- Pangloss's Version of Optimistic Determinism:
Leibniz argues that the universe is designed, and Voltaire responds,
"That is like saying that noses were made for
- "One feels how
ridiculous it would be to maintain that nature had worked from all time in
order to adjust herself to the inventions of our arbitrary arts, which
appeared so late; but it is quite evident that if noses were not made for
spectacles, they were for smelling, and that there have been noses ever since
there have been men." (Voltaire, "On Final Causes" )
- What is Voltaire's
You can't justify the existence of God simply by asserting that reason
illuminates certain aspects of a universe whose true proportions exceed
- Anyone who thinks God could have made the world better and did not,
thinks God is not as good as he could be.
- Leibniz argues that God did the best he could with the physical materials of matter and
the structure of reality. Any other potential universe would have been
worse. Therefore, God is benevolent and omnipotent.
- Proof that the universe was designed by a creator is abundant.
- Consider the structure of our hands or our eyes. Intricate design
requires a designer. - The mere fact that the physical properties of the
universe can be grasped by human reason is further evidence of the
existence of a creator.
- Moral evil is the crime for which natural evil is
the certain and inevitable punishment. The causal links between sin and
suffering will become clearer in time
through our application of reason to the mysterious physical properties
of the universe.
- As we do so, we will reduce the chaos and suffering caused by our
- The Christian
Explanation for Evil: Original
Natural Evil is the direct result of
Job is the question and Jesus is the answer. Rather than renounce his
faith in God, Job demands that God explain why bad things happen to
good people. God's answer is Jesus sacrifice: God himself took on as
cruel a punishment as any human ever suffered, made all the
crueler by his utter innocence, yet still he offers redemption.
Would Voltaire agree?
- Bayle's Challenge: Manichaeism (1695)
Can there be any justice in sending people to hell, eternal and
What about unbaptized infants? Should they
go to hell too?
Bayle could not believe in such a God, so he came to the conclusion
that there must be at least two gods: one good and one bad. Our God
remains benevolent, but he is no longer omnipotent.
- The Enlightenment
Project (Julius Lecture Notes)
Natural laws are discoverable through the use of the scientific method.
We are born with an innate rational ability which, if properly
trained, enables us to develop a moral sense.
If we fit our political and economic systems to the appropriate
natural laws and if we fit our legal system to our moral values, then
progress is possible towards a better world.