Any Comments From The Debate Hour?

Friday, January 12th, David Wood and I had a crossfire debate at The Debate Hour that discussed the issues surrounding our debate on God and Suffering.

Anyone who would like to comment on the program (pro or con), this is a good place to do so. That is, if anyone was listening. ;-) Thanks for your comments either way.

You can download this debate for $1.75 by clicking here.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can you reiterate, if you don't mind, the point you made near the end that Wood has to retreat to his world explain to the problem?

John W. Loftus said...

There are always Bayesian background factors to any debate which leads the participants to believe one way on an issue. What if our debate topic was on the plausibility of the resurrection of Jesus, and rather than dealing with that issue I argued that the problem of evil makes theism implausible? In that sense we would be talking about two separate issues. In such a debate he could spend all of his time talking about the resurrection and I could spend all my time talking about the problem of evil, and it's quite possible I never have to comment on the resurrection and he might never have to comment on the problem of evil. That’s what he's doing when it comes to the problem of evil when he brings into the debate the arguments for the existence of God. We’re not debating the design argument. We’re debating the problem of evil. Bringing into this debate the arguments for God’s existence is like debating another topic. This is very important to note, for the more David has to lean on the whole world-view for support when discussing the problem of evil, then he is admitting he cannot answer this problem on its own terms. He cannot defend his faith on this issue without resorting to his whole worldview, and in our debate almost two thirds of his opening statement was not specifically addressing the problem of evil.

Anonymous said...

Opps, I meant to say "world view" instead of "world," but you understood what I said, anyway.

I see. That explains why you have chosen to ignore many points and claims that he brought up and tried to lead the discussion back to "the crux of the problem." I agree - he did have to rely on the Christian world-view to response to your problem. For example, he really can't do without the "two-world" view, which is already something that is arguable.

Nonetheless, it seems to me that it is very difficult to argue this problem in its own term, for theist at least. When you ask him something like "what would you do if you are God and you see intense suffering?" He has to go back and consult his own moral standard, which is inevitably based on his world view. So when he tries to justify what he would do, he would have to justify his moral, and to justify his moral he has to justify his world view.

So yea, I pretty much agree with you, but I just don't know how a theist can argue the problem of evil without appealing to his world view.

The Shogun said...

John,

I'll offer four responses. First, your claim was that the problem of evil makes the existence of God implausible. Like it or not, other evidence is relevant to whether or not something is implausible. If you say it's not, then you're saying something like this: "If we just focus on suffering, and we ignore everything else in the world, we wouldn't conclude that God exists." But this is quite different from saying that suffering makes the existence of God implausible. Think about it. Suppose we debate the topic: "The design argument proves beyond all doubt that God exists." You would, of course, bring up evidence against God's existence. But I would never in a million years say that you were backing away from the topic, because other facts ARE relevant to whether my argument proves what I say it proves.

Second, I never left the topic. As I explained in the discussion, there are certain conditions for even having an argument from evil. You need suffering humans and animals, and these require explanations. You need a world where all this suffering is taking place, and this world requires an explanation. You need objective moral values to make your argument, and there needs to be a source of these moral values. I'm pointing out a problem within your argument: The conclusion doesn't sit well with the conditions of the argument. Furthermore, I showed that you're being inconsistent in your argument. You apply one level of skepticism to theistic responses to evil, and another level of skepticism to your own argument. This is a problem that you continue to ignore.

Third, if you recall correctly, YOU were the first one to speak in our first debate, and YOU were the one who brought up arguments for theism in general and the design argument in particular. So it's okay for you to talk about arguments for theism, but it's not okay for me?

Fourth, you just said that almost two thirds of my opening statement in our debate wasn't about the problem of evil. Let's see. My first section was an introduction to the problem of evil. My second section was my Venus de Milo analogy, where I argued that, just as we would never conclude that the Venus de Milo arose by chance just because the arms are missing, so also we shouldn't conclude that God doesn't exist just because there's suffering. In my third section, I explained three theodicies. In my fourth section, I pointed out that your claim is that suffering makes the existence of God implausible, but that when you say this you're ignoring all sorts of other evidence that bears on this question. In my final section, I argued that the argument from evil cannot be made without appealing to objective moral values. The only part that isn't directly relevant to the problem of evil was the section where I mentioned other evidence. But this WAS relevent to the TOPIC, which, again, was your claim that suffering makes the existence of God implausible.

Finally, in our two debates, you repeatedly brought up the problem of hell, the problem of divine hiddenness, and other problems. You argued that since God is self-sufficient, He doesn't need to create anything. But these are separate arguments, and they have nothing to do with human and animal suffering IN OUR WORLD, which was the topic of our debate.

So what I'm hearing is: (1) it's okay for you to bring up as many arguments as you like, even though you're telling people that a single argument can do all the work, and (2) only one piece of evidence is relevant to whether or not God's existence is plausible.

John, do you remember my review, where I said that your WILL is involved in all of this, rather than merely your intellect? Consistency is important. If you tell people that you've got a single argument that proves something, then you should only use that argument. If you're saying that this one argument outweighs all other evidence to the contrary, you shouldn't object when someone tosses this other evidence into the scale to see if you're right. If you object to this, we have to wonder how confident you are that your argument actually does what you say it does.

I think you should go ahead and admit that the argument from evil doesn't make the existence of God implausible. William Rowe and Michael Martin disagree with you. Reggie also disagrees with you. The argument just doesn't work that well, and the fact that you're trying to avoid bringing other evidence into the discussion (when, as I showed, this other evidence is presupposed in your argument) shows that your case is weak.

The Shogun said...

As for the issue of a worldview, think about what the atheist is claiming. He's claiming that intense suffering and the existence of God are mutually exclusive. As far as this argument goes, the theist only needs to show that there is a plausible state of affairs in which God and suffering may coexist. Even if he does this by appealing to his worldview, he has succeeded in showing that your argument fails, since your claim was that God and suffering cannot coexist.

To show you that you are once again being inconsistent, look at how this works in reverse:

DAVID: "You atheists don't believe in an intelligent designer, and yet you know that there is amazing biological complexity in our world. These two beliefs can't coexist. You can't say that there's tremendous complexity without admiting that there's a designer."

JOHN: "But evolution produced this complexity."

DAVID: "What? Now you're just appealing to your worldview!"

Would you accept my response? Of course not, because it's not a good response. If I'm saying that the only source of complexity is a designer, you have every right to propose anythin that would prove me wrong.

John W. Loftus said...

