Saturday, October 13, 2007

If you haven't come across Mike Liccione (and I hadn't until Scott Carson tipped me off), you don't know what you're missing:
Classical theism is committed to the claim that God's omnipotence and perfection are compatible with the evil in his world; but the same tradition precludes saying precisely how evil squares with God's omnipotence and perfection. If any Christian doubts that, they should remind themselves what religion they profess. Christianity teaches that the only-begotten Son of God, the King of the Universe, gave us a chance to escape the thralldom of evil first by becoming a perfectly good man and then, at his Father's behest, getting himself tortured and executed as a serious public nuisance.
Provocative is an understatement. There's more:
People sometimes talk as though the presence of any evil at all in the world poses an objection to believing the Creator to be all-powerful and perfectly good. St. Thomas Aquinas considers and rebuts such an objection in the article from the Summa Theologiae where he purports to prove that God exists. Surely he is right to maintain that the omnipotence and goodness of God are manifest partly in the fact that out of evil he can bring a greater good. To a much lesser extent, we do that sort of thing all the time: we learn from mistakes; we cure diseases; we find that some pleasures are all the greater for the pain that must precede them; and most important, people sometimes become better through suffering. We are, if you like, more powerful for all that: whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. That is how God has arranged things.
Scott Carson was the first blogger I heard make that statement, that the 'problem' of evil really isn't a problem at all, but I never quite understood it until reading Mike's post.