Resolution: Is there a God?
I regret that Pro has forfeited the debate. Having nothing to rebut, I will proceed with argument anticipation and deconstruction of potential Pro arguments.
I Argument: Addressing and defeating the Problem of Evil [POE]
I.a There is a syllogism that accompanies the POE:
P1: If an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient God exists, then evil does not exist.
P2. There is evil in the world.
C1. Therefore, an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient God does not exist.
I.b P1 is constructed of two phrases: an if/then statement. Let’s call them P1.a and P1.b.
I.b.1 P1.a assumes that God is omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient, and, therefore, always acts with omnipotence, omnibenevolence, and omniscience. In other words, all God’s actions are extremes. What if God dos not always act with extreme measures? What if God often acts only to the level of Om-Om-Om necessary to accomplish the task? Do humans always act with maximum extremes? No, so why assume we can limit God to only extreme action?
I.b.2 Therefore, P1.a is not an absolute, even as a preliminary if/then statement. The syllogism fails at this point, alone.
I.b.3 The other phrase, P1.b, is a fundamental syllogistic problem related to the first: It presents an IFF [if ands only if] logic: assuming P1.a is always true [it isn’t, per I.b.1], then the follow-up P1.b must also always be true, or the entirety of P1 fails.
I.b.3.1 The assumption that only Good can exist if God exists is preposterous, as demonstrated by argument I.b.1. Further, let us explore the following:
“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things…
And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.”
I.b.4 We clearly see opposition in the world. There is good and evil in the world, and God has always allowed it to be so with a minimum handful of exceptions, and even in those cases, the entire human race was not obliterated. Therefore, P1 fails in entirety.
I.c Further, there is even Biblical proof that there is both good and evil in the world, and God allows it to be so. Observe Genesis 2 of the Holy Bible. God has completed the Creation, and has put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to care for the Garden and all its creations; to have dominion over the earth [Genesis 1: 28].
“And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of lifealso in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”
I.c.2 God plants a garden with good and evil in it. Period.
I.d If P1 fails entirely, then so do P2, and, therefore, C1. Therefore, the POE argument fails.
II Argument:Addressing and defeating the Argument of Biblical Defects [ABD]
II.a In an essay by Theodore Drange, “The Arguments from… Biblical Defects ”
Drange offers the following logic:
“[a] If the God of evangelical Christianity were to exist, then the Bible would be God’s only written revelation.
“[b] Thus, if that deity were to exist, then he would probably see to it that the Bible is perfectly clear and authoritative, and lack the appearance of merely human authorship.
“[c] Some facts about the Bible are following:
1. It contradicts itself or is unclear in many places.
2. It contains factual errors, including unfulfilled prophecies.
3. It contains ethical defects [such as God committing/ordering atrocities.
4. It contains interpolations [later insertions to the text]
5. Different copies of the same biblical manuscripts say conflicting things.
6. The biblical canon involves disputes and is apparently arbitrary.
7. There is no objective procedure for settling any of the various disputes…
“[d] Therefore [from [c]], the Bible is not perfectly clear and authoritative, and has the appearance of merely human authorship.
“[e] Hence [from [b] & [d]], probably the God of evangelical Christianity does not exist.”
II.b This syllogism starts off on the same errant foot as the POE argument: [a] is an assumed P1.a/P1.b errant step, assuming an absolute that fails out of the chute. It assumes that the Holy Bibleis the only revelation we have worldwide from God. Is there evidence that it is the only revelation from God? Does the Holy Bible, itself, state that the compilation of books that comprise the Holy Bible today is the infallible “word of God,” speaking for the entire volume? No, it does not.
II.b.1. The Holy Bible is not necessarily the only “word of God.” Do we really presume to command that God speaks only once? If the P1.a and P1.b of [a] above [under argument II.a] fail, what of the rest? [b] fails, as well. [c] & [d] will be discussed below, but I will demonstrate that both fail if [c] fails. Therefore, [e] fails.
II.b.2 The failure of [c] is as follows:
1. [c] claims that the Holy Bible contains contradictions. It does. But let us understand the history:'
2. The First Ecumenical Council met at Nicea in 325 CE, under the command of Alexander the Great, to formalize and canonize a set of scriptures. There were several councils over the next few centuries attempting to complete the canon. This was obviously the work of men who were both ignorant of accurate translation, and intentional in corruption.
3. Ignorant, because at no time did the translators have access to original Old Testament [OT] and New Testament [NT] original scrolls for source material. The latest OT text available were written in the 7thcentury B.C.E., the Silver Ketef Hinnon Scrolls,
and these were far from a complete set of what consists of the OT today. The latest NT text available date from the 3rdcentury C.E.
4. Further difficulty: translation depends mostly on dictionary-to-dictionary comparison. The problem is two-fold: One, languages often have word-to-word indirect sensibility; there are compromises made. Two, language is derived from culture, and without understanding the culture, it’s language will be misunderstood. Dictionaries are notoriously poor in teaching culture. The result: inaccurate translation. This is true even with the best intentions. Add to that the probable assignment of translation to different people translating different scrolls.
5. One of the difficulties of the Ecumenical Councils was the bickering over correct understanding of texts. We have generations of time between the Councils and the texts they had as sources. Effectively, the most convincing of voices prevailed in translation.
6. Finally, a third difficulty: intentional corruption of doctrine based on the bickering over and above translation errors. Thus, contradictions exist, even if not contradiction in comparison of one “book,” such as Isaiah, to another “book”, such as Matthew, even on the same subject as “who is the Messaih?”
7. How did God allow this to happen? First, no one made reference to God as writer. He did not write a thing. Men did. Inspired men, but the Council did not have one fragment of their original writing. Were all men who wrote manuscripts between Isaiah and Benedictus Titus [a fictional translator for purposes of argument] equally inspired? Probably not. Why did God allow it? Free agency. Adam was told, “...Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
Free agency, even if it violated God’s law.
8. Therefore, [c] and [d] both fail, as does the following point, [e].
II.b.3 Does the failure of ABD mean that the Holy Bible is not dependable as God’s word to man? It may seem to be the case, however, the points, above, of II.a [c] all boil down to one word; confusion. Let us consult a book and chapter that discuss how to resolve the problem of confusion.
II.c James 1:5. I will reference verses 2 – 6, and will quote verse 5 here, as the germane point of the argument, but, for brevity, I will add the full reference of James 5: 2-6 in comments. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.” That is how to overcome confusion.
I rest my case and ask for your vote.
Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2: 11, 13
Holy Bible, Genesis 2: 8, 9