Thursday, 11 December 2008

Steven Carr - Round 5 - 7 April 2003

Atheists can see that there is pointless suffering in the world, which an all-good God could reduce. Pate claims that we don't know what an all-good God would do. All I can do is repeat the common-sense saying that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck. Of course, it might be that for some reason way beyond our mortal , limited comprehension, God has decided to disguise some chickens as ducks, for reasons which we can never understand, but the burden of proof is not on the people who call a duck a duck.

It is for Pate to show that the common-sense view of the world is wrong, and that there really is an all-good God who allows childhood cancer, and does not help doctors to find cures. I content myself with pointing out that curing childhood cancer is good, as even Pate agrees, so why does God not help doctors to find the cures? Why does God not help doctors research areas which will lead to a quick cure?

Does Pate really think God finds it more desirable that doctors have the freedom to do medical research in areas which might never lead to results, rather than there curing cancer more quickly?

Pate claims it is good to cure childhood cancer and claims we do not know why God does not think it good to help doctors cure childhood cancer. There is a huge contradiction in his views.

He claims that we have sufficient knowledge of what is the morally right course of behaviour. Then , by his own logic, we know that it is wrong for God to pass by on the other side.

Pate is being very inconsistent, as deep down he knows that his 'epistemic gulf' defence doesn't work. Indeed, he claims that we really do have knowledge and he has clearly stated that this epistemic gulf has been reliably crossed. How can he state that there is a vast epistemic gulf and then claim that this epistemic gulf has been reliably crossed? He has destroyed his own case.

Similarly, Pate claims that we do not know what level of suffering is 'optimal' and he also claims to know that the suffering in the Holocaust was not optimal and should have been stopped by us.

Can Pate not see how inconsistent he is? He claims we have no rational grounds to say that any world , even a world with a hyper-Holocaust , contains unnecessary suffering. So where are his rational grounds to say that the suffering in the Holocaust was not necessary? Why does he feel the Holocaust should have been stopped when he claims that the suffering was necessary, and he claims it is irrational to say the suffering was not necessary?

I asked Pate if it was right for God to treat us as pawns in chess, sacrificing us for unknown reasons (this was his analogy). Pate said it was morally right for God to sacrifice some of us without even our knowledge, let alone consent, but, inconsistent as ever, said that the ultimate responsibility was ours.

No, Pate, it is you who claim that God is masterminding our suffering, and moving us around the celestial board, in the way a grandmaster masterminds the loss and sacrifices of his pieces. The pawns do not take responsibility for moves that somebody else is making.

The difference is that pawns in chess are made of wood and feel nothing, while the children who get cancer , feel and suffer. Perhaps Pate can tell us how a child can grow into a moral and spiritual human being , when she dies of cancer at the age of three? How much moral and spiritual growth had Pate done by the age of three? If Pate wants children to be morally responsible beings, then why does God allow some of them to die with cancer before reaching the age of moral responsibility?

1 comment:

M. Tully said...


Just stopped to say hi, we seem to comment on the same blogs. But your post is right on target. Couldn't omni-god (omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent) come up with a better way to teach a concept other than beating the child with a ruler?

My goodness, I can and I'm not omni-anything.