Conversations with Angie: The incoherence of arguments from evil
The distinction between good and evil is a moral distinction. The problem I see with the argument from evil is that it's hard to account for objective moral values in the absense of God. Here's the deductive argument again:
1. If God exists, then evil would not exist.
2. Evil exists.
3. Therefore, God does not exist.
This argument works only if the second premise is true. Evil must exist. But before evil can exist, there has to be some kind of moral standard by which to distinguish between good and evil. The distinction between good and evil is a value judgement, and value judgements can only be made by sentient beings. If there were no sentient beings in the universe--neither human, angel, alien, nor God--then it doesn't make sense to say that anything is good or evil. Things *just are*. If good and evil depend on people, then they are merely relative, and there's no reason to question God. If good and evil are to be objective, in the sense of being true whether we believed them or not, then they would have to depend on some kind of transcendent being--a being who stands over and above humanity.
The conclusion of the argument from evil is that God does not exist. But that conclusion seems to contradict the second premise. Remember the distinction I made between being implicitly contradictory and explicitly contradictory? Well, "Evil exists" does not explicitly contradict "God does not exist," but they ARE implicitly contradictory, and that can be shown by adding a premise that is necessarily true. Here's how that would be done:
4. If God does not exist, then evil does not exist.
5. Evil exists.
6. Therefore, God exists.
Since "God exists" contradicts "God does not exist," it follows that "God does not exist" is inconsistent with "Evil exists." The argument from evil is incoherent because it affirms a contradiction--an impossible state of affairs. It's impossible for evil to exist if there is no God.
The way deductive arguments work is that if both premises are true, and the logic is valid, then the conclusion must also be true. The only way the conclusion can be false, and the logic valid, is if one of the premises is false. If we grant that "Evil exists" is true and that "God does not exist" is false, then we must reject, as false, the first premise in the argument from evil, which says, "If God exists, evil would not exist."
Remember that this premise is based on the assumption that a good God is inconsistent with the existence of evil. God and evil cannot coexist. There's a contradiction between "God exists" and "Evil exists." But since this premise is false, it follows that there is no contradiction. There is no inconsistency. Far from disproving God's existence, evil proves just the opposite. If evil exists, then God exists.
to be continued...
Conversations with Angie: Arguments for the goodness of God