PE/QS vs. O^3 God: On The Problem Of Evil

Also referred to as the Question of Suffering, the Problem of Evil (PE/QS) is an axiom in philosophical and religious circles which claims the fact of evil existing in our world is incompatible with God as described by most Christians: a God that is at least all-powerful, all-loving and all-knowing, also described as omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient (o^3). Also referred to as the Epicurean Dilemma, the argument itself has been around a few millenia, advanced 2400 years ago by Epicurus (341 – 270 bce). Epicurus offers three options:

“Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; Or he can, but does not want to; Or he cannot and does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. But, if God both can and wants to abolish evil, then how come evil is in the world?”


It’s an admittedly difficult proposition that a homeless mother can get raped and beaten to death in a dark alley when an allegedly all-powerful God exists. Something reasonably describable as sin or evil clearly exists in our world, but some believers claim their God is all-powerful, all-loving, and all-knowing. Wouldn’t such a God eradicate evil if truly all-powerful? Shouldn’t such a God have to eradicate evil if truly all-loving? Couldn’t such a God eradicate evil if truly all-knowing? I believe the answer to all of these things must be an emphatic yes, whether you are a believer or not, and I believe this should be the first mutual agreement of our little discussion here: That an o^3 God is obligated to remove evil and put an end to suffering.

DEFINITIONS:

One crucial reason atheists and theists rarely achieve common ground in the PE/QS dialog is due to differences in definition of the relevant terms. Discourse addressing the PE/QS can easily become an unfruitful exchange of strawman argumentation, with each side arguing misconstrued definitions against one another, thus ruling out any potential for common ground from the outset.

As we should ask in any professional argument, what are the appropriate definitions, and are there any given premises? In the PE/QS, what are the biblical foundations for the existence of evil? Where in the Bible does it say or reasonably imply that God is omnipotent, omnibenevolent, or omniscient? I’ve seen dozens of papers addressing the PE/QS, and not a single one I’ve seen has ever listed the biblical precedents for both of these claims. After all, one might reasonably object to the o^3 depiction of God.

A) Biblical foundation for o^3 claim: So what is the biblical basis for the o^3 God? Regarding omnibenevolence, the closest thing I’ve found is the following verse from Romans which says, “God always works for the good of those who love him.” Regarding omnipotence, Jesus said with God all things are possible. Do these justify the o^3 claim as commonly argued? Are there other verses we might factor into our discussion?

B) So how might we reasonably define evil? In a related thread, one atheist said, “Anything that brings about human suffering is evil.” I think this definition is rather Homo-centric, don’t you? What about that which brings suffering in the animal kingdom? Are oil spills evil? Veal farms? Killing a flea? What about natural disasters? I am considering the question of whether natural disasters constitute evil a different discussion altogether, for the moment. Whether asserted by an atheist or a Christian, sans reasonable support, offering Isaiah 45:7 as scriptural support for the notion that God created evil gets no clearance here.

What do we mean when we use the word evil? To me, the best analogy is light and darkness. As darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of good. In the case of light and darkness, I think it’s fair to say that ‘light’ is in fact an arrangement of photons, things, a positive proposition. Thus, ‘darkness’ is a negative proposition, an absence of photons.

To be clear, as used in this post, evil is used as an adjective, loosely synonymous with the biblical sinful, and at a bare minimum refers to a human decision that results in suffering, which is used as a noun, and refers to any of the various states of sensory or psychological privation – physical pain, emotional sadness, psychological guilt, etc.

C) And what of the o^3 qualities themselves? How, for example, might we define omnipotence? Merely the power to do anything? Can an all-powerful God create a rock so heavy it cannot be lifted? Indeed, the idea of omnipotence is not easy to define. For the sake of a fair PE/QS discussion, omnipotence simply means that God at least retains the ability to end evil and suffering at any time through any suitable variety of employable means.

What, then, becomes of omnibenevolence? Can an all-loving God allow a being to become so evil it cannot be redeemed? Can an all-loving God render punishment without contradiction? Is tolerance of evil and/or suffering in any degree and for any duration incompatible with omnibenevolence?

Lastly, how should we define omniscience? Seriously. Please think about the inherent difficulties in defining omniscience.