David, I'll have to respond later. You have some interesting points, and you did a much better job than in our debate October 7th. You're learning, and that's what happens when we engage each other like this. I'll force you to have good arguments, and that can only be good for you.

Sophia De Morgan said...

John,

I've watched the October 7th debate several times, and it's clear that David won the debate on the topic of whether or not suffering makes God's existence implausible. This formulation of the problem of evil was your argument and you had the affirmative position: "Yes, suffering makes God's existence implausible." Therefore, it was your job to establish that and not just give examples of suffering, although they do win points in terms of emotional impact. David successfully critiqued your view, and you had little to say in response since you had a prepared rebuttal. It seems that the thing that unsettled you the most during the Oct. 7th debate was that David didn't just give the same old arguments that you had expected. For this you accuse him of getting off topic, but I think he's sufficiently established in his comments above that this is simply false.

You may have felt that David had a stronger case during the radio show b/c of some new arguments, but it seems like it's because he had more time to talk. The changes he's made have no direct relation to the arguments you gave on Oct. 7th. As I already mentioned you neglected to respond to many of his critiques, so there really is no need to be so condescending as if his improvements are due to your brilliance. I do grant that debating with anyone with an opposing view can be helpful, although you need to consider that you might be the one whose arguments are not as strong as you think. Many prominent atheists disagree with you on this version of the PoE, as do I.

openlyatheist said...

Sophia De Morgan,

Are you sure you are not David Wood's alter ego? I ask because you have very little info on your profile besides the same "Shogun" picture that is on David Wood's profile, as well as a "My Web Page" link to his website.

Perhaps you are just a big David Wood fan?

chris said...

David, you may think your venus analogy proves something about god but it only shows that you can make a false analogy as well as the next xian.

Re the wizard of oz theodicy, you should remember that the wizard was not any kind of a whiz - he was simply a bumbling old balloonist. Also remember that magic does not exist in this universe as far as we know, although of course fairies COULD be at the bottom of the garden. Consider looking behind the curtain of your own myths.

Sophia De Morgan said...

Openly atheist,

I linked to the answeringinfidels.org website because I also have articles posted there regarding two of Elaine Pagels' books. The reason why I don't put much information on my profile is b/c David critiques Muhammad and Islam quite a bit on that site, and I don't want to be killed. We both have a shogun picture b/c we're thinking of starting a blog of several people all with samurai or shoguns or something like that. Just so you know, I had the picture first and David stole it from me. He was going to use one from a video game, but he liked mine better. =)

Sophia De Morgan said...

Incidentally openlyatheist, you don't have a lot of information posted on your profile, so are you an alterego for John Loftus or just a really big John Loftus fan? =)

The Shogun said...

Pop quiz for anyone who has nothing better to do.

QUESTION: If there's a cool picture of a Shogun, who should get to use it?

(A) Someone called "The Shogun."
(B) Someone called "Sophia."

To ask the question is to answer it.

Here's a link to my original picture, which would be my second choice:

http://www.infernett.com/fer/Fondos/shogun.jpg

The Shogun said...

Chris,

You obviously didn't watch the debate very carefully.

I wasn't claiming to prove anything significant by my Venus de Milo analogy. It was meant to clarify something important. More than a hundred years ago, someone found two pieces of the Venus de Milo in an underground cavern. The statue was severely damaged. But this damage didn't lead Yorgos to conclude that he had found a natural rock formation. Why? Because it was clearly the work of a designer. Thus, there were two alternatives. First, the statue could have originally possessed arms, and these arms were later broken off. This corresponds to the view of theists who say that God originally created everything good, and that suffering came later. Second, if we reject the first alternative, we would say that the sculptor must have had reasons for making an armless statue. These reasons would correspond to theistic attempts to explain why God might allow evil. My only claim here is that if something looks designed, we should first seek alternatives that are consistent with that design, and that only when these explanations fail should we conclude that there couldn't have been a designer. That seems quite reasonable to me, and our world and the life in it certainly appear as if they were designed.

As for the Wizard of Oz Theodicy, I said in my opening statement that the Wizard in the movie was a fake. (You're only pointing out the obvious.) But this wasn't the point. The point was that Dorothy and her friends went searching for a Wizard. Why? Because (1) they had problems, and (2) they were in a place of magic and wonder. In other words, these two features, when combined, lead us to go searching for someone who can make things right, and we find these same features in our world.

You say that there isn't any magic in our world. Nonsense! Even if you're a diehard atheist, you still believe in quite a bit of magic. Try pulling a universe out of your hat! And for those who aren't biased against the evidence, the resurrection of Jesus is certainly a work of magic, by a very powerful Wizard.

John W. Loftus said...

Sophia, I'm always curious as to the credentials of someone when they declare a winner in any debate, and I'm always curious as to why they think so.

openlyatheist said...

"so are you an alterego for John Loftus or just a really big John Loftus fan? =)"

Probably closer to a 'little fan' of Loftus. He looks much taller than me. ;)

John W. Loftus said...

David,

We’re not debating the design argument. We’re debating the problem of evil. The word “God” mentioned in the debate proposition was the omni-God of your beliefs, not the specifically designer God. I only mentioned that the arguments for the existence of God don’t do what theist claims they do because I anticipated what you would say, through the help of Jeffery Jay Lowder. I also deny I had the burden of proof you claim I had. I never said I have one argument that “proves” anything. I also deny that I needed to argue against concessionary solutions to the problem of evil. Furthermore, the problem of religious diversity has led to religious wars, Inquisitions, Crusades and terrorist bombers. So the problem of “divine hiddenness” is a sub-set of the problem of evil, as is the problem of hell (which is obvious). As far as the Venus statue itself goes, I’ll be responding to you soon enough in a separate Blog entry.

There are a lot of arguments that I think makes your belief implausible, both in and of themselves, and taken as a whole. This doesn’t mean that in a debate I alone must stick to the topic at hand while you can bring the full weight of your whole worldview to bear on the issue. If I had done what you did then our debate would be about the plausibilty of theism itself, and all arguments pro and con would be on the boards. We might even have had to debate the mind-brain problem, you see. The whole reason we debate a specific topic is to limit our debate, even if what we believe about the specific topic at hand is closely tied to what we believe about the whole.

If you and I disagree further on these things, let's give it a rest and let people decide for themselves. We've each said our piece, okay? Otherwise, to continue would be way too frustrating to me, since I regard you as a friend. I would much rather discuss the issues surrounding the problem of evil than on who won the debate, or how to interpret the words of the debate proposition. I don't care as much about that as you do. Let others decide, okay. Otherwise it sounds like two children arguing over a toy.

