Why Did God Let This Happen?

As a parent of elementary school aged children, the recent shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut has really touched a nerve.  This is every parents’ worst nightmare.  You assume that when you send your children to school that they are safe.  No one expects that an armed individual would end the life of so many children and teachers.  Our prayers must be with the families of the victims and the family of the one responsible.  This is truly a heartbreaking situation.

One of the first questions that is asked is: Why did this happen?  That is a natural and normal question.  We should be asking about the reasons behind this tragedy.  Why did this young man kill his own mother and so many innocent children?

For many people, the why question goes beyond the reasons for the individual and into questions about God’s involvement or lack thereof.  Why would God allow this to happen?  For some this is the normal question of people who are hurting and for others this is the ‘proof’ they have been looking for that there is no God or at least no good God.

I would say for those who are hurting, this is a natural question to ask.  But at the same time, we should think through what we would expect God to do.  Assume for a moment that there is a God and that he should have done something.  What should have God done?  Should God have taken control of Adam Lanza’s mind and forced him not to act in such a way?  If so, is that something that God should have done just in this case or on a daily basis?  Do we want to live in a world where God controls our minds and forces us to act in a certain way?  Do we want a world where we don’t have the choice to love our children or the choice to help a person in need?  So if we don’t want God to control our minds and actions, what would we want?  God could have sent down a lightning bolt and killed Adam Lanza before he committed one murder.  But is that really what we want as well?  Do we want a world where God is sending bolts from heaven, killing those who are making evil decisions?  And where would the cut off be?  What level of crime would deserve a divine execution?  When we try and be specific, we find the natural questions of why God let this happen are difficult to answer.

I would suggest that instead of dwelling on why God let this happen, that we should be looking at how God is working right now.  I do not want people to think that I am suggesting that God is powerless to intervene.  However, most often God’s actions are responses to our freewill and not an override of that will.  Where is God working in this situation?  What good will come from this?  I don’t have the answers to these questions as only time will tell.  But I am confident that God is present in this situation.

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58 thoughts on “Why Did God Let This Happen?

  1. Thank you for opening up this very important discussion. If nothing else, it gives us another opportunity to work through our thoughts and feelings about evil.

    I think that you have ignored one very significant thing that an all-powerful being could have done: He could have stopped the bullets. He could have let the mentally unstable gunman retain whatever limited freedom he might have possessed in his deranged state and simply stopped the bullets after they had been fired from the guns. God could have respected everyone’s freedom and still stopped the bullets.

    And I would be happy to live in a world in which every bullet that is fired by a murderous gunman is stopped before it destroys the life of its intended target and the lives of everyone who loves that victim.

    I respect the comfort that comes from belief in God. I admire those who seek a source for this amazing world in which we live. We should always be striving for something that gives us a reason to love one another, understand ourselves and each other, and offers hope for a better life. But I cannot let my desire to have a personal connection to the Ultimate Reality enable me to ignore or dismiss the inherent contradictions in believing in God.

    We must acknowledge the value of the lives of the victims and doing so, at least from my perspective, requires the denial of a being who could easily have prevent death but chooses not to for some inscrutable reason.

    • Thanks for your respectful reply. I want people to see clearly what they are asking for. Your problem with God is that he has created a world where the laws of physics allow bullets to leave the gun and enter the victim, where knives are able to puncture bodies and fists can bruise innocent faces. It is not about why God allowed this at Newtown but why he allows such acts in general. People are welcome to ask this, but it certainly not evidence of God’s lack of existence or goodness.

      • Well, that is not quite what I am asking. I am asking for miracles, not for a different set of physical laws. I am asking for God to intervene and stop bulletts from killing people (and he can wait until after the would-be killers have exercised their freedom of choice, i.e., after the guns have been fired). We know that an almighty person could do this, but such deaths happen. So, I don’t see any choice but to take this evidence of God’s lack of existence.

        Of course I am of mixed feelings as I write this. I saw last night how much comfort believing in God brings to those who are suffering, and we should be loathe to try to remove a source of comfort. It matters much more to me that people who have suffered be shown compassion than that my beliefs are given expression. But what also motivate me is that I wonder whether maybe we need to change in a very fundamental way.