How should we think of the prefix omni? As in, literal unlimited supply of some quality? As the ability to do anything that can be done? Can God do that which can’t be done? Does that which can’t be done exist? Or is the idea that God can do anything that can be done acceptable? I don’t mean to ramble like a buffoon there, just thinking of the many offshoot and related questions that might be at work here.

As used in this series, an o^3 God 1) Has the power to end suffering; 2) Desires an end to suffering; and 3) Knows how to end suffering. Proceeding from definitions and contexts as delineated above, I shall now attempt my case that in PE/QS vs. o^3 God, Epicurus’ argument contains free lunches and is a form of the either-or fallacy, which manifests in many forms but always forces the observer to make a choice based on limited options. I will support this claim by attempting to demonstrate that other viable options exist which do not violate logic or reason as we understand them, and I will consider this piece a success if one atheist concedes one or both of these points. Note that a success in this respect does not mean I’ve got things figured out, either.

1) GIVEN PREMISES, LATENT FALLACIES:

Nearly all arguments contain assumed premises, and Epicurus’ is no different.

One assumed premise the Epicurean Dilemma contains is that the conclusion God has not abolished evil flows from the existence of evil in this universe. In other words, I do not think that the existence of evil and suffering in the universe means God did not make a decision to abolish it, or that God in fact did not already abolish it. Evil existing is not necessarily tantamount to lack of decision or action on God’s behalf.

The idea is admittedly counter-intuitive, as I’ve already conceded that evil does in fact exist in the world. Is existence of a quality sufficient evidence said quality has not been abolished? I argue that the existence of a quality is not necessarily synonymous with it being allowed to exist. But an omnipotent God wouldn’t have to allow anything, right? So if evil exists in the world, on what grounds might one claim God may have already abolished it?

If I might entertain an admittedly human example that I do not offer as a valid analogy, but proffer simply to illustrate a principle, let’s say we call the act of sleeping in excess of seven hours ‘evil.’ When the leader of a state’s affairs issues an official decree abolishing sleep in excess of seven hours for all the peoples in all the states and provinces, at that moment, the leader has abolished evil in his kingdom. No definition of ‘abolish’ I’ve found to date includes instantly as a criteria, and one definition offered ‘to decay little by little.’ That our leader abolishes sleep in excess of seven hours, and that all sleeping over seven hours automatically ceases, are not both instantaneous processes. Also note that in our example, our leader has in fact taken a stand against said offense, and declared it an abomination to the people, demonstrating a correct sense of moral responsibility.

Of course, the obvious difference is that in our example, our human leader is not o^3. If an o^3 God desires to abolish evil, it must be instantaneous, so critics say. Why? If God’s abolition of evil is not instantaneous, does that render God less than omnipotent?

This leads me to a second free lunch in the Epicurean Dilemma, namely that the alleviation of suffering is God’s direct responsibility. Now I’ve already said God is obligated to remove evil, so no allegations of contradiction, please. God can be rightfully obligated to remove evil, and I believe God is, but such does not mean that God must roll up the sleeves, descend upon the Earth and pull some Samuel L. Jackson acts. Again, I have agreed that yes, in theory, an o^3 God would be obligated to alleviate evil and suffering, but what if said God has decreed it humanity’s duty to both detect and abolish negative, evil behavior? Would such justify God’s alleged failure to intervene?

What about hidden fallacies? Are there any latent fallacies we must commit to have this discussion? I believe that by default the discussion is entailed by one of the most foolish fallacies of all, the Fallacy of Human Omniscience, which occurs whenever an individual presumes to have sufficient knowledge from which to reason what God should or should not do in a given situation. Put simply, actions are influenced by information, and we cannot always properly judge an action without knowledge of all the information that influenced it.

This occurred to me the other day while watching one of those “Most Shocking Bedlam, Brawls, and Mayhem” shows. In the episode, we’re shown a security camera POV focused on a line in a small check-cashing facility, packed with people. A white guy on his cell phone makes a comment to his receiving party that infuriates a nearby woman, who chews the guy out, slaps him and then calls her 300-pound boyfriend in. The boyfriend proceeds to beat the guy senselessly, close to death, and of over ten people present, nobody did a thing (admittedly the offender was an over 300 pound beast, and I would have probably hesitated as well). My initial reaction was to question why everybody let this guy get beat to the point of convulsion.

