Bill Craig loses a debate! (and all sorts of goodies are revealed)

William Lane Craig recently debated Stephen Law on the question “Does God Exist?” (the audio is available here)

I’ve listened/watched/read loads of Craig’s debates and I think he’s comfortably won every encounter. However, I think that Stephen Law actually got the best of him in this excellent debate, and provided better arguments for the claim that “God does not exist” than Craig did for the claim that “God does exist”, at least so long as “God” is defined with philosophical rigour. In fact, the brilliance of Law’s approach to the debate is that it completely concentrated on disproving (or providing evidence against) one of God’s attributes, not ALL of them; in particular, he attacked the good character of God. He employed an argument involving the notion of an “Evil God” and Craig in fact let out an admission which gave Law’s strategy great power, which is that the definition of God necessarily implies God’s goodness. And indeed that is the philosophically correct way to understand God. But that means that, so long as Law could successfully argue against God’s goodness, Law would, by virtue of doing that, be arguing against the existence of God. So long as one attribute of God is shown to be rationally untenable, God full stop is shown to be rationally untenable. I think he pulled off his strategy brilliantly.

Craig opened with only three of his usual arguments for God’s existence, the Kalam Cosmological Argument, the Moral Argument and a (very) minimal facts case for the resurrection of Jesus. Craig normally brings 5 arguments and I think his dropping two actually suited Law well. Law didn’t touch the KCA since his strategy was to target only God’s goodness and that argument doesn’t say anything about the character of the first cause of the universe. Craig didn’t go into nearly enough detail with the resurrection argument for it to be at all dialectically useful. I can’t imagine any non-Christian being persuaded from that extremely bare bones presentation. He reduced the standard 4 or 5 facts to a mere 3 and relied solely on authority to uphold them, rather than delve into the reasons why they are generally conceded as facts. As such, Law didn’t have to do much to shake the audience’s confidence in the case except point out some general worries that “supernatural” theories have when appealed to as the best explanation. Because of this the debate was entirely focussed on the moral argument and Law’s rather novel and intriguing argument from “Evil God”, or “Anti-God” as Craig re-named him.

Craig didn’t help himself in that he actually misunderstood the argument. He thought that the argument was trying to show that, on an inductive survey of the evidence, an evil creator god is as likely as a good creator god. But that wasn’t the argument. It was actually something like this:

1. There is just as much evidence from the goodness/evil of the world that the creator god is evil, as there is that the creator god is good.
2. We are justified in believing that evidence of goodness in the world demonstrates that there is not an evil creator god.
3. Therefore, we are equally justified in believing that the evidence of evil in the world demonstrates that there is not a good creator god.

The argument was thus designed to support the general evidential argument from evil, and undercut the attempts to soften the argument by appeals to “skeptical theism”. After all, Law contended, nobody takes considerations of sceptical theism seriously in dismissing evil god, so why good god? Craig did implicitly counter the argument by incidentally denying the second premise, but his misunderstanding meant that he didn’t make it explicit and so Law’s argument appeared unchallenged.

As for the moral argument, again Law took the upper hand and made similar criticisms that I myself made in a post here. That is, Craig didn’t show that, necessarily, atheism cannot account for objective moral values and duties. Now perhaps Law, and myself, have misunderstood the argument. Even granted that, Craig didn’t clarify it to make an adequate response and so failed to defend it. Craig also revealed something interesting about the moral argument; in the Q&A he spoke of it in terms of induction and “best explanation”. So perhaps it shouldn’t be formulated deductively, as it leads to confusion.

Moreover, although this wasn’t discussed as a feature of the debate, I wonder if Craig’s moral argument could be twisted to support the existence of “Anti-God”? Perhaps there is a transcendent being with all the attributes of God except necessary existence and moral goodness (to concede that maximal greatness entails moral goodness). We’ll give him moral badness instead and call him “Anti-God” as Craig does. What makes this argument any more or less compelling than the standard moral argument?

1. If Anti-God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2. Objective moral values and duties exist.
3. Therefore, Anti-God exists.

After all, what’s required for objective moral values and duties is a transcendent source of moral values and duties. But what stops that source being an inherent evil being, rather than an inherently good being? Either way, objective values find a source. Craig could say such a being can’t exist because God necessarily exists, but at that point he’s forced to use the ontological argument, and the moral argument ceases to be dialectically useful.

Again that argument wasn’t made, but I do find it interesting. I conclude that Stephen Law won because he provided a better case for the non-existence of God (who is necessarily good) than Craig did for the existence of God. However, I imagine that Craig might take the moral victory. After all, with the KCA untouched he did put forward an unchallenged case for an immaterial, all-powerful, spaceless, timeless, unchanging, personal being. Although not technically theism, it is theism in spirit. So perhaps both debaters can walk away happy. Law had a narrow and focussed objective, which he succeeded in achieving, but it may not have been broad enough to satisfy his fellow atheists.

Overall it’s a wonderful and refreshing debate that I highly recommend listening to. It was nice not to see Craig’s opponent make the same typical blunders and misunderstandings. Law clearly has a sharp mind and I’m keen to look into his work; I was smiling all throughout his inventive “Evil God” argument. Craig was by no means white-washed, but his opening hand set him up for a difficult time given Law’s tactics.

If it seems I’m being harsh on Craig, I should balance this with the fact that I’m extremely excited to hear him talk (and hopefully to meet him) at the be-thinking.org apologetics day conference this Saturday! Can’t wait!

EDIT: I now have some further comments on the evil god argument over here, and thoughts on Law’s discussion with Glenn Peoples on the argument over here.

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71 thoughts on “Bill Craig loses a debate! (and all sorts of goodies are revealed)

  1. Lets grant that arguments against God’s goodness were enough to carry the debate. Did Law provide good arguments against God’s goodness? No, he provided a good argument against the inference that God is good from the observance of good in the world. But as no-one holds their belief in God’s moral perfection on the basis of empirical deduction it’s an argument against a straw man.

    Did Craig misunderstand the ‘evil god’ argument? No – Law was flipping between two arguments. Or more properly two conclusions from one argument. Initially he was claiming that we have no reason to prefer believe in a good god or an evil god. Then he contradicted himself by claiming that rather than being agnostic towards both, we should be atheistic towards both. That relied on an arbitrary dismissal of evil God, but no argument was provided as to why we should dismiss him. Indeed his opening presentation was mostly taken up with a successful defence of evil god’s existence despite the improbability thrown on him by the presence of good.

    Was 2) a premise in Law’s argument? Throughout his opening speech he was arguing quite the opposite of this – that we can’t dismiss evil god on the basis of good in the world. He developed a number of possible motivations as to why evil god may allow good in the world. You’re right that he did then contradict himself by asserting that we can reject evil god, but provided no arguments for this. He didn’t even attempt to dismantle his own anti-theodicy. So I maintain his argument was the opposite of 2), but his contradictory assertion was 2).