        All of the world’s religions ask us to widen our sphere of concern beyond our own limited selves. I agree that the greatest source of evil is a narrow self-interested perspective. And I so much admire religious teachers who have tried to show humanity that there is another way to live; that by caring for others as much as we would care for our selves, we can move toward a better and more fulfilling life. But I find a fundamental contradiction at the heart of one of the greatest drives toward religion: We want so much, for our own well-being, our own sense of purpose and fulfillment, and even our own comfort, to believe that there is a higher power and that there is life beyond this world. But if I truly want to move beyond my narrow self-interested perspective, must I not set aside my own wants and take a look at the world and see what it is unfiltered by my desires? If I am to care for others and do what I can to make lives better, I must see the world as it is.

        It is heartbreaking. I have so much sympathy for the desire to find a source of comfort in this world that so often disappoints. And for a reason to work on oneself; to reach a higher standard, to have genuine compassion for others. But I don’t know why we don’t see it in this world. The faces of the ones we love provide it. At least for me.

    • Jason,

      Let’s rewind a touch. I assume from your post that you believe you were created by blind and non-purposeful natural forces. This being the case, your ‘philosophy’ must dictate that nothing at all matters. Yet you are here complaining about something called evil. But in an atheistic universe these killings carry no more moral significance than a hippopotamus treading on a daisy.

      You also talk of the value of human life; so can I ask: where does human life derive its value? Can you give me an answer without resorting to your own subjective preferences?

      You speak of contradictions, but your entire post is a contradiction to your professed word-view. Only on theistic grounds can your post make any sense. Your post neatly illustrates how you do not live by your own presuppositions, and have to rely on Christian presuppositions in order for you to make sense of the world.

      In short, your objection is laughable.

      • I don’t think that you should be laughing at this objection. This kind of forum is probably not the best place to engage in an argument about the metaphysical foundations of ethics, but suffice it to say that the opinion you express is very difficult to defend. I’m sure that you are aware of the Euthyphro dilemma, so I won’t reiterate that objection.

        The larger point is that this is a universe that is filled with value. But, first, I see no reason to believe that such value requires the existence of an almighty person (anymore than the existence of trees requires the existence of an almighty person), and second, I don’t understand the theistic explanation of value. That is, if explaining the value of persons is a problem, I don’t see how the supposition of an almighty person helps to resolve it.

        In terms of my alleged worldview, I really don’t see any need for a overarching theory of fundamental reality. To put it simply, human understanding has not developed to the point where we can have any footing to develop such a theory. But we can examine the world and believe in the things that we see and for which there is ample evidence and argument. I see a world in which persons exist and I see that persons have value. I am more sure of this than I am of anything. But I don’t see that this implies that God exists and I don’t see why I need to believe in some kind of overarching fundamental view of ultimate reality in order to acknowledge the value that I see.

        Now, having recognized value, I see no choice but to reach the following conclusion: If there is an almighty person, he would recognize the intrinsic value of every person. But he would also be in a position to prevent the unnecessary, untimely and tragic deaths of very many people. But we know that he doesn’t. This is not a difficult inference in terms of logic. How can we, at the same time, assert the intrinsic value of people who die unjustly and assert that there is an almighty person who could have prevented their unjust deaths.

        I am much more certain that people have value and that all compassionate and just people must do whatever we can to avoid causing unnecessary harm than I am of any alleged truth about ultimate reality.

  2. Why did GOD let this happen? Are we being serious? This incident hurts all of us. Especially us with kids.

    Look at what GOD did with Job. He took EVERYTHING from him and yet Job still praised HIM. In doing so what did GOD do? Gave everything back PLUS… This is all misplaced anger. Since we believe in GOD we want to blame HIM because HE is all powerful and all knowing. We would have loved for HIM to intervene and despite what you all believe I believe HE did… I believe in HIS will. It doesn’t make sense to us at all but HE has a plan for all of us. This should bring us closer to HIM and each other.

    I agree somewhat with Stephen… I do not believe we are controll by satan. We give him power to do what he does to our lives… Bible says – rebuke the devil and he shall flee from you… Had Lanza relied more on GOD than some dr telling him meds will make him better I doubt this would have happened.

    May GOD be with us all during this horrific time.

