I had recently received a message from a young gentleman named Erik who sent me the following message:
As an undergrad in philosophy the question of God almost always came up during class. During those times I took a lot of pleasure in using the problem of evil to dismiss the idea of the Christian God.
That was when I was an Atheist. Months later I reconverted to Christianity, but for a while up until yesterday I never understood the problem of evil…which really does come down to the problem of pain. I never really could understand why God allowed for suffering, until yesterday.
I had been praying for the past couple of months for God to reveal Himself to me. I would pray for hours, tears running down my face because I never would get an answer. I was depressed, I had fallen into nihilism because I didn’t feel like anyone cared about me…
I got into a pretty bad car wreck the other day. I should’ve been killed based off of what the Officer said, but I had been able to swerve and avoid colliding head on with a telephone pole. I had fallen asleep, and woke up just in time for me to swerve out of the way. Only the rear of my car was destroyed, but if I hadn’t woken up in time I wouldn’t be here typing this.
When the car finally came to a stop I was able to crawl out and call for help. When I was in the hospital I began to receive calls and visits from friends, family, and complete strangers. Never before had I received such an outpouring of love…
It was then that I realized that God had used this instance of evil to bring about a greater good. Even though I screwed up, God was there.
Through this instance of evil God answered my two prayers. He revealed Himself to me through the miracle of surviving, and he answered my prayers on not feeling like anyone cared for me… through the amount of love I received. I’m telling you this mainly because of your book on suffering. I read about your own personal struggles and how they have brought about changes to your character. Through this instance God has changed mine in a way that I would’ve never thought possible.
So now I understand why there’s suffering in the world. I would’ve never understood it until I as an individual went through it. Now I know God cares for me and exists, now I know that I am loved and have friends and family. All through this instance of pain, and personally I would go through it again each and every time because what it has done for me. Once again, thank you for your book, because it did help bring about more understanding.
I have gathered my four e-books that I’ve published through Amazon in one convenient spot. Although it would be advantageous to set up a proper author’s page with Amazon but I have yet to do that and simply searching ‘Max Andrews’ isn’t sufficient for finding all the literature (unless you type in another keyword or the title).
If you haven’t already, please share and/or buy these books that you or a friend or a family member may be interested in. The profits go towards keeping this site up and running.
The task of a Molinist perspective of middle knowledge is to remove the perceived dilemma between human freedom and divine foreknowledge. Middle knowledge is the second logical moment of God’s omniscience. There are three logical moments, the first being natural knowledge. With natural knowledge God knows everything that could logically happen. The third moment is God’s free knowledge; God knows all true propositions of the actual world. Middle knowledge lies logically in between these, which affirms that God knows all true counterfactual propositions, or possess hypothetical knowledge of future contingents. The following is an attempt to provide reasonable grounds for affirming divine middle knowledge.
My recent ebook is now on sale for it’s lowest price at $2.99. Because of the size and volume of content it won’t let me sell it for any cheaper. I’ve begun a recent interest in mental health: depression, anxiety, bipolar, anger, etc. and this is a combination of my work in existentialism for those who are or know someone struggling. I just want the material out there regardless of price.
If you believe you have a special circumstance, please email me: mlandrews[at]sententias[d0t]com. I’m more than willing to correspond and hear your story.
In a debate of mine from this past summer my opponent brought up the problem of hell. His objection was, “There is no moral justification for sending anybody to suffer eternally in hell.” Before defending the doctrine of an eternal hell I need to make clear how far this objection actually goes. This isn’t an objection to the existence of God nor is it an objection to Christianity. This is an objection to hermeneutical principles and, possibly, in a worst case scenario, an objection to inerrancy. Should it be the case that the objection succeeds then we ought to modify our hermeneutical grid by which we understand special revelation concerning the final destination and consequences for the reprobate damned. Should the best hermeneutic affirm the doctrine of eternal hell then the objection brings inerrancy into question. However, I don’t think the objection succeeds at all and below was my response defending the doctrine of an eternal hell:
If everything God does is GOOD, and if God controls EVERYTHING, then it would be BAD had one less child been murdered in Newtown, CT.
This is the argument we find particularly among open theists but I would consider it an important existential question. It primarily focuses on the problem of evil and the hiddenness of God. Here’s the argument in a formal depiction:
If everything God does is Good [and]
If God controls everything [by weak and strong actualization]
Then, it would be bad had one less child been murdered in Newtown.
It would have been good had one less child been murdered in Newtown.
Therefore, either not everything God does is good or God does not control everything.
God is good and everything he does is good.
Therefore, God does not control everything.
It seems like we are posed with interesting dilemma (at least for the Christian who affirms that God’s means of providence is not exclusively causal, but that he controls all things).
Rowe makes a strong positive case for why atheism is true. He supposes that, as especially in the absence of other arguments, anyone who observes the amount of human and animal suffering in the world and the truth of premise 1 in the evidential argument (that there are probably pointless evils) then this person would be rationally justified in believing atheism to be true. He presents two basic forms of the argument: the logical and the evidential problems of evil. The logical problem of evil argues that the existence of God and the existence of evil are logically contradictory claims. However, these aren’t explicitly contradictory—they are implicit (i.e. a married bachelor is an implicit contradiction and a married non-married person is an explicit contradiction). Rowe recognizes that we must abandon the logical problem of evil because the contradiction has yet to be proved (though he states that just because it has yet to be demonstrated doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t one).
