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Why God Does Not Exist Because This World Does (2020)

Richard Schoenig

1. Introduction
2. Heaven World
3. Heaven World Argument
4. Evaluation of the Heaven World Argument
     4.1 Defense of P1
          Epistemic obfuscating decision factors
          Atheological obfuscating decision factors
          Sociological and psychological obfuscating decision factors
     4.2 Defense of P2
5. Theistic Challenges to the Heaven World Argument and Responses
     5.1 First Challenge
          Nontheistic Response
     5.2 Second Challenge
          Nontheistic Response
     5.3 Third Challenge
          Nontheistic Response
     5.4 Fourth Challenge
          Nontheistic Response
     5.5 Fifth Challenge
          Nontheistic Response
               Theistic "No Best World" Retort
                    Nontheistic Response
     5.6 Sixth Challenge
          Response
     5.7 Section Summary
6. Final Summary and Conclusion
Notes

1. Introduction

I will argue that the existence of this world (TW) constitutes adequate evidence that the theistic God (henceforth just "God") does not exist. God is understood to be a supernatural, spiritual, eternal person of maximal power, knowledge, and goodness. He is said to be the creator and sustainer of TW who suitably rewards or punishes humans after death. God is essentially the deity worshipped by most Christians, Jews, Muslins, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians, among others. Most versions of theism maintain that God has maximal love for humans. For example, in Christian theism the Gospel of John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." In addition, 1 John 4:8 affirms that "God is love."

2. Heaven World

The atheological argument to be developed here rests on the claim that if God existed, he would have shown his maximal goodness, including his maximal love for humans, by actualizing a different world than TW. I call this alternative world, heaven world (HW). The full details regarding HW need not be spelled out here. However, in germane outline, HW would include God's creating humans and endowing all of them with free will, rationality, moral agency, a clear and comprehensive knowledge of their creator and creation circumstances, and a clear and comprehensive understanding of what options they have concerning their existence.

For our purposes, the most important difference between HW and TW is that upon creating humans in HW God would immediately and directly offer each the beatific vision (BV), which theists maintain is the greatest good (summum bonum) for humans.[1] It consists of people directly experiencing the most sublime bliss stemming from a freely chosen, intimate, loving, direct union with God forever. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, for example, says that Heaven (comprising the BV) is "the state of supreme and definitive happiness, the goal of the deepest longing of humanity."[2] The theme in the second part of Aquinas' Summa Theologica is human beings' striving after their last (highest) end, which is the blessedness of the visio beata. Christian philosopher Shawn Floyd elaborates on the importance that Aquinas placed on the experience of the BV:

Thus he (Aquinas) says that human beings "attain their last end by knowing and loving God" (Summa Theologica IaIIae 1.8). Aquinas refers to this last end—the state in which perfect happiness consists—as the beatific vision. The beatific vision is a supernatural union with God, the enjoyment of which surpasses the satisfaction afforded by those goods people sometimes associate with the last end [emphasis mine]. (Floyd, 2018)

There is a relevant theological similarity in TW for the HW feature of God creating and then directly offering humans immediate access to the BV. Research has shown that more than fifty percent of all fertilized human eggs never implant in the uterus (Ord, 2008, p. 14), and, of those that do, another ten percent or so are not born alive (Ord, 2008, p. 14), or die shortly thereafter. From here on, I will refer to this sixty-plus percent as the "short-lived." Given that the most prevalent theistic belief about when personhood begins is that it is at conception, we must assume that God would immediately and directly offer to the postmortem short-lived the option of experiencing the BV, since any other course of action with respect to them would compromise God's omnibenevolence and maximal love for humans. God's direct postmortem offer of the BV to the short-lived in TW would be similar to what he would offer to all humans upon their creation in HW. I shall have more to say about the short-lived later in the paper.

3. Heaven World Argument

I aim to show that from axiological and eudaimonic (human flourishing) considerations HW is superior to TW (and, as I shall show later in the paper, to any other possible world as well). That being the case, in accordance with his maximally good and loving nature God would have actualized HW rather than TW (or any other possible world). Since HW does not exist, I conclude that God does not either. The formal presentation of this reasoning, called the heaven world argument, follows.

(P1) There are numerous important axiological and eudaimonic advantages that HW has over TW, and no disadvantages.

