Stephen Laws The Evil-God Challenge
In his innovative work The Evil-God Challenge, philosopher Stephen Law presents an argument to question theism and to counter a belief in the goodness of God. The authors arguments are based on various evils such as moral crimes against humanity, animals suffering, as well as other gratuitous wicked acts happening across the globe that point to the possibility of inexistence of God. However, this argument has attracted an unending debate since skeptics have claimed that the very evils are also an indication that there is a God who is maximal evil. In this case, malicious God allows individuals free will. The argument is based on the fact that a kind of evil that is chosen freely is normally more wicked as the deterministic one, and that Satan, who is in this case supreme, is not the worst form of evil.
According to Law, monotheism lacks providence of enough grounds to support the belief in the existence of supernatural intelligence relating to the moral character. The intellectual divide in the hypothesis based on empirical evidence invokes unresolvable dispute between those who believe in the existence of monotheistic God and their critic. With such extreme assertions, it is proper that Laws logical and persuasive arguments on The Evil-God Challenge are connected to William Rowes discussion titled Is Evil Evidence against Belief in God?
Explanation of the Laws Argument
First, Law sides with the critics who state that there are no grounds to support the claim that only one good-God exists since even the most famous arguments in support of the existence of some supreme being are not referenced with substantial evidence (Law 353). The most common reason provided by monotheists is over-dependent on the creation of the universe and the impossibility to reveal the knowledge of God. However, Law argues that the criticism of this sole reason alone cannot prove that the supernatural creator is supremely malevolent. He adds that critics have availed enough evidence that counters claims of the existence of a benevolent God. Thus, an evidential problem of evil is invoked (Law 353).
Therefore, Law develops his arguments from premises extracted from the problem of evil. He argues that the premises and flow of arguments have logical misconceptions. One such premise refers to the existence of a maximally good-God, and the other claims the existence of absolute evil. From a reasonable perspective, Law infers that if the second premise is true, then the first one has to be false (Law 354). However, he says that this contradiction in itself does not pose the most significant challenge to theism. The reasoning behind this hypothesis bases on the claim that the maximally good-God can allow some evils to occur for a greater good. The evidential problem that results from such assumption is that there seems to be more evil than good, and the amount of evil cannot be underestimated.
Notably, many people argue that the reasons for the existence of classical monotheistic God are entirely contradictory and are based on mere belief exclusively. In contrast, more overwhelming empirical ideas are available to support the claim that such God does not exist. It settles the issues temporarily on the ground that the claims regarding the existence of maximally monotheistic good-God are empirically falsified (Law 354). Law also presents the argument with which theists counter the attack from their critics. First, they suggest that the supreme good God has attributes not adequately described by traditional monotheism, and, thus, we are not able to understand the nature comprehensively. Secondly, theists purport that the problem of evil can be settled up to a significant extent only. The solutions that they provide include the simple free-will solution, building character decisions, and countering crimes with good deeds (Law 354). In the free-will argument, the theists maintain that human beings are not puppets but have individual willpower to make choices to do evil or good. Hence, the moral responsibility is bestowed upon everyone. Consequently, accepting such claim as a true one inevitably allows some evil to occur on Gods watch, despite that the free will presupposes more good deeds than evil. The character-building solution is an argument that wrong or evil actions can prompt a change of course of action for a greater good. The experiences are grounds for molding of souls to reflect what God wants us to be. The last solution strategy purports that certain evils exist to justify the need for particular important good whose consequences outweigh those generated by the malice. All these explanations are classified as theodicies. Apparently, Law, challenges the three highlighted theodicies using an analogy in this argument. They include; the evil-God hypothesis, the problem of good, reverse theodicies, the symmetry thesis, the scales analogy, and literature of the problem of good (Law 356). All these assumptions act as direct antipodes to the good-God theory and its arguments.
Thus, according to Law, the supposed existence of a good-God is debatable depending on the construct of ontological arguments. He further presents an evil-God challenge based on the questionable claims of the existence of a good-God to prove that there is no such being. According to his essay, there is need for the consideration of the hypothesis that there exists an omnipotent, omniscient, and all-good God (Law 353). He highlights some possible arguments against his claim but acknowledges that there is a high possibility that hypothesis on a good-God is more straightforward than those on evil-God. This is because such a God has both positive and negative attributes. Moreover, he claims that his challenge may lack favor and credibility because of the principles of parsimony, simplicity, and economy. Nonetheless, with consideration to reasonableness, his theories are worth scrutiny by both theists and atheist. Since the sets scales for measuring the arguments on the two approaches hold balance, the evil-God challenge is worth the attention accorded to the arguments for the good-God.
