J.L. Schellenberg has crafted an argument that is an updated version of the logical problem of evil; it’s a new logical argument from evil that proposes to show that God and evil can’t both possibly exist. This version tried to get around objections to versions of the logical argument from evil like those of Mackie and Epicurious.
Schellenberg’s argument in a nutshell:
1. Necessarily, if God exists, every possible world would only contain goods that are in God
2. Necessarily, if God exists, the goods in God are pure goods (i.e. goods without evil) [Premise]
3. Unpure goods exist (i.e. courage which requires evil; this entails that evil exists)
4. Therefore, there are goods that exist in the world which are not goods in God [From 3]
5. Therefore, God does not exist. [1, 4]
I recognize that premise 1 is the controversial premise. Premise 1 is defended by Schellenberg by noting that goods in God are goods without evil. Why would God prefer unpure goods over the pure goods? In terms of quality, surely pure goods are better. In fact, pure goods are the greatest goods possible because these goods are grounded in the best possible being, God. Why sacrifice the pure goods of love without sin for the unpure good of love where sin exists in a relationship because of free will? Isn’t love without sin a good grounded in God? After all, God is not sinful and God loves. Can’t humans loves without being sinful?
There might be the objection that God can’t share these pure goods given that nature of humans as finite beings and God being the infinite being. However, think of the good in God that has to do with beauty. This sort of beauty is not tainted, for example, by unethical paintings done by some artists or some sculpture that it not symmetrical. This beauty in good is not impure. But can humans have this sort of beauty? Well, it seems we can. Why does it matter that this beauty is instantiated in finite beings. How would it not be unpure? it’s true that beauty without distortion is a good grounded in God, and it is clear that humans can have this sort of beauty.
But it is not clear to me that humans have to have all the pure goods that are held by God. If this is the case, then God can’t actualise those goods. But it doesn’t follow from that that he would instantiate unpure goods.
Can we come up with other examples? Well, I think we can. There is the pure good of being able to perform a task without growing tired. There is also the pure good of using power without sinning, and it is a distinction without a difference to note that humans don’t have Omnipotence because we are dealing with quality, not quantity. Furthermore, think about the pure good in God that has to do with justice. This justice does not have to do with revenge and is not a bitterness towards the party who has done something wrong, but clearly humans can have this as well.
Finally, there is the pure good (good in God) that deals with not being swayed irrationally by emotions, and this also seems like humans could possess this, and this possession is univocal to God, not analogical, which gets to my next point.
The Thomistic-Classical Theist might object that if it is true that if humans can only have pure goods by analogy, which may not be true, then the argument collapses. But why is that? Right now, humans love in an unpure way, which means we have to talk about our love and God’s love in an analogous sense. But if we love without sin, why do we need an analogy anymore? In the same sense, we would love everyone as God loves everyone and we would love everything that God loves. This means our love and God’s love would be univocal.
In addition, we do not have to use analogies for every pure good like the pure good of not sinning or not doing unethical things. If God can’t sin, this can be that same thing for humans and there is no analogy. If God hates sin, then humans hate sin as well. This hatred for sin just is not accepting sin as a thing to be pursued. Let’s also suppose that a pure good in God is the ability of not being able to sin. Humans clearly could have the pure good of not being able to sin, so why sacrifice this for the unpure good of libertarian free which will possibly necessarily lead to sin?
There might also be the objection that this argument is based on the assumption that there is a best possible world. But, this is not the case. Rather, the argument is what we would expect God to do given his nature of containing goods without evil. With a motive approach, God creates in order to share the good. The goods in God are goods without evil. Also, since God is the greatest possible being, we can see how the goods in good are the greatest possible. These aren’t mere contingent goods like character-building. Rather these goods are grounded necessarily in God. Hence, it makes no sense to say that, with sin, for example, we can always imagine a world with one less sin. This is confused. With pure goods, there is no sin at all , which means there is not better pure good regarding sinlessness !
It might also be objected that you can have unpure goods and pure goods together. But if there are unpure goods, then the world is impure. That is, there is evil. But if the world contains pure goods, then there is no evil. So now we get to the conclusion that there is and there is not evil, which is a contradiction, and this means that the objection is flawed in its reasoning. But it might be said that you could have some pure goods and some impure goods. However, the argument already explains why there would only be pure goods. In addition, a pure good is love without evil. If God is to share a pure good, wouldn’t it be the case that he would at least share love? Being all-good means that you are perfectly loving. However, in our world, there are no humans that are perfectly loving, not even in principle.
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