(P2) If there are numerous important axiological and eudaimonic advantages that HW has over TW, and no disadvantages, then if God exists, he would have actualized HW rather than TW.

(P3) Therefore, if God exists, he would have actualized HW rather than TW. (from P1 & P2)

(P4) It is not the case that God actualized HW rather than TW.

(C2) Therefore, it is not the case that God exists.

4. Evaluation of the Heaven World Argument

The argument is clearly valid. I will now defend the truth of the two potentially controversial premises, P1 and P2.

4.1 Defense of P1
(There are numerous important axiological and eudaimonic advantages that HW has over TW, and no disadvantages.)

The most important advantage of HW over TW would be that in HW, unlike in TW, all humans would experience the BV. I do not mean to say that it would be logically impossible for a HW person to reject God's invitation to experience the BV, only that it would be extremely unlikely, given the nature of what is being offered, the nature of how it is being offered, the nature of the person extending the offer, and the rational and informed status of the offerees.[3] At the same time, in accepting God's invitation to experience the BV, HW people would thereby eliminate their chance of suffering eternal damnation. This is significant because, according to many versions of theism, many people in TW do not attain the summum bonum of the BV and do experience eternal postmortem suffering.

As is the case in TW's Heaven, in HW there would be no natural evil or animal suffering. In addition, no one would suffer from moral evil because HW people, like the humans and angels in TW's Heaven, would not choose to do evil since their attention and inclinations would be so firmly, completely, and eternally fixed on the magnetic, joyous, loving, awe-inspiring, and all-consuming experience of the BV. Also, it is not clear that anyone experiencing the BV could suffer from moral evil.

Theists claim that God created humans for a number of purposes, namely: to have them freely come to know and love him and share in his blessed life[4], to glorify and enjoy him forever[5], and to worship him.[6] These purposes would be far better realized in HW because all humans there would experience the summum bonum of the BV, which experience, by definition, would entail the maximal realization of God's aforementioned purposes.

Finally, for HW people, unlike for TW people, there would be no obfuscating decision factors of an epistemic, atheological, sociological, or psychological nature concerning the acceptance of the existence of God and the veracity and value of his invitation to experience the BV. The absence of such obfuscating decision factors would assure that the choices of HW people would be free and properly informed.

Epistemic Obfuscating Decision Factors

Many people in TW have never had a live option to acknowledge God's existence or to accept his invitation to experience the BV because they lived in times before theism was known or where it was never clearly or fully explained or understood. In addition, some people who were cognizant of claims about God's existence and his offer of salvation judged the claims to be implausible due to insufficient evidence. As per the definition of HW, these impedimental epistemic factors would not obtain therein.

Atheological Obfuscating Decision Factors

These have included the existence of inscrutable evil, the hiddenness of God, and the unfairness associated with attaining the BV. With respect to the latter, presumably the short-lived are automatically guaranteed the BV, while all others are not. These three atheological challenges to theistic belief, particularly the first two, have spawned large numbers of atheists and agnostics, especially in recent times. These obfuscatory decision factors would not exist in HW because in that world there would be no evil, inscrutable or otherwise; God would not be hidden since he would treat directly with humans; and there would be no unfairness in attaining the BV, as it would be offered to all in an identical manner.

Sociological and Psychological Obfuscating Decision Factors

Many people's decisions about God's existence and offer of salvation have been skewed by warping sociological or psychological influences such as personal misfortune, flawed upbringing, inferior education, poor role models, economic disadvantage, human predation, and psychological handicaps. Given the description of HW, these obstructive decision factors would not be present therein.

4.2 Defense of P2
(If there are numerous important axiological and eudaimonic advantages that HW has over TW, and no disadvantages, then if God exists, he would have actualized HW rather than TW.)

The truth of the antecedent of the main conditional in P2 was addressed in defending P1. The justification of the embedded conditional's consequent in P2 would seem to be a fairly straightforward matter. A maximally benevolent creator would not actualize a world, TW, containing massive amounts of suffering that results in only some humans attaining the summum bonum of the BV and only some humans satisfying the creator's purposes for creating humans when, instead, he could have actualized a world, HW, in which it would be very likely that all humans would attain the BV and freely satisfy God's purposes for their creation; and all this without any gratuitous suffering being required. If so, then the suffering in TW can be deemed to be gratuitous. Moreover, given that, by definition, a theistic God would not cause or permit gratuitous suffering, it can be concluded that God would have actualized HW rather than TW.

