How can a good God allow so much

 

EVIL  in the world?

 

Part of a logical response to this age-old question is how we characterize God.

 

 And define old terms…

 

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The “Problem of Evil” keeps some from considering Christian faith.

The first thing in trying to understand this problem is to carefully define a key term

Omnipotence — the quality of having unlimited or very great power. (OED)

To help, we’ll insert Christian apologist Dinesh D’Souza and philosopher Alvin Plantinga into the issue. To us, their words are crisp, plain, and logical. (Coloring, underlining, boldface, and breaking paragraphs, however, will be ours.)

Says D’Souza:

Omnipotence doesn’t mean the ability to do anything. Rather, omnipotence means the possession of unlimited power. In God’s case, omnipotence means having unlimited power to do what God wants to do. So can God tell a lie? No. God has unlimited power, but since it is not in his nature to lie, his power is used for doing what God actually intends. God cannot draw four-sided triangles because the very idea of a four-side triangle is nonsense. Omnipotence does not mean the ability to do what is impossible and nonsensical. A sign of this is that no amount of additional power would make a triangle four-sided. Can God build a stone so heavy that he can’t lift it? The answer is no, and here’s why: because God has unlimited power, there is no stone he can’t lift; and as there is no stone God can’t lift, God cannot build a stone so heavy that he can’t lift it. So the puzzle of the stone has been solved, and now we can see that God’s inability to make a stone so heavy he can’t lift it is no refutation of his omnipotence; rather it is the result of his omnipotence.

Thus we come back to our earlier question: Could an omnipotent God create a world with free will but no evil? The clear answer to this question is no.That would be like asking for a four-sided triangle. The very definition of free will includes the real capacity to choose evil, in the same way that the very definition of a triangle includes three-sidedness, and in both cases that added amount of power would make impossibilities into possibilities.*

D’Souza then quotes Plantinga:

As philosopher Alvin Plantinga puts it, “God can create free creatures, but he cannot cause or determine them to do only what is right. For if he does so, then they are not significantly free after all; they do not do what is right freely. 

To create creatures capable of moral good, therefore, he must create creatures capable of moral evil, and he cannot leave these creatures free to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so. God did in fact create significantly free creatures; but some of them went wrong in the exercise of this freedom: this is the source of moral evil. The fact that these free creatures sometimes go wrong, however, counts neither against God’s omnipotence nor against his goodness; for he could have forestalled the occurrence of moral evil only by excising the possibility of moral good.” **

One of the most common arguments against God, and Christianity in particular, is the Problem of Evil (as it’s commonly called). The words of D’Souza and Plantinga are offered here as a worthy response to the existence of moral evil in a good world that God created.

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* Dinesh D’Souza, Godforsaken (Tyndale House, 2012) ch. 5.

** D’Souza in Godforsaken quoting from Alvin Plantinga’s, “God, Evil, and the Metaphysics of Freedom,” in The Nature of Necessity (NY: Oxford Press, 1974, pp. 166-67).