Monday, March 20, 2017

Wykstra's Criticism of Rowe's Evidential Argument from Evil


(For my MCCC Philosophy of Religion class)

Wykstra's essay is: "Rowe's Noseeum Arguments from Evil."

I. Wykstra says Rowe commits the "no-seeum fallacy." Explain.


II. State Rowe's argument, which is:

1. As far as I can see there is no point to the fawn's suffering.
     2. Therefore, there is no point to the fawn's suffering.

This argument commits the noseeum fallacy. 


*      Rowe argues:

1. There appears to be no point to the fawn’s suffering.

2. Therefore, there is no point to the fawn’s suffering.

THIS INFERENCE, says Wykstra, fails. You can't go from premise 1 to the conclusion, unless...

III. The CORNEA Principle is met.

CORNEA - Condition Of ReasoNable Epistemic Access

We can infer from “We see no X,” to… ”There is no X”… only when X has “reasonable seeability.”


E.g. -     

1. As far as I can see, President Trump is not in the room.

      2. Therefore, President Trump is not in the room.

There is a claim of inference from 1 to 2 in this case, because CORNEA has been met. That is, were Pres. Trump in the room, I would be able to see him. The "reasonable seeability" condition has been met.


An example of CORNEA not being met:  

1. As far as I can see, there are no germs on this hypodermic needle.

      2. Therefore, there are no germs on this hypodermic needle.

Wykstra agrees with Rowe that God would only allow intense suffering if there was some point to it.

Wykstra thinks Rowe’s claim that there are instances of pointless suffering is unjustifiable. That is, Rowe cannot claim this, because of CORNEA.


IV. Wykstra further argues that the reasonable seeability claim cannot be met in the case of God.  He uses the parent-infant analogy to show this.

·         Wyckstra writes: “The disparity between God’s vision and ours is comparable to the gap between the vision of a parent and her one-month-old infant. This gives reason to think that our discerning most of God’s purposes are about as likely as the infant’s discerning most of the parent’s purposes.”


*****
For some big-time academic explanation see "Skeptical Theism" in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. "Skeptical theism is a strategy for bringing human cognitive limitations to bear in reply to arguments from evil against the existence of God."