5. Theistic Challenges to the Heaven World Argument and Responses

I turn now to evaluate a number of salient theistic challenges to the heaven world argument.

5.1 First Challenge: In HW humans would have to forego the great good of having a conscious, embodied earthly life.

Nontheistic Response

First, while it is true that most embodied conscious humans in TW experience some happiness and satisfaction, human earthly existence is certainly not an unalloyed good. Almost all embodied, conscious humans also experience considerable amounts of acute suffering, some of it horrendous, which, of course, they would not experience in HW.

Second, the Gospel of Mark (8:36) says, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Whatever happiness and satisfaction humans may experience in TW pales into insignificance when compared to the experience of the BV, for which all in HW can directly opt.

Finally, if having a conscious, embodied existence were as great a good as theists maintain, it would be difficult to explain why an omnibenevolent God would deny it to a significant majority of humans, namely, the short-lived.

5.2 Second Challenge: In HW humans would have to forego the value associated with God's keeping his epistemic distance from them.

Theists tell us that God wants humans freely to enter into an intimate and loving relationship with him. However, he does not want to force them to do so by overriding their free will or otherwise coercing them. To this end he keeps an appropriate epistemic distance from them in TW. This would not be possible in HW where God treats directly with persons.

Nontheistic Response

First, when HW people parley directly with God, they would obviously thereby come by sufficient reasons to believe that he exists and has invited them to experience the BV. However, if a person takes on a belief as a result of receiving clear and adequate evidence for the belief from an unimpeachable source, that would not necessitate any loss of the person's free will or her being the subject of iniquitous coercion. God would have the means, method, and motivation to present to HW people the facts of his existence and offer of the BV in noncoercive terms that would not abrogate their free will.

Second, according to theism, God has in fact dropped his epistemic distance with many persons, ostensibly without compromising their free will or unduly coercing them. For example, God presumably does not keep his epistemic distance from the postmortem short-lived in the course of extending to them an invitation to experience the BV. This is pertinent because, recall, the short-lived comprise a substantial majority of the persons in TW and their postmortem status is similar to the status of people in HW. Theists also believe that many humans during their lifetimes, including, such well known figures as Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Paul, Virgin Mary, Joseph Smith, and Muhammed, were vouchsafed powerful direct or indirect theophanies which involved an absence of epistemic distance. Theists do not believe that any of those cases involved improper coercion, annulment of free will, or the creation of any other negative consequences. On the contrary, those individuals are considered to have been privileged and to be righteous archetypes of their faiths.

5.3 Third Challenge: In HW humans would not experience the value of soul-making.

This challenge is associated with John Hick's theodicy of soul-making (Hick, 1978). As applied to the actualization of TW versus HW, theists, in the spirit of Hick, could claim that God actualized TW with its axiological and eudaimonic shortcomings in order to bring about a higher level of goodness in humans than would otherwise be possible had he actualized HW instead. More specifically, the actualization of TW makes soul-making possible, that is, it makes possible the development of important salutary human character traits and virtues such as courage, compassion, and heroism. Hick summarized this view as follows:

The value-judgement that is implicitly being invoked here is that one who has attained to goodness by meeting and eventually mastering temptation, and thus by rightly making responsible choices in concrete situations (as in TW), is good in a richer and more valuable sense than would be one created ab initio in a state either of innocence or of virtue (as in HW). In the former case, which is that of the actual axiological achievements of mankind, the individual's goodness has within it the strength of temptations overcome, a stability based upon an accumulation of right choices, and a positive and responsible character that comes from the investment of costly personal effort. (Hick, 1978, pp. 255-256)

God makes certain that the attainment of such character-enhancing goods associated with soul-making more than compensates for the axiological and eudaimonic liabilities that make soul-making possible. The attainment of those character-enhancing goods, then, justifies God's actualizing TW rather than HW.

Nontheistic Response

There have been many retorts to Hick's view (Tooley, 2015). However, I will limit mine to those which are most relevant to the heaven world argument. First, soul-making in TW could not bring about a higher level of goodness for humans than the experience of the highest good of the BV in HW.

Second, soul-making by means of suffering and adversity is either necessary for attaining the BV or it is not. If it is necessary, then, since the short-lived could never experience it, they would thereby be unfairly debarred from attaining the BV. This unfairness would weaken or demolish the ethical standing of God's actualization of TW. On the other hand, if soul-making is not necessary for attaining the BV, then its usefulness as a defense of God's actualizing TW would be minimal at best.

