Discuss Life and Religion with Tan Tai Wei

Is Agnosticism a respectable option?

with 19 comments

If  denying a reality/realities beyond the natural, culminating in ultimate transcendent Reality,  might be too assuming, requiring affirming that things just came to be in the counter-intuitive manner mentioned in the above posting,  is the non-committal position of agnosticism a safer bet?

But we know for a fact that things exist.  Now the truth must be either it all came to be in that spontaneous manner or not, and if not,  then we must consider views, such as those religions proffer, offering some ultimate explaining of it all. Taking indefinitely an agnostic stance on such issues is to be callous about, and not try to come to terms with, the realities that confront us. For things exist and the truth must either be that it all happened spontaneously in the way indicated with no rhyme nor reason, or that there is some explanation. The atheist who opts for the former has at least a chance to have the truth as the religious believer. Remaining agnostic gives one only the certainty of being wrong, and to acquiesce with this amounts to being indifferent about the search for truth as regards the most fundamental question of  being.

More, if secularism involves a “leap of faith” in its affirming that the ultimate reality it takes the natural realm to be is a brute fact needing and having no explaining, just as the religious believer and other non-naturalists could be   said also to have made such a leap  in their affirming that some explaining is called for, is not some such “faith”, perhaps even more,  also involved in the security an agnostic feels in his indefinite  rejection both of the secularist’s stand, and that of the non-naturalist and religious believer?

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Written by Tan Tai Wei

December 1, 2010 at 7:35 am

Posted in Uncategorized

19 Responses

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  1. What about theistism? Is it not viable in the context of Singapore secularism and plural religion society? I think it is.God fearing is the restraint against going wild.

    Raymond Chan

    December 7, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    • I am concerned here to remind secularists, such as atheists, that they too need to prove their stand. It is usually assumed that only such stands as theism need proving.
      My next post will say that theism is indeed “viable”. But theism would need more than its possible usefulness such as “restraint against going wild” for its support. It must be shown to be true, useful or not.

      Tan Tai Wei

      December 7, 2010 at 11:45 pm

      • What is the standard for asserting that a particular non-belief should require justification? Is it simply if there exists evidence for the alternative position (theism)? But the atheist will simply respond that no such convincing evidence exists, hence their atheism! Obviously we cannot require all non-beliefs to be subject to such a defense (prove to me your non-belief in Santa Claus is valid). Why should the non-believer (or better yet, those who LACK belief) in gods be subject to scrutiny which the non-believer in Santa is not?

        Your contention is that the naturalist position is inextricably linked with a metaphysical assertion regarding the nature of reality as wholly natural. As a naturalist, I would argue that all there is can theoretically be explained using science and natural concepts. I can do this because of the inarguable explanatory success science has had and by extending these past experiences into my above prediction of the future. An argument that secularism is faith-based may then be reducible to an argument that one has faith in inductive reasoning (in the past, effect X has always occurred as a result of cause Y therefore such will be the same in the future) . Obviously there are problems with induction but we still have “faith” in the scientific method.

        Eric

        April 20, 2014 at 9:23 pm

  2. Hello, Eric. Thank you for responding. Is unbelief in Santa a fair comparison to atheism? We already know Santa is fiction! Your naturalism purports only to “explain” in terms of repeatable sequences, etc., of happenings within nature. But why is there nature, and nature the way it is, enabling science, etc? Just a happy coincidence, out of the blue a big bang, or otherwise? This “metaphysical” assumption is surely a “leap of faith” also, like the intuition of theism. The contention then is which leap is true or truer to Reality.

    Tan Tai Wei

    April 21, 2014 at 1:29 am

    • Thank you for your return response and comments. I think the Santa comparison may be apt if we consider there exist large numbers of individuals (albeit mostly under the age of 10 or so) who believe in his existence and another portion of “a-claus-ist” adults. But that might be stretching things a bit and in that sense you are absolutely right. The difference between Santa and God is that we can with greater confidence assume that Santa does not exist. I probably should have made more clear the distinction which your response raises, namely the difference between active non-belief (“I believe God doesn’t exist”) and lack of belief (“I don’t believe God exists”) which I think is a very real and important distinction. The question may then be whether both of these positions require the holders of them to have faith in their (the position’s) validity. I would argue that only the former would while I assume you would argue that both would require faith.

