THE THEODEMONIST PROBLEM OF PROVED WRONGS
section 3.3.2 it was mentioned that
there is no standard evaluative meaning of the word god in the
tradition of the present language. Because the word god has hardly
any universally accepted conceptual meaning either, the crucial thing is
that god and God have a strong positive connotation
for theists. Perhaps, a theist is not primarily someone who
believes in one or more gods, but someone for whom the morpheme
god has a positive evaluative meaning in this language.
Nevertheless, besides its rather strong evaluative meaning, which is
negative for atheists, god does have some standard conceptual
meaning for theists and nontheists alike. Every 'god' is at
least an unusual being in a
denominational doctrine, and if it
is a principal being in that doctrine, the doctrine is theistic.
Moreover, it is worshiped or requires (some) people's worship
according to such a doctrine. It is often also believed to have
more than natural powers or attributes and to control the world
or a particular aspect of it, but that belief is the
supernaturalist part of the ideology in question and does not
constitute its theist nature in the strict sense.
Tho a belief
in supernatural 'gods' which are in need of the same enlightenment
as every mortal, human being may be supernaturalistic, we
shall not call it "theistic", because such supernatural unusual
beings do not play a principal role in such a belief.
Not only may a god be believed to rule the universe but also to have
created it (or to have created it but not to rule it anymore), while
(still) providing factual, modal and normative information about it.
What is theistic about this belief (rather than supernaturalistic) is the
worship, or purported worship, of such a being and the assertion or
suggestion that it is of superior value or --in the event
that there is only one such specimen-- of supreme value.
But obviously, a god must be
believed to deserve worship because of some quality it or
'e 'has' (which is short for is
believed to have).
Such a quality may be that it is more powerful than usual, or
all-powerful in the extremist conception; that 'e
knows more than usual, or is all-knowing in the
(Extremist in the literal,
catenical sense of the word, referring
to the obsession with one or both of the
extremities.) The god's
superior value is therefore a function of its power, its wisdom,
its goodness, and so on.
Conversely, by making power, wisdom, goodness and suchlike, attributes of
the principal being or beings worshiped, power, wisdom and goodness
themselves become objects of worship.
But, it may be rejoined, it is not power besides goodness
that is, or should be, worshiped; it is the power to do good.
Which sounds plausible.
The plausibility of this argument evaporates, however, in extremist
monotheist thought in which one divine person or personified god, named
"God" for one, is claimed to be at once omnipotent, omniscient and
What ensues is a problem which in philosophy of religion is called
"the problem of evil".
Since it is a god that plays a leading part in this drama, we will briefly
discuss it here, altho the problem is basically supernaturalistic.
We shall dub the god in question "Mono", and to refer to
'im we shall --in the
fashion of the major monotheist traditions in sexually irrelevantistic
languages-- use the masculine pronoun.
As Mono, the leading lord, is all-powerful, and as he is conscious that he
is all-powerful, for he is at once omniscient, he lacks all courage (but
without necessarily being a coward).
Courageous are only those of Mono's mortal opponents who do not believe
that they have supernatural power, or who do not believe that they are
protected by a supernatural being.
Yet, we are being asked to ignore this, as this observation would
detract from the luster of the play long before its termination.
In its simplest form the plot is this: Mono, who remains
invisible during every act of the play, is omnipotent, and knows
this; he is wholly good, and knows what is good or just; yet,
evil exists, and has been proved to exist. What follows is an
intellectual battle between, on the one side, the defenders of
Mono who profess that he does exist and that he is both all-powerful
and wholly good nevertheless, and on the other side,
his opponents who argue that he cannot be all-powerful and
wholly good at the same time, even if he exists. First,
several of the defense's pleas are refuted one by one. For
example, the argument that 'good cannot exist without evil' or
that 'evil is necessary as a counterpart to good'. We have
already disposed of this sort of argument ourselves as sheer nonsense in
Another argument adduced is that 'evil is due to human free will'.
This leads to what has been called "the paradox of omnipotence".
How could Mono, being omnipotent,
have created things or people he subsequently cannot
control? To solve this paradox one of the players suggests that
a distinction must be made between first- and second-order
omnipotence. (It has now become a game of two balls, so to say.)
The right horn (or ball) of omnipotence is, then, defined as
unlimited power to act and the left one as unlimited power to
determine what power to act things will have. What is then
demonstrated is that Mono could not in the course of history be
all-powerful in both senses at once. As we haven't got enough
time to seriously consider the rejoinder that Mono would be a
wholly nontemporal being as well, we shall listen a moment now
to a more sophisticated version of the so-called 'free-will
The latter-day free-will defender in question starts with
arguing that one must differentiate moral and physical evil
and that Mono could not create the possibility of moral evil
committed by free creatures while simultaneously 'prohibiting
its actuality'. According to the free-will theodicy a world
containing free persons and moral evil is superior to one
lacking free persons and both moral good and evil, so long as
that world contains more moral good than moral evil. (It will
require quite a few paradisiacal serpent-windings to combine
this persuasion with the usual monotheist eschatology that teaches
that the present world is imperfect, while forecasting and
idealizing a perfect, ultimate world without any evil.) The
notion of an omnipotent, omniscient and wholly good god would
therefore not be inconsistent, because a world with 'free
possible persons such that there is a balance of moral good over
moral evil' is logically possible. Of course, the argument does
not prove Mono's actual existence, for, among others, it hinges
on the 'empirical' assumption that all people in the universe do
on average show significantly more benevolence than malevolence.
