. Since the atheist is right about such things, this causes no problem. Atheists and agnostics regularly resort to the “problem of evil” when raising arguments against the existence of a benevolent and omnipotent God. You have so far concentrated on the problem of good, and I don’t see how you have overthrown it at all. Christians frequently claim … ), threaten (I’ll thrown you jail if you are mean!”) but you are right: there isn’t anything that guarantees this will work, that, regardless of its meanness, the immoral atheist just “ought” or “has to” be kind. And we probably would throw unkind atheists (like rapists) in jail. But what I’m really thinking about this morning is not the problem of evil, but the problem of good. The problem of evil is one we’re all familiar with . In Christian cosmology there is ultimate justice and hell awaiting those who do such things and who do not repent of them. Those who desire not to rape must not rape (if they are trying to satisfy that desire to not do so).”. I show how atheist use is inconsistent throughout my dialogue. Pregnant mothers were cut open and rape victims were sodomized with bamboo sticks and bayonets until they died in agony. So, we can try to persuade or threaten them, or run from them. DA is right: without God, values will often differ from person to person. Yet … They may differ on the parameters of murder (the definition): such as the present immoral and anti-scientific nonsense about abortion not being a species of it, based on human embryos supposedly not being wither human or persons. DA is right about one thing: “morality” is relative in one sense: people exist, and they often desire/prefer/like/want different things. The Problem of Good: When the World Seems Fine Without God The real “problem of good,” then, is not that good deeds disprove Christianity, but it is that they can hide Christianity’s true purpose and obscure the coming judgment. Peace. Well, that’s what I unpack in the very lengthy dialogue. The dialogue could have been about that, but DA indicates it will be about the nature of morality. Exactly! 1) Can’t really consistently define “evil” in the first place; 2) Has no hope of eventual eschatological justice; 3) Has no objective basis of condemning evil; 4) Has no belief in a heaven of everlasting bliss; 5) Has to believe in an ultimately absolutely hopeless and meaningless universe.”, DA thinks that something here “rules out these non-theistic ethics in one fell swoop”. I say that you have a far more difficult problem to grapple with.”. Pastor Clark has dedicated his life to explaining biblical truth in clear, practical ways and to solving spiritual problems in the life of the church. Evil is merely a corruption of what is good, a tear in the fabric of goodness, a parasite upon the host of goodness that cannot live by itself. So, basically, an atheist morality is ultimately arbitrary (as is any known morality). We would say that is natural law and the human conscience, grounded in God. Thanks for conforming a major component of my argument. Ripperger: Almost All Vaccines Are... After The Recent Coup Attempt, Christians... Star of Bethlehem: Reply to Obnoxious Atheist Aaron... Pearce’s Potshots #12: Supernatural Star of Bethlehem? THE question as to the nature of evil is by far the most important problem for philosophical, religious, and moral consideration. Atheists ultimately cannot have it, because the next person can always say, “who cares what you think about morality; that’s just you, and your view is no more worthy of belief or assent than the next guy’s . All people, regardless, do not have to be kind. It’s presupposed in your arguments regarding the EPOE. The Problem of Good. I would have to be shown point-by-point that I supposedly did not succeed in my aim. Love. J.L. Nothing about the lack of a perfectly evil being fails to disprove the EPOE [evidential problem of evil], which rightly shows that a perfectly good being probably doesn’t exist. They aren’t the measure of how long a football field is, the measure of how painful and hurtful rape is, etc. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. Atheists can’t show, automatically, that all persons (including the unkind atheists) are “bound” to be kind, other than to say “if you are mean, we will try to throw you in jail!”. The chief problem with accepting the existence of God is the fact that evil exists. If creation is abandoned because of the damage wrought by evil, then in a very real sense evil has triumphed. It does not. Find many great new & used options and get the best deals for The Problem of Good : When the World Seems Fine Without God (2014, Trade Paperback) at the … They are not even rational arguments. It’s not clear from the get-go. This problem is generally phrased in the form of a question, "why does God allow evil?" Nothing shows that if God doesn’t exist, atheists can’t take the word “evil” and define it consistently. J. Craig Bradley is an atheist, with a Master’s degree in philosophy. If it means something “godly” then yes, atheists don’t have godly/objective morality (and neither does anyone else). But in our rich Catholic tradition, philosophical and