The inherent problem is that my lack of complete information obscures an accurate moral judgment. Though the argument exists that nobody deserves such a beating, it is quite possible that the guy who received it asked for it. There are simply too many unknowable variables: What if these folks had prior history? What if the comments made against the woman were in reference to the woman’s ethnicity or weight? Still, one might rightly argue such a severe beatdown is wrong, but my point is to advance the idea that nearly any set of variables can justify an apparently wrong act.

As such, we should be cautious in attempts to judge others, especially God. How are we of limited intelligence supposed to wholly grasp the workings of an allegedly all-knowing, all-powerful God, unless of course that all-knowing, all-powerful God makes them clearly known? Veterans to the discussion should note that in saying this, I am not going to cop out of the argument by relying on the “God’s mysterious ways” trope.

2) WAS EVIL NECESSARY?

The question must be raised: Is existence a predicate to abolition? I think it is. We can’t abolish something that never existed. The existence of evil is a precursor to its abolition. One logical implication to this is that evil was necessary, but does that then imply God had no way around creating evil? I believe it does, and I think that would create a very big problem for the case of God’s omnipotence, but, we’re not taking into account God’s omnibenevolence, the definition of which is all-loving. Is there any possible scenario under which an omnipotent, omnibenevolent God would be forced to allow evil to exist? And does that scenario contradict any of the qualities in question?

We also can’t fairly abolish evil without some sort of persuasive case that evil is in fact detrimental to life, and thus worthy of abolition. Some raise issue about the concept of predestination, and I don’t wish to digress into arguments over predestination and free will. Some say, “Well..if God knows everything, he would know which people would choose good and which would choose evil, so why not spare everyone the trouble of going through it all in the first place?”

Well, that’s a logical question, and I can only reply with another: Would an omnibenevolent God be justified in allowing eternal separation from himself without letting somebody manifest their own destiny?

See also:

What Do You Mean By God?

Did I Violate Omnibenevolence?

13 Comments

  1. John D says:

    hi there cl,
    you might recognize my name from Daylight Atheism; I just thought I would pop round and visit your site.
    The traditional response to this would involve the commitment of God to human freedom, even if it is used for ill. “God does not revoke his gifts” (Romans, somewhere). What is your reaction to points such as these?

  2. cl says:

    Of course I recognize you! I just made my final remark regarding that fiasco with OMGF. I appreciate you sticking your neck out there first BTW. That guy is tough and a master dreamweaver, but I wish no ill of the guy and only that he might see what we’re saying. Twice was enough to recognize and dismantle his strategies. I’m not going to fall for his traps in further threads at DA. And the personal insult stuff is just not cool.
    At any rate, enough about that, thanks for coming through to say hello, and come by anytime. This is Part I, and Romans 11:29 does say, “For God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable,” but I don’t see the relation of such to PE/QS… would you care to elaborate?

  3. John D says:

    haha,
    I realized that I posted after only having read the INTRODUCTION… so yes, my post doesn’t really respond to your article at all. Sorry!
    Re. OMGF, I quickly realized that this man is so violently anti-God that it corrupts his ability to follow an argument. Did you notice that, when Steve Bowen pointed out some oversight of his, he readily accepted the correction. For me, there is one good explanation for that: Steve is an atheist, and you and I are not. I also visited his blog, which shed further light on the situation, and made me feel rather sorry for him.

  4. cl says:

    Well, where were you going with the Romans thing anyhow? I’m interested now..
    OMGF, DA, and atheism in general are neither here nor there for me. Most of the commenters there are thoughtful, but what can you do? Let the kennel door open and you’re bound to get a rabid pit bull at some point. Of course there’s differences between everybody, but I’m cool with everybody and just see ‘people,’ but too many from too many camps see ‘us’ and ‘them.’ OMGF also got pretty pissed when Steve Bowen agreed that he inaccurately rendered your “…transcendent God is not accessible via the 5 senses” into “we cannot sense God.” He got pissed!

  5. cl says:

    Well, where were you going with the Romans thing anyhow? I’m interested now..
    OMGF, DA, and atheism in general are neither here nor there for me. Most of the commenters there are thoughtful, but what can you do? Let the kennel door open and you’re bound to get a rabid pit bull at some point. Of course there’s differences between everybody, but I’m cool with everybody and just see ‘people,’ but too many from too many camps see ‘us’ and ‘them.’ OMGF also got pretty pissed when Steve Bowen agreed that he inaccurately rendered your “…transcendent God is not accessible via the 5 senses” into “we cannot sense God.” He got pissed!

