The Problem of Evil

Alright, today we’re going to be looking at something called: Now, before we get started, I want to make it clear that I’m not here to push my own position or agenda. I’m here to put to the test some of our most closely held beliefs,

And see if they hold up to the high standards of what we’re all really searching for… Before we get started, one more quick caveat: This is a basic introduction to The Problem of Evil. If you want something more philosophically rigorous, I suggest you do some reading, read: and a response to that:

They do a good job of providing a rigorous, yet – for the most part – accessible debate on this problem. With that out of the way… Now, what we’re doing here is we’re testing beliefs. We’re testing closely held beliefs, and today we’re testing one of the biggest ones of them all:

The belief that God exists! The Problem of Evil is going to help us see if this belief can hold up to the high bar of knowledge that we sent. Not do we want to believe God exists? But can we know that God exists?

Before we go, we need to know who this is a problem for. This is a problem for people who believe in God. This is a problem for people who believe in a specific kind of God. It’s a God that is: If this God, isn’t your God, this isn’t your problem 😉

Now there are 2 versions of The Problem of Evil that we’re going to be looking at: The Logical Problem of Evil and the Evidential Problem of Evil. The Logical Problem of Evil is generally considered more…philosophical, but it packs a bigger punch!

It’s a little harder to grasp for the everyday person. But, it’s more powerful to the rational mind! The Evidential Problem of Evil – on the other hand – is more…convincing (usually to people). In fact, it’s convinced a lot more people than the logical one has.

But…it’s less powerful when it comes to actual philosophical power. Someone who really believes in God can get out of the Evidential Problem fairly easily, alright? Okay, we’ll start with The Logical Problem. The Logical Problem states that there are 4 Inconsistent Propositions that we hold to be true.

Inconsistent Propositions means that they can’t all be true, so we’re gonna have to get rid of one of them. So, what are those 4 propositions? They are: We read about that earlier. If you believe in a 3-O God – omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent –

Then you believe that God is all-knowing, so you’re on board so far. Omnibenevolence, we’re already there. Guess what number 3 is? So, what is the mysterious number 4? It’s the place the problem gets its name, it is: The idea being – that if there were an all-good, all-knowing, all-powerful God –

That God would stop Evil from existing. Let’s look at an example, to see how this works: So you have a murderer, for example, – and let’s give our murder a knife – and this murder is going to… …do something to this victim. I think we all know what’s going to happen… …but…

This Evil, I’m sure we would all consider this evil, if you wouldn’t, put something you would consider evil in there… …would be, by an all-knowing, all-good, all-powerful God, stopped, right? God would come in – unleash the Hand of God – …and Evil wouldn’t happen… But that doesn’t happen… …evil exists… So

Supposedly, to get out of this argument, there are some escape routes, 5 to be specific: You can say that: Maybe God’s all-good and all-powerful, but he just doesn’t know about the evil going on in the world. Maybe he’s very far away. Maybe he’s only in certain places at certain times.

He does the best he can, but he just doesn’t know about all the evil… Possibility, but it doesn’t give us the God we’re looking for. God is mean, or maybe God just doesn’t care? He can stop the evil, he knows about the evil, but he doesn’t want to, or he chooses not to.

Maybe he’s vengeful? A lot of possibilities here, but once again, it doesn’t give us the God we’re looking for. Or finally, maybe God is weak? God can’t stop evil. He knows about it. He wants to stop it, but he can’t stop it.

Once again, it doesn’t give us an all-powerful God, and that’s exactly what we’re looking for. Another way out of this, is to claim that evil doesn’t exist. This is a little sketchy as far as things go, because if you think that, Evil as a concept doesn’t exist,

Then you probably don’t think that God can be all-good, because you don’t really believe in good and evil. And if you’re gonna claim that evil doesn’t happen in the world, well…I want to see your definition of “evil.” That’s a little sketchy as far as escape routes go…but there is a 5th escape route,

Which is probably going to be what a lot of our defenders of God take, and that’s: In fact, that we can hold all 4 of our premises – God is all-knowing, God is all-good, evil exists, and God is all-powerful – together, without committing any inconsistencies.

Now, we’re going to talk about the Evidential Problem of Evil. This problem, is a little less philosophical than a Logical problem. It doesn’t go to premise, premise, conclusion. It more says, “Well, let’s look at the evidence out in the world.” Hence the name Evidential Problem.

