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Owning Your Ignorance – God and Evil

By: Kathleen Derieux

To own your ignorance, you have to fully comprehend your lack of knowledge. The Owning your Ignorance club meets every month to debate important issues that students and faculty are ignorant about. God and Evil was the issue debated on April 7, at Camden County College’s Madison Hall in room 210. Nearly all of the seats were taken with interested guests anticipating the lecture. Professor Sean Landis, the club advisor, organized the meeting to have a guest speaker talk about the issue.

Bryan Frances, an associate philosophy professor at Fordham University, was the guest speaker for the meeting. Frances began by speaking of his personal life, and then to the topic, God and Evil. There was a handout passed around that described what was going to be talked about during the meeting. On that handout was the main argument that was discussed at the meeting:

Consequence Premise: If the 4-part god exists,

then there’s no gratuitous evil.

Gratuitous Premise: There are gratuitous evils.

Conclusion: The 4-part god does not exist.

For the lecture, he told everyone to pretend that they were theist, the belief in one God as the creator and ruler of the universe. When talking about god Frances said, “God is something like a person, god knows everything, he is not ignorant,” and he continued to say, “You would think god would only allow people to suffer, only when it is worth it. If we look around the universe, there is a lot of suffering, and it is not good. With intense suffering, it is hard to see the good.”

As the meeting continued, Frances described the different approaches that are taken to view god. The confident approach is that we already know god exists. The Skeptical approach is that we are awful at spotting the gratuitous evils. The profoundly hidden outweighing goods approach is that we know the goods that justify evil. Finally, Frances said that the clever combination, which is the modest version of the confident approach, it is just simply that god is likely to exist. God is likely to be perfectly good, knowledgeable, and powerful.

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