Here’s the argument:
So. Regarding free will; if God creates beings with free will to choose evil, then God is responsible for the evil which his free-agents do.
“It is no different with free will. The one who enables the choice must be considered complicit in the end result. After all, the end result occurred under the umbrella of the enabler’s purview. This logic is amplified when we consider that if a higher being gives responsibility to a lesser being, the higher being should be held accountable for what the lesser being does with that responsibility. I can’t help but feel that not only are these conclusions self-evident, they are also irrefutable. That is why, to me, God’s complicity in our sinfulness renders the entire theological understanding absurd. The argument inherently undermines itself and collapses… and the belief system collapses with it.”
This, he says, is mathematical in the following sense, that of the identity equation:
If X=Y, and Y=Z, THEN X = Z and therefore if Z = Bad, then God, X, is bad.Presumably Ben doesn’t really think that God = Human is a substitute for X=Y. Because it is obvious that:
God /= humanSo it must be a sub-characteristic of God which is equal to human. Since this is about free will and culpability, then it might be one of those. Let’s try Free Will first:
Free Will of God = Free Will of humans?Well that doesn’t work, because God’s free will is much different and more powerful than the free will of humans which is miniscule in comparison. Even if the categories overlap, God is not asserting the same free will decisions which a human is asserting. So If they are not equal, the identity equation doesn’t apply.
Let’s try culpability, then:
God’s culpability = Human culpability?Culpability is a quality which an external observer decides is applied to an actor, based on rules laid down for that actor, which the actor violates. It makes sense for God to observe and judge humans based on rules made for humans, applying culpability as it is found. It makes no sense for humans to observe and judge God based on rules made for humans but not for God. So God cannot be culpable for violating rules made for humans, and being judged by humans. While God has enabled free will for humans which enables evil choices, God cannot be judged based on the rules for humans.
Then let’s try morals:
God’s morals = human morals?That is hardly equitable either, for this reason: IF God made morality for humans, and humans are not equal to God, then why should we expect human morality to apply to God? For example, which of the Ten Commandments even makes sense if it is directed at God? None. So the equal morality option fails.
What other possible attributes of God might equate to the corresponding attributes of humans? Intellect? Capacity for Ethical fabrications? Love for specific objects? Universal Love? Fear? Lust? Greed? Hate? Empathy? Compassion? None of these work in attempting to equate God and humans in the equation of identity which Ben uses.
As a further test, the mother of a child which grows up to be a man who does evil deeds is not considered culpable for the deeds of the grown child. Hitler’s mother is not considered the mother of the Third Reich. This goes directly contrary to Ben’s claim.
The identity equation part of the argument is the main basis for the conclusion being drawn. That has been shown not to work, when substitutions are actually tried, rather than presumed, as Ben does.
But the argument also goes further, because it can be expressed in words and maybe syllogisms as well.
”If God (x) gives us free will (y), and free will (y) results in our sinfulness (z), then God (x) is responsible for (z). If X = Y, and Y = Z, then X = Z. At this point, Y is just a needless middle man. If X = Z, then God is responsible for sin. To state this differently, the one who permits the choice is ultimately the one responsible for the choice. If God, being a perfect intelligence compared to us, saw fit to entrust his imperfect creations with free will, one would have to assume that this perfect intelligence knew ahead of time what would happen. Moreover, one would have to conclude that he who permits the choice is just as responsible as he who made the choice.”
Ben equates God to human free will. Then he equates free will to sinfulness. But God is not equal to human free will and human free will is not equal to God. So the equation is not applicable; but maybe his argument is:
This is true for a parent child relationship, where the child has no maturity to understand and no self-control to adhere to the guidelines of the parent, and the parent leaves the child unsupervised in a dangerous environment. But are adult humans mere children, with no decision capacity or moral or intellectual tools for self-regulation rendering them unable to know or understand the outcome of free will choices? That’s not the case. Theism relates that God expects humans to know and understand the outcome of their free will choices. In fact there are several cases which do inhere and can cause “evil” outcomes due to non-complicity with God-driven moral rules:
“…the one who permits the choice is ultimately the one responsible for the choice.”
First, is immaturity.Of these only numbers three and six are truly culpable for their actions (possible the fifth, as well). If we assess number three, we can conclude that free will did indeed enable evil outcomes. Yet the backward equality for assigning responsibility still stops at the human, because there is no equality between human and God. Further there is no expectation that God has the responsibility for preventing evil actions by human actors, because if it exists, then God set it up to work that way. God does, in fact, create the Good vs. Evil dichotomy by which Evil is an expectation, when free choice is abused.
Second is mental incapacity.
Third is rebellion in a mature, normative mind.
Fourth is accidental non-complicity.
Fifth is emotional non-complicity.
Sixth is the intellectual presumption of X = 0 or null (no God; no rules; no complicity required)
But perhaps Ben thinks that God should prevent evil. And in fact this is an unstated premise in his argument:
There is no equivalent theist theology which believes that, and so that argument doesn’t invalidate either theism or the proposition that a creating deity exists. Theism posits that God created a balance, because if only Good exists without Evil, then first there is no longer any valid benchmark by which Good can be determined, and second, any choice made would be between two “good” choices, and there would be no development possible for humans to attain moral intellects. Most importantly, this is a moral judgment made by a human which is demanded of a deity; such a demand is irrational, because humans have no power over a deity, and thus any demand is a useless exercise.
“If evil exists, then God is responsible for stopping it.” (Ben’s assumption, paraphrased).
Because this necessary but unstated premise is meaningless, the entire syllogistic statement of the argument being made is necessarily false. I.e., this necessary but false premise is sufficient to render the entire syllogism false.
Further, by going Atheist, Ben assumes membership in the ideology within which there exist neither good nor evil. What exists, exists in a frame of deterministic, unvalued, nonpurposeful, material existence in which what exists is neither good nor bad, it just “is”. Since the Atheist perception is that there is no God, then nothing exists in Z which is evil. So option six, above, is moot. Yet Ben also sees that evil does in fact exist, and he blames it on God.
So Atheism according to Ben is internally contradictory.
It was Dawkins’ claim that what Hitler did was “distasteful, but not evil”. Because evil doesn’t exist in a purely material universe.
The syllogism has failed, completely.
And the second part of the identity equation fails, also, because under Atheism, Z = 0, and under theism Z = a necessary construct set up by God. Neither is equal to "human free will", Y.
There is no equality in either kind or degree between X and Y, as Ben tries to use them to hold qualities of humans and God. There is no equality in degree or kind between Y and Z, either. So the identity equation produces no useful connection for the culpability which Ben claims exists.
In fact, the assertion of the identity equation, without the actual use of data plugged into the equation, is a basic, functional, error in logic, the A fortiori Fallacy, with an embedded Category Error. I.e., since the identity equation exists and is valid, it exists and is valid in a circumstance where a Category Error is asserted.
Finally, the syllogistic form demonstrates that there is a necessary but false premise which negates the validity of the argument.