Evaluation and Analysis
The arguments about the existence of God have gone a notch higher. It is no longer based on the actual existence but on the maximal nature of what God actually is. It is a battleground not yet resolved by atheists and theists. Laws argument presents a unique perspective barely explored by scholars. Initially, arguments have been raised regarding the existence of a maximally benevolent God, thus presenting evidential problems of good and evil. Guided by this premise, Law claims that there is a need to prove the existence or non-existence of an evil-God. He does so by constructing arguments against the good-God and leaves a level ground for existence of both a good-God and an evil-God (Harrison 1).
Notably, William Rowe claims that there is a need to determine the reasonability of arguments presented by atheists and counter-arguments from theist on the grounds of evil and good. Putting the belief in the existence of God aside, he views empirical evidence of evil as sufficient ground to consider arguments from atheists as more reasonable. Rowe points that evil is evidence against theistic belief (Rowe 182). Moreover, this is the argument upon which Law develops a second claim: evil is an indication of the existence of an evil-God. Further, Rowe states that the evils in our world provide such compelling reasons for atheism (Rowe 182).
According to Rowe, restricted theism is defined within the parameters of belief in the existence of all-powerful, all-knowing, perfectly good being (God) (Rowe 182). Such a definition assumes that the deity is maximally good and controls all occurrences. In that case, the supernatural being can prevent evil from happening. The definition limits inclusion of any other points of view not entailed in it. Law argues that if one goes beyond the restricted theism, then there is the possibility of the existence of an evil-God. Such concept derives from the prevailing horrendous evils in the society which cannot support the likelihood of existence of an ultimate good-God.
Notably, there is an argument acceptable to both atheists and theists. It states, An all-powerful, all-knowing, perfectly good being would not permit an evil unless he had a justifying reason to permit it (Rowe 184). Laws argument builds upon this claim as well and counters any arguments that tend to defend attacks from other atheists. If evil is to happen under the supervision of the good-God, then there must be a higher level of goodness that should ultimately follow to remedy the situation. There being none, Law suggests that it means probably an unexplored possibility of the existence of an evil-God responsible for the horrendous evils frequent in our societies (Law 365). Otherwise, the all-knowing God should be in a position to determine outcomes and prevent them from happening through his all-powerful ability.
It is not reasonable to claim that an all-knowing and all-powerful being would allow intense suffering in peoples lives to bring a higher good at the end. Both Law and Rowe argue that there is no justifiable reason to enable extreme evils to occur if they are preventable. Otherwise, such a being either does not exist, or the traits accorded to that God are falsified. Still, there lies a possibility of the all-knowing and all-powerful evil-God. The certainty of the premises used in developing these arguments is entirely based on probability and are not necessarily true. Therefore, many scholars agree that it is still a highly debatable issue. The confidence in the conclusion drawn from the argument cannot exceed the conclusion from the premises from which it is deduced; thus, there is a need for sufficient rational support to validate the proposed findings of various philosophers (Rowe 185).
However, theists argue that the claims by atheists are developed from ignorance. There seems to be lack of the actual word or descriptions to convey the real traits of the supernatural being efficiently. Atheists insist that the battleground is on the level of understanding from empirical evidence; they limit their perspective to human knowledge without consideration to faith and belief. The missing gap is in the level of power and knowledge between humans and the deity. Responding to this counter-argument, Law and Rowe present analogies of the evil occurrence and constrain their assessment on that example. Here is an illustration: A five-year-old girl is brutally beaten, raped, and strangled in Flint, Michigan, on New Years day a few years ago (Rowe 184).
According to Rowe, a little girl ought not to undergo such horrendous sufferings if good-God exists. He adds that the traits of such a being make it impossible to permit this level of evil to occur because there seems to be entirely no good that can come from such suffering endured by the little girl. As mentioned afore, Law supports this argument by introducing the evil-God hypothesis, claiming God may be maximally evil, and his cruelty knows no bounds (Law 356). Therefore, if no any other God exists, then such evils as seen in our societies, as the one alluded by Rowe, can be explained.
Stephen Laws argument introduces a new logical and convincing perspective of evil-God existence that has not been fully explored by philosophers. The argument is good and solid as it goes beyond the mere debates about the existence of God but takes the bar higher to scrutinize whether the theistic beliefs regarding good-God are true or false. Concerning William Rowes arguments on empirical evidence of evil as a reasonable ground to dispute the existence of God, Law argues that if God exists, then this God should be evil because of the horrendous evils happening in our society under his watch. His arguments are excellently crafted, countering every reason presented by theists about the existence of a good-God before finally presenting the evil-God challenge.