    However on the night Craig demolished your representation of the argument at least twice by refuting that premise. He explained that, in effect, the problem of good is adequately solved by Law’s anti-theodicy. He was pitting Law against Law. As Law himself argued, we have no good reason, on the basis of empirical observation alone, to reject evil god. Similarly we can’t reject God on the basis of evil. In other words the problem of evil fails (note here that the whole evil god charade adds nothing to the discussion of the classic POE other than to confuse). Craig did go over this very quickly – it was a short debate – so I accept that listeners may not seen the full force of Craig’s rebuttal.

    So in the end whilst it was interesting and entertaining, this was actually one of the most one-sided debates I’ve heard. You could say that Craig won by a majority of 2 to 1, with Law’s unwittingly arguing on Craig’s side for much of the night.

    Incidentally Law’s argument isn’t novel. Check out Wes Morriston’s “The Evidentialist Argument from Goodness”. See his conclusion, which is much more modest that Law and as far as you can go with the argument.

    • Hey there,

      I very much disagree with you that Law did not provide an argument against God’s goodness. He did, which was the evidential argument from evil. The “evil god” argument was designed to show that Craig’s appeal to our cognitive limitations in defence against the evidential argument, doesn’t work (or so he argued), because the same considerations don’t work against the existence of evil god. Again, Law’s argument was not an attempt to undermine an inductive argument in favour of God’s goodness. Law has in fact linked to my review and quoted it as an example of a correct understanding of his view:
      http://randalrauser.com/2011/10/where-stephen-law-goes-wrong-with-his-evil-god-argument/ (see comments)

      I’m not sure that Law would endore my premise by premise formulation of it, but clearly I’m on the right track.

      I think charity thus requires that we stop thinking of his argument as you suggested. Now I agree with you that Craig did deny that second premise, I even said that in my review. But, as I said, he only really denied it “accidentally” and in return Law pointed out how counter-intuitive such a denial seems to be. Craig, not understanding the argument, didn’t do anything to weaken the impression that his view was counter-intuitive, which I agree, prima facie, it is.

      Now I’m not saying that I think law presented sound arguments against God, or against skeptical theism (sound in the philosophical sense), but I think that, on the night, they weren’t adequately refuted.

      Anywizzle thank you for the paper recommendation!

    • I sat on the front row of the Craig-Law debate. After Craig spoke first, Law then spoke. He of course ignored nearly all that Craig said just picking up on The All Powerful Good God argument. He more or less used Craig’s words in reverse arguing for an Evil God. I thought this going to be interesting and looked forward to more of the same. But unfortunately that did not happen. After Craig gave a rebuttal or Law’s statement I felt sorry for Law because he was clearly out of his depth. To anyone who was there it was plain to see, he continually licked his lips, his body language was not assertive and he kept going back time and again to his opening statement about The Evil God. He did not have anything else of substance to say.Try as he may Craig was not able to draw him into a meaningful debate. I at least give him credit for taking up the challenge, which is more than the coward Dawkins will do. Atheists should realise a leader needs strength or character.(Something obviously lacking in Dawkins because he refuses to debate Craig.) Knowledge of what he is talking about which I have no doubt he has when it come to baby chickens. I am not being derogative saying this but he got his PhD trying to find out what goes on in a baby chicks head when making a choice between two alternatives. Ok that is not outstanding, but I guess some use would be found if he was to have a debate about baby chick’s psychology with another interested party. That is assuming he could find someone who has written a book called The Baby Chick Delusion. I will finish with one bit of back handed praise for Dawkins. He is very wise not to take on William Lane Craig because in any debate he would look foolish in the extreme, and he knows it.

  2. agree that Law won this one. As well as philosophically out-wtting Craig on the night he also presented an argument that will have wider appeal to the layman – the evidential prolbem of evil is the argumenst that perhaps resonates most srtongly with sceptics and Law made a great presentation of it

  3. Slimer: From Law’s own notes of his opening speech: “Clearly, despite these and various other ingenious manoeuvres that might be made in defence of belief in an evil god, it remains the case that there’s far, far too much good stuff in this world for it to be the creation of such an evil deity. We can still, on the basis of what we observe around us, reasonably conclude there’s unlikely to be an evil god. So my question is: if the evil god hypothesis can, solely on the basis of observational evidence, be ruled out as highly unlikely, why can’t we similarly rule out the good god hypothesis?” That looks pretty like our host’s (2), to me.

    Law’s anti-theodicies aren’t arguments he’s advancing in favour of Evil/Anti God which he then needs to dispose of. It’s Law’s premise that it’s entirely reasonable to reject Evil/Anti God (a premise which Craig agrees with), so if we grant that, those anti-theodicies have no force. Grant that they have no force, and it’s a short step to granting that theodicies have no force either.

    I’m not sure I agree with Craig that Christians believe God is good solely on the basis of the moral argument. How many of them have even heard it? That looked like a retreat: plenty of Christians make arguments from the beauty of creation, for example.

    • I’m not sure Craig meant to imply that Christian believe in God’s goodness because of the moral argument. After all, he is a reformed epistemologist so he doesn’t believe Christian need evidence (of the “public” kind anyway) to rationally believe Christianity. Rather I think he was just pointing to the moral argument because in his presentation he was relying on that to demonstrate God’s goodness.

  4. “So long as one attribute of God is shown to be rationally untenable, God full stop is shown to be rationally untenable.” I stopped reading there. How is that philosophically sound? I think the important question is: Does MORAL GOODNESS constitute towards MAXIMAL GREATNESS. God is logically required to exist (ontological, cosmological arguments). Yes, this does not prove a GOOD God (that requires a cumulative case ie moral argument). But just because Law could show that the ‘neutral-god’ arguments do not prove a “Good God” does not dismantle the entire case. At best, it can prove that we can’t assume that maximal greatness requires moral goodness. It’s clearly more plausible that because God is the ultimate mediator of truth and judgement, that therefore he also represents maximal Goodness. Therefore I’d argue that an “Evil God” is an oxymoron in its own right. You think Law won this debate? I think his ENTIRE CASE, which was built on a SINGLE argument, is based on a LOGICAL CONTRADICTION to begin with, in which case he offered nothing in refutation at all.

    • I agree that a theist, if she wants, can deny that goodness is a great-making property. But Craig did not make that defence, In fact, he argued the opposite. So, by the understanding of God that both debaters had, Law’s attack on God’s goodness was equivalent to an attack on God.

