Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Three Assumptions

Last night, I was thinking back to a conversation I had with a friend, Russell, in college. Russell was an atheist philosophy major, and one of the most intelligent people I've ever met. He argued that belief in a god was impossible because there were three major assumptions that people (mainly Christians) made about god that contradicted each other.

These three assumptions are:

  1. God is all-powerful
  2. God is good
  3. There is evil in the world
According to Russell, these three assumptions cannot be true at the same time. If there is evil in the world, either God can be good but not all-powerful (and therefore he cannot eradicate evil), or God is all-powerful but not good (and thus he chooses to allow people to suffer). You can figure out the rest of the permutations.

I really like this argument, but it troubles me that it's not incredibly detailed. I think that if I were a professor and Russell were my student, I'd ask him to revise this and expand on his ideas. I say this because I am sure there are many religious people out there who would find loopholes in his reasoning based on the fact that it lacks explication and explanation. Of course, you can't fault him too much; it's something that came up in a lunchtime discussion in the campus dining hall. So while I wouldn't consider his argument complete yet, I think it's definitely worth our consideration.