Battleground God

Can your beliefs about religion make it across an intellectual battleground? Take the test

In this activity you’ll be asked a series of 17 questions about God and religion. In each case, apart from Question 1, you need to answer True or False. The aim of the activity is not to judge whether these answers are correct or not. This battleground is that of rational consistency. This means to get across without taking any hits, you’ll need to answer in a way which is rationally consistent. What this means is you need to avoid choosing answers which contradict each other. If you answer in a way which is rationally consistent but which has strange or unpalatable implications, you’ll be forced to bite a bullet.

Why this universe?

If your God is omnipotent (all-powerful, able to do anything), omnibenevolent (all-loving), omniscient (all-knowing) and the creator of all that exists, then we have a problem.

When your God created the universe, being all-knowing, she must have known about all the suffering there would be in this world. Yet God still created it, as it is. She did not create a more benign version of the universe, or simply choose not to create the universe. Why is this?

It could be that God did not know about all the suffering which would occur. But that would make God not all-knowing. It could be that God doesn't mind all the suffering, but that would make her less than all-loving. It could be that God could not have created a more benign world than this one. But that would seem to make God less than all-powerful. The only way we can resolve this problem is to conclude that God can only do what is possible and that this really is the best of all possible worlds. The metaphysical engineers find it hard to model this resolution as they think they can make a better world quite easily. For example, they are able to make human brains more hardy and thus reduce the incidence of psychopathology, resulting in an immediate decline, in their model, of crimes of sadistic murder. Are they mistaken in some way?


Anonymous said...

Just because God does not stop suffering does not mean she is not all loving. I love my kids but I know they sometimes need to suffer. Sometimes I inflict the suffering - discipline for their long term well-being; sometimes I allow them to suffer even though I could stop it because I know they will learn more effectively, indeed sometimes they will only learn by suffering, they will not listen to my wisdom, gained through my own suffering.

Anonymous said...

re: anonymous

I understand what you're saying and to a point I think it's a valid argument. It's what lies beyond that point that I have a problem with: there's a distinction to be made between discipline and suffering.

You wouldn't let your kids starve to death or be burned alive. You wouldn't want them to be utterly heartbroken and lonely their entire lives. You wouldn't kill one so that another one learns a lesson. You wouldn't allow them to fight until they destroyed each other. You wouldn't want them to be constantly in pain or discomfort. You wouldn't want them to feel so bad about themselves (and the world) that they are in a constant state of blackness and misery. You wouldn't spoil one kid rotten and let the other one wallow in his/her own filth.

I don't know whether it's God that allows these things to happen, but if it is, I don't see how that qualifies as all-loving.

Anonymous said...

It is hard to argue logic if you don't understand it. You begin this argument with a false assumption: That suffering is something that shouldn't happen. That if God was loving and all powerful then She would make a universe without suffering.

Certainly suffering isn't a loving gesture as we humans understand it. I agree we find suffering uncomfortable and often it seems useless or senseless to us. But then, we are not all knowing or eternal (at least, in our current physical form). It is worth noting in your argument that the people who believe in God, often believe in eternal (non-physical)life...and therefore feel this physical life is temporary.

Maybe the suffering is temporary and for a reason beyond our limited understanding. We do know that human understanding is quite limited. This CAN be proven logically.

New things are discovered every day and we still can't communicate seamlessly with our family dogs...yet, you are arguing that because you don't agree with the way an all knowing, eternal being designed a universe...that being must not exist.

This argument only holds up if you believe the Earth was flat before people discovered it wasn't.