Tuesday, December 06, 2005

No Perfect Worlds?


If you are reading this blog hoping to be enlightened in matters of theology or philosophy, caveat emptor. Scott Adams at The Dilbert Blog has made it clear that you shouldn't always trust opinions in print. "You’ve probably noticed that opinion pollsters go out of their way to include as many morons as possible in surveys. That’s called a representative sample. And what it means is that the opinion of Einstein, for example, counts as much as the opinion of the guy who thinks The Family Circus comic is sending him secret messages via Little Billy."

What a laugh! The Family Circus stopped sending secret messages years ago.

So here is the secret message from Plantinga's FWD – the following is possibly true:

(4) God is omnipotent, and it was not within His power to create a world containing moral good but no moral evil.

OK, it's not secret, it's a quote. And at this point, I think I buy it. So, Charlie or anyone else can feel free to pick at this claim. I will not say, "But that's not what I believe." I'm standing behind Alvin.

So why couldn't God make this "perfect world?" First P. shows that there are some worlds that God cannot actualize (create). Are we agreed here? P. then explains why a world with moral good but no moral evil is one of those worlds. Is it possible that all people suffer from “trans-world depravity” (TWD)? I.e., for every person, could there be at least one set of circumstances in which they will go wrong in every possible world? If the answer is, “Yes, this is possible,” then it is also possible that there is no world that God can create in which there is no evil.

The concept of freedom is consistent throughout the argument. Consider Eve. It is possible that no matter which world God created, Eve would have freely gone wrong at some point (TWD). Now I don’t have to prove that this is true, just that it’s possible. If you think I’m wrong, then you must show that it is impossible for this to be the case. It is possible that there is a sinless world, but it’s also possible that there isn’t.

How does this translate into ordinary language? This world has evil because God wanted us to be free, and we freely made some evil choices. Why didn’t God create a world better circumstances that would preclude evil? Maybe it’s because there is no such world. I can’t prove this, but if it’s a possibility, then we have a possible solution, and that’s all we need.

Now, some atheists have pointed out various problems with the FWD in general, but if we are talking about Plantinga, we’ll want to stick to what he says. Otherwise, we have no way of arguing.



5 Comments:

Blogger wiploc said...

Interesting Intelligent Design comments by Scott Adams.

Intelligent Design, Part 1
http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_dilbert_blog/2005/11/things_im_not_w.html

Intelligent Design, Part 2
http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_dilbert_blog/2005/11/intelligent_des_1.html

Intelligent Design, Part 3
http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_dilbert_blog/2005/11/intelligent_des_2.html


Back to the Topic at Hand, Plantinga's Free Will Defense:

Chris wrote: So here is the secret message from Plantinga's FWD – the following is possibly true:

(4) God is omnipotent, and it was not within His power to create a world containing moral good but no moral evil.


Are we happy with my definition of moral good as anything a person does that makes another person happy? I suspect not. Perhaps it should be more like anything a person does with intent to make someone else happy?



Chris wrote:
OK, it's not secret, it's a quote. And at this point, I think I buy it. So, Charlie or anyone else can feel free to pick at this claim. I will not say, "But that's not what I believe." I'm standing behind Alvin.

So why couldn't God make this "perfect world?" First P. shows that there are some worlds that God cannot actualize (create). Are we agreed here?


We are agreed that he can't make worlds with square circles. (That, by the way, is something that you persuaded me of in a prior discussion.)



Chris wrote:
P. then explains why a world with moral good but no moral evil is one of those worlds. Is it possible that all people suffer from “trans-world depravity” (TWD)? I.e., for every person, could there be at least one set of circumstances in which they will go wrong in every possible world? If the answer is, “Yes, this is possible,” then it is also possible that there is no world that God can create in which there is no evil.