Third, soul-making by means of suffering and adversity is useful only for rational beings who have not reached the perfection of their natures. Those who have already reached that point have no need for it. Their souls are already "made," as it were. For example, Adam and Eve before their sin in the Garden of Eden, those experiencing the BV in TW's Heaven who died without ever being morally accountable, and supernatural persons, such as God and angels, all never underwent any soul-making through suffering and adversity because they did not need to. They were or are at perfection relative to their natures. Likewise, HW people would not need soul-making through suffering and adversity because they would attain the perfection of their natures by experiencing the BV. Once again, Shawn Floyd's encapsulation of Aquinas' view that the BV is the final perfection of humans is apropos here:

What is it, then, in which our last end really consists or is realized? For Aquinas, the last end of happiness can only consist in that which is perfectly good, which is God. Because God is perfect goodness, he is the only one capable of fulfilling our heart's deepest longing and facilitating the perfection at which we aim. Thus he says that human beings "attain their last end by knowing and loving God" (Summa Theologica IaIIae 1.8). Aquinas refers to this last end—the state in which perfect happiness consists—as the beatific vision. The beatific vision is a supernatural union with God, the enjoyment of which surpasses the satisfaction afforded by those goods people sometimes associate with the last end [emphasis mine]. (Floyd, 2018)

As Aquinas avers, the BV brings about the final end and perfection of a human being's nature, that is, a made soul. God's desire for humans to experience this end or goal of perfection would be fully realized in HW when humans therein accept God's invitation to join him in a free, personal, intimate, eternal, loving relationship via the BV. Most importantly, once again, this perfection of human nature would not only come to all in HW, versus coming to considerably less than all in TW, but it would also come about without the massive suffering required for it in TW.

Some theists, such as Hick, however, have demurred that God does not want soul-making to simply be the product of accepting a divine invitation, as it would be in HW; rather, they claim that God wants it to be earned, as Hick put it, by "the investment of costly personal effort," as in TW. However, this claim is belied by the fact that Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, angels ostensibly, and, most relevantly, those experiencing the BV in TW's Heaven because they died without ever being morally accountable, such as the short-lived, all received perfected soul-made natures by divine largess, not by "the investment of costly personal effort." Nor is there any indication that this manner of reaching soul-perfected natures tarnishes or diminishes the goodness or felicity of the consequent BV.

5.4 Fourth Challenge: God would find TW preferable to HW because TW would make possible certain positive moral choices and consequent values for humans that would be very unlikely in HW.

Horrendous events like the Holocaust obviously occur in TW, but almost certainly would not in HW. But the occurrence of a horrendous event can occasion people to make free will decisions that result in actions that have great moral value, such as compassion, courage, sacrifice, etc. The Catholic priest Fr. Philip Dion put it this way:

St. Augustine said, "There would be no martyrs if there were no tyrannical persecutions." Hence, it is by the wickedness He permits in some men, that God stimulates others to goodness and virtue and sanctity. For example, God willed to permit the evil of guilt in Hitler and so many Nazis and communists who ran the concentration camps in World War II.... Because of that suffering, many victims are saints before the throne of God today who would not be there had God not permitted the evil will and sin of their persecutors. (Dion, 1978)

Thus, theists conclude that from God's perspective TW would be superior to HW.[7]

Nontheistic Response

First, keep in mind that HW people would also be able to make free will decisions. However, since there would be little or no suffering in HW, HW people would not likely have the opportunity to make moral decisions in reaction to the suffering occasioned by horrendous events. Nevertheless, that fact would not make human existence in TW preferable to existence in HW from the perspective of humans or an omnibenevolent God. Given the many epistemic and eudaimonistic advantages that HW has over TW, especially the avoidance of the almost unimaginable amount of acute animal and human suffering in TW throughout the ages, it is difficult to see how any human or omnibenevolent deity would prefer TW over the alternative of HW. Pace Fr. Dion, would God really prefer a world in which humans use free will to murder a million children (the Holocaust) so that some persons could show moral fortitude, rather than preferring a world in which all humans would enjoy the summum bonum and use their free will to maximally love God, themselves, and all other persons? Surely not.