  3. God gave us free will and free will can lead to both good and bad behaviors. Killing is against God’s commandments and hence a sin. The person who uses freewill to kill others will face the burden of this sin in his afterlife. God does not intervene in Human issues as He used to in the Old Testament days.

  4. I’ve read a lot of people’s thoughts on this tragedy over the past few days. Many people of faith are attributing what transpired to God being ”unwelcome” in schools since the removal of school-led prayer. It sounds like these accusers are painting a picture of God being complicit in the tragedy…not just merely allowing it to happen.

    • Bonnie,
      I think that you are right. Some people seem to believe in a God who sends horrors as retribution for alleged offenses. But an Almighty person could not do such a thing. An almighty person is not harmed by rudeness or offense. He may be saddened by it, but it would be a sadness that generates compassion. And an almighty person does not wait for an invitation to prevent the horrible deaths of defenseless and innocent people.

      Now, I write as one who does not believe in an Almighty Person. But it is very important to understand what belief in God actually amounts to. And we can fairly clearly recognize that many purveyors of what goes by the name of “faith in God” are selling no such thing. They are selling a psychologically and socially toxic set of beliefs generated from their own narrow self-interests and fears.

      I don’t know Stephen, and I have only recently discovered his website, but he seems to be the antidote to the kind of fear-mongering in the name of God that we see coming from too many in this country (at least I hope Stephen is part of the antidote). We all have the obligation to shun the toxic views of people like Bryan Fischer and call for more reasoned discussion.

  5. Jason,

    I repeat: Your objection to the Christian God on the basis of evil is laughable. On your world-view (and yes, you most certainly do have a world-view), this evil we have recently seen is no more than one random blob of protoplasm attacking othere random blobs of protoplasm. Where does the value come from? Did we just pluck it out of the air? Is it a convention among our respecitive societies?

    The Euthyphro has long been shown to be a false dichotomy. What’s your point?

    ‘Now, having recognized value…’

    Back up a wee bit, Jason. Having recognised value? Of course you recognise value; the problem is that you have no basis to be proclaiming the value of human life; so you’ve skipped past the foundational aspect of accounting for why there is inherent value in human life. Now back to the question: Where does human life derive its value?

  6. I’m sure that others here will echo my reply to DannyM: In no sense has the Euthyphro dilemma been shown to be a false dichotomy. That is just a factually inaccurate claim of the state of philosophical consensus.

    I would appreciate it if you would take the time to explain three things: First, how does God generate value. Second, why there cannot be value in a world without God. Third, how can a God who recognizes value and has the capacity to intervene to prevent death choose not to do so.

    • Jason said “I’m sure that others here will echo my reply to DannyM: In no sense has the Euthyphro dilemma been shown to be a false dichotomy.”

      I fully concur with Jason on this. Euthyphro dilemma is very much in tact.

      The way apologists try to escape from it is by introducing a definition for God as “Good is God’s nature.” This is acceptable only if the God ALSO doesn’t have other definitions such as the Biblical God who revealed Ten Commandments. The burden is on them to say why “Good is Biblical God’s nature”.

      By introducing the definition of “Good is God’s nature”, they have essentially DEFINED biblical commands to be Good.

      To quote Christopher Hitchens: “You cannot show me one good Biblical moral that I cannot arrive at without the Bible. On the other hand, I can show you many immoral things done in the name of the Bible.”

  7. Jason,

    Philosophical consensus? That’s a strange line of argument. The Euthyphro is a false dichotomy because it offers only two options. The third option, the option that Christians actually recognise, is that good is based on God’s own nature. Morally good acts are neither good by nature nor by virtue of God arbitrarily declaring it so. If something is good by nature it would entail that there be a standard outside of God; if God arbitrarily declares something good this would completely ignore His own nature. So you have a big problem: neither of these options ate

  8. Jason,

    Philosophical consensus? That’s a strange line of argument. The Euthyphro is a false dichotomy because it offers only two options. The third option, the option that Christians actually recognise, is that good is based on God’s own nature. Morally good acts are neither good by nature nor by virtue of God arbitrarily declaring it so. If something is good by nature it would entail that there be a standard outside of God; if God arbitrarily declares something good this would completely ignore His own nature. So you have a big problem: neither of these options ate

  9. Stephen, could you please delete one of those posts; I’m working on a phone and prematurely sent a post – twice if you please!