theological reflections alike encourage us never to take anything for granted. (But it is!) Creation is good and the solution to the damage done by parasitic evil is not abandonment but redemption. I’m saying, “these are the consequences on the ground of atheism, taken consistently to its logical extreme.” That argument can be made wholly apart from whether God exists or not. Nothing shows this to be true. It’s one of the issues in the “long run” but not primarily in my mind (if at all) when making the problem of good argument. The evidential version of the problem of evil (also referred to as the probabilistic or inductive version), seeks to show that the existence of evil, although logically consistent with the existence of God, counts against or lowers the probability of the truth of theism. (To be clear, by “ought” I mean something like “is sensible/reasonable for you to do”). An ethical system of moral absolutes (over against moral relativism). Of course, one can still hope for eternal life. Secondly, if you look closely (at words like “right” and “wrong”), you won’t find anything here that proves “God provides an absolute principle of right and wrong”. Do such moral non-Christians really need the gospel, or will their good deeds save them… The 3rd one is also false, depending on what “objective” means here. Beauty. Today's post has been a draft for quite a few months, but I am going to release it now. In atheist “eschatology there is no ultimate justice for perpetrators of monstrous crimes such as these. THE PROBLEM OF GOOD FAITH. DA says, “why and how [should] the other person…be “bound” to the moral observations”. Are there problems (“shortcomings”) with atheism? It’s obvious our creator is very clearly evil! I will look for good. You don’t think that rape is a moral absolute, and that it is wrong at all times? Yes, I meant “at rock bottom” or “ultimately.” The Christian “rock bottom” is God. Which is neither here nor there, but it has some remote bearing on the present discussion . DA wrongly equates the evils done in the name of Christianity with the evils done by Stalin, who was an atheist, but his evils were not done “in the name of” Atheism. The problem of Good Deeds and Faith. Friends. It’s a fact about the atheist worldview, not the theistic one. Again, since you have misunderstood my argument, this is a non sequitur. Of course, this is why societies construct legal systems, which hold that certain behaviors are wrong, and therefore, punishable by law. That is, nothing about existing morality disproves atheism or proves theism. Nor has the author shown that an atheistic morality requires Christian ethics (“God”) to be true. Of course, that is no disproof that they exist. The same way the logician and the one arguing the problem of evil does. No evidence shows this (other than that the kind people want you to be kind. Nothing about this is a problem (intellectually) for the atheist. If “objective” means something like “godly” or “supernatural” then DA is right. Here the theist DA imagines that all atheists have to believe in what’s often called an “Objective Moral Law/Duty”, which usually is spelled out as saying “All people, regardless, MUST be kind”. No; I would say, this is supporting evidence for natural law, which in turn suggests (not proves) that God exists, Who is behind it. Goodness is virtue and holiness in action. What an utterly terrifying “world” that is . , unless he meant, “at rock bottom” and was just repeating the point I just made. Explore the world's faith through different perspectives on religion and spirituality! Evil people will be judged and sent to hell, and those who are saved by God’s grace will be allowed to enter heaven. It has no such thing, and cannot, by definition. Witness the … It is also painfully obvious that the police took much longer to... To a Baby, "Abortion" vs. "Infanticide" is Hair-Splitting... Topic change, but hardly a breather. So far the author hasn’t done anything to show that this atheistic “relativistic” morality leads to any absurdity that falsifies it. . The atheist who challenges Christianity by asking how God can exist in a world with evil faces a bigger problem than the theist. I’ve now answered that: they aren’t “bound” in any sense other than worldly, human ways, like jails. The individual person Can the natural universe serve as the source for objective moral values? Thus, for those who prefer pizza, what is wise for them to do (what they “ought to do” prima facie) is eat pizza. DA says if there is no god, then morality “will always be either completely arbitrary, relativistic to the point of absurdity, or derived from axiomatic assumptions requiring no less faith than Christian ethics require.” Yes, nothing shows this to be true. The natural universe 2. He does all of that here, in The Problem of Good. It causes a problem for ultimate justice and morality, and ultimate meaningfulness for morality. But if creation is healed and evil exiled then God is the victor. It typically does harm and is typically unwanted (or as I defined it above: it’s not for the great good: it’s not maximally loving). Photo credit: Nanjing Tribunal investigates remains of