I know there are atheists who don’t agree that the existence of evil makes the existence of your omni-God implausible, like Reggie Finley. So what? Is he an expert on this issue? Has he done the study you and I have on the issue? At the end of the program he said I am an “atheist presuppositionalist.” I was stunned into silence when he said this, without knowing what to say about such ignorance, coming from him. What is such a thing in the first place? To have someone agree with you who is ignorant about this doesn't say much about whether you are correct, in my opinion. Given this ignorance, am I now supposed to accept his judgment on what I think about evil and a good God? Hardly. As far as William Rowe, and Michael Martin goes, please quote them to me, for I’m interested. But even there, I am entitled to argue for what I believe, even if they disagree. But provide me the evidence about them first.

I'm making available my opening statement for people to judge for themselves.

The Shogun said...

John,

I agree that we should quit, so I’ll say a few things and I’m done. Final Statement! (Unless you say something I really disagree with.)

First, we weren’t simply debating the problem of evil. We were debating whether or not this argument makes the existence of God implausible. And there’s a big difference. All I said in our first debate was that you need to show, somehow, that this argument is stronger than all evidence to the contrary, and I listed many arguments for theism without talking about them. The point was that there are many arguments that support theism, and so if you’re saying that your argument is stronger than all of them combined, you need to explain why. If you don’t explain why your argument is better than all other arguments, we have no reason to accept your claim that this argument makes theism implausible.

Second, in our first debate, I listed a number of arguments for theism. Then, in your review, you criticized me for not going into more detail with the arguments. Now you’re saying that I shouldn’t even mention them. So what I’m hearing is this: “David was wrong for not defending the arguments for theism, but if he does defend them, he’s still wrong. Thus, no matter what he does, he’s wrong.” Of course, you could still say that these arguments should not even be mentioned, but here we’re just going to disagree, and people like Michael Martin, William Rowe, and others would all disagree with you. If you’re saying that your argument, when placed in a scale, outweighs all others, why would you object when someone puts other arguments into the scale? That’s one way of testing whether your claim is true, and so it’s valid in a debate. And don’t forget that I argued that these other arguments are relevant for two additional reasons. One, because objective moral values, a world, animals and humans, minds, and other things are all necessary for there to even be an argument from evil. They are all conditions of your argument, and yet they all point to theism, which means that the conclusion of your argument is in tension with the conditions of your argument, and this is a problem for your argument. Two, I showed that you’re being inconsistent in the way you evaluate arguments. Using the same reasoning you employ in dismissing the argument from design, theists can reject your argument from evil. This inconsistency is relevant to whether or not we should accept your claims.

Third, our proposition in the debate was whether suffering “IN OUR WORLD” makes the existence of God implausible. How can you defend your constant use of the argument from Hell? The strength of the argument from evil is that we see tons of suffering in our world. Yet you constantly appeal to hypothetical suffering that you don’t believe will ever happen. (Many Christians reject a literal hell as well.) So can you honestly say that hell was relevant to our topic? And let’s consider divine hiddenness. You say that there are religious wars because of divine hiddenness. But this is false. There are religious wars because humans tend to kill each other when we disagree. Don’t you see? The reason there is suffering in religious wars is because we kill each other (our fault), not because God hasn’t given us enough information. In other words, if we were peaceful, and God never told us anything at all, we wouldn’t be suffering because of a lack of information. So is divine hiddenness directly related to suffering? Hardly. You also said that God shouldn’t have created anything at all. What does this have to do with anything?

Fourth, as for burden of proof, I’m not saying that theists have nothing to say here. Of course we have to show some things during a debate. But the true burden of proof is on you, for two reasons. One, this is an atheist argument. You are claiming that you have an argument which proves something. As such, you need to show that it proves what you say it proves, and you need to defend your argument against criticism. If I can find problems in your argument, you need to address them. Otherwise, we’ll have to conclude that your argument has problems, and we’re under no obligation to accept a flawed argument. Two, you bear an even greater burden of proof because of the extremely strong claim you’re making. You aren’t simply claiming that evil is a problem for theism. You’re saying that evil makes theism implausible. But you have to show that it makes theism implausible, and if you don’t do this, you haven’t succeeded in the debate.

Fifth, you say that Reggie is “ignorant” because he said that the argument you’re using is an atheist presuppositionalist argument. But I thought that was one of the most insightful comments of the debate. I had been criticizing your position because you were presupposing that pain/pleasure are the top priorities, and for presupposing a number of other things that theists would reject (e.g. that rebellion against God is a small matter). Reggie noticed that this is a presuppositionalist argument, and if no one else has recognized this, then I applaud Reggie for being so insightful. I also thought he was quite reasonable throughout the debate, and that he was a good moderator. He agrees with me that the argument from evil doesn’t make the existence of God implausible all by itself, but this has nothing to do with ignorance. As I said, William Rowe and Michael Martin agree with him. Are they ignorant?

Finally, you wanted some quotations from Rowe and Martin. Here are two:

“What sort of grounds might a theist have for believing that God exists? Well, he might endeavor to justify his belief by appealing to one or more of the traditional arguments: Ontological, Cosmological, Teleological, Moral, etc. Second, he might appeal to certain aspects of religious experience, perhaps even his own religious experience. Third, he might try to justify theism as a plausible theory in terms of which we can account for a variety of phenomena. Although an atheist must hold that the theistic God does not exist, can he not also believe, and be justified in so believing, that some of these ‘justifications of theism’ do actually rationally justify some theists in their belief that there exists a supremely good, omnipotent, omniscient being? It seems to me that he can” (William Rowe, “The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism”).

“Rowe is aware that even if evil does tend to disconfirm theism, arguments for the existence of God may tend to confirm theism more than evil disconfirms it. For this reason, an essential part of any argument for the nonexistence of God is the refutation of arguments for the existence of God. Unless these arguments are shown to be worthless, the theist may well accept the fact that evil, taken in isolation from other evidence, tends to disconfirm theism without rejecting theism. So if Rowe’s argument is to be used to establish the nonexistence of God, it is important to combine it with refutations of the argument for the existence of God” (Michael Martin, Atheism: A Philosophical Justification, 340-1).

Both Rowe and Martin reject the existence of God, but they both allow that a theist may hold that other arguments outweigh the evidence gained from evil. But your claim is that the evidence from evil outweighs all other evidence. Even if you were right, you would have to show that your argument does this, and you never do.

Anonymous said...