(An assumption which, altho not extreme, is positively unneutral.)
Moreover, even if this is the case, it does not
guarantee that it will remain the case.
So much for the moral evil which the ubiquitous Mono is
supposed to logically allow. Now, what about physical evil,
and what is this? The apologist of Mono-theism defines physical
evil as evil which cannot be ascribed to the free actions of
human beings, but here lies the flaw in
'er apologetics. If
'moral evil' is the 'evil of doing something morally wrong',
then 'physical evil' does not only concern the evil of natural
disasters and suchlike things but also the bad, physical
consequences of morally evil deeds. (Whether they are morally
evil solely because of their bad consequences, or bad consequences
which were intended, does not matter here.) If Mono really were
wholly good and all-powerful, he might be expected to help anyone
and everyone who is the victim of someone else's wicked behavior.
This would not infringe upon the free will of the person
committing evil, as Mono did not have to make the act of free
will itself impossible. He would merely take care that no-one or
no innocent sentient being suffered from such an act in the end.
It is then that he would be good.
Some theists in the play may indeed claim that Mono does
actually compensate for all suffering which is the physically
evil result of other people's morally evil behavior, something
that amounts to saying that this kind of physical evil does, on
balance, not exist. Other theists may point out that Mono cannot
compensate for all suffering as everyone would then know that
nothing could, on balance, hurt one's neighbor or enemy, and
moral evil itself would become impossible, something that
Mono's creation does not allow for. (We shall skip the question
why and how someone would know that Mono compensates for all
suffering. Game-theoretic theology teaches that an omnipotent
or omniscient being should, in certain situations, keep its
opponent in the dark about its omnipotence or omniscience
in order to guarantee the best outcome for itself.) The
rejoinder is, first of all, based on the view that the moral
evil would solely lie in its physical consequences, because it
would only be these physical consequences, bad and good, which
even out in the end; the evil, intentional act of wanting
something wicked is still possible. And not only is this moral
evil still possible, what could be more morally wicked in this
terrific world than doing something that not only hits another
mortal being, but which is bound to provoke the intervention of
Mono in his very own person?
The evil is then not committed against just a mere fellow actor but
against the Master of the Universe Himself.
Every monotheist must admit that this is the most perfect of all sins.
The free-will argument that an omnipotent, omniscient god could be wholly
good, altho 'e would not take away all bad effects of morally evil acts,
Apart from this digression the free-will defender has still
to account for all physical evil which does not result from
morally evil acts. At least, this is what one would expect, but
physical evil like natural disasters is --as claimed by one
of Mono's advocates-- also the product of moral evil.
This evil must not be attributed to lost souls of the human type, however;
nay, it must be attributed to one or more mighty, themselves nigh almighty,
In other words: one or more demons which, altho created by Mono himself
long before he created man, have decided to rebel against their
In a daring attempt to justify this belief in one devil and
perhaps other demons, it is even related to us that it is 'an
important part of traditional theist belief to attribute a good
deal of the evil found to Satan or his cohorts'. (Satan is the
name given to the sole or principal demon, and as the struggle
between this principal being and Mono is a vulgar struggle for power,
both must be male in the style of reasoning concerned.) The proper
name we shall give to this being playing a second principal
role in the Universal Theater of supernaturalist ideology
While the naive spectator may first have thought that there
was only one great invisible being in this fantastic play, the
dramatic disclosure is that there have been two invisible
protagonists from the beginning on: Mono and Demono. We should
bear in mind tho that the hypostatization of both Mono and Demono
is a logical prerequisite of only extremist monotheist religion.
It is not necessarily true of all religion, not even of all monotheist
religion. Nonetheless, what it does illustrate is that religion is often
theistic and demonistic at the same time. Its theism and its demonism are
hand in glove as it were, seem to imply each other, need each other, like
yin and yang, if not logically, then at least psychologically.
That is why it is not the belief in one or more gods only which counts
but rather the belief in one or more gods and/or demons.
This is what aptly may be called "theodemonism".
(Since demonism is a good word which parallels theism, it is
to be preferred to demonology when talking about the belief
in demons.) As the deeds of the divine 'supreme being' in monotheist
scriptures but too often veer between the creation and the destruction of
life, between beneficence and maleficence, a religion founded upon such
scriptures is also 'theodemonical' in the full sense of the word when it
does not explicitly allow for a separate, independent demon, with or
without its cohorts.