Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Another Logical Extension

I didn't want to create a TL;DR situation with my last post, so this is part two of What is our Obligation?.

I think for the people who accept the drowning child scenario I outlined last time, it should be relatively easy to understand a convincing argument based in the Problem of Evil (How could a god that is supposed to omnibenevolent, or at the very least good, be said to exist, alongside the existence of gratuitous evil/suffering?) for how a god/gods likely do not exist. This is different than simply saying, "I don't think there isn't any good evidence to say that a god exists," and is more like saying, "I think the evidence suggests that, in fact, no gods exist."

My argument basically goes like this:

P1: The Drowning Child Scenario gives us an accurate understanding of our moral obligation relative to suffering/dying human beings in the case where we can easily do something about it.

P2: If we behave in accordance with what follows from this scenario, we can be said to be behaving morally good.

P3: Virtually all definitions of Gods include the characteristics of omniscience (all-knowingness), omnibenevolence (all-goodness), and while maybe not omnipotent, at least extremely powerful.

P4: A God that has these characteristics is, in essence, always walking past a pond with a drowning child, and has no excuse, due to its omniscience and extreme power, not to prevent the horrible gratuitous suffering that is persistent in the world, without sacrificing its omnibenevolent status.

.˙.   At the very least, any person who wants to say a good God exists, is necessarily wrong, unless their God is ignorant of the happenings of the world, or just isn’t strong enough to prevent them. But if that is the case, what is the purpose of calling it a God?

I hope that was clear and concise. Feel free to ask questions or comment about it. I think I'm going to bed now. Good night.

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  1. I agree with you, but I'm trying to think of what might be a good argument to oppose this, so as to strengthen it even further.

    Let's see.

    Perhaps this could be opposed with the suggestion of moral nihilism.

    (1) Virtually all definitions of Gods include the characteristics of omniscience (all-knowingness), omnibenevolence (all-goodness), and while maybe not omnipotent, at least extremely powerful.

    (2) God is perfect, then by contrast man is imperfect

    (3) If to be God is to be obligated by rationality, then it is human to be left to choice based on irrationality and passion

    (4) The concept of God is at its very essence an impossibility.

    (5) If there is no God and it is impossible to be any other than human, then the desire to be anything like God is vain and misguided.

    (6) To act in accordance to a rationally moral obligation is to act vain and misguided because to do so is act of attempting Godhood.

    (7) One is not obligated to act morally.

    I don't really by this argument, but it's something I made up as a devil's advocate.

  2. I definitely understand what you're saying. I think perhaps a response to that would be, "yes, maybe an attempt at Godhood would be in vain, if that was our 100% true expectation; however, we may have the goal, of making the effort to do the best we can to act morally, while understanding that we as imperfect beings will not live up completely to it".

    I think what is important to understand, is that we do have the capacity to recognize these moral issues, and we also have the capacity to make efforts to act in line with them. If that is the case, and if acting morally is something that we as humans value, then simply by the fact that we value it should obligate us to act in this way. We need to acknowledge the fact that even though we didn't start existing for any divine reason, we still exist, which is something in itself, and therefore should be incentive for us to figure out how to exist without damaging each other. Again, this is not to say we will ever be perfect at it, but to say just because we can't be perfect at something, means there is no reason to try, I think doesn't follow.