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mjt532
Reply with quote  #1 
Let's assume for the sake of argument that Dr Craig is correct in stating that atheists have no basis for objective morality...so an atheist cannot claim that Hitler was evil, Gandhi was good, etc.

I have seen in many debates, including this one, where the opponent will claim that the biblical god is evil. Craig invariably will say "stop, as an atheist, you have no objective morality to make such a judgment." I don't believe that's a logical conclusion, even given the concession above. The reasons are that the atheist is making a judgment of a hypothetical god (obviously not a real one since she doesn't believe in a real god), and she's able to use the definitions of good and evil supplied by the theist...not her own, since her definitions of good and evil are purely subjective.

The best way I can illustrate this is through a hypothetical conversation. The purpose here is not to prove that god is evil. It's to prove that an atheist, without an objective morality, can make a moral judgment about the christian (or any other) god.

Atheist: Your god is evil.

Christian: You can't say that. You have no objective morality.

A: Fine. You believe that your god is good. What do you mean by that? What is it for a god to be morally good?

C: He loves all of his creation. He wants all of his creatures to be happy, and takes action to facilitate that end as he sees fit.

A: And what would it mean if he were evil?

C: He would be uncaring about the suffering of his creatures, and unwilling to help them when he could.

A: So a good god wants happiness for his creation, and he doesn't want them to suffer needlessly? And he intervenes when he sees fit to facilitate those ends.

C: Yes.

A: Would he be partial? Would he treat some of his creatures well, and others poorly, or would he love them all equally?

C: He would love all equally.

A: OK, again, your god is evil. Not by my standards, but by yours. He created a system of needless suffering and disease for billions of humans, and unknown numbers of animals. He ordered the slaughter of millions in the Old Testament, many of them completely innocent. He created a place of eternal torment for humans, the pinnacle of his creation, whose sin was being the ancestor of someone who once disobeyed god.

C: But he has cured sick people, and he sent his son to die for the sins of all of humanity.

A: So at best your god is a little good. You can't treat one group of people with loving kindness, and torture everyone else, and claim that you're good. Would Hitler have no longer been evil if he visited orphans and sick children in the hospital? Even if god has intervened and cured sick people on occasion...even if he sacrificed his son and billions of people end up in eternal bliss because of this...he is still evil. Because by and large, he has done nothing to ease suffering. He is partial to certain people, giving them happiness disproportionately beyond what they deserve, and giving everyone else suffering disproportionately beyond what they deserve.

C: (I'll forgo the obligatory concession speech of the christian.)


Again, there are a myriad of discussion forums on whether god is evil. Please discuss them elsewhere. That's not the point!


This is the point of this entire post:

The atheist can make the claim that the character of the christian god, as described in the bible and as seen in our experience, is inconsistent with christians' perceptions of his character...christians perceive him as perfectly loving, and he is not. I can't speak for all atheists, but I believe that when an atheist is saying that the christian god is evil, this is essentially what they are saying. Nothing more.
 
It doesn't matter if the arguments I used to question god's goodness are strong or weak. It does matter somewhat if the hypothetical definitions of good and evil as given by the christian are correct or not...but I'm guessing that those hypothetical responses would be pretty accurate. I'm going to ask one more time...I don't want to hear that god's mercy can't supersede his justice, that god is holy and sin can't enter his presence, that we send ourselves to hell....we're all familiar with the arguments.





mjt532
Reply with quote  #2 
A separate but related issue is the prospective theist...one who is still trying to decide. Let's say that she is weighing the evidence, and the issue of god's character as described in the bible is very upsetting. Would this be an appropriate response: "Well, the god of the bible sure sounds evil, but as a current non-thesit I don't have any basis for objective morality, so I can't make a judgment about that. I'm going to have to disregard all that evidence, and see where the rest of the evidence takes me."

I hope the absurdity of that type of thinking is apparent. So even someone who is considering a certain type of theism has to make a judgment about whether god is good or evil...based on the same test above, whether it's consistent with the christian view of good and evil.

mjt532
Reply with quote  #3 
OK, just one more thought. Let's say I'm incorrect in my assumption about what Christians think concerning what makes a good god or evil god. But before I rephrase this hypothetical view of god's goodness, let's list the seemingly good or loving attributes of god, then next we'll list the seemingly evil attributes.

God gives undeserved rewards to some individuals. He freely gives to all who seek him. He sometimes intervenes and eases the suffering of his creatures. He offers eternal life freely to anyone willing to accept it.

He also created a universe with an immense amount of seemingly needless suffering. He created a place of eternal torment that he knew in advance most of his beloved creatures would eventually occupy. He admitted to ordering the slaughter of millions of people, many of whom are completely innocent.

My revised Christian definition of god's goodness: "A good god is one who gives disproportionately good things to some of his creatures. End of definition. Now, he may also gives to everyone else what would seem to us to be disproportionate suffering. But we have to disregard that second part of the formula. For a god that is infinitely above our ability to comprehend may have reasons for doing things that seem to us to be evil."

