Sunday, April 27, 2008

Debate









John Ferrer joins the discussion to talk about the debate that he and Zach recently participated in at the University of Texas at Arlington entitled, "Is God Good?"

Audio from the debate can be found here.

7 Comments:

Blogger Christopher said...

Very interesting debate. The question that I have is why do Christians cling to the Old Testament anyway? Marcion seems to have been correct in his interpretation of the atrocities of the OT and his rejection of it. Many of the atrocities committed by Christians throughout history have been justified through these same passages. So why cling to the OT?

4/28/08, 12:43 PM  
Blogger David said...

It seemed like John abandoned the question "Is God good?" to pursue an entirely different question (namely, "Does atheism or theism provide the better basis, or grounding, for morality?"). On the other side, I've always found the "What would you say to the rape victim?" argument very underwhelming. I can think of nothing to say that would be both comforting and philosophical. It humanizes the discussion, and it's good rhetoric, but it's not useful in making a point. Beside those two points (and a few other minor ones), I enjoyed listening!

Dan got a little aggressive in the podcast, and it was hard for me to take him seriously when he got on the warpath, because he sounded so confident, but made factual mistakes (such as the one mentioned at the beginning of the podcast -- kudos for being proactive and correcting that, Dan). He did a good job of pushing his points until they got thoroughly addressed, though.

I don't think John can really logically get away from the "God's ways are not our ways" argument. It's the ultimate foundation of any argument for God's goodness. And if one grants God omniscience unbounded by time, then it becomes a reasonable argument to make. However, it is impossible to prove that God is omniscient (and critical consideration of the Bible offers plenty of proof to the contrary).

There is a strong parallel I noticed between the argument for God's goodness (specifically, the one that says God's actions are for a larger good, like allowing free will and teaching humans the depth of sin) and the argument for utilitarianism. In both cases, if we could add up the "bads" inflicted by agents and the "goods" that resulted from the infliction, we could make moral judgments about the agent. For the theist, the agent is God. Unfortunately, and this is the flaw of utilitarianism as well, there is no way to measure such things objectively except in the clearest of cases when the unit of measure is the same (pushing one man in front of a train to save 50 lives, for example), so the theist has to fall back on God's omniscience AND omnibenevolence, which would be begging the question.

I would have liked to hear more from John on the issue of natural evil (hurricanes, tsunamis and the like).

Thanks for putting this out there, guys; it gave me some food for thought at work today :^) I've listened to all the episodes, and I really appreciate the time put into it.

-David Bradley

4/28/08, 6:34 PM  
Blogger Jean-Michel Abrassart said...

Another very good episode. A little more "aggressive" than usual, but very interresting.

I think than Dan is though provoking. For me the quote of the day is when he summarized the book of Job by God just wanting to look "cool". Love that. For me the book of Job just doesn't make any sense anymore.

Keep the good work. We're learning a lot.

4/29/08, 6:54 PM  
Blogger Dan Sawyer said...

Thanks for the comments, guys. My apologies, again, for getting on the warpath and getting my facts confused. I'm glad it was a valuable discussion for all of you anyhow! :-)
-Dan

5/15/08, 10:59 AM  
Blogger mdg583 said...

I just thought I'd leave a comment - I asked myself this question a long time ago (Is God good?), and I decided "duh, if God weren't good, what would make him God?"

Then I went on to ask myself, "Is the God of the Bible good?" After studying the Bible, I didn't manage to come up with an answer, because I realized the God of the Bible was God and the the Bible was truth whether I liked it or not. And I am really glad it is. Yes, God is very good.

6/24/08, 11:11 PM  
Blogger harpoonflyby said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11/18/08, 6:01 PM  
Blogger harpoonflyby said...

I still question good and evil, Dan and the con side never explain why evil is the same thing to everyone always. Nothing in any society is the same to anyone always, words are not the same thing in society always. Society and its circumstance imposes good and evil, not nature. If one posits that God presents absolute good in unbounded time (which I believe time would need to be unbounded for their even to be a God) then we can have both social/practical form of understanding of good and evil, and God's absolute form of it

11/18/08, 6:03 PM  

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