Since Evil & Suffering Exist, A Loving God Cannot …?

The presence of evil, pain and suffering in our world is the most persistent argument raised against the belief in God. Usually it goes something like this…

An all-knowing God would know evil exists.
An all-loving God would want to prevent evil from existing.
An all-powerful God could prevent evil from existing.
But evil does exist.

Now given that the fourth proposition would appear to be undeniable, it can be inferred that one of the other three must be false, and thus there cannot be an all-knowing, all-loving and all-powerful God. Or, to put it another way, if God does exist, He must be either “impotent, ignorant or wicked”. Checkmate, or at least some people think that.

However, not too long ago, an American philosopher named Alvin Carl Plantinga put forth a new proposition that is intended to demonstrate that it is logically possible for such a God to create a world that does contains evil. This is how he summarised his defense: A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being equal, than a world containing no free creatures at all. Now God can create free creatures, but He can’t cause or determine them to do only what is right. For if He does so, then they aren’t significantly free after all; they do not do what is right freely. To create creatures capable of moral good, therefore, He must create creatures capable of moral evil; and He can’t give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so. CS Lewis would agree saying, imagine a wooden beam became soft as grass when it was used as a weapon, and the air refused to obey me if I attempted to set up in it the sound waves that carry lies or insults. But such a world would be one in which wrong actions were impossible, and in which, therefore, freedom of the will would be void; nay, if the principle were carried out to its logical conclusion, evil thoughts would be impossible, for the cerebral matter which we use in thinking would refuse its task when we attempted to frame them. Continuing his defense Plantinga says “As it turned out, sadly enough, some of the free creatures God created went wrong in the exercise of their freedom; this is the source of moral evil. The fact that free creatures sometimes go wrong, however, counts neither against God’s omnipotence nor against His goodness; for He could have forestalled the occurrence of moral evil only by removing the possibility of moral good.”

So, even though God is all-powerful, it is possible that it was not in his power to create a world containing moral good but no moral evil; therefore, there is no logical inconsistency involved when God, although wholly good, creates a world of free creatures who chose to do evil.