Two bloggers have been going back and forth with some religious debate. Luke from Common Sense Atheism and Vox Day from Vox Day have been going back and forth via letters between their two blogs. I've witnessed 5 from Luke, 4 from Vox and hundreds of comments. [The 1st letter from Luke; the 1st response from Vox] I was going to link to each and every letter, but if you are compelled enough to read through all of them, the first salvos are enough to get you started.
I'm interested in examining an argument from Vox that I have not encountered before (at least not directly).
When asked why he is a Christian --
Vox Day: Why am I a Christian? Because I believe in evil. I believe in objective, material, tangible evil that insensibly envelops every single one of us sooner or later.
Which does not seem to immediately follow. A person could easily have the same reason for being a Satanist (in the real sense of worshipping Lucifer, the supernatural creature -- not LaVey). "Why am I a Satanist? Because I believe in evil... "
VD continues --
VD: The fact that we live in a world of pain, suffering, injustice, and cruelty is not evidence of God's nonexistence or maleficence, it is exactly the worldview that is described in the Bible. In my own experience and observations, I find that worldview to be far more accurate than any other, including the shiny science fiction utopianism of the secular humanists.
Still isn't clear what having an accurate description about the pain, suffering, injustice and cruelty of the world; therefore worship whatever wrote the description? Seriously, imagine some guy on the street tells you, "So this supernatural being spoke to me last night, and he had the best grasp of the true meaning of evil. He could give a perfect account of the suffering, cruelty, injustice -- just everything rotten about this world. His name is Lucifer, and boy, I cannot tell you how AWESOME this guy was at describing evil. It's like... he's lived it! So, I decided to worship this being."
One might be tempted to say, "Sounds like you've thought a lot about this..."
I think VD's argument from evil is the worst argument for being a Christian that I've seen written in full sentences, but I may be forgetting a couple.
Semi-relatedly, VD goes into his idea of God's morality and chastises Luke for having a non-objective standard of evil. Fair enough, but a little inconsistent from what I can tell.
VD: I believe logic dictates that the Creator alone has the right to set the standards for His Creation. His game, His rules. In keeping with that principle, God always has the absolute right to do as He sees fit, which just so happens to be precisely the answer He gave to Job and company. The answer to Euthyphro's so-called dilemma is that the good is good because it is commanded by God, since there is no objective, supra-divine standard of Good by which His commands may be judged.
VD: I stated there that the arbitrary nature of God's goodness, which has long been a known solution to the first horn of the Euthyphro Dilemma, “can only be considered a genuine problem for those who insist that a fixed principle cannot be arbitrary.”
This is a fairly standard response to Euthyphro. There are some semi-weird consequences, but I'll save those for another time.
Vox then took Luke to task for having a subjective concept of evil:
VD: Applying the relevant definition of objective to your answer - "not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased: an objective opinion" - regarding the nature of evil clearly indicates that you believe evil is a fundamentally subjective concept. In fact, based on your explication of desirism, it is apparent that in your view, evil is not only subjective, but dynamic and transitory as well. Unfortunately, this rejection of the concept of objective evil renders it impossible for us to compare the Christian view of evil with other accounts of it because neither of us can possibly know what your definition of evil is for any single act or individual at any given point on the space-time continuum.
I'll just make the observation that this criticism seems inconsistent with the earlier statements on evil by VD.
VD: "because neither of us can possibly know what your definition of evil is for any single act or individual at any given point on the space-time continuum."
But God, allegedly, has no restrictions on what He calls evil. All right. There is no restrictions or supra-divine standard which His commands may be judged. All right. So God has the right to set the standards for His creation and the absolute right to do as He sees fit. All right.
Does this mean that God could say that murder is good and it would be good?
Does this mean that God could say that stomping puppies to death for fun is good on Tuesdays alone, and every other day of the week it is evil?
Does this mean that God could exactly flip what was evil and what was good at whim, any time He wanted, as many times as He wanted, throughout the course of all time?
Could God flip what was good and what was evil without telling us humans?
Could God flip on a daily basis the moral standing of stomping puppies and keep constant our visceral reactions to the same event the same?
Is this not a completely arbitrary conception of evil?
So what was that again about VD claiming we could not possibly know what is evil for any single act at any given point on the space-time continuum -- non-objective?
These are some of my observations so far; depending on where the Luke/Vox discussion goes from here I may comment on it more in the future.