  5. So you agree that Law simply asserted that we can dispense with evil God, rather than argue against his existence?

    “Law’s anti-theodicies aren’t arguments he’s advancing in favour of Evil/Anti God which he then needs to dispose of.” – Why not? What’s wrong with them as a defence of evil god? Are they logically inconsistent? Less plausible than their negations? Where’s his argument?

    “It’s Law’s premise that it’s entirely reasonable to reject Evil/Anti God” – On what basis? What argument was provided for this claim?

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s an intriguing argument, but it doesn’t show what he thinks it shows.

  6. Pingback: GCU Dancer on the Midway - William Lane Craig vs Stephen Law: Does God Exist?

  7. I agree that Dr Law did a lot better against Dr Craig than people are giving him credit for. However,

    the definition of God necessarily implies God’s goodness. And indeed that is the philosophically correct way to understand God.

    The definition of God certainly implies God’s goodness, but in classical theism God’s goodness is not moral goodness as far as I can see. God surely doesn’t have moral obligations. Thus Dr Law didn’t touch classical theism.

    Also, I think Craig did give an explanation of evil – he didn’t just play the mystery card. He said perhaps it is what is necessary to enable people to enter into salvation. In contrast, Law didn’t offer an explanation of moral values – he just played the mystery card. So I think Craig did in fact remain ahead there – just.

    In the light of this, and as Dr Law didn’t touch the Kalaam argument and moral goodness is arguably not part of God’s nature, I think he fell well short of answering the case for theism.

    Of course, it’s perhaps quite an interesting comment on the state of atheism that we are saying Dr Law did quite well because his atheism wasn’t completely demolished by Dr Craig.

    • Yo. You’re right that God does not have moral obligations. But classical theism stil maintains that God is essentially good, and so, God can’t do any evil. The evidential argument from evil is not an argument that God violated his moral duties, it is an argument that God has acted badly, and thus cannot be God.

      I agree with that Craig did not just appeal to mystery (or, if he did, it was not in an anti-intellectual manner). But the point of Law’s evil god argument is to undermine the considerations of skeptical theism, and I don’t think Craig adequately addressed that argument. I also don’t think that Law had any obligation to provide a meta-ethical account, all he had to do is challenge the premises of the moral argument, and I agree that Craig didn’t defend the first premise well, or at least I’m not certain that he did. The problem I have is that the moral argument is just really unclear. I’m hoping that at the be-thinking conference I can get him to clarify it for me.

      • Thanks for your reply,

        The evidential argument from evil is not an argument that God violated his moral duties, it is an argument that God has acted badly

        I’m not sure it can be so easily separated. How has God acted badly? All he has done is make things be and being, in classical theism equates to goodness. So all God has done is make goodness. How then has he acted badly? He could have made more goodness, but if he is not under any moral obligations that is hardly an objection to his existence or his goodness.

        But the point of Law’s evil god argument is to undermine the considerations of skeptical theism

        But as the argument from evil and suffering is the atheist’s argument, all Craig needs to do is to show that it has not been shown that evil and suffering excludes the possibility of a good God. Craig doesn’t need to show at this point that God is good only that evil does not exclude the possibility. Consequently, Law’s objection here fails.

        The issue is whether, having used scepticism to answer evil, Craig is entitled stop Law using scepticism to answer morality. This wasn’t really resolved in the debate, partly because Law made his most important points too late for their significance to become clear.

        The question of scepticism is whether scepticism is justified. We are clearly justified in doubting that we can know God’s purposes, as God is infinite, and so to some extent hidden. But I’m not sure, given that we believe that there are moral values, that we can be justified in our scepticism as to their cause. It seems hard to know that they are real and objective, if we cannot even provide a provisional basis for a category in which they could be real and objective.

        Craig didn’t defend the first premise well

        Agreed. Do please post if he offers a clearer answer – I’m dying to know, as this was clearly the heart of the debate!

        Enjoy the conference!

        • Thanks, I did enjoy the conference and I managed to ask Craig a couple questions about the moral argument. I may blog about it when I’ve strung some thoughts together.

          You’re right that there is a tradition of being equalling goodness, but I don’t think Craig takes himself to be standing in that tradition. Basically you seem to be saying that we could never meaningfully think that God has acted badly. Well, certainly God can’t act badly, but the point is whether evil would give us evidence agains the existence of such a perfectly good being. If you think that God could, by virtue of doing anything, make that act good then you’re right, you couldn’t challenge that sort of God via evil. But then I think that’s false. I think there are acts that are bad, which God cannot do. God cannot torture children for fun for instance. If we had evidence that the creator being did such an act, we would have evidence that the creator isn’t God.

          I agree that Craig’s job is to show that the argument for evil fails, and it tried to by invoking the considerations of skeptical theism. But Law argued to undermine skeptical theism and I don’t think Craig properly responded.

          • I’m glad you enjoyed the conference, do please blog on the outcome of your questions!

            You’re right that there is a tradition of being equalling goodness

            I think it is the mainstream classical theist tradition, though unfortunately Craig doesn’t appear to belong to it. It seems to me that he (and many others) create problems for themselves by making God a rather large agent like ourselves. But this is not how God has traditionally been conceived – nor, I think, is it how the Bible thinks of God.

            whether evil would give us evidence agains the existence of such a perfectly good being

            It depends on what is meant by “a perfectly good being”. If we mean someone who has moral duties and obligations, then I don’t think we are talking about God, since God, as the supreme being cannot be subordinate to duties. But if perfectly good being means a being who is without defect, then God must be this, since he is pure act and there is no idea of God aside from his existence. Consequently, it is not possible for God to fail to substantiate perfectly the idea of God.

            If you think that God could, by virtue of doing anything, make that act good

            That makes it sound as if I am defending some form of voluntarism – I am defending the opposite. I am not saying that something becomes good when God does it, I am saying it is only logically possible for God to do good, because, as Augustine says “God is not the author of evil because He is not the cause of tending to not-being.”

            I think there are acts that are bad, which God cannot do. God cannot torture children for fun for instance.

            I agree of course, but not because I think there is some moral rule preventing God from doing this, but because, as Augustine implies, God isn’t the kind of being who operates as an agent in the world as we do. God simply makes things be and that is good. He thus makes no difference to anything in the universe, and can no more be thought to torture someone than to tickle their armpit or run a three minute mile!

            What could (indeed does) happen however, is that God could make someone be who does torture children. But then the fault is not in God but in the choice of the torturer.

            If you haven’t seen it, there’s a very good reply to Stephen Law’s evil God challenge, by Edward Feser here:

            http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/10/laws-evil-god-challenge.html

  8. @Slimer: as you know from your exchange with Law, Law thinks that Craig agrees that Evil God is absurd, and even if Craig doesn’t, that Craig failed to demonstrate that Good God is more plausible. Going by the debate, that seems fair to me: the moral argument relies on a couple of premises which Craig mostly defended by quoting people who agree with him (I did enjoy our host’s Evil God version of the moral argument: Law should add that to his collection of flipped arguments), and I don’t believe in alien abductions either, however many “eyewitness accounts” I see.