Second, if theists were to hold that God would actualize TW over HW because TW allows some humans to make morally exemplary free will decisions, these theists would have to explain why that actualization would not jeopardize God's omnibenevolent character in terms of unfairness. Actualizing TW would result in God acting unfairly toward the short-lived who, remember, comprise a robust majority of all humans who have ever lived in TW. By definition, the short-lived are unable to make any free will decisions. Thus, the short-lived could be said to be arbitrarily deprived by God of an opportunity to gain the great good of moral rectitude resulting from a morally virtuous free will response to horrendous events. That would amount to invidious discrimination toward the short-lived, which would be inconsistent with the character of an omnibenevolent being. Of course, such discrimination would never occur in HW.

5.5 Fifth Challenge: Actualizing TW involved no moral deficiencies on God's part.

Robert Adams has argued that God's actualization of a "less perfect world" (like TW) than he could have actualized would not involve any defect in God's character (R. Adams, 1990, pp. 276-282). On the one hand, Adams claims that people with whom God would have populated a better world than TW (like HW, for example) have never existed because God did not actualize their world. Thus, God cannot be said to have harmed them by not having created HW. On the other hand, Adams claims that God cannot be said to have harmed TW people either because his creating them was a beneficent manifestation of his divine love that gave them the precious gifts of existence and God's unconditional grace that they otherwise would not have had. Thus, Adams concludes that since God did not harm anyone in the world that he actualized and did not harm anyone in the worlds that he did not actualize, then he cannot be said to have acted in a morally deficient fashion by actualizing a less perfect world like TW.

Nontheistic Response

Assume that Adams is correct that no one is harmed by God's actualizing TW.[8] Subsequent to an insight by Philip Quinn (1982, p. 213), William Rowe charged that there is still a case to be made that God's actualizing a less perfect world (like TW) than one he could have actualized instead, could be said to manifest a pertinent moral deficiency on God's part. Rowe says:

Following Philip Quinn, I'm inclined to think that if an all-powerful, all-knowing being creates some world other than the best world it can create, then it is possible there should exist a being morally better than it is. Quinn remarks: "An omnipotent moral agent can actualise any actualisable world. If he actualises one than which there is a morally better, he does not do the best he can, morally speaking, and so it is possible that there is an agent morally better than he is, namely an omnipotent moral agent who actualises one of those morally better worlds." (Rowe, 2004, pp. 82-83)

Rowe adds that Quinn's "omnipotent moral agent (whom I will call 'God+') who actualizes one of those morally better worlds" could be understood to do so as a supererogatory act (Rowe, 2004, p. 82). Moreover, given that it is morally virtuous to perform supererogatory acts, God+ would thereby be morally superior to God. If so, then God could not be said to be unsurpassably good. But, since being unsurpassably good is one of the necessary properties of the theistic God, it can be concluded that God's actualizing TW rather than HW would involve a moral deficiency on his part.

Theistic "No Best World" Retort

Theists, in turn, could retort that Rowe's and Quinn's reasoning is vulnerable to the "no best world" retort. A number of prominent Christian philosophers have argued that there is an infinite hierarchy of increasingly better worlds that would be better than any world that God could have chosen to actualize.[9] If so, then God+ could be surpassed in goodness by an omnipotent creator, God++, who could, in a supererogatory manner, actualize a better world than the one actualized by God+. Furthermore, God++ could, in turn, be surpassed in goodness by God+++ in the same way as God+ could have been surpassed by God++, and so on ad infinitum. If there is no best possible world that God could have actualized, then God cannot be said to have compromised his omnibenevolence by satisficing in actualizing TW. Adams gives voice to this conclusion when he says, "if there is no maximum degree of perfection among possible worlds, it would be unreasonable to blame God, or think less highly of His goodness, because He created a world less excellent than he could have created" (1990, p. 275).[10]