    Neither position is compatible with Christian theology. Titus 1:2 tells us that God cannot lie; now is this God arbitrarily declared it so? Or did God have to discover that lying is wrong? Neither: God cannot lie because lying goes against His very nature. You see Jason, if you want to come at Christianity you had better take it on its own terms. The Euthyphro is uninteresting to the Christian. That you think it poses a problem to the Christian tells us more about your out of date philosophical weaponary than anything else.

  10. You said the the Euthyphro dilemma has been shown to be a false dichotomy. According to whom? You? That you think it is a false dichotomy is not surprising, nor very interesting. That the philosophical community, as a whole, thinks otherwise, is much more important.

    In any event, the question for your “answer” to the Euthyphro dilemma is this: Are things good because they accord with God’s nature? (In which case goodness is arbitrary. After all, if God’s nature were to hate everyone, then hating would be “good” on this option.) or do things accord with God’s nature because they are good (in which case goodness is independent of God).

    Furthermore, why should even suppose that God’s nature is the standard of goodness? What is so good about God?

    • Jason,

      You keep harping on about this ‘philosophical community’ so go and grab any philosopher you like and I’ll show him how the Euthyphro is a false dilemma. I find it quaint that you keep making obscure and fallacious appeals to this ‘consensus’ without actually making any argument yourself. Your ‘what if’ question is irrelevent and akin to postulating square circles. Have you nothing of substance?

    • Further, you are trying to smuggle the ‘arbitrary’ option into the third, ‘non-Euthyphro’ option, which is tantamount to outright dishonesty and desperation. Remember, the second bedrock of the Euthyphro has God arbitrarily choosing what is and is not good. The Christian position is that God’s character and nature are the very standard fi

      • Blast this phone!


        …are the very standard for moraly good acts…

        So moving the goal posts has exposed your own desperation, Jason.

        But back to your obligations. From where did human life derive its value?

  11. Jason,

    I’m not trying to bombard you with posts, my new phone is proving a tad tempremental…

    I’ll happily answer your questions if you first fulfil your own responsibilities:

    Now for the third time: where did human life derive its value?

  12. Danny,
    That God cannot lie is not relevant. The question is Can moral value depend upon the nature of a person (even an all-powerful one)? The fact that we can imagine an all-powerful and all-hating person is enough to show that it cannot.

    • Jason,

      You cleary miss the point. God’s own character is the standard of what is good. That is a central tenet of Christianity. You can also imagine God lying, I’m sure. So what? I’ve shown the ED to be a false dichotomy. Job done. Now will you answer the question?

  13. God’s own character cannot be the standard for what is good because it is impossible for the character of a person to be the standard of what is good. Why is that impossible? Because the character of a person (even an all-powerful one) who hated everyone could not be the standard of what is good.

    That is a simple objection. You have not responded to it.

    • Jason,

      You continue to smuggle Euthyphro into the third option. Your hypothetical is utterly meanigless. God cannot go against His own nature, and you have not even attempted to show how God’s nature cannot be the standard for good; at best your last offering begs the question. Absurdly, you say I have not responded, when since yesterday I’ve been asking you where human life derives its value. Without an ultimate standard you cannot make universal judgements on right and wrong, and you know this, hence your ducking and weaving. Care to take a stab at it now, Jason?

      • DannyM wrote “You continue to smuggle Euthyphro into the third option. Your hypothetical is utterly meanigless. God cannot go against His own nature.”

        How do we know whether it is Islamic God, Greek God, Christian God, Jewish God, Egyptian God, …

        Point is, once these Gods are defined by other specifics of religion (he delivered morals on stones, he gave us original sin, he picked sides in OT etc.,), you are no longer free to claim that this God also has good as his nature.

        If you speak of a transcendental God whose nature is good, that is acceptable as a definition of God. You can no longer have him deliver morality of Exodus and Deuteronomy unless you can establish that these two are the SAME God.

        Thus, Jason’s challenge of arbitrariness is still intact.

      • Kanji,

        The so-called arbitrariness problem is no problem at all. What Jason is attempting to do is transfer a the ‘arbitrariness’ fron the ED onto God’s very nature. God cannot commit an unjust or imnoral act. Your ‘objections’ are not convincing. God did not ‘give us’ original sin; and I suggest you aquaint yourself with the basics of Christianity if you want serious discussion. But more to the point; by which moral standard would you presume to judge God?