    To go beyond the debate, it seems to me that Craig fails to link the entities he’s hoping to prove exist. Even if, for the sake of argument, we accept Craig’s conclusions individually, we have the creator (though why only one?) outside the universe, the being who “grounds” objective morality, and whatever is responsible for resurrecting Jesus. It seems plausible to those of us who spent a lot of time in and around Christianity that these are all the same thing, but I see no particular reason to suppose that they must be.

      • I think that’s a misunderstanding of Occam’s Razor. It is an injunction to avoid unnecessary postulates when explaining a phenomenon. If we have three distinct phenomena, I see no reason why Occam would insist they share a cause.

          • Ignoring that it multiplies the complexity of the mechanism at least threefold, and thereby doesn’t seem (to me, at least) to be simpler at all, Occam’s Razor isn’t an appeal to simplicity. It just says that, all other things being equal, when explaining a given phenomenon (the creation of the universe, say), we make as few assumptions not supported by data as possible.

            It’s a fallacy to insist on a single cause for phenomena as disparate as the Resurrection and the Big Bang, without some other evidence or reasoning to suggest they share a cause. Occam’s Razor just doesn’t get you there.

            The reductio of this might be that it is presumably “simpler” to suppose that if I write three essays, one on, say, Aristotle’s Ethics, one about Hawking radiation, and one about the Israel-Palestine conflict, hand them into three different classes, and insist that it would be “simpler” if they were all graded by the same TA, despite having no reason to think that this would be so.

            I’m not suggesting that there are no reasons to think that the resurrector, moral law-giver, and big banger are the same identity, but that’s a case that has to be made on its own merits, not merely assumed as “simpler”.

            • Oops, second-to-last paragraph got a bit muddled there.

              Fixed:

              The reductio of this might be to say that supposing I write three essays, one on, say, Aristotle’s Ethics, one about Hawking radiation, and one about the Israel-Palestine conflict, and hand them into three different classes, I could reasonably insist that it would be “simpler” if they were all graded by the same TA, despite having no particular reason to think that this would be so.

  9. ‘Even if, for the sake of argument, we accept Craig’s conclusions individually, we have the creator (though why only one?) outside the universe, the being who “grounds” objective morality, and whatever is responsible for resurrecting Jesus.’

    Don’t we also have Satan as well, who is an immortal, supernatural being? Sounds like a god to me, even if theological correctness means Christians can’t use the g-word when describing him (even if Paul does refer to the god of this world)

    And what about the being who inspired the Jews to write that a man who rapes a woman should be punished by forced marriage to the woman he raped?

    Is that the same god who inspired an Old Testament which never mentions he had a son?

    Or a different god?

    • If Satan can be said to be ‘immortal’ in some sense, it is not the same sense in which God might be said to be immortal in Christian theology. God is a necessary being, whereas Satan is a contingent creation of God.

    • Careful, I’m not claiming that Law’s arguments, all things considered, are sound (in the philosophical sense). What I am claiming is that, given the material presented on the night from both debaters, Law’s arguments come out on top.

  10. 1. If the evidence of goodness in the world demonstrates that there is not an evil creator god, then the evidence of evil in the world demonstrates that there is not a good creator god. [Premise]

    2. The evidence of goodness in the world demonstrates that there is not an evil creator god. [Premise]

    3. Therefore, the evidence of evil in the world demonstrates that there is not a good creator god. [(1), (2), M.P.]

    Law seemed to support (1) with his symmetry thesis: ‘There is just as much evidence from the goodness/evil of the world that the creator god is evil, as there is that the creator god is good.’

    I also just want to note that Law’s argument seems to defeat the resurrection case as well. The hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead (R) will only be probable if it’s probable that *God* exists and would desire to raise Jesus. Law’s argument takes out the God needed to establish R’s probability.

    • I’m not sure about that. Depends on our background knowledge. Perhaps God is improbable relative to the existence of evil, but not overall improbable given other considerations. The resurrection could be one of those considerations.

  11. The reason flipping the moral argument like this:

    1. If Anti-God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
    2. Objective moral values and duties exist.
    3. Therefore, Anti-God exists.

    doesn’t work is because premise 1 now becomes false. Objective moral values would still exist even if Anti-God didn’t. Why? Because God could exist! So all this does is simply multiply the problem. Objective moral values would exist whether Anti-God exists or if God exists. So “Anti-God” now doesn’t become the only transcendent being.

    So now, which being exists? First, the evidence for the resurrection gives us reason to think that Jesus’ claims were correct and that God is good. So all things being equal, Good God prevails because we have evidence for Him via Christ’s resurrection. Contrary to what Steven says above, Law’s argument does not show that the existence of God is improbable (another reason why Law lost the debate because he was arguing for an “evil god” when he was suppose to be arguing for “no god”. Evil god is still in the god category not the atheist category). What he showed was that we have no basis for saying God is good or evil inductively by experience. But that’s not how we know that God is good. As far as I know we do this via the moral argument and the verification of Jesus’ claims via his resurrection. To say that his argument is a defeater for the resurrection hypothesis is to be begging the question that Christians think God is good prior to the resurrection hypothesis.

    Second, even if the resurrection hypothesis fails, which isn’t the case, the Ontological argument shows that Anti-God would not be perfect, and therefore would not be God. This eliminates the whole evil god hypothesis right away without even having to go into all of my first point.

    • I think you are right that either God or Anti-God could be candidates for “ground” of moral duties and values (assuming something like the moral argument works) and thus we have to eliminate one or the other. But that’s an important thing to note because it robs the moral argument of the power to, by itself, establish God’s goodness.

      I disagree with your take on what Law’s evil god argument was all about. As I responded to another comment, Law seems to think I’ve got the jist of it http://randalrauser.com/2011/10/where-stephen-law-goes-wrong-with-his-evil-god-argument/ (see comments)

      • I don’t see at all how it robs the moral argument of any power. For even if I say the sole purpose of that argument is to prove God’s existence, did it do that? Yes! We’ve concluded that either God or evil god are the only grounds for objective morals. Both of which are still theism. So the moral argument proves God’s existence.

