Well, shucks…

Turns out, Perfesser Law hisself done taken his deeescussion o’ my recent, brief cawdgitation on th’ “eeeevil Gawd chayllenge” over yonder t’his blawg ther. Only thang is, he ain’t ‘zactly linked back to mah blawg, which is currious, I s’pose; but if’n I get a-taken serriously by a “bohna fahd” pheelawsopher, hownever it takes a-shape, well’s’n I mus’ say I’m PAHWERFUL honored by th’ attintion. As sitch, I’m mighty ‘bliged t’ share wi’ ye mah own liddle reespawnse t’ th’ good Perfesser’s indooblidy subtle musings. T’wit, I done wrote:

Perhaps it’s old-fashioned to link to the blog one is addressing, but doing so might have preempted [a commenter]’s current confusion: I, not Dr. Feser, authored the post in question. For the sake of clarity and fairness, here is the retort the reply to which Law seems to have “added” in this post:

“How do you define evil? How do you quantify it? If your case simply mouths the classical notion of evil, without accepting the larger assumptions involved in that notion, then it is incoherent. If, however, your case rejects that notion of evil, it is irrelevant, and borders on a straw man, since the classical theism which you claim to target is tied up with that notion et relata. ‘The irony,’ as you might say.”

Meanwhile, it is comical in the extreme (or just customarily self-important) to call the privation theory of evil (PTE) an implicitly novel “move”, since PTE was a pillar of classical metaphysics millennia before Law tried to peddle his pet Bayesian gambit for atheism. If anything, it is Law’s gambit that is the goal-shifting “move”, since the problem of evil has always been ontological, not epistemological, still less probabilistic. Law is outraged that his quixotic attempt to square the circle simply will not get off the ground (hint: when people are still discussing Aquinas, Law’s “argument” will be a footnote on a blog that might still be salvalgeable via the latest iteration of the Internet Archive), in much the same way a failed musician curses “the industry”. Law’s sophistical gambit is not worth the paper it’s printed on, and the fact that the most attention it gets is via blogs, is all the evidence you need.

We goin’ t’have t’see if th’ good Perfesser’ll deign to humble his right pahwerful innellect to reeeply to the likes o’ little ol’ me. Mah nose tills me thet th’ good Perfesser is akshly jess tryin’ to dahvert web trayffic to’n his own blog ther; bit… hopef’lly he’s a-willin’ t’have a gintleman’s deescussion o’ this matter, regardless wher it takes place.

Stay tuned, now, y’ear?


About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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10 Responses to Well, shucks…

  1. IbnYaqob says:

    Tell Law Ben Yachov says toodles!

  2. My rule of thumb: If somebody comes up with a very simple, easy to understand response that supposedly refutes thousands of years of classical theistic tradition and yet has never been thought of before, they’re almost certainly wrong. From what I understand Hume came closest to taking down the Five Ways, and he had to write entire BOOKS on the subject, and even then he only (tried to) established that maybe the Five Ways weren’t totally conclusive.

    Here’s Stephen Carr in the comments section:

    FESER quotes AQUINAS:

    “since God is His own being, nothing can be said of Him by participation…. If, then, evil is said of God, it will not be said by participation, but essentially. But evil cannot be so said of anything as to be its essence, for it would lose its being, which is a good”

    This is just a random mixture of words, making no sense.

    Are we seriously supposed to take seriously (and I know this isn’t Law himself) somebody who admits they don’t understand the arguments, and then instead of trying to understand them just decides that this means they’re wrong? It’s practically a caricature.

    Here’s Law’s real problem: He assumes, as Dr. Feser pointed out almost immediately and which was really all the response that was needed, that we can’t prove that God has to be good. But Aquinas says that yes, we can, and if we’re going to call this being “God” then he has to be considered good anyway. And this immediately makes the whole evil god thing irrelevant, and we’re back to the traditional problem of evil.

    Feser smoked Law and he’s still smarting from it.

  3. Leo says:

    Are we seriously supposed to take seriously (and I know this isn’t Law himself) somebody who admits they don’t understand the arguments, and then instead of trying to understand them just decides that this means they’re wrong? It’s practically a caricature.

    Bingo; modern man is equal parts ignorance, hubris, and insufferable narcissism.

  4. FZ says:

    At this point, Law brings up the Evidential Problem of Evil. Even if we can establish that God is necessarily good in the classical sense, that contradicts the excessive privations.we observe.

  5. Ibn Yaqob says:

    No it doesn’t. God is still not a moral agent who has obligations to us. There is no such thing as the best of all possible worlds. There is no world so good God is in anyway obligated to create it & none so bad that as long as it participates in being God should refrain from creating it.

    Rowe’s EPOE presupposes a morally good God who is morally good unequivocally like a morally good human being.

    Tedious and cowardly little man.

  6. Ibn Yaqob says:

    Mind you FZ, so we are clear, that Jab was directed at Law not you.


  7. Ben, of course, has nailed it. Thomism is all about relating to Gog analogously; we can understand partially what it means for God to be “good”, but ultimately what it means for us to be good and for God to be good are simply not the same thing. We’re allowed to say this because God is not a human. He’s a completely different thing entirely, and so naturally what it means for him to be good and do good SHOULD be something totally different.

    By analogy (and correct me if I’m wrong), it’s sort of like saying it’s horrible for Jadis the White Witch to take over Narnia, but worse for Lewis to have created Narnia at all. It doesn’t really make sense; Lewis could have created any sort of world he wanted to. They’re his books, after all.

    And so God doesn’t really have any obligation to do anything for us at all. The very fact that He does so much for us is something everybody should be forever thankful for.

    If there’s anything here I have wrong, please don’t hesitate to correct me. I’m still trying to get my head fully wrapped around this stuff.

  8. Not to mention, this pretty much makes the whole “evil god” thing irrelevant. Why didn’t you just lead with this in the first place?

  9. FZ says:

    Law says that any argument that concludes that an Evil God is incoherent must face the evidential problem of evil. But he also says that some people (not sure who) argue that the amount of good in the world empirically rules out and Evil God. This seems inconsistent, why don’t these two amount to “We cannot conclude the nature of God from the empirical data?”

  10. Ibn Yaqob says:

    The evidential problem of evil was formulated by Rowe to answer Plantanga who is a Theistic Personalist. As Brian Davies pointed out Rowe assumes his argument rules out a supremely perfectly moral entity with omnipotent power. God in the Classic sense is still not a moral agent showing no perfectly moral entity with omnipotent power could likely exist based on the evidential problem of evil is about as meaningful to a Classic Theist as a flawless polemic against “Young Earth Scientific Creationism” is to an avowed Theistic Evolutionist.

    It’s really that simple but Law can’t make himself see he has not formulated an all purpose omni-polemic against the whole of Christian Theism.

    At best he can cause pain to those who believe in Theodicy. But the classic Theistic God needs a Theodicy like a fish need a bicycle.

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