      • DannyM wrote: “But more to the point; by which moral standard would you presume to judge God?”

        We do not have to judge the transcendental God whose nature is goodness.

        Gods of all religions add additional aspects to this transcendental God, including declaration of moral laws, and these additional aspects can be and need to be questioned. In essence, that is what ED is saying.

        Having said that, you raise an excellent question. What standard do we judge morals and the underlying values by?

        This takes us to the deeper philosophical argument of fact-value dichotomy and whether value and morals themselves are metaphysical.

        Perhaps, the answer is that morality is not absolute. Animals are demonstrated to exhibit morals what we have hitherto thought were possible for only humans.

        If you insist that God is needed to give us morals, I have to pose Hitchens challenge: Show me one Biblical moral that a rational person cannot arrive at without the Bible.

        What that suggests to me is that Bible is not the epistemological basis for morals. Whether God is the ontological basis for morals or not becomes a moot point when we do not know of any morals from God that I cannot arrive at with reason alone.

        However, I certainly accept that sincere belief in God has the capability to uplift human virtues and suppress predatory tendencies.

  14. I’ve done more than attempt to show that God’s nature cannot be the standard of good, I’ve shown it.

    (1) The view that God’s nature is the standard of goodness is committed to claiming that nature of a person (even an all-powerful one) can be the standard of Goodness.

    (2) It is possible that there exists an all-powerful person who is all-hating.

    (3) The nature of an all-hating all-powerful person cannot be the standard of goodness.

    (4) But if the nature of an all-hating all-powerful person cannot be the standard of goodness, then neither can the nature of an all-loving all-powerful person

    Now, if you want to show me what is wrong with this reasoning, we can have a discussion. But if you are going to just offer a vague response to the effect that I am desperate or smuggling in dismissed objections, then I don’t think we’ll have a productive discussion.

    • Hi Jason,

      I’ll respond in the form of a few posts as I appear to have a character limit, and your continuous errors need a fuller address…

      You have consistently refused to answer the question of where human life derives its value. Your evasion and subsequent ‘dropping’ of the topic tells me you do not wish to continue down this road. But there are no free passes here, and if you have no ultimate standard of right and wrong then there is no distinction between your subjective brain state and my subjective brain state. How is your subjective brain state any more authoritative than 6 billion other subjective brain states?


      • Cont.

        You see, you most certainly think you are right and we are wrong. Your inconsistencies have dogged you throughout this debate. And you know full well that you have no foundation for your indignation. But, for the umpteenth time of asking, where did human life derive its value? This is a grown ups discussion, Jason, and it is common practice to answer questions posed.

        I have shown why the ED is a false dilemma in that it completely misses the target of the Triune God of Christianity. And your latest attempt to reinterpret the ED has landed you in it again! Leaving aside that your ‘argument’ is choc full of unstated assumptions, you have once again missed your target! The Triune God is not one person but rather one essence and *threr* persons who relate to one another necessarily, and who through this interrelationship provide the very basis of morality. The three persons of the Godhead relate to one another *eternally*; they are not beholden to some external law nor are they subject to the arbitrary commands of one or the other – thus like the Euthyphro you fall by the wayside. You must fully aquaint yourself with the position you are trying and failing to attack. At the very least you need to rewrite your last ‘argument’.

      • DannyM wrote to Jason “I have shown why the ED is a false dilemma in that it completely misses the target of the Triune God of Christianity. And your latest attempt to reinterpret the ED has landed you in it again! ”

        DannyM, Jason is invoking a concept in philosophy called “Possible worlds”. (Special classes of modal logic were developed for precise philosophical arguments. I am sure you heard of Plantinga’s ontological argument for God.) Based on this, Jason’s argument that it is possible to have an omnipotent, omniscient God who is all-evil is just as possible as all-good. This is good philosophical thinking.

        Given this possibility, the burden of response to ED is still on you. You cannot say merely on the basis on faith. If you do, so do the others who believe in “false” Gods.

  15. Kanji,

    1. The Triune God is immune to the ED. I’ve consistently shown this. You can talk about multiple Gods/faiths etc. but I’m here to defend the God of Christianity.

