Friday, July 29, 2011

Replying to Criticism

So, a few christians have replied to my initial post about free will, the problem of evil and christianity. This fairly long post will address the criticism I've received, hopefully to the satisfaction of the reader.

The first person to address is Rhology. Not coincidentally, it's also the easiest to address. He's simply not able to keep up. Here is his reply to my reply
to his initial blog post that didn't really address my query. If you don't feel like reading through the other blog posts, I criticized the "design" of the world, and then he asked how I would do it better. I assumed, of course, he meant "how would you do it better if you were god, or in god's position?" because otherwise the question would be meaningless. He might as well ask "how would you solve the current US debt ceiling crisis? Bear in mind, you're not an elected official in any US House nor are you the president. So how would you, as you, solve the debt ceiling crisis?" It's ridiculous, and to assume that is somehow a point against me is doubly so. He then criticized my suggestions for improving the human design, assuming that I'd not already have that covered. Dude, if I were god, if I knew all things and could do all things, I'd have already seen all potential problems with my design and corrected for them. It's not hard.
And no, I don't hate god, any more than I hate any other supervillain. Yes, I think Darth Vader's a bad guy for destroying Alderaan, just like I think your god is a bad guy for wiping out the entire human race except Noah's family, but that's only within the constructs of the narrative. Your god is fictional. I hate how poorly he's written, so in that respect I hate him. By that I mean I don't really think he's believable as anything aside from a villain unless you retcon the entire Old Testament and much of the New, and yet we're led to believe all the evil stuff he did is totally true AND he's a good guy, in fact he's THE good guy. It's comparable to the Green Lantern movie which I reviewed a while back. Much like Hal Jordan, your god doesn't develop from a wrathful, vengeful god to a nice forgiving one, he just sort of decides to be nicer and...that's it. So, the character sucks, or at least the newer version of him does. But like I said, OT god is a great villain.

Anyway, another christian blogger, bossmanham, also replied to my challenge. Before I reply to that post, I must reply to this one where he parrots William Lane Craig's dismissal of predetermination. The big problem with this, of course, is that it posits that we make our choices before the choice is given to us. Take the example that Craig uses, that is, Peter denying Jesus. Jesus told Peter he'd deny Jesus thrice...yet no one was asking Peter if he knew Jesus right then. In other words, Peter hadn't been given an opportunity to make the choice, yet Jesus knew it would happen. And since, in the biblical narrative, what Jesus says is perfectly true, Jesus saying it will happen means it will happen (funny how you claim that it's fallacious for me to say this, but it's stated pretty clearly in your post). So, in other words, the choice was made by someone else aside from Peter, since Peter can't have made a choice before he was given it, especially since the events that would make him decide to deny Jesus (his arrest and crucifixion) hadn't happened yet, and so Peter had no free will. And neither do the rest of us, I'd argue, at least in the christian worldview. The only solution is that your god exists outside of time, something that Craig also dismissed in his lecture.

So, we move to the actual post from bossmanham that addresses my post. It starts off with a misrepresentation of my original post that may be my fault. I don't know if I made it clear, but I don't think the bible makes a definite, deliberate statement as to whether we have free will or not, though one could make the case it says we have free will (or that we don't) using verses from the bible. What I said, or at least what I meant to say, is that whether or not it's explicit, the bible does seem to tell us that god controls everything, and we have no free will. Thus, that solution to the problem of evil fails.

Bossmanham replied to my question of whether free will is good by saying that it is, since god gave it to us. Of course, your god created evil, as Isaiah 45 states. If you think that Adam made us sinful, you're plain delusional. Anyone reading the text can see that both Adam and Eve were capable of being tempted into disobeying your god without Original Sin, so there really is no need to say that sin started with them. You're right that there is no good without evil, since both are comparative qualities (though I have no idea how human sacrifice can be good). But you brought up that we lack god's knowledge. This is a pure cop-out. If we don't have the proper knowledge to understand this, then your god should have given it to us. If your god wants us to believe he is real, he would make your job possible, and thus make it less likely that we, the theologically unconvinced people, will go to hell. It just seems like you guys fall back on this excuse of lack of knowledge because your position is indefensible.

I haven't read Alvin Platinga's argument against the problem of evil, but I've seen plenty of christians try to defeat Epicurus' Riddle, and they have all fallen flat on their face. Maybe you could give me the Cliff's Notes version of Platinga's argument?

Well, that's about it, I think.


  1. That's your answer?

    Were you planning on offering a reasoned defense of your position, or do you think for some reason that others should simply accept your naked assertions because you said so?

  2. Er, Epicurus is easily refuted with the concept of free will. Like, really easily.

    Do you, like, specifically avoid rational Christian thought? Because that would explain why you think really, really easily refuted things make Christians "fall on their face."

    Seriously, if you're after the TRUTH, read the best Christian minds. Read Lewis and Chesterton. If you don't, then you really can't pretend you're exposing yourself to the best arguments that the other side has to offer, which means you don't really want the truth. Don't be scared. Read 'em.

  3. I didn't get notification of Rhology's response, but I got e-mail saying that the Anonymous responded...days later. WTF?

    Rhology: I didn't get a reasoned criticism from you.

    Anon: Well, if free will "really easily" refutes Epicurus, why don't you show me how? And how free will is possible in christianity?
    I haven't heard of Chesterton, and C.S. Lewis never struck me as a really powerful thinker, at least theologically. His answers always seemed weak to me.

  4. I didn't get a reasoned criticism from you.

    That's OK; your post contained no reasoning either. Makes us even. :-)
    But do let me know if you want to actually reply to my post at some point.