PBS Crash Course Philosophy on the Problem of Evil

I’ve done my own post on The Problem of Evil, so I thought I’d take a look at what the PBS program Crash Course on Philosophy has to say on the subject. The actual content starts at 1:38:

Here’s a quick summary:

  • the world is full of evil
  • this seems to contradict the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent god
  • rational people shouldn’t hold inconsistent beliefs
  • moral evil due to human free will does not contradict the existence of the triple O god
  • natural evil might be required to support human growth
  • this doesn’t explain why there needs to be so much and such severe natural evil

The problem is pretty much left as an exercise for the viewer, leading me to wonder why I should spend 10 minutes watching this video. At least bible.com present their “solution” to the problem, even if it is so full of holes that it is holier than God.

As I said in my previous post, the most satisfactory deist argument in my opinion is what I call the argument from indeterminism:

  • If the universe is deterministic, God is punishing people for doing things that he caused them to do, which is evil. Therefore, determinism contradicts the omnibenevolence of God.
  • If God was omniprescient (able to see the future perfectly), the universe would be effectively deterministic, because God is omnipotent as well.
  • Therefore, God cannot be both omniprescient and omnipotent.
  • If God exists outside of time, omniscience implies omniprescience
  • Therefore if God exists outside of time, God cannot be both omniscient and omnipotent
  • Therefore if God is both omniscient and omnipotent, God must exist in time and must not be omniprescient

I find the pantheist argument compelling as well:

  • God is neither good nor evil. God is everything, and is beyond the dualist dichotomy of good and evil.
  • Suffering is a natural thing
  • Suffering is to be embraced as an instrument of learning
  • Suffering will end when one realizes one’s identity with god (Hinduism) or one’s non-existence (Buddhism)

If we assume a deist god, what I would consider to be the reformed God of enlightened Christianity¬† (as opposed to the nonomnibenevolent Yahweh of Judaism and fundamentalist Christianity), and furthermore assume that this God is not a prescient “clock maker” who creates the universe and then leaves it alone, a completed work of art to be admired but not touched, then we are left with a God who is either less than Omnipotent, or one who is less than Omniprescient.

How would God see the future, assuming God is Omnipotent and Omniscient in the present moment? I would imagine that it might look to God as Frank Herbert imagined it would look to the Kwisatz Haderach: A blurry, shifting picture, with parts of the image becoming clearer as probabilities collapsed into certainties, much as the position of a particle collapses from a probabilistic cloud into a certainty when it is observed by a person.

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About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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One Response to PBS Crash Course Philosophy on the Problem of Evil

  1. Pingback: Truth, Logic, and the Trinity | Jim's Jumbler

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