      My reasoning (in its barest form) is this: I define “faith” as a belief in a proposition of which one holds no evidence. While active non-belief requires the production of such evidence, a lack of belief, it seems to me, does not. How can I justify this? For one thing, it seems that there are ample viable responses to those questions which theists assume only a deity can provide an answer to. These include Darwinian mechanisms in biology and recent cosmological discoveries (Lawrence Krauss’ new book provides insight into your response questions regarding there being something rather than nothing). This goes a long way in rendering a deity superfluous. Similarly I think the contention (Russell’s) that a teapot is in orbit around a distant planet is superfluous and wouldn’t assume that my fellow a-teapot-ists should need to submit to teapotist calls for justifying our lack of belief. Perhaps theists would reason that more evidence exists for the God hypothesis than the teapot one but I would argue that such a contention is debatable.

      I believe we will continue to learn about Reality, not because I have “faith” in science, but based on the empirical evidence that science has produced answers in the past and will continue to do so. But here we have induction again which is its own matter (and could be the crux of the issue here (?)). Needless to say I believe science divulges more about the nature of the universe or Reality than religion but I have appreciated your thoughts and this discussion has motivated me into further research in this particular area.

      Eric

      April 21, 2014 at 8:27 pm

      • Disregard of such stuff as Russell’s teapot in orbit would not be serious enough to be called unbelief. Then you are of course right claiming it doesn’t call for evidence and defence. But those are only strawmen rather than religion taken at its best in order to test seriously for truth. You seem to be distinguishing your “lack of belief”, rather than “active unbelief”, in terms of such straw constructs, such as belief in Santa Claus? And may I suggest again that your confidence about science providing all answers might be an example of what Ryle called a “category mistake”, that science can itself, at its level, explain the possibility of science?

        Tan Tai Wei

        April 22, 2014 at 2:06 am

  3. I think you’ve hit upon the crux of our disagreement. I don’t agree that unbelief of the sort I am defending requires a certain amount of “seriousness”. This is because I would argue that my lack of belief in God is identical to my lack of belief in Santa and my lack of belief in the teapot (it is just the subjects of my lack of belief which change) and that they are equally justifiable.

    As I am understanding you, you would want to say that not believing in Santa Claus requires less justification than not believing in God because there exists evidence for the existence of the latter (“religion taken at its best”) that doesn’t exist for the former. Any attempt by me to equate the two is a straw man argument.

    Again, I’ll simply have to respectfully disagree that such credible evidence exists (another debate). The traditional arguments don’t sway me and the problem of evil remains (for now) insurmountable. Therefore, Santa is on an ontological par with God for me (but obviously not for the theist who would require their evidence be refuted. Note where I would argue the burden of proof lies here- another reason to deny that the atheist position requires a positive faith-based belief).

    Here I can understand (but not agree with) a charge being leveled that such a requirement of evidence is a category mistake. God is said to be a transcendent being so one might argue that it is an error to assume that a non-material being can be discovered via material-based science. But you wrote “science… explain(ing) the possibility of science”. I’m not sure I understand where the category error lies there. Perhaps a typo? Were you meaning “science explaining the possibility of God”?

    At the risk of mischaracterizing your argument, I would wonder how, if God is said to act in the world and on individuals, this would be beyond the purview of naturalistic inquiry. Aren’t arguments made that physical effects directly attributable to God occur in our world?

    In fact, it is my current graduate research into miracles which brought me to your webpage. I don’t want to completely monopolize your time but would be interested in hearing your account on if/how violation miracles occur in the natural world (your response to Robert Young in Religious Studies seems to suggest a belief in these type of events. Your criticism of Young’s approach as couching his hypothesis in familiar terms of causation while still being a violation of sorts seems right on, although I must admit that I am not sure I fully understand Young’s theory). Anyway, I have appreciated your responses as they have been quite helpful.

