Problem of evil – Rev Sam again
Following on from previous post – we are trying to get to grips with the Rev Sam’s contention that the problem of evil is not really such a serious problem for believers.
He’s made two suggestions, I think. The first is that “good” when applied to God, means something other than what it means when applied to humans. God is “beyond good and evil”, yet God is still something the Rev Sam wishes to worship.
“what’s at stake is what is meant or understood by ‘God’ in that sentence. I’m not persuaded that we can put much flesh on the bones of ‘good’ when that term is ascribed to God; the God I worship is beyond good and evil, he doesn’t fit within those categories. Though I’d still want to call him ‘good’…”
Quick comment from me: But, notwithstanding your reluctance to put much flesh on the bones of “good” when applied to God, you do think God worthy of worship, right? But then there’s the problem of explaining why a being that would, say, bury thousands of children alive, and cause hundreds of millions of years of unimaginable pain and horror, etc. is worthy of praise and worship. This play with word “good” doesn’t make that very basic, and surely very serious, problem go away.
BTW, in any case, the semantic ploy you are adopting here can also be used to defend belief in an evil God (see my God of Eth): you see, Evil God really is maximally evil. True, he creates love, laughter and rainbows, etc. but you must remember that “evil”, when applied to him, is used differently. God’s “evilness” is compatible with him creating such things.
You would, of course, see straight through this ploy in defence of an evil God, and indeed dismiss it for the cheap sleight-of-hand with words that it is. So why do you take it seriously when it comes to defending the good God hypothesis? Why should we take it seriously?
Your second suggestion is, I think, that, for you, belief in God plays a “foundational role”. Perhaps Sam would say with Plantinga that this belief is “properly basic”. Possibly, Sam is making a Nelson Pike type move and saying that, if you have a priori grounds for believing in God, or even just faith, then the problem of evil ain’t so much of a problem – yes there’s the problem of explaining the amount of evil in a manner consistent with God’s existence – but having faith means being sure this can be done, even if we cannot see how.
Is this the sort of thing you have in mind Sam? I can see why you might not want to get into details, of course, for as soon as you commit yourself explicitly to a particular claim, you render your position vulnerable to criticism. But I think you should take the plunge – go on, commit yourself to something!