Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Higher Morality (Problem of Evil #2)

(This is part 2 of series on the Problem of Evil)

The essential idea with this Theodicy is that God should be judged by some higher, divine morality. From the perspective of this higher morality, what is described or characterized as evil by human morality is actually good.

Like the The Greater Good Theodicy, this Theodicy ends up denying the existence of evil. What we take to be evil is really good. And so it fails the basic test of maintaining all four claims of the paradox (see the original post).

Another problem here is that it sets human morality at odds with the higher divine morality. If the higher morality is going to judge the Holocaust, fatal disease outbreaks, etc, as good, while human morality will judge them bad, then the 'good' in each of these moralities are different. Good on the higher morality is not what we mean by good.

But, then, which good is being ascribed when we say God is all-good? If it is the human morality usage, then we appear to be right back with the paradox. If it is the divine morality usage, then maybe we resolve the paradox but at the cost of understanding. We don't know what divine morality means by good if it would describe the Holocaust as good. Moreover, we have no access to what divine morality is. So, we do not understand what all-good means.

Some theists will accept this. God is obscure (as Patrick mentioned in one of the comments to an earlier post). But if we are aiming to get an understanding of the problem of evil and get to some comprehensible resolution, then this is not an answer. The only reason to engage in Theodicy is because one is uncomfortable with paradox presented by the problem of evil. If one is satisfied with obscurity, I doubt the paradox would be all that disquieting in the first place.

The central problem, then, with this Theodicy is that it makes 'good' incomprehensible, and so the whole Theodicy is incomprehensible.


Patrick Stephens said...

What if God is omniscient, omnipotent, omni-benevolent, and omni-busy?

He knows evil exists, he has the power to stop it, he'd like to stop it, but really... who has the time? Think about how busy you are, and then imagine what God's schedule must be like!

Someone has to drive Jesus to all those little league games. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are always bickering about who gets to sit shotgun at the Throne of the Lord, "C'mon dude! You've been at his right hand for like, two thousand years! You think you're so special just because you had corporeal existence!"

Mary nags about missed child support payments and Elijah's always turning up unannounced and drinking all the wine.

And the angels, don't start. Constantly bickering and fighting and jealous; they're like teenagers. Lucifer never stops whining, "I'll start a war in heaven if you don't treat me like an adult!" and God says, "If you want to be treated like an adult, you have to start acting like an adult!" So Lucifer says, "You love humans more than me! You give them everything! You're so unfair! I hate you!" And then God says, "I made you first and as the oldest you need to be more responsible and to show Me some respect MeDammit! I hope you never act like this when you're at Odin's house! Go to you're room!" But of course, Lucifer won't listen, he just goes down to the basement and plays his music so loud you can't even hear yourself think!

God used to be involved with the world, but then he had kids.

Shawn Klein said...

LOL! But wouldn't omni-busy be in conflict with omnipotence?

Patrick Stephens said...

No. Omni-irritation trumps all.

Think what it's like when Jesus has a tummy ache.

Jesus: "I don't want to save anyone's souls today. Can't I just stay home? C'mon! You let Gabriel stay home!"

God: "Gabe has a sore throat. Are you sure your stomach hurts?"

Jesus: "Yes! I said it did! You, You never believe me!"

God: "And what will happen to everyone who takes you into their heart today? Hunh? Do you plan on just letting them burn in hell?"

Jesus: "Oh c'mon! I don't feel good. I'll save them tomorrow."

God: "Fine, I'm tired of arguing. But no x-box! You're sick, you stay in bed."

Jesus: "You're so unfair! Your moral laws are obscure and unintelligible."

J. W. Gray said...

What about the neo-Platonic view that we can intelligibly deny the existence of evil? Evil is a lack rather than something that exists. We are lucky to be alive and not being alive is value-neutral. "Evil" is just our impatience and neediness. In other words, we are spoiled brats.

Pain seems like a more plausible view of "negative value," but many people have denied the intrinsic disvalue of pain.

Also, if we have wonderful afterlives, death would certainly not be seen as evil. It can be great. The question then is why we shouldn't kill people.

Shawn Klein said...

J.W.: As I said in an earlier response, I am not interested in denial of evil theodicy.

Positing a paradise-like afterlife doesn't deal with the suffering, pain, and evil of living beings. Also, it requires positing an afterlife.