    Eric

    April 23, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    • Irrespective of grounds for theism, surely Reality has to be one way or another, either purposed or random, commitment to one or the other being equally in need for wonderment and due consideration? And the agnostic who thinks the issue can be left undecided just isn’t being true to the nature of things, which has to be one or the other. So the theist and the atheist is being more true to Reality, being willing to have a stake in the nature of things rather than not at all. About the “burden of proof”, it seems to me that the assumption that out of the blue things just happened, and has taken the ways they have, is more puzzling and calls out for more “proving”.
      The “category mistake” is in mistaking the issue about “why is there something rather than nothing”, etc., to be on the same level, or category of explanation, as the scientific. How has it come about that nature exists, and in modes that enable the wonders and intricacies of microscopic and macroscopic science, etc., surely cannot be settled by only more and observings of concomitant variations within that level of investigation. Such would only constitute even more intricacies to be wondered about at the fundamental, metaphysical level.
      Thank you for attending to that response to Robert Young I wrote many, many years ago. He hadn’t quite understood Hume’s skepticism about miracles as grounds for belief in God, as explained clearly by Antony Flew, fundamentally that, as laws of nature are descriptive of observed natural regularities, any claim to violation of natural laws can only constitute a counter-instance to previously observed regularities calling for a revision of laws, and secondly, that at any rate, you can’t have evidence to support a purported miracle, since any mooted evidence for the naturally impossible occurring will always be countered decisively by the weight of evidence that supports the natural law concerned. I myself had a paper entitled “Recent Discussions on Miracles” published in Sophia of 1972 where I tried to clarify Flew’s position visavis other writers who similarly misunderstood Flew, and then indicated a proper answer to that Humean thesis. Flew wrote to me to say that I dealt with his critics “in exactly the way I would myself”, and that “on your case against me at the end, I am inclined to think you are right”.
      On the issue of the possibility of having evidence for theistic belief in the natural realm, the possibility of ascertaining miraculous occurrences could occasion some such evidence, although it is evident from my other posts on this website that I don’t any longer think purported miracles to be important in this regard. By the way, are you aware that Antony Flew now regards Reality to be somewhat purposive, because important for him is the ‘evidence’ for purposiveness in the “fine-tuning” of phenomena in the course of the big bang and thereafter that has enabled things and life as they are. I understand he has published a book to explain the kind of deism he now believes.

      Tan Tai Wei

      April 24, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      • I absolutely agree that agnosticism in not a viable position. (I’m always slightly amused that this is one thing most theists and I can agree on). Fence-sitting agnosticism is especially indefensible for the reasons you note. There is, of course, a positive agnosticism which advances arguments for its cause (rather than just refusing to commit). Robin Le Poidevin has written a short book in this tradition. But, while I found it interesting, I remain unconvinced. As for the burden: surely the origin of the universe is puzzling (or more likely the question of how something could apparently arise from nothing) but every day we are learning more about how this could happen (Krauss’ book). Personally, I find the positing of a more complex entity (A creator being would have to be more complex than the universe it creates) in attempts to answer these questions to be a non-explanation (infinite regression, etc.).

        I think I see the nature of what you meant with category mistake now: how it comes to be that nature exists is not discoverable via scientific (natural) scrutiny. I would argue that this may be true if the origin is due to a non-natural cause and if (as in my earlier formulation of the category error) the non-natural is not amenable to scientific explanation. But asserting the category error in this way is presupposing there is no natural explanation for the origin of the universe. If there is such an explanation surely it is discoverable via science, I’m sure you’ll agree. Perhaps it is even arguable this would be the case if God as Primary Cause created the universe naturalistically (similar to the way some argue that God is the ultimate force behind evolution).
        But If we don’t presuppose the existence of the transcendent, it seems the only way the origin couldn’t be discoverable by science was if they were the same thing. And neither of us are asserting that. (I’ll grant that it may be the case that the origin of the universe is simply not comprehensible by human minds).

        On Hume’s thesis: I recently read what is in my opinion a terrific defense of Hume’s miracle account by Fogelin. I’m sure you know it. I have had trouble with accessing Sophia through my university (Birmingham, UK) but am now trying to get help from a friend to pull your article as well. Fogelin argues that Hume’s was not an a priori argument and that he offered no conclusion in the first part of his essay. Rather the first part only served to assert that miracle claims require extraordinary evidence. The second part, regarding testimony, was where the a posteriori argument that no testimony offered evidence for religious miracles was given. Additionally, it was not that no testimony could ever be given to support miracles (eight days of darkness), but rather there hadn’t been any given which was sufficient.

        I quite like Flew’s argument and see it as picking up Alastair McKinnon’s where the latter falls. While McKinnon wants to rule out violation miracles by definition, I think its important to remember that natural laws can be revised. We can’t simply assert, as McKinnon seems to want to, that a miracle by definition is an “event involving the suspension of the actual course of events” and is therefore impossible. That seems to be because “miracle” and “laws of nature” are fluid concepts. The conception of the former changes when the conception of the latter changes and vice-versa. “Event” and “actual course of events” seem more concrete and so, maybe, disanalogous.

