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Saturday, November 16, 2013

God in the Dock - Tragedy and Trilemma

by way of Brutally Honest -- Dr Bryan Cross: God in the Dock: Tragedy and Trilemma
Then [concerning his son's death] at some point while still pounding on the wheel and repeatedly interrogating God with no reply forthcoming, a kind of trilemma began to form in my mind, and I gradually realized that under each of its three horns what I was doing was silly and pointless. Either God did not exist, or God was evil, or God was good. In what I had witnessed in Joshua's suffering, any God who was morally indifferent or 'neutral' or apathetic was just evil. If God did not exist, my complaining was silly and pointless, because in that case nobody was listening. And if God were evil, then my complaints were also silly and pointless, because there would be no point complaining to an evil deity about ill treatment, since if he were evil he wouldn't care about failing to be good. I realized by this process of reasoning that my act of complaining to God about an injustice could only make sense if God is good. But then, of course, if God, being God, is good not by participation in goodness or by derived goodness, but as Goodness itself (ipsum bonum), then my act of complaining to Him also did not make sense because in that case He certainly has a good reason for allowing my son's suffering and death to happen, a reason I cannot presently see. I would be complaining to Goodness itself about its behavior, as though I know Goodness better than Goodness knows Goodness, and as though I know better than Goodness how Goodness ought to run things. And that too would be silly and pointless (and arrogant), because one can't show up Goodness by appealing to Goodness. Any attempt to do so only shows up one's own insufficient understanding of Goodness, and is thus self-refuting. The proper response, if God is Goodness, would not be to rail against Him but instead to trust Him, even if I never found out the good, justifying reason for Joshua's death, even if for the rest of eternity I never could find out that reason because it was so far above my finite comprehension.
The "argument from pain", aka, "the argument from evil", is the best arrow in the quiver of God-denialism ... and yet it actually *supports* Judeo-Christianity. To put it another way, at best, God-denial is a category error.

This is the trilemma Dr Cross came to see --
1) God is not ... in which case, railing against injustice is pointless. Who is listening? Who gives a damn about it? Who is going to do a damned thing about it?
2) God is, but is *not* Goodness Itself, and may even be wicked (*) ... in which case, railing against injustice is pointless. Who is listening (except maybe to gloat like a Bondian villain)? Who gives a damn about it? Who is going to do a damned thing about it?
3) God is and *is* Goodness Itself (*) ... in which case, railing against injustice is pointless, for he already knows, and he has already decreed the judgment against it, and has already fixed the time of justice and restitution.

If you say you trust God ... then *trust* him.

And, if you deny God, or deny that he is Good ... then shut the Hell up, for you have nothing to say.

(*) Now, there are whole other arguments that show the logical incoherence, and thus the absurdity, of the propositions "God is wicked" and "God is not Goodness Itself", but that's not our concern here.

And, of course, the proposition "God is not" is also absurd, for among its many absurd entailments is the absurdity that "Oneself is not". But, likewise, that is not our concern here.

The concern here is to help one see/understand/grasp that the "the argument from evil" is actually childish, in the negative sense: for it is not actually an argument at all, but is rather an appeal to emotion and it gets is "umph" from the studied *refusal* to maturely-and-rationally consider the matters of good-and-evil, in general, and/or one's pain or suffering.