If GAE were true, the God of the OT is worse than Dawkins and Hitchens describe

I am sure some of them are waiting for you to talk to that Palestinian boy. Remember him?

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yea trying to help him out also. But it is pretty hard getting him help (education, healthcare) as three religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) are making it rough for him to have a decent life.

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God also kills children. (I’m sure you haven’t forgotten about the tenth plague while bemoaning the injustice of some of the earlier ones.) And here’s the thing: God is not a mere person, with moral obligations to other people like we have. He is the creator of people. He has authority over our lives and our deaths as we do not.

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Wait, are you saying that you address the problem of natural evil in the book?

Clearly not, but why? The punishment of plants is a side issue. Why is all of humanity being punished? “Edenic existence” is a strawman. There’s a tremendous distance between a perfect world and an unnecessarily nasty world filled with horrendous diseases.

Then he isn’t omnibenevolent, is he?

Why do you say that we are being punished? How do you know the world is unnecessarily nasty? I say God put us in this world to give us the opportunity to freely choose good over evil, and that he knew what level of pain and suffering to allow in the world to best accomplish that.

Wrong. Omnibenevolence doesn’t entail having moral obligations towards his creatures (edit: or at least not in the same way as we have them to each other). It does entail that he acts towards all of us for our good - which he does by making it possible for us to obtain salvation and experience the greatest good of being in perfect relationship with him for eternity.

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I do address the problem of natural evil in the book, but obviously not as completely as I could if that was the focus. I explain quite a bit about how there can be death outside the Garden in God’s good creation, and there could be a good purpose to death in God’s original creation. I reference two key books that make this case more fully: Death Before the Fall: Biblical Literalism and the Problem of Animal Suffering: Ronald E. Osborn, John H. Walton: 0884974701480: Amazon.com: Books and God's Good Earth: Jon Garvey: 9781532652011: Amazon.com: Books (@jongarvey).

In that quote, however, I was referring the fact I talked about whether or not Scripture requires AE to be the “first” agriculturalists (it doesn’t).

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So everything’s for the best in this best of all possible worlds? And if it doesn’t look like that it’s because we just don’t understand. We have no power to judge whether God is benevolent or evil. Morality means nothing. OK.

I don’t think that’s the part of natural evil we’re talking about here.

Ah, that’s a different thread entirely. You should post there.

I seriously doubt there is such a thing as the best possible world, but I suspect that there are a very great many worlds that are the best possible in some respect, and that this is one of them. See Alexander Pruss’ paper Divine Creative Freedom.

Not so much that we don’t understand (though it is partly that) as it is that we simply don’t have enough data, nor do we have the capacity to process enough data even if we could obtain it. Reality is very detailed.

Non sequitur, in the technical sense of the phrase.

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I got lost in the forum again? Dang it.

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So you think polio, smallpox and guinea worms are not unnecessary, but constitute part of the correct level of suffering? In that case, humans are ruining your god’s plan by systematically wiping them out.

Please explain how allowing children to die from airborne plagues, parasitic infections, genetic complications and tsunamis is for their own good.

Otherwise your answer is an empty excuse.

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Who gave God this authority? Humanity certainly did not.

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Once again, Patrick… God is not a mere person, who can only have authority over other people if they consent to it. He is the creator of people.

Now, a decent analogy (though only an analogy) for God’s authority over us is found in the way that parents naturally have authority over their children until those children are mature… though God’s authority over us greatly exceeds the authority parents have over children, and we never “outgrow” our dependency on God because it is impossible to become divine ourselves.

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Don’t you see that you have denied our capacity to know anything?

Assuming that he is, how does that give him authority to decide how much you should suffer? Your analogy fails because no responsible parent would allow pointless suffering. Ah, you say, but there’s a point we just can’t understand. But how can you know that?

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Than analogy has severe consequences for the abortion question.

Unless God’s plan includes allowing us to respond to suffering by improving our conditions and helping each other in our mortal lives, and some kinds of suffering constitute the correct level at some times and places but not others.

Personally, I think it’s very likely that God does not hold children accountable for any wrongdoing when they are too young to appropriately respond to God. In which case he does no wrong by allowing them to die, since eternity with him awaits them. To anyone who is old enough, I believe God makes it possible and gives the opportunity to respond to him in an appropriate way - asking him for forgiveness for our sin against him and others, repenting of that sin recognizing his authority over us, and trusting in his justice and mercy that he will make things right. In this way he makes salvation accessible to everyone, and also does them no wrong by allowing them to die when he decides it is time.

I suspect that answer does not satisfy you. Nevertheless, I reject your charge that it is an empty excuse. It is, rather, an inference to the best explanation from two pieces of data that I have good reason to believe: 1) that God exists and is perfectly good, and 2) that there is evil in the world.

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Did you read the part where I said it is only an analogy, and pointed out as one of the disanalogies that God’s authority over us exceeds a parent’s authority over their children?

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No. Please point out how.

Your central defense of natural evil is that it must be part of a plan we can’t understand that’s for our own good. That denies our ability to judge what’s good and evil. It’s as if Adam and Eve ate the fruit for nothing.

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“Unable to completely understand” is not the same as “completely unable to understand”. My theodicy only relies on the first, not the second.

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