The evidential problem is a probabilistic argument, which argues that given the apparent [pointless] evil it is more probable that God does not exist than if God does exist. He uses the example of a fawn suffering for no apparent reason. Given that God would prevent this from happening and the fact that it does happen then God doesn’t seem to exist. Rowe seems to favor this form of the problem of evil over the logical problem.
Today, July 20, 2012, marks the first anniversary of my Crohn’s surgery. I have had Crohn’s for eight years and it has won the battle over a few organs. I was in serious pain for just over a month prior to the surgery. I spent my birthday last year, July 18, in pain. The next day I was going to go out with some friends to TGI Friday’s for a Jack Daniel’s steak to celebrate my birthday. I wasn’t feeling well that afternoon and took a nap. I woke up with a 105 degree fever. Leah rushed me to the hospital. I was not a good patient. I was angry. I refused to take the CT scan at first because I knew what they would find. I gave in. I didn’t know what they would find. I was wrong. They found that my colon was perforated and I needed emergency surgery. They let my body rest for the night in the ICU. It was a rough night…
I remember the nurses pushing my bed into the room where they prepped me for surgery. I was, of course, having fun with all the drugs I was on, but I knew what was going on. My Dad and step-mother drove out from Richmond for my surgery. I’m so glad they did. I saw them before going in thinking, “What if this is the last time I see them?” The staff let Leah back in one more time before I went unconscious. She had to hold on my wedding ring while I was in surgery. I remember asking my surgeon how many times he’s done this surgery and he said that my condition was “pretty bad” but that he has done thousands and this sort of thing was his “bread and butter.” I trusted him. These surgeries happen all the time, so why was I so nervous deep down?
Before Leah came back into the prep area to get my ring, I prayed. Even though I was high as a kite on the dilaudid and Valium it was the most serious prayer I ever made. I prayed for the surgeon and that I’d make it out okay. I felt like I couldn’t even pray for no complications. Even if complications happened I didn’t care, I just wanted to come out on the other side. This was the first time I seriously entertained the thought that I might actually die and these are my last few moments awake. Without the surgery I could have easily died in a short period of time, but I didn’t think that was going to happen. I’ll come back to this in a bit.
If God has a sufficient reason for permitting evil in some possible world then he has a sufficient reason in all possible worlds. Given simplicity, God is perfectly similar in every possible world we can conceive. He never wills differently, he never acts differently, he never knows differently, and he never loves differently. If modal realism is true and evil exists then the probability overall or on balance for justice is precisely 1. Thus, the problem of evil is an insufficient objection given whatever God’s interaction is in this world. It would be morally equivalent to his actions in other worlds with evil. If God is absolutely similar in all possible worlds and if he has a morally sufficient reason to permit evil in some possible world then he is morally justified in permitting evil in all possible worlds (even if some worlds are more bad than good because God would be acting towards the same telos). The following is a modified version of Alvin Plantinga’s ontological argument. In it I include the necessary entailment of a morally sufficient reason for permitting evil.
P1. The property of being maximally great is exemplified in some possible world.
P2. The property of being maximally great is equivalent, by definition, to the property of being maximally excellent in every possible world.
P3. The property of being maximally excellent entails the properties of omniscience and moral perfection.
P4. The property of moral perfection necessarily entails a morally sufficient reason for permitting states of affairs that are overall more evil than good.
P5. A universal property is one that is exemplified in every possible world or none.
Dostoevsky depicts a conversation between two brothers: Ivan and Alyosha. Ivan is an atheist (a weak category, perhaps) and he observes all the suffering going on in the world. Alyosha is a Christian and is attempting to bring Ivan closer to the truth that there can be forgiveness. Ivan has this rebellion against God and doesn’t believe there is such a being that will actually forgive the world of these evils. Ivan makes the distinction between the sufferings of children and the sufferings of adults. It’s the adults that Ivan has little sympathy for since they are the only creature that can practice artistic evil. A tiger maims its prey but it would never even think of nailing the prey’s ears or blowing the brains out of another animal, even if it could. He suggests that the adults, even the elderly, should be damned because they have eaten the apple (participated in conscious acts of sin). However, the children have done nothing wrong. Children have just shown up in existence and have no conscious control or recognition of morality. When these children are bayoneted, shot in the face, or receive long tortuous beatings and those who fulfill these acts take joy in it this becomes an artistic evil and is unwarranted evil against the children because they have not eaten the apple.
The argument wasn’t so much of a conclusion that God doesn’t exist; rather, it was Ivan’s way of expressing his desire to “return God’s ticket.” The world is unjust and this was Ivan’s rebellion against God.
This was a debate on March 21, 2012 at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, VA. It was sponsored by the Freethinkers at Virginia Tech, Leopard Zeus Fan Club, Ask Big Questions at Virginia Tech, and the Department of Philosophy at Liberty University.
Max Andrews, Department of Philosophy Liberty University