Wiploc’s second post

I love these debates. My sincere thanks to FRDB, to the moderators, to the peanut gallery, and to Deleet.

I completely concede that if, as Deleet suggests, we change all of my definitions to mean other things, then the LPoE (logical problem of evil) would fail. It would fail dramatically. It would be just stupid.

Deleet can concede that if we don’t change my definitions, then the LPoE is bulletproof. I’d like to see that concession.

Or I’d like to see an on-point dispute of the case I made in my opening post: Does Deleet think that my version of the LPoE can be disputed on its own terms? Elsewhere, Deleet recently said the validity of an argument should be evaluated independently “of the truth value of its premises.” That’s what I’d like to see here. If Deleet accepted my definitions, would he have to accept my conclusion?

If Deleet doesn’t like the terms “omnipotent,” “omniscient,” and, “omnibenevolent,” he is free to change them to x-factor, y-factor, and z-factor. We aren’t here to discuss the “real” definitions of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence. I readily concede that many people use them differently than I do. What we’re here to discuss is just exactly this:

If something

  • were able to do anything that didn’t violate logic, and
  • knew everything, including the future and counterfactuals, and
  • totally, purely, infinitely, unconflictedly, absolutely opposed the existence of evil, then

could there be any evil in a universe in which that something existed?

Morally sufficient reason:

Deleet suggests that god might allow evil for moral reasons. There are two ways that could happen. Either god just doesn’t mind evil, or god has to make some kind of tradeoff (as when a dentist gives you some unhappiness now in order to prevent a greater unhappiness later). In the first case, god isn’t omnibenevolent. In the second case, god isn’t all-powerful (an all-powerful dentist could prevent one unhappiness without causing another).

The first case involves the implicit claim that evil can be good. That’s obscurantist nonsense, a linguistic impossibility. We can dismiss that out of hand.

The second case deserves a closer look, if only because many people are unclear on the subject. Let’s say that god wants two things, X and Y. If god is omnipotent, he can have both at once unless they are logically incompatible. What is logically incompatible with X? Only not X (~X). If X is the absence of evil, then ~X is the presence of evil. Even an omnipotent god cannot have both of those. But an omnibenevolent god doesn’t want both of those. And an omnipotent god can have X plus any Y that isn’t ~X; he can have the absence of evil along with anything that isn’t the presence of evil. That’s what omnipotence is.

Conclusion:

In my opening post, I listed the five relevant responses to the LPoE:

1. God isn’t really omnipotent.
2. God isn’t really omniscient.
3. God isn’t really omnibenevolent.
4. Evil doesn’t exist.
5. Belief in tri-omni gods is contra-logical.

Deleet’s redefinitions amount to the first three of those: God isn’t really all that strong, knowing, and benevolent. In other words, the LPoE is correct; if god were stronger, more knowing, and more benevolent, evil could not exist.

Deleet’s other purpose defense splits the difference between 1 and 3: either god isn’t that powerful, or he isn’t that benevolent. Either way, the LPoE is still bulletproof.

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Deleet’s Second Post

Confessions

Wiploc wants to talk about confessions. He confesses that the LPoE doesn’t work if we change all the definitions. I think that’s a bit too much. It might work with a new definition and it might not. I’d just say that it doesn’t necessarily work with new definitions. I suppose that the amount of changed definitions changed makes it more improbable that the LPoE is still sound.

Wiploc wants me to accept that:

Deleet can concede that if we don’t change my definitions, then the LPoE is bulletproof. I’d like to see that concession.

I’ll have to answer no. I think even with Wiploc’s definitions the possible morally sufficient reason (MSR) objection works. Wiploc writes:

That’s what I’d like to see here. If Deleet accepted my definitions, would he have to accept my conclusion?

The answer is no. This is because all the premises are not definitions. I’m interpreting Wiploc’s argument like this:

1. God is omnipotent.

2. God is omniscient.

3. God is omnibenevolent.

4. God exists.

5. If (God is omnipotent and god is omnibenevolent and god is omniscient and god exists) then evil is nonexistent.

6. Evil exists.

7. God is essentially omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent.

8. Therefore, God does not exist.

Premises (1) through (3) are the definitions Wiploc is talking about. (4) is not a definition but I am committed to not deny it per the debate parameters. I’m also committed not to deny (7) per the debate parameters. This leaves us with (6) and (5). I’m not going to deny (6), so if I want to claim that the LPoE is unsound; has a false or unjustified premise, then necessarily I have to deny (5). This is exactly what I am doing.

Discussion of definitions

Wiploc writes that:

We aren’t here to discuss the “real” definitions of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence.

I would have thought we were. It seems that Wiploc wants to force me to accept his definitions, but I don’t see why. It’s not in the debate parameters though it seems that we should have discussed this beforehand.

Another question

Wiploc asks that if god is punk omnipotent and omniscient and:

totally, purely, infinitely, unconflictedly, absolutely opposed the existence of evil, then

Again, it seems to me that even given this, god could still have a morally sufficient reason not to remove evil. If Wiploc wants to define omnibenevolence in a way that makes a morally sufficient reason impossible he should say so. One way of doing so would be to define it like this: if a being is omnibenevolent, then that being’s single highest wish is to remove all evil. Maybe this is what Wiploc means with the ‘unconflictedly’ above.

Given this definition (or rather a characterization based upon a definition) of omnibenevolence only the greater good defense would be left. I think however that the greater good objection is faulty. So given this specific definition discussed I think the LPoE is sound and ‘bulletproof’.

A morally sufficient reason

About my writings about a possible morally sufficient reason Wiploc writes:

There are two ways that could happen. Either god just doesn’t mind evil, or god has to make some kind of tradeoff (as when a dentist gives you some unhappiness now in order to prevent a greater unhappiness later).

I’m not granting this disjunction. Why are these two ways the only possible? Remember that the reason need only be logically possible not plausible. It might even be unthinkable, non-imaginable and unknowable for humans but that doesn’t matter as long as it is logically possible.

Wiploc notes that whatever the MSF might be it has to be contradictory with evil in some way viz. make it logically impossible for whatever God wants to be actual and evil to be absent at the same time. This I grant. All this does however is set a condition for what reason a god might have, it does not tell us whether there is a possible MSF or not.

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