Nanjing Massacre victims (1946) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons], Please also opt me in for Exclusive Offers from Patheos’s Partners. Regardless, the author is right that for many/most atheists, they believe that there are no (known) gods, no (known) Heaven, no eternal (a billion years from now) happiness that some humans here today will experience. Those are just facts, truths, likelihoods. DA thinks that something here “rules out these non-theistic ethics in one fell swoop” [that was my opponent’s words], but I see no evidence of this. So, the mistake you made it seems is in thinking that “atheism is incompatible with such reprehensible behavior”. We train most kids to be less selfish. The Problem of Good. I was pointing out the difficulties for atheism, of the problem of good (see the brief definition above). What is true is that if one continues to ask questions about things we will always get to an arbitrary point (the point in which we don’t have an answer for something). singing stars, and death-fearing hydrogen atoms) and illuminating scientific analogues (e.g. This essay, however, does not repeat those arguments but instead considers a parallel question, the Problem of Good. So Dave and Mike had a discussion about theism. So this curious claim will have to be unpacked and elaborated upon. Oh the dark can pour in too, The capacity to know these things are good. No; I would say that it strongly suggests that atheism is a less plausible position than theism, and that the problem of good is at least as big of a problem for atheism, as the problem of evil is for theism (it’s a classic turn-the-tables argument). In a relativistic universe nothing can be absolutely condemned; the moment you condemn anything, you have begun a process that eventually leads to the supreme court of a transcendent Lawgiver. But atheists do have a grounds for trying to stop it, condemning it, etc. Justice. The Problem Of Good I just finished Andrew Klavan's excellent conversion memoir, The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes To Faith In Christ . If you then say, but morality (i.e., what we value) is “arbitrary” (we could value lots of different things, and we do!) I deny that your evidential problem of evil works to either disprove God’s existence, or suggest that His nonexistence is probable; and you have misunderstood the nature and purpose of my problem of good (at least in the way I use it). That is, nothing about existing morality disproves atheism or proves theism. And how and why would all human beings be bound to it, in a godless ethical system? In it, he discusses how the Holocaust was an impediment to his conversion. Otherwise, his indictment against God (which fails, even as is) could not even begin to succeed. I know that this is exhausting to think about, so soon... My great aunt and great uncle had COVID-19. Truth. DA says if there is no god, then morality, “will always be either completely arbitrary, relativistic to the point of absurdity, or derived from axiomatic assumptions requiring no less faith than Christian ethics require.”, Yes, nothing shows this to be true. © 2014 Word of Life Church. If you don’t, then you just justified the Rape of Nanking, or at least provided the “ethical” basis for someone else (in power) to justify and rationalize it. . To my knowledge, the way I used the argument (back in 2001) was not to assert that it proves God exists. Typically, by “evil” I am referring to actions that aren’t for the greater good, and by that I mean actions like rape (but there are others). Truth. Nothing shows that God exists, or “put” in (ALL of) us a “sense” of “right and wrong” (knowledge? . DA is right about one thing: “morality” is relative in one sense: people exist, and they often desire/prefer/like/want different things. How can a loving and all-powerful God allow so much evil and suffering? The invaders, though, didn’t even stop at simply murder. If there is no ultimate morality and justice, of course this is true. Family. But in an atheist world of morality, there is no compelling reason to explain why it is immoral, and must never be violated. He is interacting with my paper, The “Problem of Good”: Great Dialogue With an Atheist (the Flip Side of the Problem of Evil Argument Against Christianity) + the Nature of Meaningfulness in Atheism. Let me explain. And perhaps this argument has entered your head without the help of an antagonistic atheist, especially when you have faced a time of tragedy or pain in your own life. I deny that Christian morality is arbitrary at all. NO! And, as I just argued, jails and judges and laws all presuppose an absolute system of morals and right and wrong. Again, the key here lies in the word eschatological, which is a fancy theological 50-cent word for “last things.” It refers to judgment after death, and specifically the Last Judgment: where the scales will be weighed and divine / cosmic justice will be applied. This particular dialogue was a critique of atheism, in response to the atheist problem of evil critique of Christianity. journalist Steve Lamacq, the band’s lyricist and rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards created one of contemporary rock music’s most infamous moments and one of its most challenging images. The ability to find beauty everywhere. Creation is good, it is not evil. Nothing shows that an atheist can’t criticize evil, or cheating, etc., if that criticism is to point out that such things are indeed not maximally kind. If Christianity is true, why do many people seem to live moral, fulfilling lives outside the gospel? If the grave reigns supreme, then evil can claim a kind of triumph. The atheist rock bottom is like peeling an onion: it’s nothing. A good creation marred by evil, but which will be healed. That’s what the dialogue was about. torturing babies) without eventually appealing to God? What seems to be happening is that (typically) kind people want the mean people to be kind, so they try to trick the mean people by saying odd things like “you just have to be kind! Some of our knowledge is already like that! Th If I argued more strongly than that in my 2001 dialogue, I must have worded it wrongly, because I know I had pretty much the same views on theistic proofs then as I do now. What we believe makes a difference in how we act and how we construct moral and ethical systems. that’s again just a fact about the world. You’ve probably never thought about good things as, in some ways, a problem to be pondered. Beauty. . What’s relevant is what was done and what was the worldview of the person doing it. It went very well, and is my very favorite dialogue of all the multiple hundreds I’ve been in. And because evil’s greatest accomplishment — death — has been defeated in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I will choose to focus on what is good. Good. Yep. Joy. . I will give thanks for the goodness all around me. On what basis can we absolutely condemn anything as evil (e.g. And I would say that law in a given country will reflect its religious heritage, because that is what the views of right and wrong, and what should be illegal are ultimately based on: that and natural law. What is meant by good, evil and suffering? This ain’t rocket science. That’s why I wasn’t arguing for those things. Technically, I likely (without looking at it again) wasn’t trying to prove that God was. Assuming Christians did “evil” doesn’t prove or disprove god (except that, technically, Rapes disprove Evil), but assuming Atheists did “evil” wouldn’t prove or disprove God. Those who believe in a God in Whom right and wrong and love are grounded, do possess such a system (especially if that God in fact exists!). That’s a statement of sociology (my major), not philosophy. I will expect good. If one continues this story, there’s nothing that will show that claim to be true. If there is no God, in other words, why is there so much cooperation, self-sacrifice, generosity, altruism, and love in the world? His words will be in blue. Everyone Ought to be kind!” But there’s no evidence for this. On the surface the problem of evil might have an emotional impact, but the moment you begin to assume a moral universe where good and evil exist in absolute terms (necessary for protesting the presence of evil) you are, whether you recognize it or not, assuming the reality of a transcendent Lawgiver generally referred to in the common vernacular as “God.” And there you have it. But yes, given that there is no god, and no other evidence of eternal life, atheists typically conclude that “ultimately” there is no eternal life (as far as we know). You have to casually assume moral absolutes to discuss morality at all (i.e., if you condemn any particular behaviors). : In the mere six weeks during which the Japanese perpetrated the Nanking Massacre starting on Dec. 13, 1937, an estimated 20,000-80,000 Chinese women were brutally raped and sexually assaulted by the invading soldiers. Returning to your “immoral atheist” story, you are right about one thing: if the kind atheist says to the immoral atheist, “I don’t like your unkindness!” that might not register/affect the immoral atheist. DA is right that an atheist truth seeker would examine apparent shortcomings to atheism. The problem of good is that it unravels the argument raised by the problem of evil. But 4 is false if it means this: “atheists can’t believe in a future state of everlasting bliss/happiness”. The theists mistake is in thinking that everyone really does have to be kind (and some atheists say this, which doesn’t help), regardless of anything. And it is the good news I have come to believe in Jesus Christ. Rather, the evidence shows that we do have inherent biological tendencies (but virtually no awareness knowledge from the get go of conception), most of which are selfish! But that’s an altogether separate argument (or separate large set of arguments). There are dualist atheists, but I am unaware of any who believe in human immortality, and a blissful afterlife. I’m now taking the time to read (and reply to) your lengthy exchange with Mike Hardie, what you call the “Problem of Good” dialogue. It’s no solution at all. Are there problems (“shortcomings”) with atheism? DA thinks there are worrisome moral implications for atheism. Even though there is no god, atheists can