Nontheistic Response

Nontheists could respond that for it to be case that God should have actualized HW over TW, and all other possible worlds (AOPW) for that matter, as the heaven world argument requires, it is not necessary that HW be the best possible world simpliciter, that is, the best without any qualifications.[11] God's decision to actualize a world would include a decision about the numbers, N, and kinds, K, of persons (and, perhaps, also sentient nonpersons, if any) the actualized world would comprise. Once the N and K values are set, it then becomes feasible to determine a relativized best possible world among worlds that have the same N and K values. Identifying a population-equalized best possible world would involve comparing the axiological and eudaimonic values of TW, HW, and members of AOPW when all have the same N and K values. TW with specific N and K values can be represented as TW—NK, while HW and members of AOPW with the same specific N and K values as TW can be represented as HW—NK and AOPW—NK. The rationale behind the N and K population caveats for making transworld superiority comparisons is to avoid making such comparisons mainly a function of extrinsic N and K numbers, rather than a function of intrinsic axiological and eudaimonic values of the compared worlds, such as those spelled out in section 4.1.[12] In light of that section's value factors favoring HW, and the population caveats just described, HW—NK would be superior to TW—NK and AOPW—NK in so far as there could not be any member of AOPW—NK, including TW—NK, that could be superior to HW—NK in axiological and eudaimonic terms because only in HW—NK would all persons enjoy the greatest good of experiencing the BV. Therefore, neither TW—NK nor any member world of AOPW—NK could contain more good than the greatest good for all beings who could experience good, as is the case in HW—NK. Furthermore, neither TW—NK nor any member world of AOPW—NK could contain as much good as HW—NK either. If it did, it would not be essentially different from HW—NK; it would be HW—NK, namely, the NK-populated world in which all persons experience the greatest good of the BV. So, I conclude that there is a best possible world among worlds having the same N and K values, namely, HW—NK, which, according to the heaven world argument, God would have actualized rather than TW—NK.

5.6 Sixth Challenge: God's reasons for actualizing TW rather than HW are inscrutable (skeptical theism).

Theists could argue that even if the previous four theistic challenges to the heaven world argument are deemed to be unavailing and we are unable to determine the justification for God's actualizing TW rather than HW, that alone would not suffice for us to reasonably conclude that God would have no justification. His justification could simply be beyond our ken. This sort of defense of God's actualizing TW rather than HW would be an application of the increasingly employed general theistic apologetic known as skeptical theism. The latter holds that humans, given their significant cognitive limitations compared to God, should be skeptical about their ability to comprehend God's reasons for his actions, such as why he actualized TW rather than HW.

Response

I see a number of problems with the use of skeptical theism here. To begin with, if skeptical theists maintain that God does not reveal his reasons for actualizing TW rather than HW because humans could not understand the reasons, then one apposite response is that God could give humans some sort of comprehension assistance, what Ted Drange called a "brain boost," that would allow them to understand the reasons (Drange, 1998, p. 206). Such assistance might be thought comparable to the innate ability of young children to learn complex natural languages intuitively. Moreover, theists would presumably be committed to the belief that persons in TW's Heaven, unlike antemortem persons in TW, would know why God actualized TW rather than HW. If so, then God must be able to give persons in TW's Heaven some comprehension assistance (brain boost?). By parity of reasoning, then, it would seem that he could have done something similar for antemortem persons in TW. Furthermore, one would think that he would have wanted to do so as well, if only to forestall humans nonculpably embracing corrosive doubts about his existence which would frustrate the purposes mentioned earlier for which theists say that God created humans in the first place.

Skeptical theists could retort that, for all we know, God does not give comprehension assistance because not revealing his reasons produces greater goods, albeit hidden from our ken, than would result from giving us such assistance. However, the nontheist could respond that the value of such hidden goods must always be less than the value associated with the summum bonum of the BV that all HW persons would experience. In this regard, Christian philosopher Marilyn McCord Adams says, "the good of beatific, face-to-face intimacy with God is simply incommensurate with any merely nontranscendent goods or ills a person might experience" (M. M. Adams, 1990, p. 218). Hence, I conclude that the use of skeptical theism to challenge the heaven world argument does not succeed.

5.7 Section Summary

Section 5 aimed to show that the five theistic challenges therein to the soundness of the heaven world argument were unsuccessful. In fact, if I am correct that theists would fail to delegitimize God's actualizing HW over TW, then theists, in a manner of speaking, could be said to be "hoist by their own petard"[13], the petard being the venerable and widely held theistic belief that existence in TW's Heaven with the BV is the summum bonum for humans. If it is, and if existence in TW's Heaven is very similar to existence in HW, then, to deny the axiological and eudaimonic superiority of HW over TW would be implicitly, and perhaps heretically, to deny the preferability of heavenly existence in TW to earthly existence in TW, a view which to my knowledge no theist has ever held.