        But does the moral argument lose its power to show that God is good? No, I think not. For if evil god exists, then he would give us moral obligations to do what is wrong. But if that is the case, then moral obligations and moral values would never aline. Because it would always be right to follow our obligations, yet to follow our obligations would mean we would be doing something evil (or bad). Similarly, if we were to disobey our moral obligations and not do what evil god says, then we would be doing what is wrong, and yet it would be good! Now this is in complete contrast to our moral intuitions. Because what is right is good, and what is wrong is bad, not the other way around.
        But what if evil god commanded us to do what is right? Than that would mean that, as Dr. Craig as said, “Since this being is evil, that implies that he fails to discharge his moral obligations. But where do those come from? How can this evil god have duties to perform which he is violating? Who forbids him to do the wrong things that he does? Immediately, we see that such an evil being cannot be supreme: there must be a being who is even higher than this evil god and is the source of the moral obligations which he chooses to flout, a being which is absolute goodness Himself. In other words, if Law’s evil god exists, then God exists.”

        So I really do think the force of this argument really disappears. Both to prove God’s existence and to show that an evil god could exist.

        • Yes, I agree with you that my inverse moral argument is poor. You are right that an evil god wouldn’t generate the moral obligations we do in fact take ourselves as having.

          • Sorry it took so long for me to respond. I had almost completely forgot that I had written this response hah. I appreciate you starting this discussion though as it is important. Also I had never seen the moral argument formulated that way so it was very interesting!

  12. Hey Rob, I think you’re right about Martin’s Evil/Anti God version of the moral argument, since the point of Law’s anti-theodicies is that they address objections to Evil God which would not also be objections to Good God.

    Still, I think we can modify it contain a disjunction “1. If Evil God or Good God does not exist…” or even “1. If one or more gods of some type (Lawful Evil, Lawful Good, Chaotic Neutral or one of the other 5 alignments) does not exist…” The theist facing this modified moral argument has to be a lot more specific about the origin of these mysterious “morality grounding” powers in order to show why their first premise is more likely than these modified premises, because if the modified argument goes through, it doesn’t show that God is good.

    Law does mention miracles in his paper, and says the Evil God certainly has an interest in promoting various contradictory miracle stories (Christian resurrection of Jesus, Mohammed’s flight to Mecca and so on) to promote religious conflicts.

    Still, I think it’s worse for Craig than that. He comes back with the sceptical theist response to the PoE, but he’s perfectly happy to say that the resurrection is evidence for God’s goodness. What? The resurrection, if it happened, is an event in the world. Craig already said we can’t draw conclusions about God’s moral properties from those. Or does sceptical theism only apply to arguments against Craig’s God? :-)

    • Aye, the moral argument needs to be made a lot more specific than it is. I’m quite curious about what properties of God the moral argument is supposed to require (I take it that “God” is short-hand for a being with some of God’s properties, and that a cumulative case is required to establish all of the properties).

      Interesting point about the resurrection. I need to mull all this over.

    • Hi Paul, nice to meet you.

      I think the part on Dr. Craig’s response is misunderstood. As he says, we do not believe God is good by looking into the world at all the good things that happen. That would be alined to saying, “since Jesus did so many good miracles that helped thousands of people, God must be good.” It is not on that basis that we say God is good. Rather it is the confirmation of Jesus’ claims indicated by His resurrection. Jesus made truth claims that God was good (moreover He made claims that He was God) and as a confirmation of those claims, the resurrection argument is best explained that God raised Jesus from the dead.

      Although I’m not really convinced that Dr. Craig even needed to go into the resurrection when there are problems with the concept of evil god in and of themselves. It might have just been that this was the first thing that came to mind. I just posted my response about the inconsistencies with evil god up above to martin.

  13. On further thought, Anti-God might be sufficient for objective moral values, but it’s hard to see how he would be for moral duties, or at least, the kind of duties that we do in fact have (why does Anti-God give us an obligation not to murder?) … still, I think it would be hard to explain why Anti-God so fails without offering some sort of meta-ethical account, thus making the moral argument more meta-ethically committed than it claims to be.

  14. Holy Crap Martin, one post on how Bill Craig lost a debate and your usually quiet apologiapad is the hottest place on the web. Haha……… I’ve been reading through the loads of comments that have been made and certainly many great observations have been made by people. While I haven’t listened to the debate I would agree with you that Law’s problem of evil argument was subtle yet sharply original. One thing that eerks me, though, is that I think Law’s entire argument is based on a certain theory of theistic morality. I’m curious as to how Law would deal with a divine command ethic in which what God commands is moral regardless of whether or not we perceive it as moral. It seems as, though, such a perspective would undercut Law’s entire argument.

    • To make what I mean about certain theory of theistic morality more specific, I think that Law’s argument is based on a theory of theistic morality that is empirical in nature. I wonder how he’d do with one that was based solely on the fact that God and God alone is the arbitrator of moral values since only God is fit for the position

    • Lol, yeah activity did sort of spike rather massively. In the few days after posting this review my total views went up over 500%!!

      Anyway I’m not sure that divine command theory really helps here. Sure, proponents of this view think that what is moraly obligatory just is what God has commanded, but they don’t think that God can command just anything. They think God can command only what is in accord with his perfectly good nature. So he cannot, say, command the torture of children for fun. So the evidential argument for evil can still attempt to provide evidence against the perfectly good nature of God. God’s commands don’t really come into it.

      • I think it’s great that activity has spiked so much for your blog. Now other people can see the amazing articles you write=).
        Anyhow, I have to disagree with your assessement of Divine Command Theory. In fact, I think your assessement of Divine Command Theory is seriously mistaken. You say that God can only command what is in accord with his perfectly good nature and then say that God couldn’t command child torture. This begs a huge question, though, that also strongly undercuts the evidential argument from evil as well. The question is, “Why do you consider child torture to be a violation of God’s goodness? Doesn’t the very fact that you consider it

        • to be a violation of God’s goodness imply that you already know what God’s goodness is and are thus basing your idea of goodness not on what God commands?” The evidential argument from evil doesn’t work since it assumes the goodness or evilness of a particular action which begs the question of why that action is to be considered good or evil. Even if there is a basis for thinking a particular action is immoral, there is still the question of whether or not it’s a sound basis.

            • Thanks for the kind word! Speaking of articles, I have about 6 drafted and ready to post on Thoughtful Faith. I just need to finish the last sexuality entry. LOL.

              Anyway, I’m sticking to my guns on the point about divine command theory. There’s some confusion of your presentation of DCT because, on this view, moral goodness isn’t identical to what God commands, only what is morally obligatory is. At any rate, DCT doesn’t entail any particular view about moral epistemology. It isn’t the claim that we know what is morally obligatory only because of God’s commands. It is the claim that what is morally obligatory just is what God has commanded. And the theist and atheist aren’t at great dispute (on the whole) about what is morally obligatory, or what is morally good.

