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January 13, 2009


Oh boy!

Congratulations, Greg!

Columbo's tactics:

Columbo tactic gone bad:

My book is on the way, and I'm really looking forward to it!

I just ordered the book! I'm currently stationed here in Okinawa, Japan. I can't wait to get this book!

How exciting! There's so much material about evidence for the risen Christ, but so little about how to convey the Gospel with grace and tact. Thank you Greg for filling this need!

Just got a copy this week and have already devoured it whole. It's exceptionally well done and highly recommended. Actually Greg should come out with a secular version of the book and he could probably sell a lot of them as his techniques for articulating positions with grace apply to many areas of life and not just apologetics. Obviously a lot of hard work was poured into the effort and it shows. Superb work that I am very thankful for.

I really look forward to seeing the fruit of this book in your disciples.


While discussing his visit to Purdue University, Greg stated that he was there to show non-believers that there were good answers to the best arguments against Christianity. One should be excused for finding this description of the event a bit surprising, since the talk was called “BAD Arguments Against Religion” (we would have been more interested to hear his replies to the GOOD arguments against religion, but we’ll take what we can get) and most of the arguments he attacked were so incredibly foolish that it is simply indefensible to call them the “best arguments from the other side.” They more closely resemble the worst arguments articulated by the mad against religion. Are we really expected to believe that full blown alethic and epistemic relativism provides some of the best arsenal against Christianity? I would sooner believe that all the intellectual foes of Christianity suffered from a debilitating mental illness than believe this is the best they have to offer.

One of the best cases to be made against the existence of God has traditionally been referred to as “the problem of evil.” For those interested, arguably the most sophisticated articulations of the problem have been provided by none other than Paul Draper, professor of philosophy at Purdue, and William Rowe, former professor of philosophy at Purdue. As may be expected, there were some in the audience who were aware of how formidable these Bayesian arguments from evil are. If the reader is aware of Paul Draper’s evidential argument from the biological utility of pain and pleasure, it won’t be necessary for me to say that the argument is in no way dependent on claiming that there actually is evil in the world. It merely observes a fact about the word and argues that that fact is antecedently many times more probable (epistemic probabilities) on the hypothesis of indifference than on theism, and is therefore good evidence that theism is probably false.

This is one of the best arguments against theism, and to this argument Greg’s remarks are absolutely irrelevant (his remarks may be summarized essentially as follows: the problem of evil presupposes moral realism, and moral realism entails theism). I hope that non-believers in the audience who were familiar with Draper’s argument were not annoyed by the inadequate treatment the problem of evil received. I also hope that Christians in the audience realized that the response Greg gave to the problem of evil really is entirely irrelevant to its best articulations (I have Paul Draper specifically in mind). I’m afraid if they don’t, they might have received a nice boost of misplaced confidence by Greg’s talk, which really did only address terrible arguments against religion, as opposed to the best arguments the other side has to offer, which survived unscathed by Greg’s remarks.



Given the arguments of Draper and Rowe were not presented, is it fair to criticize Greg for not addressing those arguments properly?

You might consider some material Greg has previously written on this subject that perhaps can answer some of your specific questions more thoroughly. This material is available on this web site under "Resources/Commentary & Articles". For example, on the subject of evil you might find

of interest.

-John A

To answer your question directly, Given that Greg represented his arguments as he did on the air, AFTER THE FACT, yes my challenge is fair. Frankly, his later claims were a total mischaracterization of what happened at Purdue. His presentation on the radio show was fundamentally dishonest and laughable. I suppose that he can get away with this readily on the air, but to those who were actually present in the audienbce, and recording precisely what he said (including my students at Purdue) his arguments at the talk were laughable,. (I have recordings and will post them next to his later claims on the air for anyone interested.)
His mischaracterization of the event after the fact was deeply disappointing. The bottom line is this: He did more harm than good. To the believers, he reinforced their pre-established beliefs with impotent arguments. To the unbelievers, he confirmed their suspicions that Christians are not "dumb" but intellectually dishonest, which is frankly a far more formidable charge.

BTW, I too believe in Christ, but, unlike Koukl, I don't pretend that my opponents are firing blanks when they are not. Creating straw men and firing with buckshot when the argument requires consideration and expert marksmanship is not only ineffective, it is harmful. And from the MANY students I've spoken with, more were harmed than helped by Mr. Koukl's visit to Purdue.



I recommend commenting soon on one of the most widely read blogs re: your book release, before it gets out of hand. See

Comments there are quickly devaluing the discipline of apologetics. Some see your release as some kind of endorsement for a negative attitude toward the apologetic endeavor.

Just a suggestion.

Paul D. Adams


"1. If God exists, then God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect.
2. If God is omnipotent, then God has the power to eliminate all evil.
3. If God is omniscient, then God knows when evil exists.
4. If God is morally perfect, then God has the desire to eliminate all evil.
5. Evil exists.
6. If evil exists and God exists, then either God doesn't have the power to eliminate all evil, or doesn't know when evil exists, or doesn't have the desire to eliminate all evil.
7. Therefore, God doesn't exist"

The idea that if god is good and powerful and that evil exists, then he must either not exist or eliminate evil now, is a false dichotomy.

A god could exist that is both powerful enough to get rid of evil, and willing enough to get rid of evil - but not yet.

The Christian god meets this criteria (see 2 Pet. 3:8-9).

This doesn't prove that the Christian god exists, but this is what one solution would look like.

Moreover, however, premise 1 is false because god could be omniscient, omnipotent, and evil, and you'd worship him out of fear and zero love.

I should take care to mention that the article leading up to the above argument said that only a morally perfect god would elicit the belief in the possibility of an afterlife and of ultimate elimination of evil; Again, though, it is certainly possible for any type of [incorporeal] deity to elicit belief in such things - whether or not he were trustworthy.

I thought I posted the reference.

Anyway, here it is:


My criticisms of Greg's talk are not affected by your comments about the logical problem of evil. In any event, Paul Draper's argument is a Bayesian argument from pain and pleasure, not a logical problem of evil, and happens to be much stronger than most logical arguments from evil. It doesn't depend on the claim that evil exists and so is immune from Greg's view that evil implies theism.



I saw Paul Draper's name associated with that article I quoted, but I admit that I only read the first bit, and that I didn't see 'Pleasure and Pain' as a section within the article. So I might have actually picked the wrong article.

Do you have a link to his Pleasure and Pain article? I fear that it may be available to subscribers only, or it's in a book.

This isn't the article I was talking about, but it's another argument of Draper's that (if I remember correctly) doesn't depend on the claim that evil exists in the world.



I got 404'd. Is there another link?

I'm having a bit of trouble making sense of Draper/Rowe's Bayesian argument. Anyone found a good summary yet?

It seems to me that the argument assumes such a thing as 'justification'. Though no assumption of 'evil' is made, there still is borrowing from a theistic worldview here. I could be way off-base though.

Donna, I'd like to ask a few questions if you're still around. You're a Christian; does the Draper/Rowe argument sound convincing to you? Is it powerful enough to have caused you to doubt theism? If not, how have you responded to the argument?


The argument has made me doubt theism, more so than any argument from evil I've ever heard. I have not worked out a convincing reply to his argument, although I have spoken with him about it frequently, and have responses that need to be worked out.


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