    2. Morality is not absolute? Are you absolutely sure of that? Or is this a mere symptom of your ethical subjectivism? Once you admit to moral subjectivism you concede rhe debate on God.

    3. Hitchens’ infamous ‘challenge’? OK. Tithing. There you go: ‘challenge’ rebutted. Atheists need to ‘get with the programme’; they’ve wilfully duped themselves into bekieving things that were rebutted years ago. Tip: Read the opposition and take it on its own terms. And besides, Kanji, tbe Bible tells us that God’s law is written on men’s hearts; men created in His image. (Rom. 1:18-19; 2:14-15). So again we have utter confusion about Christian theology; you are attacking a host of Aunt Sallys, concoctions of your own making.

    • DannyM wrote “Bible tells us that God’s law is written on men’s hearts; men created in His image. (Rom. 1:18-19; 2:14-15). ”

      Be careful. You are undermining the need of Bible to learn ethics. I read the above to mean all humans have this innate ability to reason, to understand, and to apply morality. No other commands from the book are necessary. In fact, book was is men’s hands and ultimately scribed by them. What god wrote on men’s hearts is indelible and original so it should trump what is in the book. Thanks for sharing reference from Bible that supports this view.

      Humans created in God’s image? So blatantly anthropomorphic. Latest research is finding that animals can demonstrate what we hitherto thought were human sublime morals and aesthetics. Apparently, god wrote much on the hearts of animals too – we humans just do not want to see it.

      • Kanji,

        The Bible is the revealed word of God which Christians study and learn and try to dedicate themselves to. Who ever said that unbelievers need to read the Bible in order to understand right from wrong? I’m undermining nothing, Kanji; yet again you are attacking a fabrication of the Christian view! We hold that God’s law is revealed to man through natural revelation. Hitchens didn’t say what you think he said; Hitchens said, ad nauseum, ‘Name me one good act the believer could perform that the unbeliever could not’ (I paraphrase slightly). He was answered! If he ever said what you attribute to him then like you he would have been reasoning against a fabrication.

        Anthropomorphism? Howdoes God’s writing the law on men’s hearts equate to anthropomorphism? No one but you is attempting to ascribe human characteristics to non-humans! Animal behaviours, whether group or kin oriented, have nothing to do with human altruism, and any attempt to say they do is to attemp a redefinitiin of altruism, or morality.

        Yet again, Kanji, your whole post misfires.

      • Kanji,

        It is quaint that you are committed to atheistic group solidarity in times of trouble. Unfortunately I don’t think Jason knows what he is talking about. And evidently neither do you. It is not ‘good philosophical thinking’ at all I’m afraid. By definition God is goodness itself and wholly deserving of worship. No evil god could be called God. The notion that there could be a Creator of the universe who is evil is a conflation of the arguments for God’s goodness.* All forms of the evil god argument do nothing more than beg the question.

      • And no, Kanji, the ‘burden’ of the ED is completely off – it was never ‘on’! Why are you desperately trying to hold on to the ED? Like the topic of human value, like the topic of right and wrong, the Euthyphro has bitten the dust.

      • Oops. My previous (*) was intended for me to note to the brothers and sisters reading that I have not forgotten, and am not disregarding God’s other attributes, which He of course has in equal abundance. For the sake of the topic we are dealing with God’s goodness.

    • Jason,

      Of course you have avoided the issue! I’ve been asking you the same question since my first post on this thread, and you have chosen to conpletely avoid giving an answer. I mean, how can you say you haven’t while keeping a straight face? And now you expect me to trawl through another website to find an answer when you could have saved all this time by giving me an answer two days ago. Jason, this is not how debate works. The current debate is here on Mr Bedard’s site. What in earth would posess you to think it acceptible to try to take the focus away fron the very place we are debating? Now if you want to reproduce something that resembles an answer then paste it over by all means, but don’t insult the intelligence of everyone here by trying to introduce a disruption of the very issues we are attempting to hamner out *on here*.

      You have not asked me where human life derives its value. But that is simple: I have an ultimate, objective basis for the value of human life – and that foundatuon is God. Without an ultimate foundation you have no grounds to be spewing your empty indignation to Christians (who have an objective standard to appeal to) about the inherent value of human life. How do you account for this value? I have to ask again, with a due sense of exhaustion, where does human life derive its value?

