It seems that none of the existing topics cause more stirs than politics and religion. Those who believe in God are ready to defend their positions by all means. In turn, atheists also do a lot to refute the argumentation of theists and prove that there is no Creator. Meanwhile, some philosophers concentrate more on the supposed Lord’s nature than His existence. Stephen Law is one such thinkers. He puts forward the evil-god challenge claiming that God can be equally good and evil. According to him, there is no evidence He is good. It means God is evil. Furthermore, he supports his argumentation with the symmetrical theodicies of the Highest being bad. My thesis is that Law’s argument is bad because it overlooks His properties, the meaning of suffering, a human conscience, Satan, and simple rules of logical argumentation.
First, Stephen Law misses that good God has more properties than classical omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence. According to the Old Testament, “The Lord is jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. […] The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished” (Nahum 1:2-3). This passage indicates that God has two more properties, jealousy and revengefulness. If it is so, the Lord can allow the existence of evil to punish people. Furthermore, He has done it already in world history. One can recall some examples of natural disasters that are being documented in different historical sources. In particular, these events include the Great Flood and drought in Israel. God sent the Flood to destroy the sinners who had abandoned His laws. In addition, He sent the draught because the Israelites worshipped Baal (1 Kings 18:18). Meanwhile, God protected His people in both cases. Noah and his family were saved in the arc. Moreover, righteous Israelites did know hunger during the draught. Thus, even when Stephen Law says that God cannot be good because he allows the existence of evil and natural disasters, he overlooks that the Lord can also be jealous and avenging.
Second, Stephen Law fails to recognize that the presence of vice can be a part of His plan. God once sent the Plagues of Egypt to reveal His power and force the pharaoh to release the Israelites. Of course, Egyptians were likely to think that they did not deserve this pestilence. It is something modern people think when they face some evil and natural disasters. However, it was a part of the plan as it sometimes happens today. Evidence to support this claim can be found in the Book of Revelation. From it, anyone may learn about how the omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent God will allow evil one day. In particular, it is written, “Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out […] the four angels who had been given the power to harm the land and the sea” (Rev 7: 2). It is clear that the Lord can give power to the angels. It means God will give angels some mastery to do harm to the world by natural disasters, which are mentioned in the Bible, by the way. Hence, evil can be a part of God’s plan. However, Stephen Laws rejects this idea.
Third, the philosopher’s symmetrical explanation of bad God falls apart when one comes to the matter of human conscience. Following the parallels that the British lecturer provides, there is a dichotomy between good and evil, as we as good and evil God. Thus, if a fair Lord creates the world for good, the vice one would make it for suffering and something bad. Besides, as good God wants people to do good and come to Heaven, the evil one would like human beings to do vice and go to hell. Thus, any of Gods would give individuals a sense of what is good and what is bad. To put it in simple words, people have their conscience to make choices. The interesting thing is that when a person does something good, it is usually followed by a sense of contentment. Meanwhile, when individuals do something bad, what they usually feel is pangs of conscience. If Law’s theory is valid and God is evil, people should have felt guilty about doing something good. In reality, it is not so. That is why his argument is unreasonable.
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Then, Law leaves out Satan completely from his explanation. From the properties the philosopher endows on his bad God, it looks as though he compares Lord to Satan. A closer look on Law’s analogy evokes the clear associations with Lucifer. He writes that the supposed God “is maximally evil. His depravity is without limit. His cruelty knows no bounds. There is no other god or gods – just this supremely wicked being” (Law, 2010, p.256). Humanity has already known such an evil spirit that is an embodiment of all wickedness. If God, the Creator, is evil, the question appears what the role of Satan then is. In such a case, they should have worked as allies. Besides, the collaboration of two such powerful forces would make virtue lose its appeal to people. The existence of so much good would have been impossible then. If it is not so, God cannot be morally evil.
Apart from that, Law ignores the fact that Lord’s goodness is reflected in His desire to save people. As a moral actor, God displays his attitude to humankind by sending Jesus Christ on the Earth. If He is evil, he has no reasons to give help to people. Instead, He should have sent some evil prophet that would preach vice and seduce everybody to follow him. From such perspective, Satan is a perfect candidate for this role. Nevertheless, Jesus Christ and Lucifer are not on the same scale. While, Satanism has its supporters around the world, Christianity has many more followers. According to the common estimation, the quantity of Christians around the world is estimated as 2.2 billion of followers (Sugerman, 2016). This number exceeds the amount of all other religions in the world. Evil God has no reasons to send Christ, as such a strong competitor, on the Earth. If He was omnipotent, He would not allow someone like Christ come to people. Besides, God still has not provided the world with an equal prophet of evil. It means that Lord’s moral nature is good rather than evil.
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Finally, Stephen Law does not notice that his argument is unreasonable from a logical perspective. While he manages to provide the premises for his arguments, they are not validated. It seems that all the philosopher does is playing with the symmetries. Most of his arguments are the reversed version of the classical defense of the good God’s nature. Thus, his premises are the opposition to the theistic position. His arguments are just counterarguments to the supporters of the good God. Meanwhile, attentive readers would notice that Stephen Law does not provide them with the solid evidence to prove his idea of evil Lord. While theists have at least their scriptures where one may learn about His nature, Stephen Law does not have anything to backup his claim. It seems that his evil God does not manifest his evilness in any possible way. The conclusions of Stephen’s Law reveal his own defeat, saying,
Now I do not claim that the symmetry thesis is true, and that the evil-god challenge cannot be met. But it seems to me that it is a challenge that deserves to be taken seriously. While I acknowledge the possibility that the evil-god challenge might yet be met, I cannot myself see how. (Law, 2010, p. 373)
If Stephen Law himself admits that this challenge is yet to be met, then it means that the author of the idea of evil God cannot prove this idea. In such a case, his theory is not credible and should not be taken seriously.
In the meantime, proving that the Lord is good is impossible when His existence is denied. While Stephen Law tries to justify the existence of evil by the presence of evil God, William Rowe believes that the Lord should have an inherently good nature. In his view, there is a chance that the omnipotent, omniscient, and omni-benevolent creature exists. However, the prevention of suffering always comes at the price of losing some greater good or permitting something evil.
He believes that God would have prevented any sufferings if it was possible without ruining the balance. If Lord does not do it, then “there does not exist an omnipotent, omniscient, wholly good being” (Row, 1979, p. 336). Thus, while two of the philosophers believe that God and evil are incompatible, they have different views of His moral nature.
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To conclude, Law’s argument is bad because it has many gaps yet not addressed. First, the philosopher overlooks that God has more properties than classical omnipotence, omniscience and omni-benevolence. Second, Stephen Law does not see how the existence of evil can be a part of Lord’s plan. Third, the philosopher’s symmetrical explanation of evil God loses its sense in terms of human conscience. Then, Law does not consider Satan when calling the Almighty as evil. Besides, the lecturer ignores the fact that God’s goodness is revealed in His desire to save people. Finally, Stephen Law does not notice that his argument is unreasonable from the logical perspective. As his theory has many gaps, it is highly debatable and does not provide any evidence. Therefore, it cannot be considered a good one.