Sometimes we face real moral dilemmas—doing one thing we ought to do means doing something else we ought not do. What are we to do when we are in these hard spots? Last week I discussed one solution that won’t work. This week I’ll look at a second option that is better than the first, but still not a good solution. Then I’ll offer what I believe to be the best ways to solve these moral dilemmas.
We all want to “do the right thing.” But sometimes that is much easier said than done. What do we do when choosing one right thing also means doing one wrong thing? What do we do when moral duties truly collide? There are three answers offered, but I only think one is realistic in our day-to-day lives.
“I Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God”—therefore, the Bible is God’s Word!” This is often heard, and may initially sound good, but it is guilty of circular reasoning—“begging the question.” This logical fallacy is a tricky one, and even gets the most careful thinker from time to time. So, let’s learn to identify and avoid it, in order to have healthy conversations and find truth!
“Everyone knows…” means “What’s wrong with you for not agreeing?” This is an example of the often-heard “bandwagon” fallacy. Last week I explained this ubiquitous derailer of good conversations, and offered a number of examples. This week I’ll suggest ways to get conversations back on track when they are derailed by this error.
“But Mom, all my friends do it!” “Everyone’s switching to Right Guard!” “No one believes that anymore!” You have probably heard a child, advertiser, or friend say these things before. It may have initial appeal, but when you stop and think about it you know something is wrong with this line of thinking. These are all examples of another common logical fallacy: the “bandwagon fallacy” (or the “appeal to common practice” and the “appeal to populace” fallacies). This is a fifth way healthy discussions are shut down.
Two years ago I posted a three-part series on logical fallacies, which has been one of the most popular series to date. In the series, I discussed three ways conversations break down. The Ad Hominem, Genetic, and Red Herring Fallacies all sidetrack conversations. But there are more fallacies to be aware of and avoid. In this series, I’ll discuss three more common ways conversations are sidetracked: the “Straw Man” fallacy, the “Bandwagon” fallacy, and “Begging the Question.”
Doesn’t the amount of evil make God’s existence unlikely? Last week I discussed two problems with this objection. This week I’ll offer a third response: it is reasonable to believe God does limit evil, for our good. Though we cannot know this through empirical investigation (by looking around, as discussed last week), upon further reflection we have two good reasons to believe that God does limit evil.
We have seen God has morally sufficient reasons to allow evil. Yet why so much? Couldn’t he accomplish his purposes by allowing much less evil than we experience? Isn’t the amount of evil reason enough to not believe in God? This is a very reasonable response often offered at this point in the discussion. At least three things may be said in response.
We have seen that God has a very good reason to allow pain and suffering in the world—its possibility was the only way he could create us with true freedom and all that goes with it. But what about hurricanes, earthquakes, and diseases? Can God not limit these and still preserve human freedom? He can, but it seem there may be other morally sufficient reasons for him to permit these evils. I’ll offer an argument to this conclusion in the next few posts.
We often say God can do anything—this is what it means for him to be “omnipotent.” But last week I argued there is something God cannot do. He cannot create people who are free and then determine what they will choose. Some object this limits God and makes him less than all-powerful. If they are right, the response to the Problem of Evil from human freedom is derailed. Is this a good objection?
If God has good reasons to permit Evil, the argument against God due to the reality of pain and suffering evaporates. There seem to be two good reasons for God, being all-good, to nevertheless allow Evil to exist. This week I’ll offer the first reason, along with an explanation of why this makes sense.
There seems to be a compelling argument that, given the reality of Evil, God does not exist. But wait—there is more to the story! If we dig a bit deeper we find a problem with one of the premises (and therefore the entailed premise and conclusion). This week I’ll begin to explore “the rest of the story.” But to do so I must first review how to evaluate arguments.
Many argue the reality of pain and suffering proves God does not exist. But this is only true if the premises leading to this conclusion are correct. Last week I discussed why Muslims reject the first premise and why they are wrong. But others think the problem is elsewhere: either God is not all-powerful, or Evil is not real. Do either of these responses solve the problem?
Some believe God exists, but he can’t do anything about pain and suffering. He is just not powerful enough. Others believe God exists, but he doesn’t want to do anything about pain and suffering. He is just not good enough. Both attempts to explain the existence of God given the reality of Evil are common. I also think they are both wrong.
A healthy theology of death also embraces the fact that death is a normal part of life. Note I didn’t say a “natural” part of life. Our nature is not to die—it is not how God created us. But after the fall it became a normal part of everyone’s life. Only by accepting this will we be able to say goodbye well.
There are not only bad arguments against inerrancy; there are equally bad arguments for inerrancy. Today I look at three often-heard arguments in favor of inerrancy that I don’t think are good ones. I conclude by suggesting one argument I take to be adequate, and then outline what I take to be an even better argument in support of God’s Word being without error.
It remains to apply the reasoning of the morality of abortion to three other reproductive technologies: embryonic stem cell research, genetic testing, and human cloning. Are there ever morally appropriate uses of these technologies? I believe so in one case, and not in the other two cases. Let me explain why.
In vitro fertilization, embryonic stem research, genetic testing and human cloning are moral issues of our day closely related to the abortion debate. The underlying issues discussed in this series concerning the morality of abortion also apply to these important topics. Whether one takes and essentialist or functionalist view of personhood will also determine the morality of these practices and procedures.