        In any case, Flew’s work is central to the issue so I am greatly looking forward to reading your take on it, especially after hearing of his endorsement. Yes, I was aware of his swaying toward deism later in life, mainly due the fine-tuning argument which some atheists see as powerful (Richard Dawkins) and others view as a non issue (Victor Stenger). I’ve even heard it suggested that his views in the matter were coerced and not really his own (as he was fairly aged at the time) but I prefer to be charitable and believe he simply acquired new information which he perceived to be justified and true and admirably followed it to what he thought was the correct conclusion.

        Eric

        April 25, 2014 at 9:27 pm

  4. A “scientific explanation of how something can come out of nothing, etc ” would still leave us with the puzzle how this sort of science and its effects could have come about. And that “more complex”, “transcendent, primary cause” of things would, as you say, be in need of explaining also. And so, unless the intuition of many of us that leaving it all this way would mean that reality is ultimately per impossible unintelligible, the alternative is to posit a “self-explanatory” Being “compounding for the fortuitousness of all else’ (HD Lewis). Intuition here is not ‘subjective’. As Lewis said, it is at the extremities of the exercise of reason that we feel impelled to take this “leap of thought”. Nor is it a matter of only one man’s intuition against another’s. For, as AC Ewing pointed out, there can exist supportive grounds for claims to intuition (eg Antony Flew’s being impressed by the fine-tuning “evidence”). And like moral awareness of the ‘categorical imperative’ of justice (surely self-evidently true?), there could also be religious awareness to be cultivated, leading one towards being ready for that intuition and religious belief and commitment.

    Hume’s view about miracles would be uninteresting if all he said is only that they require unusually more supportive evidence, and that such have not been forthcoming. And the point that “miracles” and “laws of nature” are “fluid” concepts might only be Hume’s basic view, as clarified by Flew, that any verified claim that a natural law has been violated would only mean that law isn’t universal after all, hence needing revision or abandoning; or should that law be found to be worth retaining, then that putative miracle simply could not have been, being ruled out by the law’s validity (therefore, the “fluidity” of both the law and miracle).

    Tan Tai Wei

    April 27, 2014 at 12:07 am

    • Yours is an eloquent defense of the First Cause argument and of a reliance on claims to intuition. Yet I still find it difficult to accept an un-caused Designer over an un-caused universe, especially given that the former should necessarily be more complex than the latter and irrespective of that Designer being posited as self-explanatory. Perhaps I am overstating the complexity angle, however. And I’m not familiar with Lewis so would have to track down his work before I could comment without reservations. AC Ewing’s idea is also interesting and seems vaguely similar to Plantinga’s properly basic beliefs. As you can probably surmise, I think there are problems with Plantinga’s claim.

      As for Fogelin, I think one of his main contentions was that, had Hume’s argument been of an a priori sort submitted in the first part of the chapter, the second half detailing testimony would have been superfluous. But I do see your point.

      And your further point about my thoughts on “fluidity” regarding Hume’s basic view are absolutely correct. I’m now wondering if McKinnon is assuming “natural law” in an ultimate sense (never needing revision) while some of his critics take “natural law” in the fallible sense and, therefore, they’re just talking past each other. But that’s just speculation.

      Eric

      April 29, 2014 at 11:54 pm

      • An “uncaused designer” might be even more perplexing than an “uncaused universe”, and so the perplexity that forced upon us that conception is resolvable only on that “designer” being thought existing necessarily. thus “self-explanatory”. Of course, as Lewis and others said, beyond acknowledging that ultimate conceptual necessity, what that involves and means is essentially and expectedly mystery to our finite viewing.

        Haven’t read Fogelin, but why would it be superfluous for Hume to say, after primarily pointing out what he thought to be conceptual muddle in the notion of miracle itself, that he also thought purported evidences for miracles likewise involve such muddled thinking?

        Tan Tai Wei

        April 30, 2014 at 10:03 am

  5. Fogelin was concerned that many of Hume’s critics were assuming he (Hume) was drawing a conclusion in the first part of his essay of an a priori sort based on the nature of experience and testimony. If Hume had conclusively disproved miracles in this way, Fogelin argues, his following that conclusion with a critique of the value of specific examples of testimony would be pointless and maybe (here I’m reading a bit into Fogelin) something of an anticlimax.

