Monday, 2 October 2017

A Problem with Theodicies

 A problem with theodicies, as I see it, is that (some) theists will initially accept – for the sake of the argument – the notion that their god does some bad things.  Then they'll spend a lot of time justifying why their god does those bad things (better goods via evil, inability to do the logically impossible, necessity of evil for good by comparison, etc).  They'll reach a conclusion that their god could in fact be justified in doing some bad things, and they will confidently declare that their god hypothesis is not invalidated by the problem of evil (so long as a long list of caveats are satisfied).  Then, finally, they'll forget all about the mental gymnastics that they just went through and will go back to believing in a god without all the caveats that those mental gymnastics resulted in, a god that they had previously accepted as invalidated by the problem of evil.

There's also the problem of using logic in a theodicy.  Certain logical truths – for example the Law of Non-Contradiction – are features of this universe ("as created", in the world view of a theist).  We use these logical truths to arrive at the conclusion that, for example, action X is not "logically possible".  This makes the impossibility of action X a secondary feature of this universe ("as created"), because that logical impossibility is a consequence of the logical truths which are primary features of this universe.

There's nothing that implies that logic transcends this universe such that a sufficiently powerful, knowledgeable and good god could not create a universe without logic – at least nothing beyond our inability to imagine such a universe, but we live in a universe in which logical truths pertain, so we are naturally limited in our imagination.

Perhaps the theist might wish to argue that logic does transcend this universe and that "prior to the creation of the universe" (whatever that means) the creator god was limited by logic and was obliged to create a universe in which logic necessitated suffering and evil.  The problem here is that the theist is therefore suggesting that the creator god is transcended by logic, is less powerful than logic.  And we know that logic is ultimately imperfect (per Wittgenstein and Russell).  Thus, the creator god is diminished and becomes a mere vassal of imperfect logic.

Is this not a problem for the theist?

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