William Lane Craig On The Probability Version of Suffering

Magician Eric Chien

The video below on the probability version of suffering was written by William Lane Craig and produced by his staff at Reasonable Faith. The question is whether an omni-god exists or not. Don't allow Craig the magician to draw your eyes away from that question with the deception of misdirection. For Craig the magician cannot use the existence of an omni-god to solve the problem of suffering for the existence of an omni-god, since whether an omni-god exists is the issue. Nor can he use his unevidenced believing background indoctrinated information.

Furthermore, Christians like Craig are still focusing on the wrong problem. We keep hearing how they (i.e., Alvin Plantinga) have answered the logical problem of suffering, and it's nauseating (and probably false). But when they turn away from it to the probability version of suffering they don't answer the real problem. It's not just suffering we're talking about. The real problem is that the amount of horrific suffering in the world makes the existence of an omni-god improbable. <-- See the link then ask yourself if the video addressed the points made there. While the video gives lip service to the phrase "so much pointless suffering", it expresses the problem like this: "Suffering provides empirical evidence that God's existence is highly unlikely."

So there are two kinds of misdirection going on. Craig the magician 1) uses an omni-god, at least in part, to solve the question of the existence of an omni-god given the existence of so much horrible suffering, and he does so 2) with a strawman version of the real problem. If you don't see what's going on you're not paying close enough attention. With this magician's trick exposed for what it is, enjoy the show:

One of the key things said is about background knowledge, that Christians can assess the problem of suffering with their priors, that is, their background information (or knowledge *cough*).

Here's a selection from one of my chapters on this, included in "The Case Against Miracles":
Indeed, it’s true that our general background information about how the world works plays a part in assessing whether a miracle has occurred. For when we talk about the probability of some event or hypothesis A, that probability is always relative to a body of background information B. So, we cannot merely speak of the probability of A without taking into consideration that background information, B, all of it. Got it! No one can evaluate miracle claims without using previously acquired background knowledge. But what shouldn’t count as background information are unevidenced indoctrinated beliefs we inherited from parents, who in turn blindly accepted what they were told. Only background knowledge should count. Previously acquired knowledge of how the world works is based on sufficient objective evidence commensurate with the type of information being sought. Otherwise, culturally inherited indoctrinated background information can and will lead people to believe in delusions against any and all objective evidence to the contrary.

If Christians object then they should stop playing the hypocrite by allowing Muslims or Orthodox Jews, or Hindu’s, or Satanists to use their own specific background information to determine whether Jesus was raised from the dead. I’ve argued extensively for The Outsider Test for Faith to help establish a standard for how we should think of the other guy’s miracles. It’s a non-double standard based on the golden rule: to treat your own miracle claims the same way you treat others from the perspective of an outsider, a nonbeliever, with the same level of reasonable skepticism believers already use when examining the other religious faiths they reject. Treat your own indoctrinated faith just as you treat the religions you reject. It’s the only way to know which religion is true, if there is one. It’s the only way to help eliminate a whole host of cognitive biases that keep believers inside their delusions. So when it comes to background beliefs, background information, or plausibility frameworks, the only ones that count are based on objective evidence which we would properly call background knowledge. Plenty of people have misinformed background beliefs that need to be subjected to the same objective standards as the outsider test for faith.
The oddest argument is to turn suffering into a divine evangelistic tool. That is, with suffering comes conversions.
Just four questions here. 1) If suffering produces conversions then why doesn't Craig's god send more disasters? Hey, why not? 2) By sending these disasters isn't Craig's god shooting himself in the foot since it provides nonbelievers with more evidence against an omni-god? 3) What kind of Christianity do these conversions represent? From what we know it's different, sometimes in heretical ways. 4) If suffering works so well to convert people why isn't suffering converting people in the rest of the world? If it takes suffering plus something, then it's not just suffering doing all the evangelistic work. ;-) 5) Since Craig is an evangelical why are so many of the youth leaving their faith? Surely it's partly due to the this problem. Evangelical authors are alarmed:
"In the next decades we will see a massive decrease in evangelical influence politically, economically, culturally, and financially" writes John S. Dickerson, in The Great Evangelical Recession (p. 26). "260,000 evangelical young people walk away from Christianity each year. Of that number 35% will find their way back, and 65% do not find their way back. Why are they leaving? They don't believe anymore." [Dickerson, pp. 98-102]. "This is not a blip. This is a trend. And the trend is one of decline," said Ed Stetzer [as quoted in Dickerson, p. 32]. LINK.