The current discussion does seem to me is more about the debate than about the Problem of Evil itself. Regardless, I personally think that both David Wood and John Loftus are admirable for they are willing to stand up and defend their beliefs in an intellectual way; because in the process everyone knows more about the issue and thus is benefited.

Nonetheless, as an outsider, I do not think winning and losing is important; it would be foolish to suppose that the Problem of Evil can be settled in a debate. The best that one can hope for is to explore more problems in the problem and thus having better understanding the issue itself.

Again, I would like to again thank both Wood and Loftus. I believe that many has learned a lot from your debate - I sure did.

The Shogun said...

I just visited Reggie's site, and the debate is available for download. Atheists, help support atheism!

Okay now. If I actually get all these symbols right and this link actually works, we'll have proof that a loving God exists.

Loftus-Wood II

Thanks for the comments and encouragement Lok.

Anonymous said...

the shogun,

I do have a thought regarding this issue myself and would like to hear your opinion, if you don't mind. Note that this is something I personally want to ask you, and not necessary connected to the debate itself. I, by no means, think I have reproduced what you have said in The Debate Hour; but this is my honest attempt to reiterate what I have heard. If you think this is way off or not interesting, feel free to disregard my question.

The problem of evil and Christian theism do seem to be able to be made consistent. That is, if we grant that there is something that is good-in-itself and it can only be gained through various degrees of displeasure. For example, patience, as you mention, is not possible in a world without suffering/displeasure. Moreover, if we grant that there is a next world where there is no suffering (plus other good-in-itself) and God would let us enter into this world as a gift, if we want to. I suppose this shows the benevolence of God.

My analogy for this position perhaps could be this: Before he was born, suppose the parents of Ludwig Van Beethoven somehow had learned that later in Ludwig Van's life he would suffer a deafness. Not only he would suffer deafness, but the deafness would arrive during the first peak of his career as composer. As a result. he would suffer mentally and socially. However, because of his deafness, he would be inspired to create music that would never be heard before and he would be praised forever as THE greatest composer ever. Now, let us also suppose that they had the ability to genetically alter Ludwig Van so that he would not go deaf, but consequently he would never accomplish what he could have neither. Knowing this, his parents decided to keep him the way he was - to let him go deaf. They argue that this was the morally superior action, because for a period of suffering Ludwig Van would gain a eternity of fame.

Now I would not argue that they have made the wrong decision. I would say their action is good because their action had benefited both humanity and Ludwig Van tremendously.

However, I can't help but to notice that at the same time they have no sense of compassion, which is usually considered a kind of virtues and is good-in-itself; because if they are compassionate person they would have to shut-off their senses of compassion in order to just let Ludwig Van suffer. That is, if they truly have compassion, they would inevitably prevent Ludwig to suffer, no matter what the consequence is because compassion is a good-in-itself. Now they have no choice because they were forced into a dilemma due to their lack of ability to make both the states of affair of "Ludwig Van not going deaf" and "Ludwig Van becoming the greatest composer " to happen.

The point of the whole thing is this: the Beethovans' problem can never be resolved because they are limited beings. But the God in question should be omni-benevolent, omnipotent and omniscient. To say that God has to let suffering happen in order for us to experience certain virtues and good-in-itself seems to me is saying that He is like the Beethoven parents in the analogy, which is bizarre because it then seems saying that God is forced into having no compassion for the suffering in the world. That is, an omnipotent God is forced into making certain decision.

Now one may answer that this is why God sent Jesus to save the world. But that is not answering my problem.

My point is that as soon as He knows there are going to be suffering in the world (and that would be at least before he create the world, I suppose), He inevitably has to have no compassion for the suffering in the world in order to keep creating it, because He must know how to avoid suffering while bringing us the Goods He wants us to experience since he is omniscient, He must have the ability to do it because he is omnipotent, and He should have the compassion to do so if He is also omni-benevolent

Moreover, if one say that he has to create this world in order for us to experience certain virtues because, for example, patience is impossible without waiting, then His omnipotence seems to be downplayed. Again, it is like saying He is forced into the situation.

It is kind of late so I will stop here, but my question is pretty much this. I will clarify if I need to.

John W. Loftus said...

You and I have probably lost everyone by now. They probably don’t care much about our little disputes. Lok has hung in there so far and I very much appreciate him.

David, look how you inadequately describe the debate, even now: …we weren’t simply debating the problem of evil. We were debating whether or not this argument makes the existence of God implausible. And there’s a big difference.

Once again David, there’s a big difference in how you describe what we were debating. We were debating whether intense suffering (my focus) makes the existence of an omnibenelovent, omnipotent, and omniscient God implausible. I deny I needed to show what you repeatedly claim I must show, and I deny that I must debate against theistic concessionary solutions to intense suffering.

You continue to misrepresent what we were debating and what I needed to show. You make unreasonable claims that I did not agree to either before or during the debate. Why? It's obvious to the bystander these are unreasonable demands. You said: All I said in our first debate was that you need to show, somehow, that this argument is stronger than all evidence to the contrary.

I maintain you are participating in logical gerrymandering here, because you are bringing the full weight of your entire worldview to bear on this one particular issue, while I am not. We were debating one specific issue within our system of beliefs. If we wanted to talk about “all the evidence to the contrary,” then we should’ve just debated theism as a whole, and not limit our topic to just one issue. You claim I must “prove” my case, against all versions of theism, and against all the evidence of your entire world view.

Now, granted, I did use rhetoric in the debate itself when I claimed the problem of intense suffering is an “insurmountable” problem for your omni-God hypothesis. Such rhetoric reveals my personal opinion on the matter, even if I didn’t need to argue so forcefully for my case at all. But that's the nature of debates. If I can argue a stronger case than the one I actually have to defend it helps the audience see that my burden of proof has been met.

Lastly, I see nothing in either Rowe’s or Martin’s understanding that is different than mine. The problem of evil is one of many arguments that each on their own terms makes theism implausible (or improbable). You do realize that both Rowe and Martin think evil makes the existence of God implausible (or improbable) don’t you? That’s not any different than me. Furthermore, they both think that the arguments for the existence of God are implausible (improbable) on their own terms, just like me. And we all agree that a theist (qua theist) may find no problem in believing despite the existence of evil, but that says nothing about whether they should believe despite the existence of evil. We all argue that the theist should not believe in the face of evil.

As far as hell goes, I was actually talking about the afterlife. The theist claims that suffering in this world can be justified because of the reward they will receive in heaven, and if this is an acceptable reason for justifying suffering in OUR WORLD, then I am entitled to speak of the other side of that scenario.

John W. Loftus said...

David, can we give this a rest now, and talk about the issues?

