Stan's Argument: Not Creating Is The Greater Good.

Stan the Half-Truth Teller is one of our commenters and he makes a recurring comment every now and then that I'd like to feature to facilitate some discussion about it because I think it is a good example of an efficient, sound and succinct argument against the existence of the Christian God.

Stan says the following.

If we accept the Theist's position, then god chose to create. Choosing instead to not-create would have been a greater good, as it would have necessarily avoided any suffering or evil whatsoever.


12 comments:

david said...

I think Jonathan Edwards spent a lot of time examining this issue, though admittedly even most Christians are horrified at his conclusions. :)

BahramtheRed said...

If we accept the bible is true, an absolute truth, and god is this manical, self centered hater:

ABSOLUTLY. No world no pain. God could have easily made a world with no higher intellects. No souls. He chose to create a world of pain and death by his design.

And that's even before we hit the previous thread about hell/god relation.

sconnor said...

Not to mention -- if god exists -- then he is still creating and sending souls to this planet; sentencing his earthly children to suffer in many, horrible ways.

--S.

Anonymous said...

This is my argument! Confound it, Stan stole my idea!

To see this defended in greater depth as a logical problem of evil, see Richard R. La Croix, "Unjustified Evil and God's Choice," in The Impossibility of God eds, Michael Martin and Ricki Monnier, (Prometheus Books, 2003), pp. 116-124.

nathaniel wallace said...

I don't know if I would agree with this reasoning. First off, god has never been demonstrated to act logically. Second, it would have to come down to a comparison of total good in existence (good, beauty, pleasure, love, heaven, etc) vs total bad in existence (pain, evil, ugliness, hell, etc). If the hypothetical situation (god existing, acting logically, creating everything, knowing all, etc) were taken at face value, then it is possible that the total good would win by a single 'thank you' and god - were he real and logical - would be OBLIGATED to run the entire cycle just to get to the greater quantity of good.

BahramtheRed said...

That just gets a giant "Huh?!" from me.

Alright if god created the world for the good, why didn't he minize the evil? Why have so much?

After all he supposdly created a perfect heaven with no pain. Why make earth the way it is. Why create sentient life forms to suffer for his amusment?

zilch said...

What nathaniel said. What exactly does "good" mean to God? Perhaps one True Believer singing hymns of praise outweighs a thousand atheists burning in Hell- how can we know?

Lee Randolph said...

Nathaniel,
the truth is that god is really Evil and he created an evil world and sprinkles it with "good" so we know the difference between good and evil and can properly appreciate evil when praying for the good.

Rachel said...

I don't agree with Nathaniel's first point about God not acting logically - indeed, I would say quite the opposite, that God DOES act logically, in fact he can do nothing BUT act in accordance with logic.

I don't agree completely with his second point either, but I agree with the overall concept, a point I've made in response to this argument by Stan before. In summary, I believe that considering the big picture, there is more good than bad in the world overall, thus God's initial act of creating the world is justified.

I'll assume that the natural counter to this would be that there would be more people in hell than heaven, thus more bad than good.

My answer to that is, first, we don't know that that's true. So if it isn't, and there are really more people in heaven than hell, the rest of this is moot.

But second, let's assume it IS true, that there will be more people in hell than heaven. I hold a different view of hell than the traditional "burning in fire" view. Therefore, I maintain that the intrinsic value of each individual combined with the value God places on them by respecting their choice (*not* him), even when we factor in the suffering in hell, still contributes to the overall good "count".

Interested readers should go here and take the time to read it all and deal with the arguments therein, even if they are not found to be ultimately persuasive (although I think they are).

Bahram said,

Alright if god created the world for the good, why didn't he minize the evil? Why have so much?

If evil wasn't so bad this would be laughable. "So much" evil? Evil stands out precisely because it is not common. I contend that God DID minimize evil as much as possible, while still allowing people free will and allowing people to experience the natural consequences of their choices, be they good or bad.

After all he supposdly created a perfect heaven with no pain. Why make earth the way it is.

Actually, the Bible records that God made earth perfect with no pain. It was mankind's choosing against God that brought the natural consequences of sin (which includes pain, death, etc.).

Why create sentient life forms to suffer for his amusment?

Where did you get this from?

BahramtheRed said...

Rachel said...

"If evil wasn't so bad this would be laughable. "So much" evil? Evil stands out precisely because it is not common. I contend that God DID minimize evil as much as possible, while still allowing people free will and allowing people to experience the natural consequences of their choices, be they good or bad."

No, this is laughable. Or it would be if my jaw hadn't dropped on reading it.

Lets split this in 2. Natural evil and human evil.

God made the world, world has horrible diseases. Lots of pain. It is fully possible to design a disease to attack the brain's pleasure center and kill both painless and eurphoric (some disease actually trigger eurphria in some stages), and that's just two seconds of thought and a few med shows. I could do better with divine power, ominscentence, and having desgined everything.

