The Logical Problem of Evil?
I'm not much of a philosopher, nor am I much of a theologian, so don't expect any great insights from me on this point, but allow me to comment on a discussion that Bill Keezer, Kevin Kim, and others have been having concerning the proposed contradiction between God's properties of omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence, on the one hand, and the fact of evil in the world, on the other hand.
The discussion was noted by my friend Malcolm Pollack on his blog, Waka Waka Waka, in a blog post titled "Evil: Still A Problem, Apparently," where he cites Bill Keezer:
In summary, the theodicic question arises from the belief that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omni-benevolent. Once one shows that these are inherently contradictory, one must select one to be less than "omni." This paper argues that the resolution of the theodicic question is to limit God's omnipotence.I commented on this position, though at Malcolm's blog rather than Bill's:
I've not looked at the link, but there's broad agreement among philosophers who argue this point that no one has proven that the three 'omnis' are contradictory since we might be ignorant of a good reason that God could have for allowing evil.Kevin then posted a comment requesting specifics:
I'd be curious to know more about the broad agreement you describe.I supplied a brief response:
Kevin, the point is a narrowly logical one. Some have claimed to find a logical contradiction between God's omnipotence, omniscience, and 'omni-benevolence', on the one hand, and the fact of evil, on the other hand.That's about all that I'm qualified to say on this issue. For more adequate explanations, here's a good place to begin, for it states my point far more rigorously: William L. Rowe, God and the Problem of Evil.
But why is this a contradiction? The contradiction needs to be clearly demonstrated, but such a contradiction cannot be demonstratively shown, for God's omniscience and our epistemological situation of limited knowledge leave open the possibility that God has a good reason for allowing evil that we simply do not know and perhaps cannot even understand.
To prove a contradiction, one would need to demonstrate that God can have no good reason, not merely to demonstrate that one can think of no good reason.
Satan, of course, is no 'necessary being' in this argument, but I like the depiction above from the Codex Gigas, which makes for a lively personification of evil to lighten the seriousness of a discussion such as this one.