DagoodS said it best when he wrote:

Seriously, can you envision a person walking out of your debate with the thought, “Wow! That John W. Loftus sure put up some good arguments. He made the existence of God not very likely. He even made it not very probable. But he…just…didn’t…quite make it to the level of ‘not plausible.’ He swung the hammer. The ball went up. It hurled passed “unlikely.” Slowed on “improbable” and then stopped just short of ringing the bell of “implausible.” Too bad. If only he had changed a four letters and a vowel in the Proposition, he would have prevailed. “

I doubt anyone (including myself) ever makes such a fine distinction within a debate. Again, perhaps I am wrong, but it sure seems nit-picky to me.

John W. Loftus said...

Now, onward to the issues themselves. Reggie's comment will serve as a springboard for me.

David wrote: "you say that Reggie is “ignorant” because he said that the argument you’re using is an atheist presuppositionalist argument. But I thought that was one of the most insightful comments of the debate."

And I think it was the stupidest comment!

Yeah, finally a moderator who agrees with you! ;-) But no other intelligent or educated atheist I know of thinks so, and many intelligent Christians disagree with him (and you) as well. It's ignorant...very ignorant.

Let's say I argue for the belief in Zeus, who is not the creator of the world ex-nihilo, even though I claim he is still omnipotent. Now you want to philosophically argue that such a being as described does not exist. How would you do this? In order to argue with one of the premises of what I believe you must grant the other premises, even if you don't accept those premises, correct? So, by granting that Zeus exists, and that he is not the creator ex-nihilo, you can proceed to argue that he cannot be omnipotent. Granting premises you do not accept means nothing. You are reducing to absurdity my beliefs by internally critiquing the consistency of what I believe. Get it? I may in turn redefine what the word "omnipotence" means, of course, but if I do, then you have every right to show the "price I must pay" for my other beliefs, if I do.

It's ignorant to claim you are doing anything wrong here by granting premises about Zeus that you don't accept for the purpose of debating a single weak premise. Ignorant. Ignorant. Ignorant. And that's what YOU do when you argue that I must have a standard of goodness in order for my argument against what YOU believe to succeed. Sheeesh. If I cannot do this with your argument, then you cannot do it when you critique any philosophical argument.

Perhaps now you can understand what Dr. Hatab said, "that's just false."

The Shogun said...

John,

You continue to misrepresent what Dr. Hatab said. He didn’t deny that you were appealing to objective moral values. He simply said that some philosophers have proposed systems of objective moral values apart from God. I didn’t deny this. I only said that no one has offered any systems that are good. But you keep quoting Dr. Hatab as if he denied my claim that you’re appealing to objective moral values. He may believe this, but it’s not what he said. So quit using it.

DagoodS’s statement also misrepresents what I said. He’s saying that I’m nitpicking and that by sticking to the topic, I’m not helping theism. But what did I actually say in my review? I said that in a debate, a theist has a general purpose and a specific purpose. The general purpose is to defend theism. The specific purpose is to answer the proposition. The theist tries to achieve both purposes, and I think I did achieve both. But again, as far as the specific purpose goes, we must take debate propositions seriously, and if you agree to defend a proposition, you must defend what it actually says. If you don’t want to defend what the proposition says, you should propose a different topic. The fact that you’re trying to wriggle out of it now only shows that you didn’t defend the actual proposition. As I have stated, I don’t thing the argument from evil is any significant threat to theism, let alone something that makes theism implausible.

You have repeatedly said that you are not supposed to defend concessionary solutions to the problem of evil. But when have I ever said that you must defend these solutions? When have I ever offered one? The fact is, I never have, so you’re arguing against a straw man. I have never appealed to a God who is anything but all-powerful, all-good, and all-knowing. True, I asked you to show where you’re getting your definition of what an all-good being would do. Your first response was that it comes from my own position. But I showed that this is false. There’s nothing in my worldview that says that pain/pleasure should be God’s top priority. There’s nothing in my worldview that says that God must prevent all suffering. There’s definitely nothing in my worldview that says that God shouldn’t take sin seriously, or that free will isn’t important, or that virtue is insignificant, or that our world isn’t good. These come from your worldview. Recognizing this, you retreated and said something like, “Well, we need to use ‘good’ in the same way we use it in everyday life.” I agree to an extent. But how do we use ‘good’ in everyday life? When we say that Mother Theresa was good, do we mean that she possessed certain values that have been instilled in us by evolution and culture, but which have no objective validity at all? Or do we mean that she is good in some sense that transcends biology and culture? If you say that our normal way of using ‘good’ is in the former sense, then you can’t say any of this applies to God. If you agree with me that we use ‘good’ in an objective sense, then you’ve just given me everything I need for a proof of God’s existence. My position hasn’t changed John. Either show me where you’re getting objective moral values, or drop your argument from evil.

As for what you must show, let me get this straight. You came to this debate saying, “I can show that the proposition ‘Suffering makes the existence of God implausible’ is true.” Now you’re saying that you don’t really need to show that it’s true, you don’t need to answer objections, you don’t need to respond to other evidence. But let’s be clear on this. If you say that argument X shows that Y is implausible, like it or not you’re saying that it outweighs all evidence for Y. And yet you’re saying that you don’t need to consider evidence for Y. What exactly are you claiming? That if we ignore all evidence for a hypothesis and focus our attention on one piece of evidence against it we will reject the hypothesis? I wouldn’t disagree. But you can’t claim that by doing this we have made the hypothesis implausible.

As for Rowe and Martin, they don’t agree with you as far as your topic. Rowe believes that a theist can be rationally justified in accepting theism. You claim that theism is implausible because of suffering. Can a person be rationally justified in believing something that is obviously implausible? And Martin says that an essential part of showing that God does not exist is refuting arguments for theism. You claim that you can show that theism is implausible without refuting arguments for theism. Again, the fact that you’re trying to wriggle out of this shows that you don’t believe you have succeeded.

You say that you, Martin, and Rowe all agree that theism is false. I know. But the question is whether you all agree that the argument from evil, taken in isolation from all other arguments, is enough to show that the existence of God is implausible (and this would mean that it’s implausible in itself, not merely from your perspective). And you clearly don’t agree on this. All you’re saying now is that the argument from evil is convincing to you. But this is a million miles away from showing that it should be convincing to everyone.

