OmniGod and Abuse

OmniGod and Abuse July 26, 2018

Let me start off with an internet meme:

Today’s subject of choice is the Problem of Evil. I will be using the notion of classical theism to represent God here; that being OmniGod, who is omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent.

In the above image, the girl is questioning (quite rightly) why God was not present during some episode of abuse. Although the reply by Chad in the image may seem to the regular sceptic as ridiculous, it is completely as to be expected. The problem of evil is a real thorn in the side of the theist because it means that every unit of pain or suffering must be accounted for in the context of OmniGod. Everything from stubbing my toe in the morning to mass genocide must be seen in the light of God’s omniscience, omnipotence and omnibenevolence. In this context, there is no space for gratuitous pain or suffering. As soon as we allow for gratuitous pain or suffering, we open the door to God not being on the benevolent, or one of the other omnis.

To me, of course, Chad’s claims are patently absurd, but then I am not approaching the problem with the same axioms. Our background beliefs are entirely different. If I was a committed Christian, then I would almost certainly be saying something along the lines of the comment below the picture.

As I have previously mentioned a number of times, this causes the Christian to contradict themselves in terms of moral philosophy. The usual position is that consequentialist morality is a “terrible ethic”. However, as soon as you propose some kind of theodicy that explains why the pain and suffering is there, you are invariably opening the door to consequentialist morality. There must be a greater good that comes about as a result of whatever evil is being analysed. In this case, the abuse to the girl must be seen as necessary for bringing about a greater good. The Christian philosopher then has to ad hoc rationalise exactly what that greater good might be. There is no clarity that comes from any religious text or revelation that sheds light on exactly what moral calculation takes place. There is only the special plead that some kind of benign calculation indeed exists.

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