  6. John D says:

    hi there,
    What I was trying to get at was this: God’s gift of a free will is not revocable, since he is committed to allowing us scope to make genuine choices. The possibility of evil, in a way, seems to flow from God’s taking us seriously. Or again, it is a sign of human dignity that we can do what is not good, rather than being determined to the good. Well, could God have made things so that we actually always choose the good, thus allowing us to retain the power of choice, but making sure it is always directed to good?
    But that would involve pre-setting the will to always choose the highest good, namely God, and lower goods in relation to that highest good. So while we would be free with respect to lower goods (created things), we wouldn’t be free with respect to the Good with a capital G (God): our wills are set to the good (not just what seems good, but what actually is good). But it is important that we be free to choose God too, so that the act of creation, which is an act of love, may receive a response in kind from the creature. That this response be genuine and free, I think that includes at least the possibility of choosing something that is not God (the true good ontologically speaking), and not ordered to God (not ordered to true good, and so not good from point of view of action) – that is, it includes the possibility of evil.

  7. cl says:

    Interesting take on that verse.
    I think the people who insist God could’ve or should’ve made a world with no evil are like unreasonably overprotective parents. I grew up skateboarding, and it’s quite simply the type of activity where getting hurt is just part of the deal. Such is life. To me it’s ironic when atheists and proponents of evolution fault God for the imperfections in this world.

  8. Hi. I know you asked me to look at this, so I read it over a couple of times. Before attempting any sort of response or counterargument, I’d first like to make sure I understand your points.

    From my reading comprehension, you’ve outlined the following six points (no more, no less) as reasons for why the Problem of Evil fails:

    1: We don’t know if the Biblical God really is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving.

    2: We don’t have meaningful, understandable definitions of “all-powerful”, “all-knowing”, and “all-loving”.

    3: God’s decree against evil is a sufficient resolution of the problem and God should not be expected to do anything further.

    4: God should not be blamed for suffering if it is up to humans to reduce suffering.

    5: We, as fallible humans, do not possess enough information to justify a negative judgement of God.

    6: God may be forced into allowing evil for reasons beyond our comprehension.

    Did I miss any points? Are any of these points misrepresentations or failures to understand your position?

  9. cl says:

    Hi there Peter. I’m sure you noticed I haven’t been spending much time on my own blog lately.

    Regarding 1, it’s not so much that we don’t *know* if the Biblical God really is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving. It’s more that I’m interested in hearing people’s scriptural justifications for those claims. They hardly ever seem to be forthcoming, and I just think it’s good practice to challenge assumptions, just like it’s good practice to write clean, reusable code if you’re a web programmer.

    Regarding 2, that’s incorrect: I most certainly *do* think we have understandable definitions of “all-powerful”, “all-knowing”, and “all-loving”. For the first two, I tend to use, “unbridled access to the full set empirical possibilities,” and, “unbridled access to all knowledge [including abstract knowledge and transitions from potency to act in the Aristotleian sense].” “All-loving” is a bit more difficult for me to articulate, but I don’t think we’re at a loss to come up with something understandable. How about you? What would you propose for “all-loving?” One thing I know I would *not* propose is, “unable to allow one or more instances of suffering for any reason whatsoever.”

    I’m not quite sure how to interpret 3, so I can’t say whether it’s an accurate paraphrase of my position or not. Maybe you could show me what I wrote that led you to interpret me thus?

    4 seems partly accurate, but I would say, “God should not be blamed for the existence of suffering since suffering is a contingent result of human free will.”

    Regarding 5, I suspect it might be a paraphrase of my, “lack of complete information obscures an accurate moral judgment.” If so, I’d say hold me to my original. I’m saying it’s difficult to be reliable in our judgments, because an omniscient God necessarily has more knowledge than we do.

    Regarding 6, the term “forced” implies against one’s will, so I’m not sure that I would say that. But 6 does seem to follow from 5, and yeah, that statement reduces to, “God works in mysterious ways.” Now, mind you — because practically every skeptic likes to disparage that sentiment — but I’m of the opinion that it’s only a cop-out if used in place of a logical argument.

    Hope that helps.

  10. Hi there Peter. I’m sure you noticed I haven’t been spending much time on my own blog lately.

    No worries; I’m not in a rush. I understand other people are quite frequently busier than I am.