hope for mean people to be punishing “in the end”, and for kind people to be rewarded “in the end”. . Art. Also, send me the Catholic Newsletter and special offers. (I’ve yet to see anyone come close to refuting the EPOE, but that’s for another day). Read 2 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. One thing at a time. Morality is fundamentally about values, which often differ. If there were no God, they wouldn’t be there and evil would be far, far greater than it is now (and it is a huge and troubling problem now). It’s central to the problem of good. What you “ought” to do (even morally!) But those are just the facts of our world. It But nothing about this proves God/disproves atheism. But Japanese troops during the Rape of Nanking (not particularly religiously observant) did not do so, did they? The problem of good and evil in the world has been a challenging subject for hundreds, even thousands of years. Today, Professor Howard Kainz puts things into a Catholic perspective that both enlightens and provokes … The use of imaginative metaphors (e.g. DA then wrongly says “their behavior proves it.” That is, when atheists say “I like kindness” and say “you ought to be kind!” DA thinks this proves that God exists. But this is false. Then, once they’d finished with their victims, they often murdered them. That remains to be shown.DA says that atheists have 5 problems: 1) Can’t really consistently define “evil” in the first place;2) Has no hope of eventual eschatological justice;3) Has no objective basis of condemning evil;4) Has no belief in a heaven of everlasting bliss;5) Has to believe in an ultimately absolutely hopeless and meaningless universe.”. An essay or paper on Mencius: The Problem of Good and Evil. This particular dialogue was a critique of atheism, in response to the atheist problem of evil critique of Christianity. Friday night we will have a special Thanksgiving Praise & Communion Service. . Yes, folks like you would do that, no doubt. The problem of Good Deeds and Faith. The Problem of Good Author Greg Koukl Published on 05/23/2012. Number 4 is true if it means this: “atheists who believe no gods exist don’t believe in a place called Heaven made by a god”. The issue here is whether atheism is false. I’m talking about meaningful purpose here and now in our human lives. But nothing about that disproves atheism. Indeed, as Pascal said, “The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.”. They won't be shaken off as an illusion Or a comforting invention I might keep out of my head When I don't want to be consoled. But that’s not true. You apply that and assume it to be true. Dostoevsky was right when he said, “Without God all things are permissible.”. On a May evening in 1991, after the indie rock band the Manic Street Preachers had played a gig at the Norwich Arts Centre and during an interview with New Musical Expres.(NM.) . Yes, theists usually here try to say “morality” is not like that. DA is right that an atheist truth seeker would examine apparent shortcomings to atheism. It has been marred, but it can be healed. (Romans 8:18f). They sometimes went door-to-door, dragging out women and even small children and violently gang-raping them. DA is honest when he says, “Christians believe that God put this inherent sense in all human beings, so that they instinctively have a moral compass, and therefore largely agree on right and wrong in the main”. It’s not clear from the get-go. Thanks! Please note that this post contains images of hate symbols. It doesn’t prove God or disprove atheism. The only way that evil can claim victory is if death is the end. Falling leaves and laughing children. ), put there by God, just as believers do, whether they acknowledge it or not”. And again, nothing here (or elsewhere) requires anything about God or its supposed ethics). And there’s the mistake. If it means “actual values”, then it’s false. I was saying, in effect, “you say we have a problem? But even now the light is beginning to shine and I am surrounded by so much goodness. To hear it told you would think that evil is so ubiquitous that goodness cannot be found. The word good means different things to different people. Law presupposes moral absolutes. He winds up arguing as much for God as against, by utilizing such weak arguments. Loftus Atheist Error #10: Prophet Jeremiah vs. Mosaic Law? Howard Kainz. Justice. But that’s not true. But if the author means, atheists typically don’t have any strong evidence for such justice, that’s true, but so too true for the theist. One arguing the problem of good, and I am unaware of any believe... Of living a life that in the world 's largest community for readers against, by such... Evil and suffering... my great aunt and great uncle had COVID-19 Nanking ( not religiously! Nanking ( not particularly religiously observant ) did not do so, we as. Dragging out women and even small children and violently gang-raping them atheist can try to say “ ”! Condemn any particular behaviors ) there it will be a good world filled with good things to people! Get ahead of ourselves ) meant “ at rock bottom ” and define it.. 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