JohnnyP has post the following article on Debunking Christianity and there are several...problems....with it. I've annotated his post in red.
Let us assume the triple properties of the classical approach to God: that he is omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent. In terms of the classic Problem of Evil argument, if there is too much evil in the world, God knows what to do about it, is powerful enough to do it, and is loving enough to want to do something about it. This argument has been around since the days of Epicurus and still remains one of the most hotly debated theological issues in modern times, causing many believers to leave the fold due to its evidential power.
This line of argumentation has never impressed me because who says that we can determine when God should deal with evil. The argument also fails to take account that if God destroyed all evil now, we would all be destroyed. If God had destroyed all evil at any time in the past, we would never exist. Instead God has a plan in mind and everything is in place to bring that plan to fruition - even evil.
19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. - Romans 8:19-25
However, logically, the theist can still defend their belief in God and the accusation that either God does not exist, or God does not possess one, two or any of those properties. They do this, more often than not, by employing the ubiquitous ‘God moves in mysterious ways’ or ‘You cannot know the mind of God’. What this equates to, is the a priori claim that God does have those three characteristics, and that, therefore, all the pain and suffering in the world is not gratuitous but part of the grander plan and vision of an all-loving, all-knowing and all-powerful Superbeing.
I really wish that when people raise this objection would really argue without the arrogance of assuming that we know just how much suffering there should be in order to get the "best possible world". We don't. We don't know know that "Best possible world is". That's like telling an engineer that the car he's designed is a failure and not knowing what the specs are! We wouldn't do judge a design (at least sane people wouldn't) and not know what the design specs and goals are. Why would we expect the universe and reality to be different?
Although it is very difficult to logically disprove this defence, it does have some rather serious ramifications for the Christian theist. Because God is claimed as being all-loving it means that any decision that God makes, any actualisation of events and matter and so forth, must be the most loving that can be. It means that every decision made must be the most caring or loving decision that could possibly be made in terms of some criteria, or some outcome.
Again, we don't know what the criteria or outcome is so how do you judge that God is not making the most loving decision possible? Do we even know what "love" is? How would you explain what "love" is to a five year-old. My Daughter is five and she just asked me that question about half-a-week ago. How would you answer? Without God the question can't be objectively answered in any meaningful way.
Since God is omniscient, and given the possibility of Middle Knowledge or any other mechanism for divine foreknowledge, God knows every possible outcome for every actualisation of every possible world. And God, evidently, chose this one.
I reject "Middle Knowledge" because I can find no Biblical nor scientific evidence that convinces me that is how God handles time and space. I would not say that God picks a possible reality to exist. He "knows the end from the beginning" because He has determined it. I agree he knows all other possibilities but he's not bound by our will or what we will or will not do. I've posted a lot about Middle Knowledge on this blog and can read them by following this link.
First of all, the ramifications are fairly clear for God’s own free will. Since he must do what is maximally loving at all times, he cannot do otherwise. One could argue, then, that God does not have free will himself. Without the ability to act contrary to his omnibenevolence, he has only one course of action that he can possibly take, or courses of action that contain equal quantities of ‘lovingness’ (for want of a better term). A theist could argue that God could do otherwise but chooses not to.
Doing the maximally loving thing at all times is hardly limitation if you don't want to do anything otherwise. Can square want to be round? I agree that God cannot do otherwise because to do otherwise is to choose to be imperfect - equals sin. It's against God's nature and character not a limitation and is not a denial of God's free will.
This is akin to the taxman analogy. This goes as follows. A taxman assesses your business. He says you have a tax bill for $25,000. He gives you the choice of paying it or not paying it. The free choice is yours. However, by not paying it, you will go to prison (or to make the analogy more powerful, you will be sentenced to death). Thus you have a free choice where you can exercise your free will, but one choice will result in your imminent imprisonment or death. What will it be? You can argue, perhaps, that you have free will, but you can also argue that this is an effective denial of free will.
It's a bad analogy. It's more like having already been born in prison and not being able to raise bail. You are sentenced to death. The only way to be free and live is to let Jesus no just pay the price for your release but take your punishment of death as well. The problem is you are so engrossed and blind in your imprisonment you can't see how bad off you really are without being told or the truth revealed to you.
I think this is an important point:
In the same way, God could choose in a way that was not maximally loving, but he never would because it is against his all-loving nature. This is a grey area of free will. There is a debate here as to whether God does not have omnipotence, or whether omnipotence can be a potentiality. If it is a potentiality that can never be made real and existent, then does this equate to it not existing?
There is another option: God always chooses that which is maximally loving because of who and what God is. The problem is that we don't know that the maximally loving options are or even what "love" really is in all situations. We have an idea, but we don't really know exhaustively.
However, the main point to be made here is as follows. It seems, then, that if God is to keep his omnibenevolent characteristic, then this world must be the maximally perfect and loving world that there can be. If God is perfect, then this must be his most perfect creation. A perfect God could not create something that fell short of perfection, and an all-loving God could not create something that did not fulfill the criterion of being the most-loving creation.
Johnny P neglects one major thing: Sin. You can deny sin, sure. But you can't argue against Christian theism using what we believe in order to show that it doesn't make sense and ignore sin. The Creation did not fall short of perfection before the fall. God doesn't perpetuate evil in this reality, we do. It's our rebellion that is what is wrong with the world. You cannot have love without mercy and it is this that keeps God from destroying all of us and making us wait until all those who will believe to hear the Gospel and turn to God to be revealed.
The slightly worrying outcome this is that a world where 250,000 people and millions of animals are killed in a tsunami, where anywhere between 20% and 75% of foetuses are naturally aborted (depending on the source), where cancer and malaria are rife, where a global flood killed all the population of earth bar 8 (and all the animals bar some), where forest fires kill baby deer, is a world where these events that are perhaps even necessary for it to be the most loving world.
Again do you or anyone of know what the whole plan is? Do we know what the best for us in the world is? I don't. If you think you do, then you are really dishonest. If you don't know what maximally good and perfect are, how do you know that there is no purpose for the suffering we witness? You don't.
Moreover, the Westboro Baptist Church may have some kind of twisted logic in celebrating the death of every soldier, in celebrating the outcome of pretty much anything as being the righteous judgement of an all-loving God. They realise that this judgement by God to actualise this particular world must be supremely wise and must result in the most loving world. This includes every piece of suffering and death experienced by every animal and plant in the history of the world.
Westboro Baptist Church is far from the best example of how to think logically about these issue. Is all of this due to God's judgement? Some of it? However God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, why should we?
Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’ - Ezekiel 33:11
We shouldn't take pleasure in anyone dying without God and without hope. And back to Romans 8, every bit of suffering is indeed for a reason - even if we don't know what it is.
If this is where logic takes a Christian, then they can keep their God in all his maximal perfection. And while they’re at it, they can package up all the pain and suffering and send it return post to the pearly gates. Not needed here, thanks.
So Johnny P's reasons for rejecting God has to do with erroneous presuppositions about what good is and what love is and what the nature of God is. Obviously, most people would prefer to attack a strawman version of God instead of what the Bible actually say.s IF you want to throw out the God of Middle knowledge and say that he does not exist, more power to you! That God does not exist. Instead, how about reading the Bible and meeting the God who exists and sustains God's self with God's self.
Debunking Christianity: Is this the Best Possible World and does God have Free Will?