Amidst all that is going on now with Covid-19 and the markets/economy, I feel this post is timely (1). Also, I found this forum recently discussing my original article that I wrote over two years ago about the omnipotence of God and economic competition. As a reminder, here is my argument:
1. It is a known fact that many humans compete in society for resources in order to survive and thrive (i.e. economic competition).
2. (1) is more expected on the hypothesis of naturalism than on the hypothesis of theism.
3. The intrinsic probability of naturalism is equal to that of theism.
4. Therefore, other evidence held equal, theism is probably false.
Clarification and Misunderstandings
This problem is related-though not identical- to the problem of social evil and the problem of political evil. I also hope it’s clear that I don’t intend or view this argument as a knockdown argument against theism, nor do as view this argument as an argument that couldn’t be accepted by a theist. For one, the conclusion includes a ceteris paribus clause. And two, I made the modest claim in premise two that the data is more expected instead of ‘much more’ expected or ‘many times more’ expected. Finally, premise three is very generous because theism is a subset of supernaturalism.
Premise two is hard to contest, and one of the reasons is because of its modesty (and some of the reasons offered in support of the premise, such as God being all-powerful and having countless options); however, one may challenge the premise by claiming that I have sacrificed significance in order to get modesty. My response is that this would misunderstand the purpose of the argument. As said before, this argument isn’t supposed to be a knockdown argument, nor is his argument meant to be a standalone argument against the existence of God.
In addition, I want to add more clarification than I did in my original post. I don’t think that economic competition is the same thing as capitalism; there is such a thing as socialistic competition.
But zooming out, my argument should be viewed inside the broader category of economic evils. Thus, I recognize that economic competition isn’t equal to economics. But what are some economics evils?
1. Economic Poverty
2. Lack of economic, upward, mobility
3. Unequal opportunity (not inequality of outcome)
4. Exponential increases in the costs of healthcare
(Please note that it is of no relevance to my argument whether these economic evils are partially caused by (or can be improved) by more/less government intervention.)
So, premise one can be revised (or a new argument can be made) that includes general economic evils–
1*. It is a known fact that there are economics evils that impact humans’ ability to survive and thrive in society
Finally, the argument nowhere states that God would set up the world the way the actual world is set up. If God exists, God could have created different beings in a different environment—i.e. no economic evils.
Replies To Original Post
“Competition is healthy.”
I don’t deny that competition is healthy in principle or in general; however, the mere assertion that all competition is healthy is denialism. It’s just not credible. Therefore, we need to make a distinction between healthy competition and unhealthy competition.
Also, you can call ‘competition’ or ‘unhealthy competition’ whatever you want, but clearly whatever you call it, there is something problematic in the world that needs explaining on theism–see premise 1* (even though- at the same time- it’s also true that labels still matter, and it’s also true that I can always be more clear.) But there’s a bigger problem with the objection raised that can be responded to by making another distinction: the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic goods or evils. Certainly, competition doesn’t have to be viewed as intrinsically bad.
Moreover, we need to zoom out and remember what my argument is. My argument was focused on God as being all-powerful (and all-good). Competition (and character-building) are not good in themselves. If they are good, then they are only good in an instrumental way. God doesn’t have to play by the same rules as a parent or an economically disadvantaged parent. This is God we’re talking about!
(1) This isn’t to say that we weren’t heading toward an economic downturn before the coronavirus, nor is it to say that the coronavirus caused-as opposed to accelerated-a recession.