              Neither party disagrees that the agonising death of a deer is a bad thing. Or the death of a child by cancer. These aren’t things the theist disputes, even if she is a DCTer. The difference is that the theist thinks there is a God who has morally justifiable reasons to allow these things to occur. And it is the task of an evidential argument from evil/suffering to show that, probably, no such thing is the case.

              Moreover, the atheist doesn’t need to suppose that there is such a thing as moral evil to run the argument. She just needs to point out that there is gratuitous suffering (which is a non-moral phenomena) and show that suffering counts against theism, because suffering would be morally bad in a theistic universe. Craig in fact conceded this very point in the debate.

              Also, so you should be sorry! Though it was probably irresistable to whack such stupidity on the head.

              • Ok I think I better understand what your viewpoint is, and I’ll admittedly have to do more study in the area of Divine Command Ethics. By the way speaking of your series on sexuality I just finished part 2 and will be sending it to you shortly.
                Also it was sooooooo irresistable! LOL

  15. ‘….is that I think Law’s entire argument is based on a certain theory of theistic morality’

    CARR
    But that really is ‘just a theory’ , like the creationists say.

    Unlike the theory of evolution , which has empirical data to back it up, sometimes literally rock-solid data, Craig’s Divine Command Theory is literally just a theory.

    It is no more to be taken seriously than the theory of astrology, or my theory as to why my pens kept going lost, even when I bought a box of 20 just the day before.

    • Hey curtmudgeon,
      If you had even half a brain you’d realize that evolution is a scientific theory while Divine Command is a philosophical theory. If your pens keep going missing it’s probably because they ran away to avoid being used by someone with an IQ of 20

      • That is indeed what I said. Evolution is a scientific theory while Divine Command theory is simply a theory with nothing to back it up.

        But I am pleased that you confirmed that what I said was correct. Always good to get confirmation from an independent source.

          • More gibberish as response.

            I point out that Craig’s Divine Command Theory has no facts to back it up, unlike theories which should be taken seriously.

            Refutation – Craig’s Theory is not like a theory that has facts to back it up.

            What can I say?

            • I forgot. I also got insults, pardon me, Christian love, as well as gibberish as an answer to my post.

              I’m sure bonehead was meant in a very loving way, after all even Jesus loved the people he called fools, snakes and sons of the devil.

              • Listen this is going to be my final reply to your nonsense. Science seeks to understand the empirical world so it’s theories require empirical evidence. Science can gather empirical date, but it can’t make moral value judgements. An is does not make an ought. Philosophical theories like ones that deal with morality or ethics on the other hand deal with moral value judgements and can be based on a number of things such as what is the best possible good for the most number of people or in the example of the Divine Command theory based
                on God. They cannot, however, be based on scientific facts or empirical evidence since as I stated previously an is cannot make an ought. In this light your objection is naive and foolish. Also concerning me calling you bonehead, consider that an example of agape=)

  16. ROB
    First, the evidence for the resurrection gives us reason to think that Jesus’ claims were correct and that God is good.

    CARR
    Really? Wasn’t Jesus supposed to be God’s Son?

    So the evidence that the Mafia looks after its own family is evidence that the Mafia is good?

    • Once again curtmudgeon,
      While I hesitate to agree with Rob’s suggestion, your suggestion is anathema to me. First of all, when the Bible says that Jesus is God’s Son it doesn’t mean it in a biologically familial sense like you take it. You might want to actually know what you’re talking about before you troll.

      • It appears that gibberish is now regarded as a refutation.

        This alleged god allegedly looked after his own son and let everybody else go to Hell.

        I compared this to the Mafia looking after its own.

        Refutation – Jesus isn’t literally God’s son.

        Well, what can I say?

        • Whoa Whoa what Bible are you reading in which God simply looked after his own son and let everybody else go to Hell? John 3:16 ring a bell? Also you still show no understanding of the trinity. On top of that even if what you say is true, how in the world anything you just said refutes the idea of Jesus literally being the Son of God is one for the hopelessly insane.
          Also you don’t need to say anything just go to this website and shut up troll
          http://www.BlankWebsite.com

          • John 3:16 ring a bell ring a bell?

            Are you claiming people have gone to Heaven because, roll of drums, an Old Book says so?

            Gosh, the Evil God would love to lead on people who believe everything the Evil God tells it.

            Why should I believe your god is good, just because an Old Book issues IOU’s of Heaven?

            Is an IOU as good as money? No. Show me this alleged Heaven you speak of, rather than the 3 dollar-bill of your Old Book.

      • Just because the Christian ‘logic’ was neatly skewered with an apt analogy is no reason to ignore the disembowelling of the Christian argument that happened….

  17. Pingback: William Lane Craig vs. Stephen Law « Sauna Debates

  18. Pingback: Debating religion: The evidential problem of good and its implications « No God Blog

  19. In my article Why the Evil God Challenge Fails I discussed the inaccurate assumptions behind Law’s arguments which make his whole edifice ineffective:
    1. Theodicies are NOT arguments FOR a good God
    2. Good and Evil are not equal and opposite
    3. Failing to address Natural Theological arguments means the EGC is weak

    I concluded:

    The Evil God Challenge is an interesting but unfruitful ruse – based on some bad assumptions about the purpose of theodicies and the nature of good and evil, it draws some poor conclusions – namely that the existence of an evil God is just as likely as that of a good God, and therefore, both must be dismissed.

    Now, the argument for a neutral God might have merit (from the atheist point of view), but I haven’t seen Law make such an argument. He does take issue with the Moral Argument, which I will address in a future post.

  20. I’m sorry, but I have to completely disagree that Law won this debate. I would like to see someone take on Craig successfully, but this certainly wasn’t that example. Law’s entire argument rests on the idea that “we all know” that Evil God doesn’t exist, because there’s too much “good stuff” in the world around us. But, we DON’T actually have knowledge of this, and the so-called “contortions” which Law himself suggests do in fact work! Craig quoted Maxwell as saying that we have cognitive limitations (such as location in space and time) which absolutely preclude our having ANY certainty about the motives or reasons of an omniscient being.

    So Evil God is indeed just as likely as Good God, if all we have to work from is an inductive survey of the world. But inductive surveys are NOT the right way to answer this kind of question. When Craig pointed this out (at least three separate times during the debate), Law could just smirk and chuckle and say “we all know that won’t wash” or “we all know that’s not true”. That kind of hand-waving should not be confused with a rational rebuttal. They are quite different!

    As to Craig’s arguments FOR the goodness of God: Law’s response to the Moral Argument was to say “perhaps we can’t rationally deny P2, but maybe it’s still false”. Well, maybe, but WE CAN’T RATIONALLY BELIEVE THAT! If affirming atheism requires accepting something irrational, then the rational position is *theism*. And Law’s response to the Resurrection Argument was to provide what he felt was an analogous situation involving a UFO sighting. The problem is that Craig gives 3 pieces of evidence, only 1 of which is parodied in the UFO sighting. So, there is no real rebuttal for the Resurrection Argument.

