Free Will Theodicy and Counterfactual Conditionals.

I came across both these terms in an article I read the other day.

This guy David Lewis who I’ve been reading lately was responding to arguments attempting to refute the problem of evil.

He basically took all the different kinds of statements that a person might use in order to reject the problem of evil,
then he did some magical logic tricks, and BAM…

the problem of evil became stronger, as in more difficult to refute given that the refutation being offered is required to be logically consistent.

So he says.

This guy’s argument became to complicated and tricky that it made my head spin.

He was talking about counterfactuals within counterfactuals.

Anyone have any particular opinion of this sort of thing?

Could you post a link to his argument? I’m sure he hasn’t come up with anything “new.”

I’m pretty sure the Problem of Evil can’t work as a deductive argument, and I think we can see that intuitively without resorting to very deep analysis (though we have to do the analysis to be justified in trusting our intuition, I suppose). But I haven’t seen it presented using counterfactuals yet. Would be interested.

Here’s the paper. It’s called “evil for freedom’s sake?” and I think it’s a response to a guy named Plantinga. Pretty interesting stuff.

philosophy.ucsd.edu/faculty/rarn … eading.pdf

He, like so many atheists now, think they can justify their atheism by attacking Christianity. But it’s such an easy target and only disproves Christianity, while it does nothing to justify atheism. I believe in free will, but theodicy is impossible with a personal, intervening God, because that would negate free will.

Christianity has wrestled with free will throughout its history, but it was never settled because neither side makes any sense when you try to explain its presence or absence in Christianity. Either God would be evil, or this is all a pre-ordained pointless puppet show for God’s sick sense of amusement. I don’t believe in either, even though I believe there is a good possibility that there is a God. If He does exist, Creation would be the first and only possible supernatural event or miracle as far as we in this universe are concerned.

I don’t see him trying to ‘justify atheism’ at all. This looks like a professional work examining the Problem of Evil, which is the kind of thing where the real work in philosophy gets done. “justifying atheism” is a little too broad, and is the sort of thing you’re more likely to see on internet forums.
Anyways, to the paper. I think the most interesting contribution was in the beginning, where he points out that ‘maybe we’re just wrong about what counts as evil’ is an acceptable answer to the Problem of Evil. He’s right, of course, and that’s why the Problem of Evil can’t work deductively, but it does leave the Christian with the impression that there needs to be more to a theodicy defense than mere logical possibility, which is new to me. But I think that’s all wrapped up in induction.
As far as critcisisms, not much. At the end, when defending selective free will from criticisms, he doesn’t address the problem I would have raised, which is that selective free will seems bogus not because of issues of foreknowledge as he did address, but from a sense of value. We can imagine God hovering over us with a checklist of things we ought not do- we have free will until it just before we’re about to do something on His list, and then He zaps our brain or whatever, and we do something He would prefer, instead. I think a setup like that offends our sensibilities about just what free will is, or at the very least, what makes it good. Especially as long as Lewis is assuming incompatibalism, I don’t think “free will as long as you do what I want you to” is sensible.

I Love Philosophy is an Internet forum.

But you’re correct. What I should have written is, “He’s like so many atheists now who think they can justify their atheism by attacking Christianity.” I wanted to compare his near sighted tactics to those of atheists.

Right, my point was just that he’s not actually doing that. The Problem of Evil and free will theodicy is a pretty important issue in philosophy of religion, and he’s examining how counterfactuals and selective free will affect the debate, from the perspective of an atheist. I really don’t see how he’s ‘defending his atheism by attacking Christianity’. I mean, I’m a theist, and I appreciate his contribution- I mean, it’s nothing like something written by a Sam Harris or a Richard Dawkins, or the other hacks who do precisely what you’re talking about, which I agree, is a little silly.