Here goes.

This topic is so hard 🙁

Yeah, in general, the topics in the second half are ‘harder’–more abstract, less immediately connected with our lived experience. But guess what, you are all survivors from the first half of GET1029! And the issues raised in them have been hovering around the edges of the previous topics all this while…

If we say that there is an equally omnipotent being out there who is the opposite of God in terms of being evil instead of wholly good. Then would this help rebut the logical problem of evil?

Omnipotent wholly good vs omnipotent wholly bad: Is this a case where an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

There won’t be a POE for this conception–but that’s only because this isn’t a Classical Theistic conception. (Mackie will classify this as an adequate solution that “in the sense that if you accept it this problem does not arise for you, though you may, of course, have other problems to face [if you are a Classical Theist].”) On a standard issue Classical Theistic conception, it’s actually impossible for there to be both an omnipotent wholly good and omnipotent wholly bad around (keep in mind that Satan in Judaism and Christianity, and Iblis in Islam, are not conceived as a equally powerful being as God or Allah).

What if some religions don’t believe that their god is omnipotent and wholly good?

We are talking about the LPOE as a threat against Classical Theism. The LPOE isn’t targeting a conception where god is either not omnipotent or not wholly good. The fact that some other positions aren’t Classical Theistic is irrelevant.

The metaphysics vs. epistemology distinction.

Shouldn’t you believe in what actually exists, how can they be seperated? Or is there a scenario where you can logically believe in something doesn’t exist?

Of course you should (epistemologically, rationally) believe in what actually exists. But do we always do what we should? Remember the descriptive vs prescriptive thing? The more important point is only that what we have evidence for / what we have reason to believe, and what is the case are analytically distinct–they can go together (the best case), but they can also come apart. In principle, our best evidence may still be short of truth. And the truth may be such that we don’t have evidence for it.

Aren’t the epistemology and metaphysical views just contrapositives? A^B^C -> ~D = D -> ~AV~BV~C

Nope. I can’t really be sure what you are saying with the symbols (is that De Morgan’s law you are citing?) We’ll say more about epistemology in the next Webinar. But for now, the quick point here is that–for the most part–a sound argument for the metaphysics of something can be easily repurposed as an epistemological argument as well (just insert “we have reason to believe that…” in front of the premises and conclusion). (Just keep in mind the “for the most part” qualification–there may be exceptions.) The reverse, however, often does not follow.

Considering god has not really done anything(Humans are the one who keep talking about god), isnt it humans who are the ones who manipulate good/evil?

That’s exactly part of the contention isn’t it? Believers–obviously–don’t agree that “god has not really done anything”. In fact, many of them will insist that God has done a lot and continues to do a lot, that the very operations of the natural world is God acting (“the firmament sheweth his handywork” and all that), etc., etc.

How can we believe that “Prof Loy” exists if the only evidence for him is a face on a screen, blog posts, emails and quiz questions?

Actually, you have as much evidence that “Prof Loy” exists as you have for other things that you get to watch from a screen, e.g., people on youtube, etc. (Yes, that was meant to be something that can go both ways…:D)

If we are talking about metaphysic, do we take epistemological arguments for granted?

Depends on what you mean by taking those arguments “for granted”. Just remember that they are two distinct–even though related–concerns.

Is the karma inflation question a question about metaphysics (the nature of karma?)

I framed it as a metaphysics question in my very brief mention. There can, of course, be an epistemological version as well.

With Pascal’s wager, does the exsistence of God even matter?

Why wouldn’t it matter? I think the student meant to ask–with Pascal’s wager, does another argument for or against the existence of God–e.g., the LPOE–matter?

Can pascal’s wager provide a way out for Classical Theists when faced with LPOE (ie. provide a sound/valid argument that Classical Theists are not irrational for their belief in God’s omnipotence, omnibenevolence and existence of evil?)

That’s better. The answer is, “not straightforwardly”. This is because Pascal’s Wager isn’t really an argument for the existence of God–

Can I clarify: Pascal’s wager is not a way to argue against Mackie’s point right? It does not seem to prove that God exists at all.

That’s right. The Wager aims to prove that it would be rational for us to behave as if [we believe that] God exists. Put in a very rough way, the idea is that if God really exists, the cost of not behaving like we believe that God exists (in the afterlife) is much higher than whatever cost we pay (in this life) for behaving as if we believe that God exists. If both the LPOE and Pascal’s Wager are sound, then at best, you have the situation where it’s irrational to believe that God exists and rational to behave as if you believe that God exists.