In the future, perhaps we should change our debate proposition, since you clearly don’t want to defend this one. I think you want to defend the proposition: “Can an atheist give lots of examples of suffering, ask ‘Why would God allow this?’, and yet never offer a strong argument showing that his argument proves anything at all?” This seems to be what you’re defending, but we don’t disagree on this. We might also defend: “Can an atheist agree to defend a certain proposition, then repeatedly claim that he doesn’t really need to prove anything in a debate, then stomp his foot and say that he has shown that theism is implausible, then call people who disagree with him ‘ignorant’?” I wouldn’t disagree with this either.

As for Reggie, now you’re saying that he’s not only ignorant, but also stupid. At least, you’re saying that he made a very stupid comment. But I agree with him, so I must be stupid as well. And you’ve never shown why he’s wrong. Let me clarify this again. If you presuppose in your argument that rebellion against God isn’t that important, or that free will doesn’t really matter, or that virtue is useless because it doesn’t play a role in heaven, or that someone who is “good” must prevent all suffering, you’re not getting any of this from theism. You’re bringing these views to the argument as presuppositions. The theist doesn’t share these presuppositions, which is why your argument won’t work with a theist. But if your argument depends on presupposing your own values and views, then you’re making a presuppositionalist argument. You can call everyone who disagrees with you ‘ignorant,’ but all the name-calling in the world doesn’t change the fact that your argument depends on your priorities, and that you have never defended these priorities. I’ll say again that Reggie did a great job. He certainly disagreed with me far more than he disagreed with you. But where he did disagree with you, he was absolutely correct. And I’ll add that I have a great deal of respect for people (whether atheist or theist) who don’t automatically side with every claim of the person defending their own view.

The Shogun said...

Lok,

You’ve raised a good question, and I’ll respond first by clarifying what the theist’s goal here is.

Theists say that God is all-powerful and all-good, and they say this for certain reasons, whether philosophical, religious, or both. Atheists object that suffering in the world poses a problem for the theist’s belief, so the theist is inclined to answer this charge.

But what is the theist supposed to do here? Atheists seem to think that the theist must explain all evil and suffering, and that any failure to provide an adequate explanation means that theism is false. This view is wrong, however, for two reasons. First, if atheists are saying that theists must explain everything or else their belief is untenable, then the theist can simply turn around and say, “All right, let’s see if atheism explains everything; if it doesn’t, your method demands that you should reject atheism.” In other words, atheists must be consistent in their method. No worldview is going to account for everything, because we don’t know enough to show that a worldview accounts for everything. Thus, if a worldview accounts for quite a bit, I’d say it’s doing quite well. But this means that atheists can’t turn to theists and say, “We want an explanation for all evil, and this explanation must be so good that even we find it satisfying.” Second, evidence is always placed in a scale. Even if theists had no explanation at all for suffering, this would only be one difficulty. If other evidence outweighs this difficulty, then suffering isn’t a tremendous problem for theism.

So it’s unreasonable to demand an explanation for everything, and therefore this shouldn’t be the theist’s goal. What, then, is the theist’s goal? In my case, I’m simply trying to respond to an argument against my position. I hold to theism for various reasons, and the atheist is claiming that my belief is unreasonable because of the problem of evil. Since I don’t want to have an unreasonable position, I must evaluate the argument and see whether it is a significant problem for my position.

The theist can take two approaches here. First, we can see if there are any problems with the argument from evil. If we find inconsistencies, ambiguous terms, assumptions, or other difficulties, then the atheist must show that his argument works in spite of these difficulties. If atheists simply say, “Who cares about all these problems?” I’ll probably respond, “I do.” If theists find problems with the argument from evil, and the atheist doesn’t fix the argument, theists are under no obligation to reject theism based on this argument.

As I said in both debates, I think there are many problems with the argument from evil. And as far as I can tell, these problems have not been solved. Because of this, I don’t think that theists are under any obligation to explain evil. In other words, if theists can explain suffering, this is simply icing on the cake. The argument from evil fails because of internal problems. If the theist goes beyond this and explains suffering, this just makes the argument from evil that much weaker.

So what do theists say in response to evil? Well, we’ve got doctrines such as sin, the fall, and so on, and we’ve got theodicies. It’s crucial to note here that explanations for evil are CUMULATIVE. I would never say, “Here’s some good that outweighs all suffering.” But this is the way every theodicy gets treated by atheists. If I say, “Free will is important,” the atheist immediately responds, “Well, how does this justify earthquakes?” But I never said that it did justify earthquakes. I simply said that it’s important, and that it would justify allowing a certain amount of suffering.

When I say that compassion is a good that we can only have in our world (and not in heaven), keep in mind that this is a fact. In order to have compassion, or courage, or other virtues, we must have some problems. But at the same time, I’m not saying that these virtues, by themselves, justify all evil. They would be goods that, taken cumulatively with other goods, justify allowing our world.

This is important, because if I were saying that compassion justifies allowing all suffering, or something like that, you could reasonably say, “But wouldn’t allowing this suffering be a problem for God’s compassion?” My actual position, however, goes something like this. Virtues are good, and they are part of the goodness of a world with suffering. Morality is good, and it is part of the goodness of a world where God does not coerce his creatures into doing what is right. Free will is good, and I think we can only have free will in world like ours. Moreover, rebellion against God is quite bad, and it demands justice. If God withdraws to some extent from our world, because we have chosen to live on our own, then problems are going to arise. Now, supposing that my position is correct, what kind of world would we expect? Would we expect the perfect world that the atheist demands, or would we expect a good world that nevertheless contains quite a bit of problems? I would expect the latter. And John’s only response was that free will, virtue, rebellion, and other things just aren’t that important. But to me, they’re extremely important, which means that I have another reason for rejecting his argument.

To sum up, atheists are saying that my belief is unreasonable. But so far, I haven’t seen anything that makes my belief unreasonable. Atheists can continue to say, “Why did God do this and that?” But this isn’t an argument. It’s a question. And theists never claimed to know all the answers. Indeed, if we knew all the answers, this would be evidence against theism, because we would apparently be the highest minds possible.

And keep in mind, this is atheism’s strongest argument. But if atheists don’t get very far with their strongest argument, perhaps their position doesn’t have a lot going for it.

Adam said...

I haven't listened to the debate, but I have followed the commentary on the debate. John and David, stop! Rather than arguing amongst yourselves, you need outside feedback. Here's my 2c.

First, some self-dislosure: I consider myself a narrow atheist and a broad agnostic. That is to say I deny traditional theism but am agnostic about, say, process theology, panentheism, buddhism broadly construed, etc.

On to the debate. I do think David is being overly anal about this debate. To me, there is not much difference between implausible and unlikely. It can be argued that they're significantly different, but in common usage, they're pretty much identical. Maybe, maybe, implausible means highly unlikely, but certainly not extremely unlikely.

