Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tough Topic Tuesday: The Problem of Evil, pt. 5

Last week we introduce the evidential problem of evil as follows:

Evidential Version: "It's Improbable that God could have Good Reasons for Permitting Suffering."

The evidential version differs from the logical version because the evidential version makes a more modest claim.  The evidential version says that it is improbable that God exists when one considers all the apparent unnecessary suffering that occurs in the world.

However, it can be argued that we’re not in a position to say that it’s improbable that God lacks good reasons for permitting the suffering in the world. 

Once again, William Lane Craig explains:

"As finite persons, we’re limited in space and time, in intelligence and insight.  God sees the end of history from its beginning and providentially orders history to His ends through people’s free decisions and actions. In order achieve his purposes God may have to allow a great deal of suffering along the way.  Suffering that appears pointless within our limited framework may be seen to have been justly permitted by God within His wider framework."1

To sustain this point, Dr. Craig draws upon so-called chaos theory:

"In...chaos theory scientists have discovered that certain large-scale systems, for example, the weather or insect populations, are extraordinarily sensitive to the smallest disturbances.  A butterfly fluttering on a twig in West Africa may set in motion forces that will eventually issue in a hurricane over the Atlantic Ocean.  Yet it's impossible for anyone observing that butterfly fluttering on that branch to predict such an outcome.  We have no way of knowing how the alteration of some seemingly insignificant event can radically alter the world."2

Now, this is "not to appeal to mystery but rather to point to our inherent limitations, which make it impossible for us to say, when confronted with some example of suffering, that God probably has no good reason for permitting it to occur."3

Courage and Godspeed,

1. William Lane Craig, On Guard, p. 158.
2. Ibid., 158.
3. Ibid., 160.

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