(Just for the curious–Mozi (yeah, he’s like everywhere, right?) has an argument along the same lines for why people should act as if they believe that providential spirits exists–specifically, to gather together and conduct communal sacrifices, etc. He argues that if such spirits do exist, then we are doing the proper thing; if they don’t exist, people will still have a good time together and you get to build social bonds–a win-win…)

What if we take out Pascal’s Wager and insert in there an argument for the rationality of (actually) believing that God exists? If the LPOE is sound, then the rationality of the belief in the existence of the Classical Theistic God is under challenge. The fact that there might be another argument for the opposite conclusion isn’t going to change this unless that other argument shows that the LPOE is unsound. At best, you have two apparently sound arguments for opposite conclusions. In that case, maybe you have a stalemate in the sense that neither position is rational.. so at best, one needs to suspend judgment. But I guess it will also depend on your stand on the three positions on Slide #20.

Rationality of belief

Is it ok to believe in God even if it is not rational?

can repeat the explanation for position b?

Depends on what is meant by “ok”, and what’s meant by “not rational”. Remember Slide #20–“not rational” can be taken in the Position (b) sense, as in, believing that God exist even though there’s no rational support for the belief of the sort that makes a compelling, positive case for the belief, but the belief also isn’t against reason. It’s like having a “rational permission” to belief, though there’s no “rational duty” to believe. If this is what the question has in mind, then, the answer is “that’s rationally ok–you have the permission!”

If we take “not rational” in the Position (c) sense, as in, believing that God exists goes against reason, i.e., by right, there’s a rational duty not to believe, it’s not rationally ok to believe. But even so, this doesn’t mean that it’s simply “not ok”–after all, I did mention that “Position (c)” was an actual, historical family of positions, occupied by real thinkers. So obviously, there has been smart people who thought it’s ok in some sense. Some of them thought that “faith” has precedence here over mere human reason, etc.

Is there something worse than postively irrational in episistemology, like you believing would be blameworthy or something along those lines?

Ah good question. Using the analogy of morality does bring up these connections. So if you do something that’s morally permissible, you deserve not to be blamed. If you do something that’s morally not permissible, then you deserve to be blamed. But that’s in the realm of action; or more specifically, the moral evaluation of action. For rational evaluation of belief, the equivalent would not be “blame”, but shall we say, its epistemological counterpart. If you believed irrationally–as in, reason is against you believing that and you still went ahead. Then you are, as it were, not where you ought to be epistemically. You are subject to rational criticism, so to speak–not that people will definitely, or even should be lining up to criticize you, but you have fallen short of rational standards.

that’s not a lawyer, that’s an economist!

Hahaha… yeah. But no reason why the fella can’t be both. This is in response to my story about that “lawyer” from ancient China–Deng Xi (died c. 501 BCE). Let me quote the story in full, including how he met his demise:

A wealthy man from Zheng drowned in [the Wei river] and someone retrieved his body. The wealthy man’s family sought to buy it, but the one who found the body was asking a great deal of money. The family reported this to Deng Xi, who said, “Do not worry about it. He can certainly sell it to no one else.” The man who found the corpse was anxious about it and reported it to Deng Xi, who told him, “Do not worry about it. They certainly will be unable to buy the corpse from someone else…

When Zi-Chan governed Zheng, Deng Xi strove to disrupt things. He made a pact with those involved in litigation by which those who intended to pursue major legal cases should submit an upper garment and those who wished to pursue minor legal cases should submit a short coat and lower garment… Thus wrong was taken to be right, and right was taken to be wrong…. what was permissible and impermissible varied each day. Those whom Deng Xi wished to win in litigation did win, and those whom Deng Xi wished to punish were punished… Zi-Chan, troubled by this turn of events, had Deng Xi executed…

Lushichunqiu 18/4.3-4

As they say, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

God and logic

Many believe that God creates logic. If so, is it possible that the epistemological approach is irrelevant? Since we are still using the logic we know (as created by God) which might not actually apply to his metaphysical existence?

When we focus on the metaphysics question about God–does God exists?–we are, hopefully, using logic too! So if the above is an issue, it’s an issue for both the metaphysics question, and the epistemological question about God. Indeed, it’s entirely reasonable to say that if the Classical Theistic God exists, then He created logic–this is actually part of a sensible elaboration of the position saying that God is not constrained by logic. But all this doesn’t really help us–at least not in an uncontroversial way. Let’s say that God is somehow beyond the logic we have access too. But if this means that, in order to talk about God, we have assert actually illogical notions, then, why are we so confident that the illogical notions we are sprouting about God are any better than other illogical notions–the ones we reject as illogical? Part of the epistemological issue is exactly about whether we can make sense of ourselves talking about or having beliefs about God!

all the fallicious solutions are rebut using the definition that if God is omnipotent he can do anything. But if we use the other definition of omnipotence such that God is still subject to logic, then can we still rebut them?