Look at the evidence out in the world, and see – from this evidence – what’s more likely a conclusion to draw: That God exists, or that God doesn’t exist. Let’s see I’ll present you with some evidence… …you make up your own mind…

The idea here, of course, is that, if you have seen the horrors that go on in this world… Or if you suffered great trauma… You might come to conclude that: No God could allow such a thing to exist.

The only conclusion you can draw based on the evidence, is that God does not exist? On my count, there are three places you could have ended up after all of that argument: You could say, “Despite The Problem of Evil, God still exists.”

You could say that, “The Problem of Evil has convinced me. I believe God is dead. God does not exist.” Either of these positions, however, I think it’s unsubstantiated in some ways. God exists? We haven’t really had an argument for God’s existence.

And, if The Problem of Evil has done anything, it’s called into doubt God’s existence. On the other hand, God is dead? I’m not so sure? Because, while The Problem of Evil has given us a pretty strong argument for a specific kind of God,

It hasn’t given us an argument against all gods, nor has it resolved the little concern we mentioned earlier… About what if we can find a way to show that those 4 propositions aren’t inconsistent. In fact, planning it is a good job of attempting to, in our next video.

So, what I would say, our only option here: To stay rational, is to suspend judgment. In other words, to say, “God might exist, God might not exist.” One way or another, I don’t have enough information for either of those beliefs to rise to the level of knowledge.

I’ll leave you with a quote from David Hume, that fairly succinctly sums up… The Problem of Evil If you enjoyed this video you’d like to see more or you’d like to put some of your own beliefs to the test, please Watch some more videos and visit…and stay sceptical everybody! 😉

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PHILOSOPHY – Religion: The Problem of Evil [HD]

My name is Sally Haslanger, and I’m a professor of philosophy at MIT. Today, we’re going to discuss an argument in favor of atheism, in favor of the belief that God doesn’t exist. Let’s start with some definitions. “Theism” – that’s “the belief that God exists.” So, “atheism”: “the belief that God doesn’t exist.”

Rational theism is one form of theism. It’s the belief that there are evidential reasons to believe that God exists. Now, arational theism is the belief in God without evidence. There are plenty of people who are arational theists, because they believe in God based on faith. Faith is often thought to be believing something

In spite of the fact that you don’t have evidence for it, and it’s completely common for people to believe things without evidence, right? We believe things all the time based on wishful thinking. We believe it because it’s just in the air, or it’s convenient for us to believe it.

It makes us happy for us to believe it. All those sorts of things. But we’re talking here about evidence, where “evidence” is “some information “that lends credibility to the claim, “in the sense that it’s more likely to be true “if you have the evidence.” Okay, so arational theism, as I said,

Is a common position, but we’re not really gonna talk very much about it today. Irrational theism is the belief in God in spite of evidential reasons supporting atheism. Notice that this is quite different from arational theism. The belief in God without evidence, as mentioned,

Could be just on the basis of a lack of evidence. But irrational theism is when you hold belief in God, that is, when you hold theism, but there are clear supporting reasons for the opposing view, that is, for atheism. Now, that’s problematic, and we’re gonna look

A little bit further into why it’s problematic. Let’s move on to a few more definitions so that we’re clear what we’re talking about. “Contradiction” – what is a contradiction? A contradiction is when you have a set of beliefs that are not possibly true together.

So a set of beliefs is contradictory if and only if it’s not possible for all of them to be true. Here’s a simple example: “Today is Monday. It’s not the case that today is Monday.” Those can’t both be true together. Now, we’re making an assumption: mainly,

That we’re talking about right here right now. We’re not talking about something on the other side of the dateline. Considering “today is Monday,” and “it’s not today is Monday,” that’s a contradiction. Both of them can’t be true. So if you believe both of them, then you’re believing a contradiction.

Now, it’s not necessarily the case that a contradiction needs to involve only two statements. It can involve three statements. So “all birds can fly,” “penguins are birds,” “penguins can’t fly.” Not all of them can be true together, right? If you hold what it is to fly stable,

If you hold what it is to be a bird stable, then you can’t hold all these together and have just true beliefs. One of them has got to be false. Now you could say, “Well, maybe it’s not the case that all birds can fly,”

Or, “Maybe it’s not the case that all penguins are birds,” or maybe you could come up with a modification of what it is to fly so that penguins can fly. They’re really good underwater, for example. You watch them under water, they look like they’re flying. But that’s not really flying.

So you can’t hold all of these beliefs. You have to figure out which one you’re going to give up. Likewise, “today is Monday” and “it’s not the case that today is Monday” – you need to give one up. Okay, now why do you have to give one up? Some people say,

“Wait, we believe in contradictions all the time. “It’s just not obvious that we believe in contradictions.” Well, that’s true. We probably do have contradictory beliefs, but it’s not good to have contradictory beliefs. We want to get rid of our contradictory beliefs. Now there are a couple of reasons why.

