Reply to WLC’s answer to my question regarding anti-realism (QoW #379)

I am saving my reply here, as it is already getting buried.

Dr. Craig, thank you for answering my question. I am glad you are a realist about the Good and concede *that* much to the realist. Do you actually mean the Platonist when you say you “see no reason to concede so much” to the realist (see links ‘a’ and ‘b’)?

a) https://www.facebook.com/reasonablefaithorg/posts/10152300210348229
b)
https://www.facebook.com/williamlanecraig/posts/10203920584525754

You see the importance of conceding the existence of the Good to the realists (not the Platonists, to be sure). So why take an anti-realist position? Why not take a divine essentialist, rather than a Platonic essentialist, position? I don’t think that is conceptualist, because I see it as describing his nature–the Logos wills/thinks in accordance with his nature. I am curious how you base the Good in God in a non-conceptualist way, but think it would concede too much to base other seemingly abstract objects in God?–I say seemingly abstract, because they aren’t so abstract if they are grounded in God, are they? Btw, I’m not so sure Plato didn’t consider the Good to correspond to real Being, but that’s a slightly more involved discussion: http://www.christianapologeticsalliance.com/2012/10/16/resolving-euthyphros-dilemma

What I know of realism/anti-realism I learned from Christopher Norris’ “Epistemology”. It is interesting to note that Dummett: “denies the existence of objective, recognition-transcendent truth-values for statements of the so-called ‘disputed class’, i.e., those for which we possess no means of ascertainment or decisive proof”—including “standards of objective moral good or natural justice” (from Norris’ concluding postscript I). That’s why Norris is a convergent, or critical, realist — though, I think his morality lacks ontology (only in his mind, of course), considering he leaves no room for God in reality. The theist, however, grounds the Good in God, so…why not the rest of the “disputed class” (even to the same extent, where you do not consider essential certain extrapolations, only the basic core underlying all the extrapolations–like the Golden Rule, for example…the sum of the Law and the Prophets Jesus came to fulfill on the cross)? — how is the Good different from the rest of it, so that you would allow for its reality, but be anti-realist about the rest? Would Dummett agree with you that you have means of ascertainment or decisive proof for the Good? Do you think ontology is more decisive than justification when it comes to knowledge? I think both are needed (I agree with Plato, but not with Platonism).

No worries if you have no time to answer. Thank you for the answer you were able to provide. I am truly honored.

Posted in Norris' Epistemology, William Lane Craig | Leave a comment

Positive Modesto News

10502074_779965998720980_6272097615267583232_nCheck out the new Facebook page just created to shed light on all the  good stuff going on all around us in this city we love. It’s called Positive Modesto News, and it will feature relevant articles I publish on Examiner.com, as well as positive blog/news articles from other like-minded authors. If you’re one of those, contact me with your work and I will gratefully promote it!

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Since January, I’ve been…

ubiee-banner-small-extra-extra-read-all-about-it…Working at Athanatos Christian Ministries and Bard and Book, but currently taking a hiatus.

Obtaining an Associate of Arts degree in Humanities, finally achieved this past spring semester at Modesto Junior College. I was privileged enough to be able to take the first astronomy lab after the opening of the best planetarium in the world. After my husband has achieved his BA in Organizational Management and my sons are out of high school, I will hopefully be able to continue on.

Helping Ethan acquire a new cat, Mia:

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Celebrating 17 years married to my best friend:

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[Did you notice the aquarium in the background? Got it for $50 from family. It didn’t stop there. There are now three tanks in the house, with many, many fish in them.]

Day-trippin’ it to the beach:

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Waiting for Lee and David to collect drift wood off the beach for the fish tanks:

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Volunteering as President for The Christian Apologetics Alliance since June 1:

Going to see Wicked in Sacramento:

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Getting involved in Modesto’s neighboring movement:

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Blogging:

Training my kids in apologetics:

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  • David turned 13 in February and Ethan just turned 16 in June! David is continuing in honors classes when he starts 8th grade, and Ethan is beginning early college classes when he enters his junior year in August.
  • Ethan presented this at his school: The Problem of Evil (guest post)
  • Ethan and David read these books with me, then Ethan goes with me to meetings:
    • “Handbook of Christian Apologetics” by Kreeft & Tacelli for Apologetics @ the Bean
    • “On Guard” by WLC for Reasonable Faith chapter meetings

[David’s deal in 7th grade was Minecraft Club. Ethan got to go to a beach by Cal Poly and also to Disneyland with his Robotics and Skills USA peeps.]

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Going to Apologetics @ the Bean before Ethan made it cool:

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Creating a YouTube playlist for Young Apologists (and compiling other resources).

***

Current:

I am job hunting, as we are in need of more predictable income that freelancing so far has not provided.

Future:

I will continue hang-time with God and family, improving as a neighbor, and developing various projects with The Christian Apologetics Alliance, like the CAA Catechism and other resources for young apologists.

***

What have YOU been up to? This year is half over!