    Regarding 1, it’s not so much that we don’t *know* if the Biblical God really is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving. It’s more that I’m interested in hearing people’s scriptural justifications for those claims.

    I don’t have any scriptural justifications for these claims beyond the ones that others have produced. The only reason I care about whether God is all-powerful, all-good, and all-knowing is because that is what the popular conception of him is to be.

    To me, it seems God must be all-powerful because he was able to create the entire universe, and must be all-knowing because he created knowledge and time. Whether or not God is all-good seems to remain to be proven outside the Bible, and is not something I would grant because I think the Problem of Evil succeeds.

    Nonetheless, since this doesn’t seem critical to your defense, it seems safe to leave it alone for now.

    Regarding 2, that’s incorrect: I most certainly *do* think we have understandable definitions of “all-powerful”, “all-knowing”, and “all-loving”. For the first two, I tend to use, “unbridled access to the full set empirical possibilities,” and, “unbridled access to all knowledge [including abstract knowledge and transitions from potency to act in the Aristotleian sense].”

    I agree. I just saw “Definitions part C.)” and thought this might be part of your defense. Good thing I made sure to clarify first.

    “All-loving” is a bit more difficult for me to articulate, but I don’t think we’re at a loss to come up with something understandable. How about you? What would you propose for “all-loving?” One thing I know I would *not* propose is, “unable to allow one or more instances of suffering for any reason whatsoever.”

    I think of an all-loving being as a being that never fails to be compassionate. I think of a compassionate being as a being that not only is aware of suffering, but actively and consistently desires suffering to be reduced.

    I agree that some suffering is necessary for a higher good, but think that, by definition, any suffering that is not necessary for a higher good is needless and will be eliminated by any compassionate being capable of doing so.

    I’m not quite sure how to interpret 3, so I can’t say whether it’s an accurate paraphrase of my position or not. Maybe you could show me what I wrote that led you to interpret me thus?

    You write about the leader who issues a decree abolishing “sleep in excess of seven hours”, in a kingdom where such sleep is evil in “1) GIVEN PREMISES, LATENT FALLACIES:”. Yet despite this decree, sleep in excess of seven hours remains. Should we blame the leader?

    To my understanding, you then draw a comparison to God and suggest that he too has issued the same decree against evil, and God should not be blamed because this decree did not immediately eliminate evil, since such a decree still counts as “abolishing”.

    Is this a comparison you actually draw, or have I misread you here?

    4 seems partly accurate, but I would say, “God should not be blamed for the existence of suffering since suffering is a contingent result of human free will.”

    Indeed, this seems to be the standard Free Will Defense. I agree that God should not be blamed for creating humans capable of moral evil, and I concede that having free will is a good that outweighs all the evil done because of it.

    However, as I write in my essay, I don’t think God is off the hook since (1) natural suffering due to birth defects or hurricanes does not seem to flow from freely willed actions; (2) God still has the power to appear and educate evildoers as to the wrongness of their ways just like humans do; and (3) God could work within our human justice system to perfectly identify and capture wrongdoers.

    (2) and (3) would reduce suffering without impinging on free will, and (1) demonstrates that there is needless suffering that occurs without regard to free will. Therefore, I think the Problem of Evil remains unsolved and an additional theodicy is needed.

    Regarding 5, I suspect it might be a paraphrase of my, “lack of complete information obscures an accurate moral judgment.” If so, I’d say hold me to my original. I’m saying it’s difficult to be reliable in our judgments, because an omniscient God necessarily has more knowledge than we do.

    Indeed. But if this is the case, what do you make of the eradication of polio? I think even though we can’t be entirely sure that our world is better without polio, we can be reasonably certain that a polio-free world is preferable.

    Do you think God had good reasons for permitting polio? If so, would that mean we were wrong in eliminating it? If we weren’t wrong in eliminating it, why didn’t God eliminate it himself?

    Regarding 6, the term “forced” implies against one’s will, so I’m not sure that I would say that. But 6 does seem to follow from 5, and yeah, that statement reduces to, “God works in mysterious ways.” Now, mind you — because practically every skeptic likes to disparage that sentiment — but I’m of the opinion that it’s only a cop-out if used in place of a logical argument.

    I agree you didn’t use it in place of a logical argument and therefore it’s not really a cop-out, but it still feels like a cop-out because it smells like a trap — “God has a reason, and since you don’t know what the reason is, you can’t challenge it or argue against it, so HA”.