First of all, it’s really good to have true beliefs. You don’t want to go around the world having false beliefs, cause it gets you into trouble. So if I believe that there’s no wall here, and I go walking into the wall, then that’s not so good.

False beliefs can get you into trouble in that way. They can lead you into problematic circumstances that you’d probably best not be in. So holding beliefs that are false is problematic, and if you hold contradictory beliefs, you know one of them has got to be false, and that’s bad.

Another thing is coherent action. Having contradictory beliefs makes it difficult to act coherently. Look at this one: “Today is Monday, and it’s not the case that today is Monday.” Suppose you have a dentist appointment on Monday. What do you do? Do you go or not?

You both believe that it is and it isn’t Monday, so what are you gonna do? It’s hard to act coherently and act in a sensible way to fulfill your obligations, etcetera. Since one of the beliefs you hold has got to be false, and you can’t act on two contradictory beliefs,

You can’t really act coherently. So we’re talking about whether God exists, and evidence for and against the existence of God. Now, there are many different conceptions of God or gods. I’m not trying to adjudicate what’s the right or best conception of God. But there’s a particular standard definition in the West,

That God is an all-perfect being, a being at least who has these three features: a god is all-knowing (which is to be omniscient), all-powerful (which is to be omnipotent), and to be wholly good (or omnibenevolent). So this being is perfect, is omniscient, omnipotent, and wholly good, (or omnibenevolent).

We’re gonna call the combination of these features “OOO” (“O-O-O”) because they’re pretty good ooo features. Let’s go ahead and now look at the argument that suggests that atheism is the rational view to hold, the one that there’s the greatest evidence to believe. Here’s the first premise:

If God exists, he, she, or it would be OOO. Now I use “he, she, or it” because, of course, I don’t know whether there’s a God, and if there is, whether it’s a he, she, or it, or at least for the purposes of the discussion, we’re not gonna assume anything like that.

Okay, so that’s the first premise. Second: if an OOO god exits, there would be no evil. Well, why’s that? Well, if a god were all-knowing, then that god would know when evil was going to occur (or that it occurred), would have the power to make it not occur,

And is wholly good, so would also have the motivation to make it not occur. So this combination of omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence suggests that if a god were truly OOO, there would be no evil. We assume for the purposes of argument that God exists. And we conclude, then, there is no evil.

So if God exists, he, she, or it would be OOO. If an OOO god exists, there would be no evil. God exists, so there is no evil. The problem is, there is evil. Well, at least, it seems there’s evil. That might be one of the questions that comes up

When we consider objections to the argument. It appears, certainly appears, that there’s evil: lynching, terrorism, the death of innocent babies. So for the moment, we’re gonna say there is evil. But look: “there is no evil,” “there is evil” – this is a contradiction. And so we have to reject one of these premises.

Well, this one, that God is OOO, that one is hard to reject because that’s just how we’ve defined what God is. This one – it seems straightforward. And so once we assume God exists, and we assume that there is evil in the world, which is hard to deny, we get a contradiction.

So we have to reject something. And so the thing that’s most likely to be false, according to the argument, is number (3), that God exists. So we conclude that God does not exist. Now this argument is a little bit truncated, as any argument is. It relies on two further assumptions.

First, a wholly good thing always eliminates evil as far as it can. And second, that there are no limits to what an omnipotent thing can do. But these just seem to be part of the definition of all-knowing, all-powerful, and wholly good. It’s just true by definition.

So here’s a way to think about it. If we assume a certain kind of God, an OOO God, and we really take seriously the perfection of that God Then once we assume that kind of God, and that there exists some evil in the world, then we’ve got a contradiction. So the theist is left with this position: either the theist has to say there is no evil in the world, or the theist has to give up

One of these features of their God. Those are your two options. Neither of them look very appealing. And so now we’re in a position to say, “If you don’t want to do that, “you are an irrational theist,” that there is compelling evidence that God does not exist,

God of this OOO kind does not exist, and yet, you believe anyway. That is to say, you believe a contradiction. You believe that there is evil, and there is no evil. You believe that there is this kind of god, there isn’t this kind of god.

We saw before that belief in contradictions is a bad thing, and you ought to avoid it wherever you can. And so this is the argument that you should not be a theist, because irrational theism is not an acceptable form of theism. Subtitles by the community

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