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3005Re: Death of the unborn and infants

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  • Tesfaye Robele
    May 16, 2012
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      Dear Arcee A,
      This is the criticism allege that there is an inconsistency between certain theistic claims about God and evil. On the one hand, theism affirms that: (1) an omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good God exists, and, on the other hand, theism affirms that (2) evil exists in the world. The critic insists that these two statements are logically inconsistent with each other, that they both cannot be true. If the two statements are indeed inconsistent, then it is irrational to believe both. If this is correct, then the theist has made a serious logical mistake and must abandon at least one of the statements in the inconsistent pair.
                  Alvin Plantinga is well known for his attempt to rebut the charge of inconsistency. His Free Will Defense offers a way of proving the consistency of the relevant theistic claims. Since the critic alleges that it is logically impossible that both God and evil exist, as the theistic defender I must show that it is logically possible. In other words, I must show that both claims can be true.
      Of course, it is not immediately obvious that a statement asserting the existence of God is inconsistent with a statement asserting the existence of evil. If there is a contradiction between them, it must be implicit rather than explicit; I would like to put the burden of proof on the shoulder of the critic to show exactly how the contradiction arises. (Alvin Plantinga, The Nature of Necessity (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974), 165.)
      Some additional statement or “quasi-logical rules,”[ Alvin Plantinga, God, Freedom, and Evil (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1977; reprint of 1974 Harper and Row), 23-24. Cited from J. L. Mackie, “Evil and Omnipotence,” Mind 64 (1955): 200.] are needed to make the contradiction explicit. Some additional statements that have been suggested include the following:
       “That an omniscient being knows how to eliminate evil, that an omnipotent being has the power to eliminate evil, that a perfectly good being will want to or will have an obligation to eliminate evil, that evil is not logically necessary, and so forth.” (Alvin Plantinga, God, Freedom, and Evil (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1977; reprint of 1974 Harper and Row), 23-24. Cited from J. L. Mackie, “Evil and Omnipotence,” Mind 64 (1955): 200)
      The critic reasons that if God has the knowledge, power, and desire to eliminate evil, and if evil is not necessary, then there should exist no evil whatsoever. For the critic, these supplementary statements complete the logic, showing the inconsistency in the theist’s claim that both God exists and evil exists.
      As Plantinga indicates, the general strategy for providing consistency between any two statements whatsoever involves finding a third statement that is possibly true, consistent with the first statement, and in conjunction with the first implies the second statement. The third statement, of course, need not be true or known to be true; it need not even be plausible. The statement only needs to be possible because the matter of determining consistency between or among proposition has to do with whether they can all be true together, not with whether any one or all of them are in fact true. What the free will defender must do therefore is to find a statement that meets these conditions.[ Alvin Plantinga, The Nature of Necessity, 165.]  
      Plantinga suggests that the ideas of possible worlds provide a method for discovering the needed statement.[A possible world is simply a total possible state of affairs, a total possible way things could have been] So it is possible that God would create a world of free creatures who choose to do evil. In other words, for any world God might create, populated by whatever free creatures, it is not within God’s power to bring it about that those significantly free creatures never go wrong.[ Plantinga’s detailed argument delves into such concepts as “Liebniz’s Lapse” and “transworld depravity.” It can be read in more detail in his God, Freedom, and Evil (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1977; reprint of 1974 Harper and Row) or in very analytical detail in his The Nature of Necessity, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974), pt. 9. ] This new statement, together with one asserting the existence of God, implies that evil exists. It can now be seen to possible for God to exist and for evil to exist. Thus, the critic’s charge—that it is not possible for God and evil to exist—is refuted.

      In Him,
      tes
       
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