    But I think this is damaging for a different reason — if we truly don’t know and cannot understand God’s motivations or actions, how do we know they are good? Saying God has a reason we can’t know or understand seems to entirely abandon any claim to God’s goodness. Saying God is good for reasons we don’t actually know or can provide is a meaningless statement.

    And this is made weirder by the frequency at which theists do cite God as good — any answered prayer or moment of love, and we thank God for all the goodness in the world. It is only when the bad happens — the destructive hurricane or the death of a starving child — that we rush to a notion of “mysterious ways”. This seems almost like special pleading.

    Hope that helps.

    Indeed it does; thanks. I hope my responses were similarly enlightening.

  11. cl says:

    I think of a compassionate being as a being that not only is aware of suffering, but actively and consistently desires suffering to be reduced.

    The God I believe in qualifies.

    To my understanding, you then draw a comparison to God and suggest that he too has issued the same decree against evil, and God should not be blamed because this decree did not immediately eliminate evil, since such a decree still counts as “abolishing”.

    Yes. God has already abolished evil, and the finality of this abolition will be realized in the new order of things [i.e., the new Earth].

    I agree you didn’t use it in place of a logical argument and therefore it’s not really a cop-out, but it still feels like a cop-out because it smells like a trap — “God has a reason, and since you don’t know what the reason is, you can’t challenge it or argue against it, so HA”.

    It’s not a trap. It’s just an unfortunate fact of reality: humans are less-than-omniscient. God, purportedly, is not.

    But I think this is damaging for a different reason — if we truly don’t know and cannot understand God’s motivations or actions, how do we know they are good?

    I have a few lines of reply for that. The first occurs in the context of the new Earth: as long as everything is working fine and there is nothing we know as evil from the previous order of things, why do we need to know? The unfortunate reality is that by default, less-than-omniscient beings can’t readily “check” everything an omniscient God says. In the context of co-existence between God and humanity, one either accepts this fact and does the best they can, or they deny this fact and refuse to do the best they can. I would be in the group that accepts it and does the best they can. Lastly, who’s to say that in the future order of things, God won’t explain all that is good? You would surely agree that, “God is mysterious” can only apply where God’s full revelation is not extant, right? Yet the Bible says, “For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light.” That which is not currently known will one day be known.

    Saying God has a reason we can’t know or understand seems to entirely abandon any claim to God’s goodness.

    How so? As explained above. Saying “we don’t currently understand X” says nothing more than “we don’t currently understand X.” It doesn’t imply the impossibility of X, nor does it imply ~X. It simply represents a pause in the process of induction.

    And this is made weirder by the frequency at which theists do cite God as good — any answered prayer or moment of love, and we thank God for all the goodness in the world. It is only when the bad happens — the destructive hurricane or the death of a starving child — that we rush to a notion of “mysterious ways”. This seems almost like special pleading.

    Well, frankly, what do other theists have to do with our discussion? Sure, some shun logical discussion and go straight for “God works in mysterious ways” as a diversion from critical thinking. I don’t, so we should be good, right?

    All that said, it seems to me our next exchanges ought to be along the lines of your points 1-3, and the “polio” remarks. Is there anything else you’d like to get out of the way before we move on to those?

  12. Saying “we don’t currently understand X” says nothing more than “we don’t currently understand X.” It doesn’t imply the impossibility of X, nor does it imply ~X. It simply represents a pause in the process of induction.

    You’re correct that saying we don’t currently understand X does not imply ~X, but it does imply that we don’t currently know if X is true. If God works in mysterious ways we don’t understand, we don’t know if the statement “God is all-good” is true.

    Surely we may know in the future when this “New Earth” is heralded, but we don’t know *now*. And why God can’t explain himself now is beyond me.

    Well, frankly, what do other theists have to do with our discussion? Sure, some shun logical discussion and go straight for “God works in mysterious ways” as a diversion from critical thinking. I don’t, so we should be good, right?

    I suppose we are good on this point, then.

    All that said, it seems to me our next exchanges ought to be along the lines of your points 1-3, and the “polio” remarks. Is there anything else you’d like to get out of the way before we move on to those?

    Something along the lines of points 1-3 + the polio remark + the above remark about why God can’t explain himself now would indeed be the bulk of my Problem of Evil.

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