    In sum: For all the smirking and hand-waving that Law did, his basic premise was dead-wrong. You actually cannot dismiss Evil God on the basis of an inductive survey. Therefore, you cannot dismiss Good God on such a basis either.

    P.S. The Kalam may not give the moral character of God, but it also doesn’t preclude goodness. Therefore, it takes atheism off the table (thus counting against Law in this particular debate, which was not entitled “Is God Good?”; it was “Does God Exist?”). It leaves lots of possible THEISMS, but Law isn’t allowed to argue for any of those in this debate, and so Craig wins with the Kalam alone (since the God proved by the Kalam may very well be good). Indeed, to say that the argument proves an uncaused, beginningless, non-spatiotemporal, non-material, very powerful PERSON, who created the Universe, and yet say that it didn’t give enough qualities to call that person “God”, is to demand far too much from a single argument. It doesn’t give goodness, but it also doesn’t give omniscience, omnipotence, divine simplicity, or that God used a virgin to produce Jesus. It shouldn’t have to. All these things are available to the God proved by the Kalam, and may very well be true. But the one thing that CAN’T be true, if the Kalam is sound, is *atheism*.

    Cheers.

  21. I have to absolutely agree with Mentat here. I think Law is given FAR too much credit for this utterly ineffective non-starter we find in the “Evil God Argument” (EGA). I think most here seem to properly understand what Law was trying to achieve with the EGA, but many seem not to have realized the incredibly glaring flaws with it. In fact, I might go so far as to say that the most impressive thing Law has achieved is getting some smart people to briefly turn off their brains (like flicking a light switch off and on) and simply accept his word that he has made a powerful point without having to make any argument or provide any evidence for it.

    Law’s argument really just IS the Evidential Problem of Evil (EPoE). The EGA isn’t actually an argument at all. It’s simply an analogy that flips the components of the standard EPoE and the defenses against it.

    After Law posits the existence of “Evil God” (or Anti-God, but we’ll go with his Evil God for simplicity) he says that it occurs to us that the amount of good in the world is too great for Evil God to exist. Ok, so this is precisely the EPoE, only flipped.

    Then, just like Theists offer theodicies to explain why a survey of the amount of evil in the world cannot reasonably be used to rule out the existence of God, Law offers his own set of (anti-?) theodicies to explain why a survey of the amount of good in the world cannot reasonably be used to rule out the existence of Evil God.

    Ok, so here we have the inverse of both the standard EPoE and the responses to it. Great. Now where does Law go next with the EGA? He basically says, ‘Of course, this is absurd and we all know that the good in the world DOES prove Evil God doesn’t exist, so we should accept the exact same thing about good God being disproved by the evil in the world.’

    Insert dramatic screeching-to-a-stop sound…

    What? This is not an argument at all. This is literally *IDENTICAL* to offering the standard EPoE, getting a series of reasoned responses why it fails, and then saying, “obviously that’s absurd, you should simply accept that I’m right.”

    This *IS* the EGA. There is literally no argument here. Law simply makes it SEEM like there’s an argument here by placing a little analogical thought-experiment in between his initial presentation of the standard EPoE and his declaration that the EPoE succeeds. He could just as well have chosen to recount what he had for lunch that day instead of using the EGA. Both go equally far towards establishing his ultimate point; which is to say they both go nowhere at all.

    What Law does with the EGA, and ALL he does with it, is use it to avoid making any response to the theodicies that are offered against the EPoE. What the EGA is designed to do is capitalize on the *BARE FACT* that most Theists think Evil God is absurd, so that when he switches back to the standard EPoE he can cash in on that to say the Theist must also think good God is absurd if they want to remain intellectually honest and consistent.

    The major problem with this, however, is that the REASON(S) most Theists think the idea of Evil God is absurd has virtually NOTHING to do with the REASON that Law says he is absurd in the EGA, which is purely as a result of an inductive survey of the good in the world. And if the Theist does not think Evil God is absurd solely because of the inductive survey to which Law appeals, then when Law switches back to the standard EPoE, the Theist has absolutely no reason whatsoever to carry the absurdity charge back over to good God, which means Law ends precisely where he started: he has to respond to the theodicies that are offered in response to the standard EPoE.

    Law cannot simply offer the EGA (which should now be renamed the Evil God *Analogy*), offer a series of anti-theodicies, assert that they obviously fail proving Evil God absurd, then declare victory over the standard EPoE.

    The fact of the matter is that his anti-theodicies actually succeed, as Mentat has pointed out. They are all coherent and plausible. The claim that he doesn’t need to disprove his own theodicies because it wasn’t his intent to prove that Evil God is plausible is ABSOLUTELY WRONG. Of course he’s not trying to prove Evil God is plausible. What he’s trying to prove is that GOOD God is NOT plausible BECAUSE theodicies fail to counter to the EPoE. To allow him to simply dismiss his own theodicies as failures and declare Evil God is clearly absurd in spite of them because of a survey of the good in the world is to allow him to simply say he is right because he is right. It is exactly that shallow.

    In order for Law to make any headway whatsoever with the EGA, he would need to show that his theodicies really do fail for some philosophically sound reason. And then, even succeeding in this, he would need to show that his anti-theodicies are uniformly AT LEAST as strong and work AT LEAST as well as the standard theodicies for God. But if he could do this then the EGA would be entirely useless, because it just adds several steps for him in arguing against the efficacy of standard theodicies!

    Ironically, rather than helping the case for Atheism, the EGA actually BOLSTERS the standard arguments against the EPoE. By creating coherent and plausible theodicies for Evil God, Law actually demonstrates all the more forcefully why inductive surveys of the good and evil in the world are a terribly ineffective way to determine the moral character of the Creator; because for any observational evidence you might cite about the amount of either good or evil in the world, you can come up with a coherent and plausible reason why one type of God or the complete opposite type of God might have a good reason to let it exist. Rather than *overcoming* the standard objections to the EPoE, Law’s EGA merely *strengthens* them by driving home the point that there really are philosophically sound reasons for rejecting *any* definitive claims people try to make one way or the other on this subject based on this sort of inductive survey.

    All that having been said, the fact that the Evil God Argument is not actually an argument at all and is merely an analogy that attempts to steal bases is only *one* of its major problems.

    After Law presented the EGA, Craig pointed out that it fails because the typical Theist does not conclude that God is good by a simple inductive survey of the good in the world. He said this multiple times and Law kept saying Craig was misrepresenting him because he never said they do, but that they eliminate Evil God on this basis and should eliminate Good God on the same basis. I think Craig was actually right on the money here, so let’s unpack this.

