Monday, January 18, 2016

Milbank vs Law: Blood on the Carpet

Theologian Prof John Milbank and I exchange blows on God here.…/law-vs-milbank-belief-and-the-gods-…
We do not hold our punches.

Parts 3 and 4 will be up shortly but if you can't wait here is my response to Milbank's reply now (ie part 3):

Thanks to John Milbank for responding to my opening piece on God and science. I initially suggested many God beliefs are empirically - and even scientifically - refutable in the sense that we might establish beyond reasonable doubt, on the basis of observation, that the belief is false. I gave three examples: belief there's a God that answers petitionary prayer; belief that there's a God who created the world 6,000 years ago; and belief there's a God that's omnipotent and omni-malevolent. I then suggested that, for similar reasons, we can reasonably rule out a god that's omnipotent and omni-benevolent.

John rejects that last suggestion and defends the view that his particular omnipotent, omni-benevolent God is indeed off-limits to any sort of empirical or scientific refutation. So what is his counter-argument?

Continues here.

On liking and sharing political stuff on facebook, twitter, etc.

I like, share, and retweet quite a bit of left-wing stuff. Why?

Well, I am aware that doing so is often just indicative of cognitive bias - pay attention to that which supports your preferred narrative ignore what doesn't. Am I guilty of that? Almost certainly - we all are.

However, the MAIN reason I like and share political stuff is that:

(i) I am also aware that in certain academic circles people self-censor on this stuff given social/peer pressure, and I'm afraid that brings out the rebel in me (I'm wired in such a way that if I feel I am under pressure not to say something, I'm more likely to say it), and

(ii) MOST IMPORTANTLY, because I am VERY sure that the dominant narrative across the media is very skewed to the right and narrow in focus, so feel I need to do my bit to get other messages and evidence out there and discussion going. It's about moving the Overton Window.

Here's something I wrote back in 2012 on this subject.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

God, Evil, and Theodicies

Here's the penultimate draft of something in Free Inquiry, out now.

Evil God and Mirror Theodicies

Stephen Law

The problem of evil is perhaps the best-known objection to standard monotheism, that's to say, to belief in God defined as omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnibenevolent (all-good). In fact there are two problems of evil, the logical and the evidential. Here I focus on the 'evidential' problem, which is often presented as follows:

If gratuitous evil exists, then God does not exist.
Gratuitous evil exists.
Therefore, God does not exist.

'Evil', in this context comes in two varieties: (i) moral evils such as the morally bad things we do as free moral agents (we start wars, murder, steal, etc.) and (ii) natural evils such as natural diseases and disasters that cause great suffering. So-called 'gratuitous' evils are evils for which there exists no God-justifying reason. Perhaps God has good reason to allow some evils into his creation if that is the price that must be paid for greater goods (there are examples below). But surely God, as defined above, won't allow pointless, gratuitous evils: evils he lacks a good reason to allow. So it appears the first premise of our argument is true: if gratuitous evils exist, then God does not exist.