That's being nice and assuming your god just made diseases for population control and to recall his childern to heaven. Horrible diseases arn't exactly rare.

Human evil: Have you watched the news lately? Read history? Allright lets forget that for a second, what about the mentally ill. Unable to determine between good and evil who do all kinds of scray horrible things? Why'd god allow those defects?

Your next point was about the perfection of the garden. Look aroud the board we already covered why god set that up to fail.


BahramTheRed Said...
"Why create sentient life forms to suffer for his amusment?"

Rachel said...
"Where did you get this from?"

Isn't it called hell? You fail to life how your "creator" wants you life and you suffer for all time with no change of escape and he enjoys it. That sums up another thread, and a belive I've had for a long time.

God made the rules. He gave you free will. You dare to use it and you suffer forever.


BTW: this might be a little harsher than I meant. I'm kinda made at relgion today. In the paper today was a story. A Group of women starved one of their member's four year old child to death. Kid wouldn't say Amen after meals so he had to die for christ.

Rachel said...

Bahram,

I'm sorry, but it seems rather obvious that you haven't thought this through.

That's being nice and assuming your god just made diseases for population control and to recall his childern to heaven.

Actually, this isn't all that nice. You have God actually making diseases. I believe God made a perfect world, but it was man's sin that has brought about diseases. Certainly God could use a disease as a judgment for sin, but that's far different from saying that God made diseases just because.

In any case, despite how much we hear about them, diseases are still relatively uncommon. Let's take cancer. Probably one of the most common deadly diseases. Let's take New York City as a sample. According to the New York State Dept. of Health, the rate of cancer incidence for ALL types of cancer between 2001-2005 was 518.8 per 100,000 males (lower per 100,000 females). This works out to a mere 0.5% of all males in New York City who got cancer between 2001 and 2005 (even less for females). Read that again. That's less than one percent of males in NYC who got cancer.

I challenge you to cite some official statistics showing that ANY natural disease is anywhere near "common", e.g. where 50% or more of a significant population got a life-threatening or disabling disease over a substantial period of time.

Horrible diseases arn't exactly rare.

What?! Horrible diseases are common?? Such as...

Have you watched the news lately?

Yes. Apparently you missed my earlier point that evil is "news" precisely because it is NOT normal. If 75% of all the banks in the city were robbed every day, bank robberies wouldn't be very newsworthy.

But let's just look at the actual crime rates for the entire United States. Here's a table from the FBI for crime rates from 1987-2006. 1992 appeared to be the year with the highest amount of crime, so we'll just look at that year for a sample. The "violent crime" (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault) rate for 1992 was 757.7. This means there were 757.7 violent crimes per 100,000 people in America. That's a mere 0.7% - LESS than ONE PERCENT. But just for fun, let's throw in the property crimes too - burglary, larceny-theft, and motor-vehicle theft. The property crime rate in 1992 was 4903.7 per 100,000. That works out to 4.9% - still extremely low. Finally, to make things as bad as they can be, we'll add them together for the best shock value. But oops - all we get is 5.6%.

Oh why not, how about one more. Let's take Detroit, MI, known to have one of the highest crime rates in America. According to this site that reports crime by city, the rate of pretty much all crime in Detroit far exceeds the national average. But even when we add up all the murder, forcible rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, larcenies/thefts, car thefts, and arsons in 2003, we end up with only 9% of the entire population of Detroit that had any of these crimes happen to them (and that is generously assuming that each of those crimes happened to a different individual).

Also, remember that human evil is the fault of humans entirely, thus God is not obligated to keep us from experiencing the natural consequences of our own choices. I'm afraid your argument that there is "so much" evil in the world, to the point that God shouldn't have created this world, just doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

Why'd god allow those defects?

Don't you see that you answered your own question? They're "defects", as in, not normal.

Your next point was about the perfection of the garden. Look aroud the board we already covered why god set that up to fail.

Look around the board and you'll find I've already answered that claim.

Isn't it called hell? You fail to life how your "creator" wants you life and you suffer for all time with no change of escape and he enjoys it.

Why do you think God "enjoys" the suffering of people in hell? Yes, God wants us to have life, but people can only spend eternity WITH God or WITHOUT God. You seem to assume that people are cast into hell against their wishes and actually want to get out. I suppose they may want "out", but "out" leads into God's presence, and they don't want that either. People go to hell because they choose to, but God certainly doesn't "enjoy" it. Indeed, if he did, why bother sending Jesus to suffer crucifixion if he'd rather see us suffer?

God made the rules. He gave you free will. You dare to use it and you suffer forever.

No. You abuse your free will, and you suffer forever.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

I'm afraid Stan's argument is simply inept.