    First of all, Law is merely claiming without any support at all that typical Theists consider Evil God absurd solely on the basis of the good in the world. But this isn’t true of Craig, or me, or Mentat, or anyone else we’ve met, or any Theists I’ve seen commenting on this subject at various other blogs. Indeed, it’s not at all clear that much of anyone considers Evil God absurd solely on the basis of the good in the world. But this is the very claim upon which Law’s whole case hangs, as I’ve addressed above. And the fact that it doesn’t reflect *Craig’s* theology means it is ineffective against *Craig*. So much for Law arguing specifically against Craig’s conception of God. Against Craig’s conception of God it gains no ground.

    But let’s set that aside and say that we allow the existence of these Theists who rule Evil God to be absurd based solely on an inductive survey of the good in the world. Let’s consider the implications of this. In order to do so we must constantly keep in mind two important points: 1) The person is a Theist, and 2) Their conclusion on this matter is based SOLELY on the observable evidence; that is, on an inductive survey of the good and evil in the world.

    Any *Theist* who rules out an Evil God based solely on the amount of good in the world is not simply going to be deciding that there is TOO MUCH good for an Evil God. Rather, they’re going to decide that there is MORE good THAN evil in the world, which leads them to believe that the God they already believe exists is good RATHER THAN evil. After all, finding MORE good THAN evil is the only way one could determine God is good RATHER THAN evil based solely on an inductive survey. Theodicies can’t enter the picture so there can be no attempted explanation for there being 51% evil in the world and God being good. In such a case, the God who they are already convinced exists would have to be classified as evil.

    This means that *any* Theist who would make the conclusion Law wants – that Evil God is absurd based solely on the amount of good – would necessarily be one that DOES determine God’s moral character based on an inductive survey of the good in the world (There’s more good than evil, hence God is good, not evil). This means that Craig’s point hit the nail right on the head. He simply didn’t take/have the time to lay out all the connections for Law to realize it.

    But it gets even worse, because even though we could say that this brand of Theism (one that DOES determine God’s moral character based solely on an inductive survey) is the only kind of Theism that Law’s argument might even get off the ground against, the actual fact of the matter is that in the very process of finding Evil God absurd due to such a survey as Law wants them to, they will have determined it IS significantly more reasonable to believe in Good God, simply because they think there is significantly more good than evil in the world. So once again Law’s argument fails to get off the ground even with this unusual brand of Theism.

    It seems to me that this argument simply could not work against anyone who already believes that a being like God exists, because if, for example, you believe that a being of the sort demanded by the Kalam argument exists, attempting to determine his moral character through an inductive survey of the good and evil in the world will simply cause you to determine that he is good or that he is evil, but you definitely won’t conclude in either case that he doesn’t exist at all or that Atheism is even in the vicinity of being true. For this reason, as Mentat pointed out, it was impossible for Law to win the debate for the Atheist side while failing to counter the Kalam argument.

    In reality, it appears that the *only* way Law’s EGA could even conceivably get off the ground is if it is being presented to someone who DOES NOT YET believe in a Godlike being of any kind AND who views Evil Creator and Good Creator as two distinct beings whose existence are being proposed separately so that each one’s existence can be determined to be absurd independently of each other rather than affirming the existence of one by the very act of determining the other’s existence to be absurd.

    Finally, even if we abandon Law’s actual argument for Atheism and put in it’s place a misrepresented version that has been put forth elsewhere, whereby the EGA is really just a gambit intended to block the Theist from being able to prove God is good, or at least more likely to be good than bad, I think it still fails in this more humble form.

    I think the Moral Argument does implicitly show that that it is significantly more reasonable to think God is good rather than evil. The key in my explication of these implications (Mentat has a slightly different and more concise one) is not simply the existence of objective moral values, but particularly our sense of moral obligations. Craig read a good quote during the debate from, I believe, an Atheist, who said that even in the face of arguments against objective moral values, we are more sure of their existence than of the validity of the arguments against them. We have this powerful intuition that there really are objective moral values, and if a person accepts premise 2 of the Moral Argument, it will generally be because they find this powerful intuition to be MORE powerful and dependable than arguments that could be adduced against it. However, it is by the very same intuition that we not only sense there are objective moral values, but that we have moral obligations with respect to them, and we strongly intuit that our obligation is to do that which is considered good. In fact, even when we find ourselves uncertain of what is ACTUALLY the good, we nonetheless feel that our moral obligation is to do whatever we deduce is the good whether we happen to be right or wrong. And further, we even have a feedback loop by way of our conscience that can nag us and make us miserable to varying degrees if we ignore this obligation we feel to do good, sometimes nagging us even over something like making a comment that hurt somebody’s feelings, or a *potentially* hurtful comment about someone that they didn’t even hear, and this alone can prevent us from the doing what is bad again in the future.

    When considering this aspect of our “moral duties” that are mentioned in the Moral Argument, it seems clear that believing this sense of obligation to do the good is rooted in a good God is a significantly MORE reasonable and MORE parsimonious conclusion than believing they are rooted in an Evil God who instilled them in us for an ulterior motive other than to have us feel obligated to do good. Likewise, it is more reasonable than not to the think that there WOULD be a greater degree of suffering in the world if our sense of moral obligations were reversed, since 1) being a mean, bad person does not cause someone to suffer any less when terrible and painful things are done to them, and 2) we would then be disinclined to so actively attempt to punish and incarcerate offenders and prevent or reduce further opportunities for suffering.

    So, all in all, I find that Law’s Evil God Argument utterly fails to even get started in the form he actually uses, and ultimately still fails even in the gambit form I addressed towards the end here. It accomplished absolutely nothing of substance in the debate with Craig and Craig’s rebuttals were entirely sound, even if he didn’t fully unpack them to show Law why.

    As a final side-point, I think that the Teleological Argument could conceivably be used to show that God is incredibly powerful, incredibly intelligent, AND good all in a single argument. The Cosmological Argument could then be used to show that he must transcend the universe. And, in reality, if the Teleological Argument could show all three things I mentioned, it could reasonably be argued that the Cosmological and Teleological Arguments must go hand in hand, or perhaps hand in glove, in light of the fact that God, as the cause of the universe coming into being is a cause that was concurrent with its effect of the universe coming into being, while the Teleological Argument includes the finely-tuned INITIAL conditions of the universe, which would be part and parcel with the bringing of the universe into existence. This would result in a pair of necessarily connected arguments that give a single being who transcends the universe and is incredibly strong, intelligent and good.

    Anyway, that’s it. Sorry for the length.

  22. Pingback: Review of Craig-Law Debate on God’s Existence

  23. Pingback: William Lane Craig vs Stephen Law: Does God Exist? | Name and Nature

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