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3/26/09

Quentin Smith - The Gratuitous Fallacy, part III of V

This is the third part of a five part essay responding to Quentin Smith’s assertion “that the existence of gratuitous evil proves atheism.”[1]

Part I: On Obviously Gratuitous Evil
Part II: Emotions in Motion
Part III: Theism By Proxy
Part IV: The Illusion of Gratuity
Part V: Atheism Makes Evil Worse

Theism By Proxy:
Now to Quentin Smith’s by proxy theistic answer:
“So how do theists respond to arguments like this? They say there is a reason for evil, but it is a mystery. Well, let me tell you this: I'm actually one hundred feet tall even though I only appear to be six feet tall. You ask me for proof of this. I have a simply [sic] answer: it's a mystery. Just accept my word for it on faith. And that's just the logic theists use in their discussions of evil.”


Let us pause here for a moment. The fact is that the “problem of evil” fails due to the very fact that if God has a reason, let us even say any reason, for allowing evil then evil is not gratuitous and has a greater purpose. This would not even logically require us to produce the reason and so it may be termed a “mystery” and one that may someday be revealed. As for atheism: it guarantees that evil has no purpose—more on this in part IV. As to his height: height is something that can be measured since it is a physical property.

Quentin Smith continues:
“In fact, there's a strict disproof of theism that uses the ordinary logic of induction we employ in our everyday lives. If we have evidence that something exists, we say it probably exists. If we see dark clouds approaching, we say it will probably rain. But if we no evidence for something [sic], we admit that it's merely possible that it exists, even though it probably does not exist. If God exists, a being who is all-powerful and perfectly good, then this being must somehow ensure our world is perfectly good.”

Let us pause here in order to mention that the Bible states that God did create a perfectly good world and it was one in which the free will to do evil was allowed and yet this is not the end of the story but beginning of the story of redemption back to a perfectly good world.
Let us consider the fact that there is evil in the world and note that:
If there is free will: evil is inevitable.
If there is no free will: evil is inevitable.
Therefore, evil is inevitable.

Quentin Smith continues:
“The only way He can do this is to make all of the apparent evils we see in the world into means to a greater good. For example, the pain of a vaccination is in itself bad, but is a means to a greater good. Thus, if God exists, we must have evidence that all of the evils we see are means to a greater good. But even theists admit there is no evidence. That is why they must resort to talking about the mysterious ways in which God works. There's no evidence at all, for example, that twenty million people dying from Spanish influenza is for a greater good. The conclusion follows that God probably does not exist.”

Before Quentin Smith again offers the theistic answer by proxy let us note that he answered his own riddle. He has uncovered the mystery. If God exists we must have evidence that all of the evils we see are means to a greater good.
I would contend with the claim that we must know “all.” If someone claims that there is no gold in China I do not have to search all of China since if I go to China and find one little piece of gold on one square inch of ground then I have disproved the claim that there is no gold in China. Quentin Smith himself provides proof that there is purpose to what I term “apparent evil” by pointing out that “the pain of a vaccination is in itself bad, but is a means to a greater good.” This will be elaborated in the next part.

[1] Quentin Smith, Two Ways to Prove Atheism

1 comment:

  1. Let us pause here in order to mention that the Bible states that ...
    OK. But, do you have any evidence that what the Bible states has any relevance to the real world? The House at Pooh Corner makes claims about the world too, why are you not quoting it instead of the Bible?

    ...God did create a perfectly good world and it was one in which the free will to do evil was allowed and yet this is not the end of the story but beginning of the story of redemption back to a perfectly good world.
    Let us consider the fact that there is evil in the world and note that:
    If there is free will: evil is inevitable.
    If there is no free will: evil is inevitable.
    Therefore, evil is inevitable.

    In other words, your god created an evil world. That you choose to believe, without any evidence that I can see, that redemption is eventually possible doesn't mitigate the fact that everybody born, none of whom consented to the ordeal, must necessarily first be tormented for some varying period of time before they are allowed a chance to escape. And all of that has been engineered on purpose by your "good" god!?!?

    In what possible way is that dismal vision a good thing? If Walt Disney designed Adventure Land on those principles he'd have been reviled as a beast.

    ReplyDelete