Moral Imaginative Resistance to Heaven: Why the Problem of Evil is so Intractable

  • Chris A. Kramer Santa Barbara City College, USA
Keywords: Heaven, Imaginative resistance, Parent analogy, Possible worlds, Problem of

Abstract

The majority of philosophers of religion, at least since Plantinga’s reply to Mackie’s logical problem of evil, agree that it is logically possible for an omnibenevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent God to exist who permits some of the evils we see in the actual world. This is conceivable essentially because of the possible world known as heaven. That is, heaven is an imaginable world in a similar way that logically possible scenarios in any fiction are imaginable. However, like some of the imaginable stories in fiction where we are asked to envision an immoral act as a moral one, we resist. I will employ the works of Tamar Gendler on imaginative resistance and Keith Buhler’s Virtue Ethics approach to moral imaginative resistance and apply them to the conception of heaven and the problem of evil. While we can imagine God as an omnibenevolent parent permitting evil to allow for morally significant freedom and the rewards in heaven or punishments in hell (both possible worlds), we should not. This paper is not intended to be a refutation of particular theodicies; rather it provides a very general groundwork connecting issues of horrendous suffering and imaginative resistance to heaven as a possible world.

References

Aquinas, Thomas. ’Ethics and Natural Law’. In The Philosophy of Religion 5th Edition, edited by Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, David Basinger. New York: Oxford university Press, 2014, pp. 638-640.

Buhler, Keith. I Wouldn’t Imagine That if I Were You--Virtue Ethics and Moral Imaginative Resistance to Images. Online at https://uky.academia.edu/KeithBuhler, (accessed 2016-04-10).

Collins, Robin. ’The Anthropic Teleological Argument’. In The Philosophy of Religion 5th Edition, edited by Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, David Basinger. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014, pp. 187-196.

Dougherty, Trent. ’Reflections on the Deep Connection Between Problems of Evil and Problems of Divine Hiddenness’, European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 8:4 (Winter 2016), pp. 65-84. https://doi.org/10.24204/ejpr.v8i4.1756

Dougherty, Trent. ’Skeptical Theism’, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition), edited by Edward N. Zalta. Online at http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2014/entries/skeptical-theism/ (accessed 2015-05-15).

Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov, translated by Constance Garnett. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1995 (1879).

Gendler, Tamar. ’The Puzzle of Imaginative Resistance’, The Journal of Philosophy 97:2 (Feb. 2000), pp. 55-81. https://doi.org/10.2307/2678446

Hick, John. Evil and the God of Love, New York: Harper and Row, 1978.

Hume, David. ’Of the Standard of Taste’, in Essays: Moral, Political, and Literary, edited by T.H. Green and T.H. Grose. London, 1882.

James, William. The Varieties of Religious Experience, edited by Martin E. Marty. New York: Penguin Classics, 1985 (1902).

Lane-Craig, William, Bradley, Ray. ’Can a Loving God Send People to Hell? The Craig-Bradley Debate.’ Online at https://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/debates/can-a-loving-god-send-people-to-hell-the-craig-bradley-debate/ (1994) (accessed 2018-10-3).

Lewis, C. S. The Problem of Pain. Harper-Collins e-books, 2009.

New American Bible: St. Joseph Medium Size Edition. New York: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1991.

Paul, Gregory. ’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 Possible Worlds Hypotheses.’, Philosophy & Theology 19:1–2 (2011), pp. 125-149.

Pinnock, Clark. ’The Openness of God - Systematic Theology’, in The Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology, 6th Edition, edited by Louis Pojman and Michael Rea. Australia: Wadsworth, 2012, pp. 22-36.

Plantinga, Alvin. ’The Free Will Defense’, In The Philosophy of Religion 5th Edition, edited by Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, David Basinger. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014, pp. 338-356.

Rea, Michael. ’Divine Hiddenness, Divine Silence’, in The Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology, 6th Edition, edited by Louis Pojman and Michael Rea. Australia: Wadsworth, 2012, pp. 266-275.

Swinburne, Richard. ‘A Theodicy of Heaven and Hell’, in The Existence and Nature of God, edited by Alfred J. Freddoso, Notre Dame Press, 1983, pp. 37-54.

Walls, Jerry. Heaven: The Logic of Eternal Joy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. https://doi.org/10.1093/0195113020.001.0001

Walton, Kendall, and Tanner, Michael. ’Morals in Fiction and Fictional Morality’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes, Vol. 68 (1994), pp. 27- 66. https://doi.org/10.1093/aristoteliansupp/68.1.27

Published
2018-05-07
How to Cite
Kramer, C. A. (2018) “Moral Imaginative Resistance to Heaven: Why the Problem of Evil is so Intractable ”, De Ethica, 5(1), pp. 51-67. doi: 10.3384/de-ethica.2001-8819.185151.
Section
Articles