Here is our most recent family pic, in case you missed it:

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Leibnizian Moral Argument?

I think my moral argument for God’s existence is similar to Leibniz’ cosmological argument (except it has to do with the explanation of the Good, a.k.a. the Golden Rule).

If you’d rather not say “the Golden Rule,” then say what everyone else says: “objective moral values and duties.” If it isn’t obvious, I took my phrasing from William Lane Craig.

1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.

2. If the Golden Rule has an explanation for its existence, that explanation is the same explanation for God’s existence: the necessity of His own nature.

[That statement is logically equivalent to the atheist’s own statement that if God does not exist, a) the Golden Rule has no explanation for its existence (or does not exist), or b) the Golden Rule exists by the necessity of its own nature (only a personal being can have a necessary nature that is described by the Golden Rule). Now, if the atheist would rather claim that the Golden Rule is a social construct and that different cultures will come up with different values and duties, they must account for premise 3. However, if the atheist accounts for premise 3 by claiming that the Golden Rule is a natural construct common to all humans, and thus all cultures, that is (again) logically equivalent to premise 2, but doesn’t jive with our moral intuitions–it equates to claiming the universe doesn’t really exist.]

3. The Golden Rule exists (is discovered independently) in various forms in every major culture in history.

4. Therefore, the Golden Rule has an explanation for its existence (from 1 and 3).

5. Therefore, the explanation of the existence of the Golden Rule is the same explanation for God’s existence: the necessity of His own nature (from 2 and 4).

Related: Resolving Euthyphro’s Dilemma

Posted in Apologetics Toolbox, Divine Essentialism, Euthyphro Dilemma, Golden Rule, Is-Ought Fallacy, Natural Law and Divine Command | Leave a comment

The Problem of Evil (guest post)

This post was put together from the power point slides of a presentation given by my soon-to-be sixteen-year-old, Ethan Spikes. He delivered this presentation in front of 19 fellow students and a teacher.

The Problem of Evil


What is it?

The problem of evil is THE argument used in favor of God not existing. It is the objection that an all powerful and all loving God does not reconcile with the existence of evil. There are two parts to the intellectual version of this problem: the logical problem (if evil exists, then God cannot), and the evidential problem (it is improbable that an all loving and all powerful God would let suffering exist). The emotional problem of evil deals with a non-intellectual rejection of God based in feelings. I will focus on the intellectual first.

The Logical Version

1. God is said to be all powerful and all good.
2. An all powerful god could abolish evil.
3. An all good god would want to abolish evil.
4. If evil exists, then God (see reason one) cannot exist.
5. Evil exists: Watch the news.
6. Therefore, God (see reason one) cannot exist.

This is a valid deductive argument. 


To Abolish or to Permit 

The logical version, though deductively valid, is not necessarily sound. It is answered by challenging reason 3, which says that an all good god would want to abolish evil. Though a good god would hate evil, he would not want to abolish the possibility of evil if he has good reasons to permit it, such as allow free will, which I will talk about in a bit.

The Evidential Version

The evidential version states that it is improbable that an all loving and all powerful God would have good reasons to permit evil and suffering. 

Five Possible, Unsatisfactory Solutions

1. God is not all good
2. God is not all powerful
3. God does not exist (atheism)
4. Evil does not exist (again, watch the news)
5. Karma and reincarnation

Answering “God Is Not All Good”

Another way to look at this issue is by identifying evil relative to good (God).

1. Good is the way things are supposed to be.
2. Good must first exist before evil can mess it up.
3. There is only one candidate for an all good being (God).
4. Therefore, if evil exists, God (an all good being) must exist.

Examples of similar relationships: Cheese must first exist before cheese mold. A car must first exist before rust can mess it up. An eye must first exist before blindness.

God, History, and Hell

Some say the God of the Old Testament (or Tanakh according to Jews) is evil, because he ordered the slaughter of so many people. That is addressed in “Is God a Moral Monster” by Paul Copan, which I am studying this summer if you’d like to join me.

Hell is a necessary alternative for eternal souls to choose love.

Define Good!

Some object that saying that God is good does not define what good means.

Once a definition is given (for example, the Golden Rule), they say it would be the definition even if God did not exist. 

However, unless a perfect being exists, a definition is just a man-made theory that is true to nothing.

Because God said so?

Some object that God makes up what is good with his laws and commandments.

In actuality, he cannot make it up, because that would be lying, which would compromise his perfection, which I have shown to be impossible. 

God’s laws and commands come from his perfect nature. He IS the standard. He is all good.

Answering “God Is Not All Powerful”

Some attempt to get God off the hook for evil by believing in a god that is powerless to stop natural occurrences or determine everything from the beginning to the end, including freely willed choices. But, a weak god, like a god that is not all good, is a god unworthy of the title.