    Obviously there are going to be advantages and disadvantages to this approach. While I generally like Fogelin’s conclusions, I’m not sure I’d agree with him that all of the talk concerning weighted evidence, etc. in the first part of Hume essentially amounts to a discussion of what is necessary for testimony to be valid and nothing more. In other words, I don’t know if I would agree with Fogelin that the first part is only a setup for the second half.

    I am taking your argument thus far is that your belief in a necessary being is warranted by the existence of the universe coupled with the necessary complexity of a Designer of said universe requiring Him to be self-explanatory or necessarily existing (supported by a notion of defensible intuition). Ours is a timeless fundamental disagreement: I simply see no design in nature inexplicable by natural means, no justification in making that “leap of thought” to assuming a Cause.

    I am curious, though: Does the defensible intuition Lewis and Ewing elude to allow for our knowing of the existence of a Designer or our understanding this Designer to be a necessary being? Or both?

    Anonymous

    May 5, 2014 at 12:52 am

    • The above response was mine, by the way. Accidentally left as “Anonymous”.

      Eric

      May 5, 2014 at 12:54 am

  6. Lewis’ view is that, “design” or no (“yes” would add support for the view), that anything exists at all calls ultimately for belief in that transcendent, necessary, self-explanatory and all-explanatory Reality. Otherwise, we are left to postulate either an incredible, unexplained beginning of things, or an equally unintelligible infinite regress of causes. You may be right about our “fundamental disagreement”, provided we have explored sincerely and fairly all available reasoning for and against, and must then take that “leap” one way or the other (remember though, that secularism involves that leap also, whether or not you agree with Lewis about its being incredible). Only at this limit of rational discourse is Alasdair MacIntyre’s view right that “belief cannot reason with unbelief; it can only preach to it” (said when he was still a believer), also the claim of another’s that belief can only say to unbelief, “this is my vision; would you like to share it?” (cf, the scriptural invitation to “come and see”, and “come and taste that the Lord is good” ). Like other intuitions, if we don’t have them, we may at this level of discourse only think through again, and check again our motives, etc., to review our readiness for them. (This applies, of course, to both belief and unbelief.)

    Tan Tai Wei

    May 5, 2014 at 2:25 am

    • I think many atheists, especially the more outspoken ones, bristle at the idea that theirs is a “faith-based” non-belief. If by “leap” you mean “faith” and by “faith” you mean “belief based on no evidence”, then how can lack of belief (atheism) be a belief based on no evidence? I would still have it that, if atheists (those who simply lack a belief in gods, rather than those who propose a positive non-belief) are subject to your characterization of their position as involving a leap then any belief and non-belief would have to be likewise subject to such characterization. I think we’ve established the boundaries as being evidence-based but, as noted, we disagree on the soundness of the evidence.

      You would have it that, when faced with the question of existence, the theist says, “Only God explains existence” which is a leap. Furthermore, an atheist or agnostic who says “I don’t agree” or “I don’t know if I can agree” would be making a similar leap. I disagree. To push any further in this direction would rehash Santa Claus and the teapot.

      But if the problem is one of a lack of distinction between positive non-belief and a lack of belief, perhaps Flew (and later Michael Martin) could come into play. Maybe there are only “positive” and “negative” atheisms, where a positive atheism signals a strong atheology or active disbelief while negative atheism is merely agnosticism. If this is the case, then my atheist example above (one who merely lacks a belief in gods rather than a positive disbelief) is in actuality an agnostic! If this is true, I’ll have to re-evaluate my entire philosophical point-of-view (Hint: I don’t think this is true)!

      Eric

      May 7, 2014 at 12:29 am

      • Lewis’ view seems to be that those ” promptings”, arising from the “incredibility” of taking things as merely having occurred, either having a beginning for no reason whatsoever or involving a hardly conceivable infinite regress of beginnings, is fundamental amongst items of contemplation that initiate one into a uniquely religious experience centred on that “leap of thought” or essentially cognitive “insight” about a transcendent Reality existing necessarily “compounding for the fortuitiousness of all else”, and the insight leaving its imprint onto one’s life experiences, which the initiated is especially sensitized to, also to interventions from the Beyond into one’s finite consciousness so that, for instance, the discerning prophet could claim “thus saith the Lord …” (See his book “Our Experience of God” and the paper “Religious Experience and Truth” in his collection “Jesus in the Faith of Christians”.) So, it is not merely “faith” as some sort of leap into the dark. Which means that I was misleading to suggest that secularism would involve a similar leap. Obviously, true intuitions are into truths, like our seeing, surely without empirical evidence, that the same things cannot be true and false at the same instance, and those who can’t see such fundamental truths would need only to be prompted and initiated. And we don’t say, regarding them, that they have an intuition into a false (necessarily, if that intuition is true) discernment. But my point still stands, that even your less affirmative “lack of belief” would affirm, fundamentally, whatever else, that a fortuitiously existing universe is credible, and has to be so, since Reality has to BE, one way or another, as things do exist. But, of course, no evidence exists for that affirmation, and therefore some sort of “faith” must be involved.