      • Danny,
        Yes, you have offered an account. An account that was proven faulty over 2000 year ago. And that you do not recognize that it was proven faulty is no fault of mine. But because it is faulty, you have not explained why human life has value. You just haven’t. You are only pretending and you are avoiding responding to my argument and now you are avoiding reading a paper that directly addresses the form of argument that you are attempting here.

        You don’t get to dictate the terms of the debate. I am not the one who claimed that you have no right to believe in moral value. You are telling me that my belief in moral value is not consistent with my disbelief in God. And I am asking you to prove it. You haven’t even tried. That’s fine. But your continued insistence that I answer this profound question that has troubled philosophers for more than 2000 years is a little bit absurd.

        What is the ultimate ground of ethics? That is a genuinely important question. But you don’t get to pretend that you have an answer and demand one from me. You don’t have an answer.

        In order for your initial objection to my argument from evil to work, it must be the case that morality is impossible without God. Until we have proof of that, the discussion can go no further. I don’t need to provide a theory about the ultimate foundation of morality in order to assert that moral value is real. Just as I don’t need to offer a theory about the ultimate nature of mathematics in order to believe that math is real. Just as I don’t need a theory about the ultimate nature of consciousness in order to show that consciousness is real.

  16. “You also talk of the value of human life; so can I ask: where does human life derive its value? Can you give me an answer without resorting to your own subjective preferences?

    You speak of contradictions, but your entire post is a contradiction to your professed word-view. Only on theistic grounds can your post make any sense. Your post neatly illustrates how you do not live by your own presuppositions, and have to rely on Christian presuppositions in order for you to make sense of the world.”

    Imagine the following parallel:

    “You (Danny) talk of the value of human life; so can I ask: where does human life derive its value? Can you give me an answer without resorting to your own subjective preferences?

    Only on Vaishnavistic (that is, belief in Visnu as the ultimate reality) grounds can your claims make any sense. But you don’t believe in Visnu. Your claims neatly illustrate how you do not live by your own presuppositions, and have to rely on Vaishnavistic presuppositions in order for you to make sense of the world.”

    You would rightly reject this reasoning as absurd. I haven’t provided any reason to think that morality is possible only on Vaishnavistic grounds. And so you should dismiss what I am saying and try to move the debate in more fruitful directions.

    You have provided no reasons to think that morality is possible only on theistic grounds. Feel free to do so. But don’t demand that I answer a millennia old question before you consider my argument. I have no need to provide an answer to the foundational question. Unless someone proves to me that only God can be the source of morality (or at least offers an argument that this is so) I can comfortably use moral truths in atheistic arguments.

  17. By the way, the link is to a paper of mine. No need to wade through anything. Just click and start reading. Simple. No indignation or insulting comments needed.

  18. Jason,

    1. And you *still* refuse to answer the question!

    2. You assert that my account was ‘proven false 2000 year ago’ but don’t even attempt to show how! Your assertion is duly dismissed.

    3. I *have*explained why human life has value, you just don’t like the explanation. Without a consistent standard and definition of things like good and bad, right and wrong, love and hatred then these things are merely the arbitrary formulations of random collections of atoms. Hitler thought it was ‘right’ to exterminate millions of Jews; who’s to say he was wrong? On atheism, the random collection of atoms called Nazis saw no problem in this; on your very own assumptions, then, what is the difference? Did the ‘good’ atoms wear pink hats? Objective, invariable and universal standards of morality *cannot* exist on your world-view; you are literally fighting Christianity with stilen Christian weapons.

    4. You claim I have avoided your ‘argument’ about an all-hating God, but I’ve already shown you that the ‘argument’ misidentifies the Christian God; I said you must at least reword it. And guess what? You ignored my response! It is not me on the run here, Jason. I have certainly asked you to belatedly answer the original question before I continue to address the nonsense you post.

    5. I couldn’t care less about your paper, Jason; it is standard practice in any debate to answer directly, not to redirect your opponent to some paper. But hold on: you then indicate that the question is perhaps a little too troubling for you. Is that the real problem, Jason?

