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The Problem of Evil is a real thorn in the side for Christians and most theists alike. How can there be so much suffering in light of an OmniGod? Christians offer defences and theodicies as propositions for solving this problem. For example, the Free Will Theodicy proposes that suffering caused by humans is as a result, or a necessary corollary, of the use of free will. This has several issues as a defensive tack, most notably the fact that it does not explain natural evil.

Take spontaneous (natural) abortions. As I mentioned again the other day, somewhere up to 75% (but probably less) of fertilised eggs are spontaneously aborted, or naturally lost before birth. The question develops as to whether God is culpable for this natural evil.LittleBookofUnHolyquestions

Firstly, God developed, through design and creation, the world that we live in, and its natural dynamics. He could have developed a system whereby such natural abortions simply did not happen. That would have been incredibly simple for an OmniGod to do. But God didn’t do this.

Secondly, with this system in place, God does nothing to stop these deaths, apparently, from happening. Ryan M, in another thread on this subject, stated this:

An issue with natural deaths can arise depending on one’s intuitions about the symmetry principle between acts and omissions. Consider the following thought experiment:

Suppose we have two persons, Smith and Jones. Smith enters a bathroom and finds his nephew in the bathtub. Knowing he stands to obtain a great inheritence if it nephew passes, Smith drowns the child. Jones, in a similar predicament, finds his nephew in a bathtub. However, Jones finds his nephew already drowning, and consequently he does nothing to prevent the child’s death when he knows he could save him.

James Rachels and Michael Tooley think both people are equally culpable, and there is no moral difference between intentionally permitting some event E and intentionally failing to prevent an event E where a person knows they could prevent it.

In relation to God, if the above intuition is correct, and God knows that God can prevent natural deaths yet intentionally fails to, then it would seem that God is equally culpable in failing to prevent natural deaths than God would be if God directly killed people. As a result, the symmetry principle would imply that God is a murderer.

This is the same logic that leads to the conclusion that Satan, if you were to believe in such a figure, is merely God’s management executive, carrying out the (omissive) will of God. If you are one to blame the evils of the world on Satan, then really, you are blaming God.

TheProblemWithGodLikewise, any such evil that happens on earth is the will of God. You cannot say that God does not have the ability to stop suffering in any instantiation. Thus he wills it, in some way. Every single instance of pain and suffering, down to my stubbed toe, must be understood through the lens of OmniGod who cannot allow gratuitous evil. And by not stopping it, he is equally as culpable as the murderer, the rapist, or the table that gets in the way of my foot. After all, as mentioned, God designed and created this here universe with the full foreknowledge (according to classical theism) of what would come to pass. Knowing that X would murder, B would be raped, and Z would stub their toe, he created anyway.

All this and more I discuss in my books The Little Book of Unholy Questions and the reasonably priced ebook The Problem with “God”: Classical Theism under the Spotlight. Please grab one from the sidebar >>>>> and support my work.

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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...