        Tan Tai Wei

        May 7, 2014 at 8:55 am

  7. Establishing that the secular and theistic leaps are different in important ways is helpful. There would obviously be no interventions from Beyond for the secularist. And I would wonder if “insight” could be applied to the secular assumption in a manner similar to how it is applied by Lewis. These are ideas which, as you note, go beyond the simple concept of faith.

    We can label it “faith” or “confidence”, etc. I, personally, don’t think I am in the minority of people who classify themselves as “atheistic” when I say that, while I don’t find the idea of the God of theism credible, I cannot rule it out entirely. Call me a “1% theist” (99% atheist). I find the notion of deism slightly more credible given the Problem of Evil. I am maybe a “2% deist”. My position, in other words, is falsifiable. Can the same be said for the theist? Is falsifiabilility a virtue?

    I might be tempted to answer “yes” to both of these questions. I recently met a Christian scholar who admitted that, should Jesus’ body ever be found, he would abandon his faith. I admired his intellectual integrity if not his philosophical position.

    I am curious as to whether/how Lewis’ self-explanatory conceptualization of God may be cashed out in our modern philosophical conception of God as omnipotent, omniscient and all-loving. I take it you subscribe to these characteristics of the deity (though I may be mistaken). Two questions concern me which are touched on in Hume’s Enquiry and later broadened by Fulmer:

    1. Does a self-explanatory God create the laws of nature? It seems obvious that he does since we definitely want to say that there are laws of nature and that, should they not be created by God, there would be something which existed PRIOR to God. Obviously this is problematic in the same way the Euthyphro dilemma is regarding “the good”.

    2. Is it a law of nature that “Whatever this self-explanatory God wills comes to pass”? This also seems obviously true since a being who willed something which failed to occur could not be God and God’s omnipotence requires his will to be done.

    The problem is obvious if one seeks to explain the existence of the universe by God’s actions since, if the law existed prior to God which has it that his will be done then God is not the ultimate explanation for the existence of the universe. And if it was not an established law that God’s will be done, then God could not will such a law into existence since his will would have no effect.

    I’ve found copies of some of Lewis’ work is available at our library. I’ll have to pick them up next time I visit.

    Eric

    May 8, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    • Lewis does rightly say that only an all-perfect Being would satisfy our intuitive quest for all-explanatory ultimate Reality, as imperfections call for further accounting. And he does admit that evil poses a “strain” (“falsifiability”?) for belief, although he thinks, rightly, that religion can bear it. For if, on other grounds, we believe in God, then the evils we can’t reconcile with an all-good, omnipotent God can always be shelved amongst the mysteries transcendence expectedly pose to finite minds. And I have myself argued in a publication (not sure how originally) that those explanations we do have may be intimations of what might be, somewhat analogously, the divine perspective and explaining, and therefore the mystery isn’t total (therefore intellectually irresponsible?).

      The deism that says God has left creation to be on its own does alleviate the problem somewhat (eg., why does he not miraculously save those children sunk with that Korean ferry?), but fundamentally, evil would still be a problem even with it. For God, who must be all-perfect, should have made a world without pain as He could, even if He was to leave it after creating it.

      I have noticed before that the Euthyphro dilemma is applicable generally to “laws” other than the moral. I have also said, in a paper published by Triniity Theological College here, that whatever the author of John’s Gospel meant by his chapter one, verse one, it suggests that ultimately, if God be God – “without Him was not anything made that was made” – it has to be that “the logos was God”, or as the New English Bible has it, “what the logos was, God was”. For if God was not also the “law”, then He wouldn’t be the author of all, and the law would be greater, He having to abide by it also. But how to conceive that Identity? Well, we don’t know (cf. “transcendence”), beyond the intimation that it has to be.

      Tan Tai Wei

      May 9, 2014 at 10:53 am


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