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In Defence of the PoE
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5/1/2015 5:51:44 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
In this post I will present the problem of evil, list some objcetions to it and respond to them. I felt like doing this, because lately I have had various discussions about the PoE and the responses seem to be more or less the same everytime, just as they are fruitless every time.
1) God is all-powerfull, all-knowing and all-good.
2) If something is all-powerfull, all-knowing and all-good evil would not exist.
3) Evil exists.
4) Therefore God does not exist
There are two things that come to mind:
1. How much evil is needed for there to be good?
Does it take thousands of dying children every day for us to recognize the good in the world? I don't think so. In the western world the starving of children in the third world is of no impact to our life, in fact most people don't care, yet they can distinguish good from bad.
J.L Mackie put this nicely: If there is only good, it seems reasonable to say that a predicate like "good" would be superflous in our language, however just because nobody would call something good it does not follow that (what we would right now call) good does not exist.
If God exists and if laws of causality exist, he is the one who made them. God is omnipotent and as such he can abrogate them if he wishes to.
Drawing analogies to parents who want to educate their children are completely misguided, since using such profane means to his ends like mortal parents do would mean that he either chooses to follow the rules he created, limiting his omnibenevolence or he cannot alter them, limiting his omnipotence.
Alvin Plantinga said that only the capability to do evil means that someone has morally significant free will, but this contradicts the christian doctrin of a heaven free of evil, since noone would have free will up there.
The theist migh respond by saying that heavens redemption changes an individual in a way such that they would simply not choose to do evil, but then there is no reason for a omnibenevolent being to nots let the same happen on earth.
Moreover the free will defence commits the theist to libertarian free will, hence any argument against this theory of free will is also an argument in favor of the PoE.
The free will defence evokes another problem: God's free will. If God is not able to do evil then he has no morally significant free will and is therefore never doing anything praiseworhty. However if the theist holds that it is possible for God to have morally significant FW and to be unable to do wrong then there is no contradiction between free will and moral perfection, hence an omnibenevolent being would grant the same to humans.