Nope–all of the attempted solutions assume that God’s power is subject to logic! Please don’t get this wrong. On the other hand, if God isn’t subject to logic, then there isn’t an LPOE left, though typical theists aren’t going to be happy either.

Good and evil and the attempted solutions

Can evil just be defined as the absence of good?

Personally, you can define evil that way and there can still be a POE–as long as evil, i.e., “things that are not good” exist. For the purposes of the class, we can assume a commonsensical understanding of the good vs. bad/evil contrast (or think back to W02), and that will be enough to motivate the POE.

What is good and evil does not actually exist in our known reality and we’re judging this based on the contrast of one situation to another and labelling it as such? Maybe true goodness theist is referring to are to divide-level evils

I’m not sure I’m following. Good vs. Bad/Evil is a contrast we do notice in our world. And the LPOE is talking about the bad/evil that exists–as we observe them–in our world.

How does God represent what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’ if one cannot exist without the other? What if what is considered ‘good’ is actually the ‘bad’ and we’ve just been doing it wrong this whole time 😮

Remember that Mackie argues–and I agree–that it’s rather implausible to think “good cannot exist without evil” at least if that’s stated so baldly. See Slide #25. The plausible idea is that the meaning of the idea of “good” is determined by contrast with the idea of “bad/evil” and we wouldn’t have noticed and bothered to talk about good, if we don’t also notice bad or evils things. But from this plausible idea, we can’t properly derive the idea that good things cannot exist unless bad things also exist.

How will Mackie respond´s to the idea that good is not just against evil, but God is good in person, and perhaps in the same way Kant argues of a being that judge right and wrong, God choose what is good and what is evil.

However the background metaphysics of good/evil is sorted out, as long as your Classical Theist still insists that evil exists in the world–evil as God chose to define it even–then Mackie will still come after him with the LPOE. Unless you meant the above to be a round about way to deny that evil actually exists–

could this be a possible solution: there is no evil, everything is good (for us). we only have the false beliefs that some good things are evil, because God did not grant us omniscience

Some theists do go this direction.

However, do note that this isn’t the standard, mainstream position in the three monotheistic religions–as far as they are concerned, evil really does exist in the world. Yes, they are not pointless evils; or put another way, they are ‘justified evils’–because they serve some larger good in the plan of God. But they actually are evils–in the eyes of God even. (Search for the phrase “evil in the sight/eyes of the Lord” in the Christian Old Testament, for instance.)

Does that mean that there will be evil in heaven?

As far as I can tell, “no”? The POE isn’t worried about heaven though–as long as evil exists in our world, there’s at least the potential to set up a POE.

hi prof, but i still am confused by the statement: “If so, we shouldn’t infer that evil doesn’t exist from (1) God is omnipotent, and (2) God is wholly good” 😅

The basic idea is that if you accept that solution, then, you break Mackie’s inference from (1)+(2) to the negation of (3); thus breaking the LPOE.

Even if god does exist, is he obliged to ensure maximum happiness in our world?

Ah… it will depend on whether you think that some version of Mackie’s Premise (4) holds, or whether you think his “Attempted Solution 3” works, etc.

What determines if the good/evil is first or second order?

See Slide #28.

is there some sort of regression in the concept of “first order, second order” good/bad argument?

In principle, yes–and Mackie noted this (p. 208).

Can we say that the reason for (1) for mackies response is because if we are just wired to do the right things, we cannot really choose to have a real relationship with God and others which is undesirable?

This should be in response to Slide #31, The response above is the anti-Mackie line–by insisting that some sort of “real freedom” is a necessary condition for having a real relationship with God. I’m actually quite sympathetic to this myself, but Mackie isn’t impressed, as you might imagine. The tricky part, however, is articulating the precise sort of freedom involved, and making sure that it doesn’t fall prey to the problem posed against Indeterminism of our choices and actions, i.e., Premise 3 of the Standard Argument. Alternatively, go compatibilist and explain how the freedom–or agency–involved is compatible with determinism (or in this case, Divine sovereignty).

Are we living inside a Less-Than-Perfect machine?

Don’t spoil the fun for the others yet 🙂

Will you not explain Platinga´s argument

No, too much in this topic already. I’ve left the optional reading in Luminus. You can see also this.

Alright, time for more relaxing stuff–remember Pax and Max, my rabbits?