Architect of The World

Your essay should be approximately 600 words.  This gives you an idea of the length I expect, but I don’t count words or pages.  Write the best essay that you can.  Answer all topics and questions (they are in bold).  Please type your essay in MS Word and send it to me by email attachment.  Please don’t use any other word processing programs, because I may not be able to open them. Your essay should be double-spaced, with margins about 1 inch all the way around.  I do expect that you will proofread your essay and correct typos and grammatical errors. As I mentioned about the other essays, this is not a research assignment.  I strongly recommend again that you do not search online for help in writing this essay.  Most of what is online is either junk or simply not relevant for us.  I have designed this assignment so that you need only consult our reading and my notes on the reading in order to write a fine essay.  If you have any questions, just ask me.
I remind you again about the policies on plagiarism and on late assignments as stated on our syllabus.
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Essay on Hume: The Argument from Design and the Problem of Evil
The essay by John Hick is on Blackboard, under “Week by Week”
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The argument from design (p. 419-420 of our reading) is supposed to show that it is reasonable to believe that the world was created by an intelligent being, namely, God.  But a problem arises from the fact that evil is pervasive.  Did God, then, create evil?  Is it possible to reconcile the traditional religious conception that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly good with the undeniable fact of evil? See more details at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architecture

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Hume did not think so.  He used his methodology to ask: from our experience of how the world actually is, is it reasonable to conclude that God is good, and he answered, No, it is not reasonable to believe it.  He does not say that he has proved that God is not good, or that God does not exist, merely that it isn’t reasonable to believe that God (if there is one) is good.
Hume presents his arguments in a book called Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.  Natural religion is quite different from revealed religion.  The question Hume pursues is: how much can we understand about God, whether he exists or not, and if he does, what qualities does he possess, based solely on our power to observe the world, to think, and to reason about what we observe.  No allegedly revealed sources, such as the Bible, count in this dialogue.  Please keep this in mind when reading what follows.
Here are some reasons that Hume gave why it is not reasonable to believe that God exists, or even if he does, that he cannot be said to be good.  Suppose you observe a house and find it to be imperfectly built.  As Hume says, you observe that “it is the source of noise, confusion, . . . , darkness and the extremes of heat and cold.”  (Would you want to live there?)  You would immediately blame the architect.  Hume adds, “The architect would in vain display his subtlety” by explaining that if he changed anything in the house, it would make things worse.  But even if this were true, Hume says, you would wonder: why could he not do better and get things right in the first place?  So from Hume’s point of view, if the architect did not do better and get things right in the first place, what would we say about the architect?
The analogy with the design argument should be apparent.  The analogy here is that God is like the architect of the world.  So if we find that the world has defects, just as we blame the architect of a house, we will blame God (if we believe there is a Creator).  Hume notes that in nature, there are so many forces that are destructive and cause so much suffering: winds, hurricanes, rains, floods, droughts, etc.  But that is how the world works.  So from Hume’s point of view, if God is the architect of the world, and we would blame the architect for that house in the paragraph above, then, in the light of these destructive forces, what should we conclude about God?

Hume goes on to note the sort of evils that make him wonder why God did not prevent them, in the same way that we might wonder why the architect did not correct the defects in the house: for example, a cruel tyrant or dictator.  When he was born, why didn’t God change the nature of his brain so that he would not grow up to be a cruel tyrant?  Would not the world be better if Hitler, or Stalin, or any other vicious dictator had not existed?  Another example, not from Hume’s time, that you recently discussed: in 1972, a relief plane on its way to help earthquake victims in Nicaragua went down in a storm; everyone on the plane died and all the supplies were lost.  So Hume would ask: why didn’t God intervene and guide the plane safely?  Hume argues that world would be a better place if God prevented such evils, but obviously God doesn’t.  So, why not?  If you had the power to prevent a vicious tyrant from coming to be, and did nothing to stop it, what would we say about you?  If you had the power to help relief supplies get through to earthquake victims, and without your help they wouldn’t get through, but you did nothing, what would we say about you?  So, from Hume’s point of view, what should we say about God?
In answering these question, be sure to keep in mind the perspective: based solely on our experience of the way the world actually is, what can we conclude about God?
So, Hume concludes, we have no reason to believe that God (if there even is one) is good.
Now, for a critic of Hume, John Hick.  In his essay “Suffering and Soul-Making” he argues that Hume is wrong to conclude that we cannot reasonably believe that God is good in the face of the evil we know exists.  So, in his explanation, what does Hick mean by “soul making”?  And what analogy does he offer to replace Hume’s analogy that God is supposed to be like a master designer or builder of the universe?  How does this enable Hick to try to deal with the problem of evil in a very different way than Hume did?
Who do you think is right about the problem of evil, Hume or Hick?  Be sure to explain your answer.

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