    6. The proof that morality is impossible without God is the impossibility of the contrary (or modus tollens); this is actually evidenced in this very debate; with your flailing in the dark, avoiding at all cost having to account for the value of human life, for right and wrong and good and bad. In the absence of an objective mechanism you cannot even justify your definitions of all-good and all-hating.

    7. Yes you *do* need an objective foundation for morality, otherwise your ‘moral value’ is no more meaningful than 6 billion other subjective definitions of ‘moral value’. If you want to get into ‘consciousness’ then go ahead.

    8. Tell me about your ‘visnu’… You’ve merely smuggled in something you yourself find absurd! It is an immature attempt to immitate an argument, the kick being that you have nothing of your own to postulate! You see Jason, all roads lead back to you, and it is your hopeless world-view on trial here.

    • I don not mean to be offensive, but I stuns me that you can so self-righteously condemn me and my alleged world-view without actually responding in any meaningful way to my arguments. I mean, I really did think that you might give some thought to my Visnu analogy, but your response indicates a refusal to ponder the ramifications of your beliefs.

      You are so sure of your beliefs that you apparently think that you don’t even need to try to understand what your opponent is saying. It is very frustrating to speak to such an individual.

      Again, I am sorry if my comments caused offense.

      • Jason,

        It takes more tban a couple of petulant outbursts to offend me; don’t worry.

        Your arguments were addressed. Your ‘visnu’ analogy got the response it deserved. I actually asked you to tell me more about this ‘character’; The ED was shown up as a false dilemma that doesn’t touch the God of Christianity (by the way, I looked at your paper and saw the Euthyphro again being fallaciously asserted; saw no sign of the bit dealing with where human life derives its value – I may have missed it so feel free to paste that part over); I pointed out your error of misidentifying the Triune God of Christianity in your (rather messy) ‘all-hating God’ argument – which by the way holds a conclusion which is not based on any logical premises.

        In contrast you have simply avoided responding to any of my indepth responses which rip the heart out of your defunct world-view.

        Jason, your ‘arguments’ are old hat, long dismissed by serious apologists. That this seems new to you is not my problem; but it is wholly dishonest of you to claim I have avoided your arguments; I have not, and actually it is you who has fron day 1 avoided anything you found uncomfortable. The truth is your fundamental assumptions have been put on trial, and the sentence has been passed. The absurdity of your world-view has been demonstrayed not by me but by your own fatal inconsistencies.

      • DannyM, what you are posing are not arguments but a bunch of statements. I can see why Jason is frustrated. My experience has been the same.

        I will try one last time with this.

        Christian Triune God has already been characterized in the Bible through his various acts. You cannot define him as goodness. If you allow that, it is as arbitrary as defining Hitler as kind human being. You define God as goodness. How do we know whether that is Christian Triune God or Allah or something else?

        Some more questions:

        Do we have moral values that are not specified in the Bible?
        If you agree that we do, where do we get them from?
        Why cannot we get even Biblical morals from the same place?

  19. “The proof that morality is impossible without God is the impossibility of the contrary (or modus tollens)”

    Am I being punk’d?

    Really? Modus tollens?

    Behold the great Goloth: a giant invisible polar bear. All value depends upon Goloth. Goloth’s nature provides the standard of all moral value.

    How can I prove this, you ask? Simple: modus tollens: If moral value exists, then Goloth exists. QED

    • Jason,

      Really? You take one point out of my eight-point post (which addressed *everything* you had said prior to it) and repeat the same immature and meaningless immitation argument? And what on earth does ‘punk’d’ mean? I seriously suggest that if you want a debate you take my whole posts point by point, because now you are looking rather silly.


      If all I’ve done is make statements why have you silently dropped every assertion you’ve made? It couldn’t be because, actually, I have consistently corrected every one of your errors and fabrications, could it?

      If you want to discuss all of God’s attributes then you might want to take up Bible study. We are specifically talking about the foundational aspect of ethics and how there cannot be a consistent standard and definition of good and bad and right and wrong without an ultimate standard on which to base such a standard.

      Neither of you have even attempted to philosophically argue your ‘case’; you’ve both been corrected at every turn. Unless you pull something out of the bag very soon, it looks like game, set & match.

    • Jason,

      ‘I wish that arguments were engaged a bit more.’

      Me too. I’m sure next time you’ll grant yourself that wish and make more of an effort.

      All the best

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