But I could also be a 'believer' in the biblical god, but believe that he is ultimately malevolent in addition to his other attributes. Here's how such a believer might state his belief: "An evil god is one who gives disproportionate suffering to his creatures. End of definition. Now as far as the fact that he gives disproportionate good to some has to be ignored. Since he is a god infinitely above our ability to comprehend, he may have reasons for doing things that seem to us to be good."

Bottom line: Any honest Christian, including Dr Craig, believes that the biblical god is good because he says he is. Or because the belief in god's goodness produces a more palatable outlook on life than the belief that he's evil. They don't weigh the evidence that he seems good vs the evidence that he seems evil and come up with a reasonable conclusion.
1238mr
Reply with quote  #4 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mjt532
Let's assume for the sake of argument that Dr Craig is correct in stating that atheists have no basis for objective morality...so an atheist cannot claim that Hitler was evil, Gandhi was good, etc.

I have seen in many debates, including this one, where the opponent will claim that the biblical god is evil. Craig invariably will say "stop, as an atheist, you have no objective morality to make such a judgment." I don't believe that's a logical conclusion, even given the concession above. The reasons are that the atheist is making a judgment of a hypothetical god (obviously not a real one since she doesn't believe in a real god), and she's able to use the definitions of good and evil supplied by the theist...not her own, since her definitions of good and evil are purely subjective.

The best way I can illustrate this is through a hypothetical conversation. The purpose here is not to prove that god is evil. It's to prove that an atheist, without an objective morality, can make a moral judgment about the christian (or any other) god.

Atheist: Your god is evil.

Christian: You can't say that. You have no objective morality.

A: Fine. You believe that your god is good. What do you mean by that? What is it for a god to be morally good?

C: He loves all of his creation. He wants all of his creatures to be happy, and takes action to facilitate that end as he sees fit.

A: And what would it mean if he were evil?

C: He would be uncaring about the suffering of his creatures, and unwilling to help them when he could.

A: So a good god wants happiness for his creation, and he doesn't want them to suffer needlessly? And he intervenes when he sees fit to facilitate those ends.

C: Yes.

A: Would he be partial? Would he treat some of his creatures well, and others poorly, or would he love them all equally?

C: He would love all equally.

A: OK, again, your god is evil. Not by my standards, but by yours. He created a system of needless suffering and disease for billions of humans, and unknown numbers of animals. He ordered the slaughter of millions in the Old Testament, many of them completely innocent. He created a place of eternal torment for humans, the pinnacle of his creation, whose sin was being the ancestor of someone who once disobeyed god.

C: But he has cured sick people, and he sent his son to die for the sins of all of humanity.

A: So at best your god is a little good. You can't treat one group of people with loving kindness, and torture everyone else, and claim that you're good. Would Hitler have no longer been evil if he visited orphans and sick children in the hospital? Even if god has intervened and cured sick people on occasion...even if he sacrificed his son and billions of people end up in eternal bliss because of this...he is still evil. Because by and large, he has done nothing to ease suffering. He is partial to certain people, giving them happiness disproportionately beyond what they deserve, and giving everyone else suffering disproportionately beyond what they deserve.

C: (I'll forgo the obligatory concession speech of the christian.)


Again, there are a myriad of discussion forums on whether god is evil. Please discuss them elsewhere. That's not the point!


This is the point of this entire post:

The atheist can make the claim that the character of the christian god, as described in the bible and as seen in our experience, is inconsistent with christians' perceptions of his character...christians perceive him as perfectly loving, and he is not. I can't speak for all atheists, but I believe that when an atheist is saying that the christian god is evil, this is essentially what they are saying. Nothing more.
 
It doesn't matter if the arguments I used to question god's goodness are strong or weak. It does matter somewhat if the hypothetical definitions of good and evil as given by the christian are correct or not...but I'm guessing that those hypothetical responses would be pretty accurate. I'm going to ask one more time...I don't want to hear that god's mercy can't supersede his justice, that god is holy and sin can't enter his presence, that we send ourselves to hell....we're all familiar with the arguments.

Razor sharp people in here. My take on the above discussion is that I always take into account the SIN NATURE of man, e.g. suppose if I were to enter a village from some geophaphical domain separated five thousand miles from my own, via waters, and never heard of morality or rules and regulations about ethics, integrity, character or sin. And I decided to help myself to the village's  resources, inclluding his\her men women and children and anything else I please. Will the village chief say "OK, help yourself"! Naw, I'm sure he would have something in place. I would exclaim that "I just feel like it, who are you?". This is assuming the language barriers are established. Whose right and whose wrong? Somebody has to define things at some point and time or else chaos and war. And of course right and wrong has to be established. Man just won't be automatically good out of the "goodness" of his\her heart 100%. Somebody will want and desire his wife and children for his own and raise them as their own. Or he\she may rape them by force and kill any who object. Where do you draw the line?





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