Sunday, May 19, 2013

My Evolutionary Argument Against God (EAAG)


Atheists generally tend to not rely on deductive arguments or syllogisms to make their case against god. However, while recently debating my challenge to theistic evolutionists against the incompatibility of a wholly good creator with evolution, I've come up with a counter argument to Alvin Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism called the Evolutionary Argument Against God or the EAAG.

This argument is predicated on the traditional concept of god who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good and the notion that god either started the evolutionary process as a means to enable human existence or that he guided the evolutionary process along some of its steps to ensure humans would evolve.

The argument goes as follows:

  1. If god chose to use evolution as the process by which he created human beings and all other forms of life, then god knowingly chose a process that requires suffering that is logically unnecessary.
  2. If humans are the product of gradual evolution guided by god, then at some point during the process the soul appeared.
  3.  Once human beings had souls, they could be rewarded in an afterlife for the suffering they endured while they were alive.
  4.  If higher level primates are capable of third level pain awareness (knowing they are experiencing pain) then our pre-human hominid ancestors did too and they did not have souls.
  5. This means god chose to create humans using a method that knowingly would involve conscious suffering that was not logically necessary.
  6. An all-good, perfectly moral god who is incapable of unwarranted cruelty would not create beings that could consciously suffer in a way that was not logically necessary.
  7. Therefore, the traditional notion of god who is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good does not exist.

Since almost every premise here is a conditional, let’s examine each of the premises to see what objections we might find.


(1) If god chose to use evolution as the process by which he created human beings and all other forms of life, then god knowingly chose a process that requires suffering that is logically unnecessary.


Premise 1 asserts the fact that the evolutionary process logically requires suffering, which god would of course have known before using the evolutionary process to create humans. Some theists like William Lane Craig think of god like an artist who takes pleasure in the method for creating life using evolution. Another theory is that god chose to use evolution contingently as a punishment for original sin which god decided would be applied retroactively to the millions of species that existed before human beings. Alvin Plantinga has proposed the idea that “Satan and his minions” have tinkered with the evolutionary process and have caused the natural evils it produces. Regardless of what explanation a theist has in mind, god still willingly chose to create man using millions of other species merely as a means to an end, and many of those species contained sentient beings who suffered tremendous ordeals. It seems odd to me that a wholly good and benevolent god would intentionally choose a method of bringing about man that requires millions of years of suffering.


(2) If humans are the product of gradual evolution guided by god, then at some point during the process the soul appeared.

For premise 2, even if a theist believes that fully rational humans appeared at once in a single generation as some theistic evolutionists do, or that "humans" can only be body + soul composites, we still have enough evidence that our hominid ancestors and cousins like Neanderthals had language capability (via the FOXP2 gene that we share) and that means they certainly had higher functioning rational and cognitive faculties than modern day chimps and gorillas. So millions of years would have passed before we get modern humans during which our pre-human hominid ancestors and cousins lived who were capable of conscious, apperceptive suffering.


(3) Once human beings had souls, they could be rewarded in an afterlife for the suffering they endured while they were alive.


Most theists believe that the soul gives humans the possibility of being rewarded in an afterlife and that this compensates the suffering that humans endure in their physical form on Earth. Natural evils like disease all have a purpose, according to some theists, in that they bring people closer to god, or that they are the byproduct of original sin. But, if a human is defined as a body + soul composite, then our pre-human hominid ancestors lacked souls and were suffering from the same diseases and natural evils that we are. God must’ve chosen not to compensate their suffering, while at the same time he allowed them to evolve the ability to be consciously self-aware of their suffering. The original sin argument doesn't make sense either. There's no evidence that there were ever just two people, and, the theist would have to believe that the punishment for original sin was retroactively applied to animals before humans even evolved! Not only is this cruel, this doesn't make sense considering evolution requires suffering. It is impossible to have an evolutionary process unfold without it. So theists who bring up original sin are logically incoherent.


(4) If higher level primates are capable of third level pain awareness (knowing they are experiencing pain) then our pre-human hominid ancestors did too and they did not have souls.


If premise 4 is true it logically follows. Our pre-human hominid ancestors and cousins like Neanderthals would have had evolved advanced levels of cognition that may not have been quite as advanced as a modern human, but necessarily must have been more advanced than a modern day primate like a chimp or a gorilla.


(5) This means god chose to create humans using a method that knowingly would involve conscious suffering that was not logically necessary.


Premise 5 suggests that god is just a mere utilitarian who uses millions of other species as a means to his end goal of creating human beings, but what makes god different from other utilitarians is that since evolution requires massive amounts of suffering, god actually chooses the greater of two evils rather than the lesser of two evils! It’s kind of odd since he’s supposed to be morally perfect.


(6) An all-good, perfectly moral god who is incapable of unwarranted cruelty would not create beings that could consciously suffer in a way that was not logically necessary.


Premise 6 states the most important logical aspect of the argument – that a morally perfect being like god is incapable of unwarranted cruelty, which evolution requires. There seems to be no plausible way that a theist can justify the suffering that evolution requires. I have heard theists like William Lane Craig argue that animals are not consciously aware that they’re in pain, but he even admits this does not apply to the higher primates, and that logically means it wouldn’t apply to our hominid ancestors. That's really all I need to show in order for my argument to work. And so if our suffering is logically necessary for some unknown purpose because we have souls, then this fails to explain why soul-less conscious animals would have to suffer under the evolutionary process.


(7) Therefore, the traditional notion of god who is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good does not exist.


If my premises are correct, then the conclusion in number 7 logically follows because an all-good god is incompatible with creating unwarranted cruelty, and because that requires the ability or at least the capacity of intentional cruelty or indifference.

If this argument is successful this means theists like William Lane Craig and Alvin Pantinga have to accept that god is intentionally cruel and capable of committing unwarranted suffering, which means of course he cannot exist!

In order for the theists who holds to the view of god this argument is predicated on the refute the EAAG, they would have to show how the argument is somehow logically invalid, or show how a wholly good, morally perfect god is compatible with the existence of gratuitous, logically unnecessary apperceptive animal and pre-human hominid suffering, in which case they’d have to attack the science backing up third level pain awareness. If the theist cannot do this, they must admit that their notion of god is either incompetent, indifferent, or intentionally cruel, in which case their concept of god would be logically incoherent with what they’d be conceding. That would mean that this concept of god cannot logically exist. And since this concept of god must exist in every possible world, as per the ontological argument, if there exists a single possible world that this god is incompatible with, then it destroys the possibility of this god existing in any possible world. That world is the actual world. 

This argument is admittedly in its first draft and will most certainly need to be refined with time. I've considered shortening it down to 5 or 6 premises. I want this argument to be part of the public domain, so if you think it works and you think you can improve it, by all means customize it to your liking.

For other versions of this argument click here.

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