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Critique of Intelligent Design

Evolution vs. Creationism

The Art of ID Stuntmen

Faith vs Reason

Anthropic Principle

Autopsy of the Bible code

Science and Religion

Historical Notes


Serious Notions with a Smile


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Mark Perakh's Web Site


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Title Author Date
Sleep as FWD rebuttal rather limited? Rubin, Ephraim Jun 15, 2004
Stripped of sophisticated language, the claim of God's benevolence runs somewhat parallel to Euthyphro: "There are things which all (or most) people consider good; God must love them. There are things which all (or most) people consider bad; God must hate them." But whence the confidence that what most (or all) people consider good or bad matches indeed some absoulte standard? And how many such "universally agreed moral standards" are there?
Most people would probably agree that murdering babies is bad, but what about a baby born with a fatal disease that would fill his life with suffering and kill him within a year or two (supposing that the disease is incurable by all scientific standards of the day)? Or what about a baby born into a society that may be resonably expected to raise him to become a murderer of people who had committed no crime? In modern Israel, for example, there are people who do not think that killing Palestinian babies is really bad, since those babies may be reasonably expected to be raised as terrorists, while other people are shocked by the very argument of this kind being made. I do not care who is right (at least in the framework of this discussion), but can there be some absolute standard here? Or is the whole issue just morally neutral? Neither question appears to have a positive answer.
Morality is a human, indeed societal, concern, so it is only to be expected that different moral norms would exist from one society to another and from one individual to another in societies that allow pluralism of opinion on such matters. To involve God in these issues (usually to justify one's own position) serves only to muddle them.

Ephraim Rubin
Related Articles: Against the Free Will Defense

Title Author Date
Sleep as FWD rebuttal rather limited? Plugaru, Horia George Jun 20, 2004
Mr. Tremblay and Mr. Rubin have recently presented a rather interesting objection to my argument against the FWD. The objection consists in saying that God does not want to extend the time period in which we could use FW by eliminating the need to sleep because that might lead to the existence of more moral evil than God is willing to accept. As Mr. Rubin put it:

a) did not desire to tolerate more than a certain amount of evil in the world at any given moment;
b) understood that humans exercising their free will might well do evil; and hence
c) desired to limit the overall amount of human activity so that the overall evil done by the humans at any given moment would not exceed the tolerable amount."

There are however at least three serious problems with this criticism.

First, the objection (especially as it is formulated by Mr. Tremblay) seems to assume that God has middle knowledge. In other words, it claims that God knows how people would behave in the interval in which they now sleep. But whether God has middle knowledge is the subject of an ongoing debate in the philosophy of religion. Thus, the objection depends on a dubious assumption, fact that considerably weakens it.

Second, why should we think that if during the interval in which we now sleep we would have used our FW, the evil in the world would have been greater? One can easily imagine possibilities where the fact that we could stay awake all day without any loses would lead to clear advantages. Scientists, being capable of working more hours a day could had found cures much earlier than they did and so many people who otherwise died could had been saved. People could had got two or more jobs. That could had lead to an increased income and so to better financial conditions for them and their families etc. Not only these possible situations would not lead to increased evil, but in fact would eliminate much suffering, a fact which God wants very much.
These possibilities "neutralize" the one expressed by my two critics. Thus, we should remain neutral on the issue of how people would behave in the 5-8 hours in which they now sleep which amounts to saying that we should ignore this objection. We simply do not know if the objection is correct or not and so it should be disregarded until its claim is better supported.

Finally, it is unclear where the limit of an acceptable quantity of moral evil would be. There were in history people, like Stalin, who caused tremendous evil: the death and suffering of millions of human beings. Apparently, God thinks this quantity is acceptable. Why should we/He think that if Stalin had caused the death of an additional 5.000 people if he had never slept, that would transgress the limit of acceptable moral evil? Until such questions receive an answer, the objection to my argument against FWD is ad hoc.

Horia Plugaru
Related Articles: Against the Free Will Defense