Transworld depravity doesn't have truth value. (It's gibberish.) You can start with very plausible examples: There is a possible world in which everything is the same except that my nose is slightly longer, but I am still me in that world. But then you get weird stuff. Is there a possible world in which I am a rock, or in which I was born without a brain? Am I still me in those worlds? The answer is undefined, neither true nor false. Whether "I" am still "me" in any other world is a viewpoint question, not a truth question. It is a matter of opinion only. Therefore, any theory (including FWD theory) that depends on the truth (or possible truth) of transworld depravity is a false theory.



Chris wrote:
The concept of freedom is consistent throughout the argument. Consider Eve. It is possible that no matter which world God created, Eve would have freely gone wrong at some point (TWD). Now I don’t have to prove that this is true, just that it’s possible. If you think I’m wrong, then you must show that it is impossible for this to be the case. It is possible that there is a sinless world, but it’s also possible that there isn’t.


It is not possible that an omnipotent god can't create a sinless world. Plantinga grants that god could do it. That's easy. God is omnipotent.

Plantinga's line is that if god created such a world, then Eve couldn't be said to have free will. Because god would have chosen, by the creation of that world, that Eve would not sin. And if god is the one doing the choosing, then Eve cannot be said to have free will.

Are we agreed this far?

crc

8:06 PM  
Blogger chris said...

Now I think we're getting somewhere.

1. Yes, moral good is going to have to include intention.
2. "That, by the way, is something that you persuaded me of in a prior discussion." You made my day. Let me reply in kind by saying that I've never been forced to think so hard about the FWD -- it does have it's weaknesses.
3. Are you still "you" if you are a rock? I don't think this is that difficult. Clearly, you cannot be a rock. The answer is not undefined, it's simply "no." There is no world in which I exist without a mind, or the essential characteristics of personhood.

I'll get back to the rest later.

9:07 PM  
Blogger chris said...

Regarding TWD -- so you are saying that it is impossible for anyone to suffer from TWD? I think your point is interesting, but not significant. You can easily "go wrong" in any world in which YOU exist. There really shouldn't be any controversy over whether you exist in a possible world. YOU would certainly know. It seems quite simple to me.

Plantinga's line is that if god created such a world, then Eve couldn't be said to have free will. Because god would have chosen, by the creation of that world, that Eve would not sin. And if god is the one doing the choosing, then Eve cannot be said to have free will.

OK, I think we're getting close to a solution. Are you saying that since God could have created a sinless world, he should have? I think P. and I would agree that such a world is possible for God. The question is, could God create a sinless world in which there was as much net good as in this one, where free will counts as an important good. It seems not.

So, if the only way to guarantee a sinless world is to manipulate the choices of people, then such a world contains less good than this one. If God is manipulating, then people are not free. Can God create such a world? Yes. Would he want to? Probably not.

This seems to solve the problem of evil becaue it gives a possible explanation for why an all-good, all-powerful God would allow evil in the world.

Are we making progress here, or are we still going in circles?

6:33 PM  
Blogger wiploc said...

Chris wrote:
OK, I think we're getting close to a solution. Are you saying that since God could have created a sinless world, he should have?


No, that question never came up.



I think P. and I would agree that such a world is possible for God. The question is, could God create a sinless world in which there was as much net good as in this one, where free will counts as an important good. It seems not.

So, if the only way to guarantee a sinless world is to manipulate the choices of people, then such a world contains less good than this one. If God is manipulating, then people are not free. Can God create such a world? Yes. Would he want to? Probably not.


You say: if god creates a world in which people don't sin, then those people don't have free will---because god is the one who chose that they wouldn't sin. Great, thank you. My shorthand representation of your claim is that those people don't have PFW (Plantingan free will).

So now I point out that if god creates a world in which people do sin, then those people don't have PFW either, and for the same reason. The argument that sinners don't have free will is exactly as strong as the argument that sinless people don't have free will. If people in a sinless world don't have free will, then people in a sinful world don't either.

crc

8:18 PM  
Blogger wiploc said...

I'm trying to get up a similar argument here,
http://www.iidb.org/vbb/showthread.php?p=2980347#post2980347
in case anybody wants to follow along.

crc

3:14 PM  

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