Some strange results from a recent article...

I spent some time reading through the more than 180 Reddit comments for my Tough Questions: "Can God do evil?" post. As of this writing, my article has 102 upvotes and 48 down votes -- fairly contentious!

One thing that I find odd about the atheism subreddit of reddit.com is the very specific (and inconsistent) notion of what "belongs on the atheism subreddit". As far as I can tell, an article that focuses on how atheists can debate and engage religious people is definitely not mis-labeled by being in the atheist subreddit.  An argument might be made that a hyper-specific atheists-arguing-with-theists subsubreddit is a better fit.

Now, onto some of the criticism of my article. I got a number of challenges like, "Why would an atheist ask anything about something that doesn't exist?" -- Which is an inexcusable challenge from theists, but blows my mind as criticism coming from fellow atheists.

Other criticism: "They will say 'no, God doesn't commit evil'."

More criticism: "This is the same as asking 'Can God create a rock so big that He can't lift it?"

Still more criticism: "This doesn't prove that God doesn't exist."

I imagine that most of the criticism comes from people who did not read the whole article. If not, then I have to work on my clarity. Take the last criticism "This doesn't prove that God doesn't exist." -- My article also doesn't prove that oatmeal is a better breakfast than waffles. This criticism only works if I failed to do what I set out to do. I make fairly tight claims that I try to argue, and I write them out explicitly. Let me know if I fail to persuasively argue a claim that I'm actually attempting to prove.

The simple logic of the article goes:

B or ~B

If B, then C.

If ~B, then D.

Asking whether it is possible for God to commit evil is rather straight forward. It is not asking whether you judge God to be moral (at least not initially). If God is 'limited' in some way -- ie He cannot do evil -- I would not argue that this is a strict contradiction of God being all-powerful yet, powerless to do an entire class of actions -- I argue that His status as a "moral creature" becomes tenuous.

On the other hand, if God is capable of doing evil, the next question becomes not one of logical possibility, but one of epistemology -- how do you know what evil He has done or not done?

If a theist would have a strong issue with either conclusion: C or D, then the argument as a whole is effective.

One funny sidenote -- stumbleupon is a great source of traffic for my site overall, but Can God do evil got recommended (hooray) and favorably reviewed (hooray), but categorized under porn (huh?).

I've submitted a 'change category' request -- so it should be fixed soon, but I can imagine anyone hoping to stumble across porn and ending up a religious debate site would be disappointed.

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