6. Final Summary and Conclusion

I set out the atheological heaven world argument which concludes that God does not exist because if he did, he would not have actualized TW but rather HW. I supported that contention by showing that HW would be superior to TW and AOPW for compelling axiological and eudaimonic reasons and by pointing out that in HW the purposes for which theists claim God created humans would be better realized than they would be in TW or AOPW. Finally, I argued that the most salient theistic challenges to the heaven world argument are unsuccessful, and that its conclusion that God does not exist is therefore upheld.

Notes

[1] Although the phrase "beatific vision" is specifically a part of Christian theism, my argument works equally well with any theistic description of a state of maximal, eternal, postmortem happiness for humans, such as the Muslim notion of Paradise.

[2] The Catechism of the Catholic Church is available online.

[3] I acknowledge that some theists, universalists, hold that all humans will eventually attain eternal postmortem happiness. However, universalists comprise a relatively small percentage of theists. Even so, the other advantages of HW over TW would make HW superior even for universalists.

[4] Catechism of the Catholic Church. <http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P2.HTM>.

[5] Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter IV. Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics. <http://www.reformed.org/documents/westminster_conf_of_faith.html>.

[6] "I have created the jinn and humankind only for My worship" (Qur'an 51:56).

[7] This objection was suggested by an anonymous referee of the paper.

[8] For the sake of argument, I will accept Adams' claim that no members of TW could or would be members of HW. If they could have been members of HW, then one could construct a strong argument that they would have been harmed by being created in TW rather than in HW.

[9] For example, Alvin Plantinga (1974, p. 61), G. Schlesinger (1997), and Richard Swinburne (2004, pp. 114-115).

[10] See also: Howard-Synder & Howard-Synder, 1994, pp. 260-268; O'Connor, 2008, Chapter 5; and Langtry, 2008, pp. 74-78.

[11] It might be held that there could be a best possible world simpliciter if God could actualize a world containing an infinite number of good-making components. If such an actualization is possible, then the theist's objection here would still be unhorsed since it would be expected that God would have created that best possible world simpliciter rather than TW.

[12] Notice that the transworld superiority comparisons here assume that the most significant instantiation of axiological and eudaimonic values is rooted in the experiences of persons and, to a lesser extent, sentient nonpersons, if any. I take this assumption to be reasonable.

[13] That is, blown up by their own bomb (with a nod to the Bard).

References

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Adams, Robert. (1990). "Must God Create the Best?" In The Problem of Evil: Selected Readings (pp. 275-288), ed. Michael Peterson (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press).

Catechism of the Catholic Church. (1995). New York, NY: Doubleday. <http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p123a12.htm#II>.

Drange, Theodore. (1998). Nonbelief and Evil. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Floyd, Shawn. (2018). "Aquinas: Moral Philosophy." In The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. James Fieser and Bradley Dowden (Martin, TN: University of Tennessee at Martin). <https://iep.utm.edu/aq-moral/>.

Hick, John. (1978). Evil and the God of Love. New York, NY: Harper and Row.

Howard-Synder, Daniel and Frances Howard-Synder. (1994). "How an Unsurpassable Being Can Create a Surpassable World." Faith and Philosophy Vol. 11, No. 2 (April 1): 260-268.

Kraay, Klaas. (2013). "Can God Satisfice?" American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 50, No. 4 (October): 399-410.

Langtry, Bruce. (2008). God, the Best, and Evil. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

O'Connor, Timothy. (2008). Theism and Ultimate Explanation: The Necessary Shape of Contingency. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

Ord, Toby. (2008). "The Scourge: Axiological Implications of Natural Embryo Loss." The American Journal of Bioethics, Vol. 8, No. 7: 12-19.

Plantinga, Alvin. (1974). God, Freedom, and Evil. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Quinn, Philip. (1982). "God, Moral Perfection, and Possible Worlds." In God: The Contemporary Discussion (pp. 197-213), ed. F. Sontag and M. Darrol Bryant (New York, NY: The Rose of Sharon Press).

Rowe, William. (2004). Can God Be Free? Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press.

Schlesinger, G. (1977). Religion and Scientific Method. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Reidel.

Swinburne, Richard. (2004). The Existence of God (2nd ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Tooley, Michael. (2015). "The Problem of Evil." In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2015 Edition), ed. Edward N. Zalta (Stanford, CA: Stanford University). <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2015/entries/evil/>.


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