Answering Atheism (God does not exist)

- Since it doesn’t work that there is a god that is not all powerful or all good, some believe that there is no god. Some atheists do not believe in objective morality or the evil that messes it up. However, atheists who find evil to be a problem try to ground the source of objective morality in nature. Consider this:
- If someone is raped and they get pregnant, the result is another member of the species, which increases the likelihood of survival for that species. Clearly, survival is not the point.
- To what good being is atheist morality true? No being in nature is all good. 
- Therefore, this is an even bigger problem for the atheist.

The Problem with the Problem Of Evil

The problem of evil may be a problem for theists, but it is an even bigger problem for those who argue that God cannot exist if evil exists.

On the one hand, they recognize that something is wrong. On the other hand, they deny the reality of something that is right (an all good God). But goodness must first exist for evil to mess it up. No God, no evil.

Answering Karma and Reincarnation

All different branches of Buddhism and Hinduism deny the existence of a substantial and personal soul and believe the self is nothing but an illusion created by combining separable parts (skandhas). However, since karma has no self to work on and your experiences cannot carry on after you die, no one should be able to experience good or bad karma. In addition, if there is no God, who is keeping the karma record?

The Greater Good of a Free Will

The greater good defense says this to the evidential version: God may have good reasons to permit suffering. For one, it allows free creatures to love or reject him. For another, there are levels of love and happiness only reached through suffering. Other reasons may only be seen from God’s timeless perspective.

The free will defense states that God cannot create creatures that love against their will, for love must be a freely willed choice.

Free Will and An All Powerful God

Some object that free will is impossible if God determines all our choices (which he must, if he knows and sustains everything from beginning to end), and that if we determine our choices, then God is not all powerful. However, it is possible from God’s position to determine that we freely choose, and it is impossible for us to freely choose unless it is determined, meaning that God is all powerful.

That God won’t force us to love against our will just means he is good and not a dictator. But, also…

Can God make a rock so big…?

Forced love not only strikes us as evil–it is an illogical oxymoron that has no meaning (like a rock so big God can’t lift it). Genuine love is chosen, not forced. God cannot do the meaningless. He also cannot violate the goodness of his nature.

That God cannot make us love against our will — (or a rock so big he can’t lift it) — is due to the fact that he is the source of logic and order. He can’t defy himself and remain God.

The Problem of Evil Is Evidence FOR God

- Could there be any such thing as evil if good did not preexist it?

- Since nothing in nature is all good, those who object to evil must look for the source of goodness outside of nature.

The Emotional Problem of Evil

There is an even bigger problem fueled by suffering. Despite the failure of the intellectual argument from evil, many are unable to accept the idea of God being “off the hook” for suffering, because their objection is based in feelings, not reasons. In response, I will say that they are correct: In fact, God put himself on earth to be “on the hook” for human suffering.

The Solution to the Emotional Problem

Reflecting on Jesus’ death. Jesus faced his impending doom with agony. When compared to the Maccabean martyrs, who were burned alive and still seemed joyous to die for God, Jesus seemed weak and unable to stop what was happening, yet the martyrs laughed at their pain and praised God as they burned. In the end, Jesus said, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” 

Why did he say this?

Jesus’ faith is strong in suffering.

“Jesus’ cry of dereliction–‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’–is a deeply relational statement [with] ruthless authenticity. …Jesus did not die renouncing God. Even in the inferno of abandonment he did not surrender his faith in God but expressed his anguished prayer in a cry of affirmation, ‘My God, my God,’ …even as he experienced infinite separation from the Father.”
–Bill Lane in Tim Keller’s, “The Reason for God”

There is hope in suffering.

Another reason Jesus said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” is because he was quoting Psalm 22, which–though it begins in suffering–ends in praise.

Jesus knew his suffering was not eternal.

Forgiving Evil

Jesus’ suffering demonstrates the way God deals with human evil–he neutralizes it through self-sacrificial forgiveness. His goodness (love) never changes.

He cannot force us to choose that forgiveness, but for those who do, he commands us to pay it forward.

Disclaimer: Forgiving does not mean failing to resolve conflict or protect others.

Further study:

I used these books in my research, and I highly recommend them:
The Reason for God by Tim Keller
On Guard by William Lane Craig
Christian Apologetics by Douglas Groothuis
Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli

Posted in Apologetics Toolbox, Euthyphro Dilemma, Evil as Privation of Good, Problem of Evil | Leave a comment

Stanislaus Quatrain

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Linger down good ol’ Briggsmore or McHenry;

sun-bathed tulip trees and queen palms line these

rarely wet streets plastered with autumns’ leaves.

Murmurations of starlings eclipse Scenic’s foothills.

***

Submitted to MoSt for inclusion in the Stanislaus Poem.

More Poetry

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The Seven Acts of the Universe, in Reverse

abell426_franke_900Final Act-

Everywhere it is cold and still.
The final frontier is the only thing,
but there is only darkness to explore.

Act 6-
Things could not be moving faster and
further away from eachother, drawn away
by oblivion.

Act 5-
Galaxies brighten the abyss
as their supernovae shrink into stars
that dilute into multicolored nebulae.
The stage is set. Continue reading

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