Responding to the Evil God Challenge

by Max Andrews

Stephen Law has been setting forth his case for the evil God challenge.  It has been a recent topic of discussion in the blogosphere and there have been several articles written about it.  The argument is formulated in a way that mirrors the moral argument for the existence of God.  If objective morality is true then this morality is grounded in God.  Law argues that if objective evil is true then it is grounded in an evil God. (That’s the basic outline of the argument but please see more here).  I haven’t read much of anyone’s responses to the challenge so I apologize if I’m repeating someone.  I’ve been hesitant to participate in this discussion because I hoped it would pass over but here are my thoughts.

The reason why I waited so long to chime in on this discussion was because I didn’t think the argument was a very good argument.  I have two primary contentions for why this is an incoherent argument.  My first is that the argument requires there to be a genuine ontology for evil and my second follows Thomas Aquinas in that everyone always acts according to what they believe is right.

Does Evil Have a Genuine Ontology?

The early church father Augustine considered evil to be the absence of the good just like darkness is the absence of light.  Under this view the good has a genuine ontology.  There are certain metaphysical components to goodness that begs for their grounding, hence the moral argument.  If evil is a negation of the good, or a privation of the good, then there is no need for an ontological grounding or source since it bears no metaphysical components as a negation of the good.  This need not be special pleading since this is analogous to light.  Light has particular properties where the absence of a photon needs no explanation since their isn’t anything to have any properties predicated to…

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