Steve Lowell (link
) wants to see C. S. Lewis' original argument from morality through to show that the hot criticism of an atheistic critic of divine justice does
validate Christian theistic morality if morality doesn't stand up apart from theism. Somehow the subjective passions of Christianity's critics proves that morality is embedded in the fabric of reality. Now, if this were poetry, I'd be pleased, but this apparently passes for epistemology. :S In a previous comment archive (link
) we went back and forth on what I would consider a sober evaluation of what morality is versus the magical conceptions of it. Then Steve tried to pull things back to the original argument from atheist hotness (link
) and I explained some of my reasons for not taking Lewis' superfluous moral framework seriously. We were on the verge of simply repeating ourselves (link
), but at least there has been some healthy exchange of ideas, and it seems things are wrapping up.
Steve Lowell responded:
Sorry if this seems exasperating. I think there may be another issue of dialectic to point out and that if we agree on that then despite all the foregoing we may be closer to agreement than it has so far appeared.
Firstly, the moral argument to God from evil certainly doesn't prove Christianity. You are quite correct in that. However for reasons I have outlined above I also think it cannot lead to Zoroastrianism ... but it could certainly lead to a god of limited power or to some form of deism. Since it is an moral argument to God from evil, then we certainly need to be able to accommodate the existence of evil in whatever form of religion we end up with ... but Christianity is perfectly capable of that (as are other religious views). If you want to endorse one of those other views, then as far as this thread goes you will find no objection from me. But notice that Christianity is certainly among the options ... The point of the Lewisian rejoinder to the problem of evil with which this thread began was not that evil proves Christianity, that atheism is not one of the available responses to evil; that if the moral argument stands then evil does disprove atheism; that you cannot move to atheism while at the same time "hotly criticizing divine justice". Now it is certainly true that I've done close to nothing here to show either of the following:
(1) Morality requires the existence of God.
(2) The existence of evil is consistent with the existence of a perfectly good, all-powerful and all-knowing God.
But (2) is not controversial, and you were allowing (1) for the sake of argument. With (1) and (2) in play I don't see that you can resist Lewis's argument that the atheist room for specifically moral complaints against God ... since if the complaints were to succeed (which by (2) they could only do so probabilitistically not conclusively), then by (1) the very piece of evidence cited (some real evil) would suffice to disprove his own worldview.
If we agree to here, then we can begin discussing (1) and (2) themselves.
With respect to (2) how do you go about proving the statement below?
-(2') If there were a perfect universal health care system in the U. S. then everyone in the U.S. would have health insurance.
It doesn't seem like truth of logic to me. If fact it seems false to me. And remember, for there to be a logical problem of evil then the equivalent of -(2') needs to be a logical truth, not just a truth, and certainly not just a probable or possible truth.
So, where are we now?
I think you've laid down your thoughts in a very organized way and I appreciate that. However, I'm not going to belabor the issue when there are too many things I disagree with to make the "for the sake of argument" theme worthwhile. If we accept all of C. S. Lewis' flawed premises and his construction of what he thinks those premises mean, then we are basically just accepting everything for no particular reason. But that's just a parallel moral universe that can't be imposed on the critic as though it should necessarily constrain their judgmental "hotness." Not everyone conceives of morality innately as Lewis does.
True, we can imagine that 48 million people happen to be from the planet Krypton and like Superman, don't need health insurance, but if we put in enough real world premises (or even make reasonable accommodations of our definitions to exclude meaningless exceptions like supermen), the analogy works and the logical argument from evil is solid. Who in their right mind would call a health care system universal or perfect if it left 48 million needy people uninsured? It's basically tautological. And as for (2), there's really no excuse (other than the Zoroastrianism dualism) that would enable anything to get in the way of an all powerful, all knowing, good god from creating and maintaining morally perfect creations. And no matter how much give we allow from an absolute conclusion on that mark doesn't really seem to help Christian theism any. It fails at all sorts of levels, Biblically and generally as I've tediously laid out on my blog in the past. All of the excuses I've ever come across are excuses we would never accept in any other analogous moral context and I doubt anything new is going to show up and save the day after so many thousands of years (since the book of Job was written, I guess) of trying. I'll understand if you aren't quite there with me, since I'm sure there are many hidden issues to address and resolve.
What we have is just a really bad hypothesis and I don't see hardly any Christian theists jumping on board alternative versions of theism in order to even show they honestly care about having a worldview that is the best explanation of the facts we know. It's as though they feel orthodox Christian theism is (to use another political analogy) "too big to fail" and they aren't going to move beyond its subjectively established clout no matter how far out on a limb they have to go for it.
I'm not really sure what we can work out from here. I think I understand where you are coming from and we mainly disagree on issues not directly related to the post. Fair enough?
It is interesting to note, that I'm working on a post critiquing Vox Day
's response to the argument from evil that actually does completely jump ship with mainstream Christianity in order to solve the issue. He's one of the few exceptions to the rule, but it is interesting to watch.