Friday, November 29, 2013

The Holocaust of Children

I just discovered the work of sociologist Gregory Paul.

THEODICY’S PROBLEM: A STATISTICAL LOOK AT THE HOLOCAUST OF THE CHILDREN, AND THE IMPLICATIONS OF NATURAL EVIL FOR THE FREE WILL AND BEST OF ALL WORLDS HYPOTHESES.  After devising some estimates of how many people have suffering and died in human history, hHe argues, among other things, that given the rate of deaths and suffering for prenatal children, infants, and children in history, the world could hardly be worse and sustain life at all.  It is, apparently, the worst, or nearly the worst, of all possible worlds.  Therefore, theism fails.  Very interesting paper.

More of his work here:  http://gspaulscienceofreligion.com/gsptecharticles.html




12 comments:

Bradley C. said...

Thanks for this. It's the second great article on the PoE I have read in the past week.

sam said...

Bradley C.,


What was the first?

Brad Lencioni said...

Powerful argument. I particularly liked the following conclusion:

“…the Christian [hypothesis] of a perfect God with a perfect plan is so overwhelmed by the real world that it is falsified” (143).

Thanks for the source!

By the way, I recently read an awesome book titled, “God in the Age of Science? A Critique of Religious Reason” by philosopher Herman Philipse. Is anyone else aware of this work?

Here is wiki providing a good outline of the first part of his argument.

sam said...

I realize that gross estimates are the best one can calculate, but I would have liked to have seen more on how these estimates of 350 billion child deaths were calculated. This isn't my field. What is the impact factor of this journal? Otherwise, the paper is interesting & it is useful to put solid numbers on these deaths to get a feel for the true scale of the evidential problem of evil.

Brad,

You can watch a couple of debates/discussions with Herman Philipse on Youtube. I felt he held his own against Richard Swinburne in one student-initiated debate, though his accent (Danish?) can be difficult to penetrate at times.

Brad Lencioni said...

Sam, thanks for the advice. I didn't know he had debated Swinburne, and I am watching it now. :)

Patrick said...

Quote from the paper: “If countless billions are entering heaven with limited or no practical earthly experience, then the premise that submitting to the positive and negative aspects of dwelling on the planet is important to making humans suitable for paradise cannot be true.”

There may be a balance concerning the advantages and disadvantages those who die as immature humans and all other humans face, respectively. As for the former, they may have the advantage to get to heaven automatically, but have no opportunity to earn rewards in heaven (see Luke 19,11-27, or 1 Corinthians 3,10-15). As for the former, they may have such an opportunity, but run the risk of not getting to heaven.

Patrick said...

Quote from the paper: “In Christian theodicy suffering not only gives adults the opportunity to perform positive deeds and learn life lessons as it alerts humans that they need to be rescued by the creator, the contrast is also seen as necessary for human souls to fully appreciate how wonderful divine happiness is. But some fortunate adults never experience significant suffering, yet are entirely capable of making a mature free will choice about their after life, so suffering is not a necessary aid for humans to make a correct decision. Utilization of such a motivator is actually a reduction of true free choice, because the latter is degraded if it is in some way forced. And is a happy eighty-year-old who never suffered adversity in their entire life really less happy and with a lesser set of life lessons than the eighty-year-old person who has? Especially since both have equal access to paradise?

The last point brings us to why the pro-suffering argument is not applicable in a divine paradise where all inhabitants are perfectly happy. If the latter is true then past experience is irrelevant, and earthly suffering is egregious cruelty, especially when inflicted upon children.”

From Luke 16,25 one can draw the conclusion that there will be a compensation for suffering in the afterlife. This can mean that one receives a greater amount of rewards in heaven or a lesser degree of punishment in hell. So, if someone suffers more than someone else, the former may not be worse off than the latter. Moreover, there are certainly cases of people who turned to God as a consequence of suffering and who wouldn’t have done so if they hadn’t experienced it. A Biblical illustration of such a case may be the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15,11-32).

Patrick said...

Quote from the paper: “If it is correct that all immature souls have automatic access to heaven, then it follows that all pregnancies should be terminated because that would guarantee that every blameless soul attains paradise, and with minimum distress. If a soul reaches maturity then it is at substantial risk of making a decision that excludes it from paradise, and this after considerable suffering. In that case saving children from an early death increases the risk that their souls will not be received in paradise. These absurdities illustrate the internally contradictory illogic of the hypothesis that all immature souls reach paradise due to the grace of a creator that desires that all humans reach paradise after choosing to go there.”

If all pregnancies were terminated, this would not only prevent more people from going to hell, but also more people from going to heaven. Moreover, if one believes that Isaiah 2,1-5 and 11,1-10 will come true and that one day the vast majority of humans will be redeemed, there is no reason to terminate all pregnancies, as the ratio between the number of those in heaven and the number of those in hell would be higher if one refrained from acting like this.

Patrick said...

Quote from the paper: “The Holocaust of the Children is so large in scale and depth that it poses such insurmountable problems for the classic Christian free will and best of all worlds hypotheses that they are falsified.”

If one assumes that immature deceased humans go to heaven, the vast majority of all humans will be in heaven. If that is the case, couldn’t this world be “the best of all worlds”?

Bob H said...

A friend of mine's,son is working for a Luthern Relief Fund and was solicating donations for the recent natural disaster in the Philippines.
I asked her “Does your son believe in God?”
She replied “Of course!”
Instead of being a smart ass, and making a comment “it's God's problem not mine”, I respectfully declined.

Bob H said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Firstname Lastname said...

I think many other species are intelligent enough to suffer pain in a very similar way to humans, and an awareness of that physical pain which causes painful mental emotions like fear and anxiety.
Yet, according to theodicy, human pain and suffering are a means to achieve perfection and holiness so that we can then be good enough to reside with God? Then what about the pain of other species if it's not also a means to a better end? God must be the almighty sadist! I'm sure the twisted apologist would claim that since God placed all the animals here for our benefit, then somehow their pain indirectly helps humans on their path to righteousness.
(I haven't finished reading the essay yet - sorry if this point was already made)