– In response to Hookflash vs. World‘s Carnival of the Godless entry.

In your post, you presented the argument from Evil.

The Argument from Evil essentially goes like this: If God is willing but not able to prevent evil, then he is not omnipotent. If he is able but not willing, then he is not benevolent. If he is neither able nor willing, then why call him God? If he is both able and willing, then why is there evil?

Well, let me give you an example, from the theology I know, to answer that argument, and see what you think, ok?

Let’s take it at a run. Should you be interested in the dialogue after that, we’ll continue. It’s a tough one – most good questions are.


I’m interested in why you are reducing the individual questions to either-or. I’m also curious as to why you are making the assumption that those two choices are, in fact, the only two options in those particular cases.

I would define “free will” per the dictionary: “The power of making free choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances or by an agency such as fate or divine will.”

Note the “or”. Let’s focus on the second half of that. “unconstrained by the divine will”, as that is the meaning pertinent to the discussion. Every will is, by necessity, not entirely free. Circumstances impinge, and always will. Within those circumstances, we have the ability to choose our own course of action, to the extent to which we are able.

If God is willing but not able to prevent evil, then he is not omnipotent.

I disagree with this, for several reasons.

1. Theologically

God is the master, not the “watcher”. If evil exists, it is because He allows it to exist. He may, even, will the continuation of evil.

2. Consequentially

Why? I propose that it is a consequence of His decision to allow our choices to be freely made. If those choices are evil, the results/consequences will be evil. Those choices, as they, in turn, impinge upon others, will result in evil to them, as well. That is the nature of evil. That is the nature of the world we inhabit. Actions result in consequences. God, instead of intervening to buffer, or negate, the consequences of evil actions, allows them to exist – because they were freely chosen.

3. Logically

If God removes all consequences to evil – what matter does it make if we continually commit the evil acts? We can commit evil to our heart’s content, and violate His justice – while He condones it? No. Just as every evil action has consequences for others, every evil action has consequences, when it comes to God’s Justice. God’s justice is sometimes revealed in the temporal world – but His ultimate justice will result when He judges all who have committed evil – and assigns their fate. So, there is no “injustice”. Just a temporary commutation. Criminals, necessarily, are allowed to commit evil. They would not be criminals, unless they had committed a crime. However, the crime must be committed in order for the person to become a criminal. Sentences are commuted, due only to a constraint of mercy. The judge may have mercy on the criminal, or he may exact justice immediately. It is the perogative of the judge.

God, being the ultimate Judge, has ultimate perogative. If you think about it – God says that any evil act, “large”, or “small”, is worthy of His judgement. So, the commutation of our sentence, regardless of the crime, is simply His mercy. As is the extension of His decision to allow our will to be free. You, regardless of your “criminal” status, relatively, are free of sentence – until you no longer have an option to “reform” (ie: Biblical repentance).

If he is able but not willing, then he is not benevolent.

I again disagree with both your “either-or”, and the limited choices you offer.

How is keeping someone from exercising their free will, or from experiencing the consequences of his own actions, specifically benevolent? Yes, innocent people are often hurt – but they are being hurt by another. Who chose to do so. God _could_ incinerate every evildoer as soon as the thought crosses his mind – but… have you thought of the consequences of such a policy for yourself? Have you ever lied, or cheated, or etc.? God makes no distinction.

I’m glad He doesn’t specifically intervene to prevent evil. We’d ALL be in big trouble.

If he is neither able nor willing, then why call him God?

That is the problem with reducing it down to “either-or”. If you pick your either-or right, and selectively determine the choices involved, you can get a false dilemna out of anything, with seemingly logical starting points, that are not, in fact, accurate descriptors. I also believe this argument is entirely too narrow.

If God is able to prevent evil – and doesn’t do it, because His mercy is such that He allows us to choose His mercy over His Justice – is that impotence, or graciousness?

If God is willing to prevent evil – yet does not, because then noone could choose His mercy freely – does that make Him sadistic?

There is much more to the discussion, and many more possible arguments. That was just a small “opener” attempt.