Does the problem of evil make the moral argument for God a failure?

The moral argument for God, a presented by Dr. William Lane Craig is as follows:

1. If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist
2. But objective moral values do exist
3. Therefore, God exists

Now most ethicists, people, and even atheists agree on premise 2. The controversial premise is premise 1. Atheist Philosopher, Stephen Law, points out that not even all theists agree on premise 1. Law cites Richard Swinburne as such an example. Law also thinks that premise 2 is reasonable to accept but it by no means is a belief that can’t possibly be defeated or revised later on if we need to.

Dr. Law then goes on to say that even if we accept premise 1, we’d have to deny premise 2 when placing the moral argument next to the Evidential Problem of Evil. Thus we conclude to God’s non-existence.

Dr. Law also thinks that Craig’s moral argument sort of presupposes that we’ve have already dealt with the problem of evil.

The mosts common form of the Evidential Argument from Evil is as follows:

1. Pointless/unjustified evil probably exists
2. If God exists, then there would not exist pointless evil(suffering)
3. Therefore, God probably doesn’t exist

What strikes me about Law’s objection about how the moral argument presupposes that one has dealt with the moral argument, is that we could very well say that same thing back to Law. We could say that he is presupposing he has dealt with the moral argument when he presents the argument from evil. I could also say that Law’s objection assumes  that the problem of evil really is a good argument, but the problem is that this just isn’t obviously true.
The issue for Law is this: Is it more obvious that objective moral values exist or pointless suffering exists? Well most people would see the belief that, “torturing babies for the fun of it is wrong,” as such an obvious belief that we shouldn’t really be having a debate here. Certainly, pointless suffering seems real at times. But for who mainly? Well for people who already believe God doesn’t exist! But that doesn’t say much of anything of course.

At the end of the day I think it is more obvious that “Murder is wrong” than “God doesn’t exist”. That’s what is at stake. Most agnostics would agree with me here, so like I said, it won’t do any good for the atheist to claim that it seems more obvious that God doesn’t exist than the reality of objective moral values.

The thing that Law so easily dismisses is the idea that we have a good reason to doubt that unjustified evil/suffering actually exists. Do we for things like objective moral values? No. The reason we have for doubting that unjustified suffering actually exists is the fact that even if such suffering did exist why think we could really know? In fact, we should expect to not know if suffering is truly pointless! Why is that?

Well, as Dr. Craig point out:

As finite persons, we are limited in space and time, in intelligence and insight. But the transcendent and sovereign God sees the end of history from its beginning and providentially orders history so that His purposes are ultimately achieved through human free decisions. In order to achieve His ends God may well have to put up with certain evils along the way. Evils which appear pointless or unnecessary to us within our limited framework may be seen to have been justly permitted from within God’s wider framework….
…..To say this is not to appeal to mystery, but rather to point to the inherent cognitive limitations that frustrate attempts to say that it is improbable that God has a morally sufficient reason for permitting some particular evil.

Craig’s point is that premise 1 of the problem of evil can’t be affirmed because we’re not in a good epistemic position to judge whether suffering truly is pointless.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s