The “Evil God Challenge” from Professor Stephen Law

I cannot see why Prof Law’s Evil God Challenge is even a challenge!


I quote Prof. Law:


“I am asking them to explain why belief in a good god is more reasonable than belief in an evil god, particularly given that the evil god seems to be ruled out on straightforward empirical grounds (i.e. so why isn’t the good god, notwithstanding all the theodicies, args from miracles and religious experience, etc. all of which can be flipped).”


Now, totally apart from the simple throwing out of your hypothesis because even you do not believe it, I think it is possible to say it is more reasonable to believe a good God exists because this universe could not have been the product of an evil god but it could have been the product of a good God.




There are two reasons which suggest themselves:


First, why would an evil god create anything?  A being which is pure evil will possess no love, no kindness, no mercy, no desire to share and no benevolence.  Yet the very act of giving life is loving, kind, merciful, sharing and benevolent.  People may claim the quality of a person’s life might say otherwise yet given the choice between life and death the vast majority of people choose life.  So would an evil being have any motivation to create anything?  No, such a being would not.  Again, in the universe we can observe order (at least in measure) and not total chaos.  Would an evil being create an ordered universe which allowed for life in the first place?  No, such a being would, by virtue of its total lack of benevolence, not want to give anything to any other being.  So the actual existence of a universe where life has been given is evidence against such an evil being.  You might say “Well, the evil god created some things only to later torment them and this is a greater evil.”  This does not necessarily follow.  Is it a greater evil to torture or to kill?  Is it a greater evil to torture someone than it is to ever prevent them being born?  To speak in a modern example, would it be worse to commit torture on a grand scale or to commit genocide on a grand scale?  Torture is terrible and never, ever to be defended.  Yet genocide – the wiping out of an entire race and the possibility of the race of people existing in the future – is worse still.  So an evil being, possessing no benevolence, would also possess no motivation to give life to any other thing.


Second, the existence of universal moral values and moral agents also constitutes a problem for such an evil being. 


If the effects must be present in the cause, then from whence does moral goodness come from?  Christians, and other theists, can persuasively argue the existence of evil is brought about by rebellion against good, which is grounded in the character of God Himself.  Thus universal goodness comes from the constantly good (omnibenevolent) character of God.  The existence of evil occurs when moral agents make choices which are lacking in goodness.  If, as Professor Law suggests, this line of thinking is reversed, does it make any sense?  No, it does not.  A totally evil being would not create moral agents in the first place.  Why?  Because to do so would be to share something – i.e. self-determination, dignity and the ability to exercise power.  A totally evil being would never share anything. 


Would an evil god ever allow rebellion against his evil ways?  No, such a being would not because any rebellion – or temptation to rebel – would be instantly crushed by this evil being.  One might say, “Why does a good God not instantly crush rebellion then?”  A good God is constrained by the creation of moral agents, which is an act of goodness.  To violate the moral will of these agents would be an act of evil and thus a good God does not violate moral choice but instead rewards correct choices and punishes incorrect choices.  An evil god would not be constrained by the existence of moral agents and thus would instantly crush any rebellion at all.


These are a couple of reasons why I think the Evil God Challenge fails.  An evil god does not exist – Professor Law’s own admission.  The existence of an evil god does not adequately explain any part of reality while the existence of a good God can, and is, used to explain why the universe is the way it is, particularly in respect to universal moral law and the existence of moral agents.  Thus, the evil god challenge is met by its own lower level of correspondence to reality.


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