Second, it seems you two needed to get clear on what you meant by theism before debating. Usually, people mean the traditional theism of Christianity, Islam, etc. So, I think I lean towards favoring John on this one, especially since David doesn't find the alternatives plausible.

However, from reading John's recent post, it seems he was focusing on Christian theism -- by bringing up the constrast between the miracles of the Bible and the problem of evil. I don't know if it was appropriate to do that if you were just debating theism simpliciter.

As for presuppositionalist stuff, I think John is right that he was attempting an internal critique of theism -- but it is hard to say how broad or narrow the debate should have been. Maybe it should have been two parts. The first part: does the problem of evil render theism implausible in isolation; the second: more broadly. In the broader part, you could have discussed whether there were other good reasons for theism that were strong enough to overcome the countervailing reasons from evil.

But, please guys, stop. The ball's in your court, but don't respond John. And David don't argue with this post --I may not know what I'm talking about. Just let the unfiltered and unwashed comments pour in without feeling the need to argue with each one. If you did win, David, God knows you did. And if you won, John, well, er, I dunno.

John W. Loftus said...

Adam, just as I was about to post the following response you had commented. Thank you very much for your input and I'll await others, if they so choose. But since I had already put forth the effort to write it, I'm going to post it anyway (unchanged from what I had written). Now I am done here. Enough is enough.

David, even I am bored with this discussion, so I know others are too. For the most part I'm going to let intelligent people decide for themselves about the issues we have just beat to death. That's one of the differences between you and I, even if I know there will be some intelligent people on both sides of the fence who will disagree with me. Big deal if they do. I won't lose any sleep over it. I'm used to people disagreeing with me. I won't lose any self-confidence either. But if they do, I can learn from their intelligent disagreements, and I like the process of learning more than I do in being declared the winner of a debate. It seems to me that you are more interested in winning this, than in a mutual learning of the issues themselves. I have repeatedly said that the only people who care about who wins a debate are the participants. For the most part, everyone else is interested in learning from us. Now we are acting like children arguing over a toy. Why would they respect our opinions in a debate if they can't respect how we nitpick at words after a debate in order to be declared the winner, when the people who listen to us don't give a rat's ass about who won? [Sorry]

It just seems to me that you are in desperation mode. You seem to me to be trying to save face by all of the logical gerrymandering and linguistic gymnastics that I see here with your sub-standard and uncharitable definitions of the words in our debate proposition. Words should mean the generally intended sense unless specifically agreed upon to be otherwise before the debate or during the debate, not afterwards. It is crystal clear that you have been uncharitable toward me by holding me to a higher standard than any reasonable person would accept in a debate. Do you deny this, yes or no? Read what you said and honestly answer me, okay?

I also noticed you dropped the part where you claimed I shouldn't have brought up the problem of "divine hiddenness," and then later you dropped your claim that I shouldn't have brought up the afterlife ("hell"), because I had sufficiently shown they are both relevant to the debate issue itself. That's what I'm talking about. You just obstinately refuse to admit what you are doing with the other issues as well. You just won't admit it. It so happens that you just couldn't argue against what I had said about "divine hiddeness" and "hell" being relevant to the debate, that's all. I just don't have the patience to show how you are wrong about practically every other assertion of yours, that's all. I have other things to do.

Arguments for the existence of God, however, are not strictly relevant to our specific debate issue, since I already hypothetically granted you for the purpose of the debate that your God exists. Think about this. The question I was addressing can be accurately phrased like this: Given that your omni-God exists, then why is there intense suffering in this world? And my conclusion is that intense suffering in this world makes the existence of your omni-God implausible (or improbable), regardless of the arguments for the existence of God, which provides for you the Baysian background factors leading you personally to believe despite the extent of intense suffering in this world. I was arguing from evil, not from the non-existence of your omni-God hypothesis. Just read Howard-Snyder's book called The Evidential Argument From Evil, to see this. The book does not contain one single argument for the existence of God, either pro or con, except as it relates to the problem of evil itself. I see no chapters in it on the design or cosmological or ontological arguments, for instance. The arguments were strictly dealing with how the omni-God hypothesis relates to the issue of suffering. If that hypothesis is true, then is this the kind of world we should expect? The debate was (and is) over whether the evidential argument from evil makes the omni-God hypothesis implausible (or improbable) on its own terms. Get it yet?

You're a good man, and I like you, but winning a debate is more important to you than in being charitable to me and seeking to understand. Maybe you'll look back at this someday and see things differently, I don't know. But if in the future someone debates you on a specific topic and wriggles with idiosyncratic and uncharitable definitions of words in the debate proposition after the debate is over in order to proclaim some kind of victory, you'll see exactly what you are doing here.

openlyatheist said...

Ha ha. I was basically going to say what Adam said. The whole point of engaging someone in a structured debate, for me, is that I let the issue lie once the time is up. I have pop tarts to eat, tv to watch. :)

DagoodS said...

Sigh.

I had already written it, so I will post it. “Me, too! Me, too!”

The Shogun DagoodS’s statement also misrepresents what I said. He’s saying that I’m nitpicking and that by sticking to the topic, I’m not helping theism.

I apologize if I was not clear. What I was saying is that this post-mortem autopsy of what individual words mean was probably insignificant to the audience.

It seems the debaters were so caught up in “winning” that they forgot to be persuading!

Look, the simple reality is that we all (atheist, agnostic, theist, deist) have a concept of moral and immoral acts. We all, pragmatically, attempt to reduce suffering and pain as much as possible. Whether we hold to relative or absolute morality.

We are informed there is a theistic concept of an “all-moral” God. (The term “all-good” is confusing, I believe, as “good” can also be used as a measurement of capability, as in “Good, Job. B+”) We get it (we really do!) that the Problem of Suffering or Problem of Evil does not eliminate every God. Deists and Aztecs have no Problem of Suffering.

We wonder how the theist can reconcile the concept of an all-moral God instilling in us the desire to reduce suffering to the point of elimination, but the all-moral God does not have that within itself. Simply put—if God is moral, why allow a child to die of hunger today? What possible moral purpose can that serve, since as humans we don’t get it?

We anticipate that John W. Loftus will present cases of suffering and question why God wants it. We anticipate David Wood to respond with defenses such as an Unknown Greater Purpose, Free Will, or “No Pain, no Gain.” We enjoy reading and hearing each position, and its interaction with the other.

To start broadening the scope to “all Gods” or theism in general, when it is quite clear that this is designed to question only one God (an all-moral one) is an unnecessary waste of time. Especially when you agree that you are talking about the same God-concept! O.K. Then get on with it.

Further, to start debating the difference between “implausible” or “improbable” when you feel that John W. Loftus did not even reach “improbable” also seems an unnecessary waste of time. If you felt he didn’t reach “improbable” why do you care? Does besting him at “improbable” when the proposition says “implausible” somehow give you more points in some system of which I am unaware?

Again, I have not done a formal debate. Perhaps it is just me, but this type of fine-tuned nuanced argument over the definitions within the proposition diminishes the debate itself.

Anonymous said...

Haven't gotten a chance to read all the long stuff yet. But DagoodS' and Adam 's comments are just too funny. I mean the DagoodS comment that John quoted and Adam's comment that "If you did win, David, God knows you did. And if you won, John, well, er, I dunno."

I really did LOL to these two comments, regardless of the context. You two made my day. I hereby proclaim you two as my Men of the Day. (Not that it means anything to you.)

the shogun - Thanks for your response, I will be reading it now.

The Shogun said...

Adam,

You said not to respond, but you mentioned something that I haven't really addressed, and I think it's important. Besides, if there are going to be future debates on the Problem of Evil, these issues might as well be settled now.

You said that John is pointing out a problem internal to theism. I've never denied this. All I've been saying is that there's more to pointing out an internal problem than saying "Why this?" and "Why that?" When I say, "The cat is on the mat, and it's not on the mat," I've obviously got an internal problem. But there's no explicit contradiction between "An all-good, all-powerful being exists" and "There's lots of suffering in our world." Thus, the atheist can't just show that there's suffering and leave it at that. He has to make an argument to show that these statements can't both be true. But that requires an argument, and arguments must be sound. Until atheists come up with a solid argument free from difficulties, they have failed to show that theism suffers from an internal problem. Hence, John and I agree about what he's trying to do. We just disagree about whether he's done it. What I've argued is that he can't show that there's an internal problem without presupposing certain values and views that theists reject. Thus, he's presupposing his own position.

As for being overly anal, nothing in my overall case against John depends on any particular meaning of "implausible." Let's just say that it means something fairly strong, whether we want to call this "improbable," "unlikely," or whatever. The point is that he hasn't shown that suffering poses any significant problem for theism. All he's done is say that God should have done this or that. John has practically ignored all of my criticisms of the argument. So why should we assume that his argument doesn't suffer from the problems I've mentioned?

I'll also say that everyone seems to focus on the most insignificant points of my review. Yes, I said that I distinguished between "implausible" and "improbable," and yes I mentioned that there's a difference between classical theism and theistic personalism. But these were extraordinarily minor points. I offered a number of criticisms. I said that John's argument is filled with inconsistencies, that it self-destructs, that other arguments outweigh the problem of evil, that John must defend certain values if his argument is going to work, and so on. I've also argued for the fall of man, and for several theodicies. Then, when everyone responds, it's (1) "Hey, I don't think John should have to show that the argument from evil really works"; (2) "Don't you understand that 'implausible' can mean different things?" (all of them pretty strong, however); and (3) "Classical theism won't help you David!"

In other words, let's be clear about the chain of events here. (1) I offered a number of criticisms of John's case. (2) Atheists latched on to some of the less significant issues, and almost completely ignored my major contentions. (3) I defend my minor points, since they were being criticized, and since the criticisms didn't even work against what I said. (4) Atheists complain that I'm focusing on minor issues. Well, I laid out the major issues. Who's been jumping on the issue of definitions?

As I've said, a different proposition will be needed in the future, one which allows the atheist to claim that he can refute theism with an argument, but also one which doesn't require him to support his view very much. Unfortunately, I just can't think of a proposition like this. If you say you've got an argument that proves something, then let's get together and see if you can prove it. And, indeed, atheists commonly claim that they can work wonders with the argument from evil. If this exchange has shown anything, I think it's shown that the argument isn't as great as you think. Again, most of my serious criticisms haven't been addressed, and atheists have been trying to avoid the burden of proof, and trying to water down what they mean by implausible. If we keep going, you'll probably say that "implausible" just means "not absolutely certain." You can use the word however you like. Making an argument is quite different, and I still haven't seen an argument that works.

Now as long as everyone agrees to move on, we can move on. But this "Hey David, don't respond, but we're going to say several things that aren't completely correct" isn't going to work. It takes two sides to beat something to death. I'll just add that, we can beat the issue of "implausibility" to death (and I granted long ago that we can mean different things my this word), and we can keep saying that I'm being picky about definitions, but as long as atheists are focusing on these things rather than my real criticisms, and as long as atheists keep acting as if these criticisms don't exist, no theist in the world should accept the argument from evil.

(I fully expect someone to respond, addressing things like implausibility, burden of proof, and everything else that doesn't really affect my case. So I might be done here. If anyone ever comes across something that actually affects my position, I'd love to hear it.)

The Shogun said...

On a different note for future reference, please answer these questions for me. I'd like to see some atheists' opinions.

(1) Does the argument from evil make the existence of God implausible, improbable, unlikely, or anything like that?

(2) If it does, can you show that it does?

(3) If you can show that it does, are you willing to bear the burden of proof in showing that it does?

I thought I was clear on how atheists would answer these three questions. But after debating John and discussing these issues, it seems that atheists say "maybe" to (1), "maybe" to (2), and "no" to (3). Is that correct?

The Shogun said...

John,

You might want to defend yourself over at Triablogue. I defended you (slightly), since I don't think the implication accurately represents your view.

That means that in the past two days, I've defended Reginald Finley, Sr., and John W. Loftus, and I'm probably the only theist in history to ever do this. I feel like a court appointed attorney.

John W. Loftus said...

David, thank you. If you remember I defended you when a caller asked you about Isaiah 45:7. Better translations do not use the word, "evil," but disaster or chaos. I'll defend you when you are right. Thanks for doing likewise.

The Shogun said...

Yeah man. You actually saved my butt on the Isaiah thing. I couldn't figure out what they were talking about and I was scrambling around the room to find a Bible.

I always read the NASB, which doesn't use the word "evil," so what they were saying sounded only vaguely familiar. (I read the KJV twice about a decade ago, when it was the only Bible I had.)

Szaro said...

Anybody out there know anything about pandeism? It presents elements both of deism and of pantheism. I.e. God is in fact the Universe. But God is also the maker of the Universe, who existed before the Universe did. So God became the Universe.

John W. Loftus said...

szaro, that sounds much like process theology, or panentheism. The world is God's body. Look it up.