I realize the nature of this topic is likely to garner the contempt of many. I respectfully ask that my opponent and I are spared any personal attacks. I sincerely want to debate this topic. I am not motivated to do so out of a desire to disrespect anyone or their beliefs. Rather, I desire this debate as a chance to share ideas.
Clarification: This is in reference to a tri-omni God
Before I begin, I want to make clear that in this debate, I am addressing what is known as a tri-omni God. That is to say, a God that is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnibenevolent. For the sake of clarity, I will briefly expand on what seems to be intended by these attributes
Omnipotent is a reference to power. That is to say, one that is omnipotent is all powerful. For instance, Christians often refer to their God as the “Almighty.“ Indeed, Mathew 19:26 reads “With God, all things are possible.”(1)Demonstrations of this supposed power include; healing the sick, causing a virgin birth, destruction, great floods, raising the dead, and creating the earth itself. C.S. Lewis, perhaps one of the most well know Christian Apologetics, stated the following. “His Omnipotence means power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles to him, but not nonsense. This is no limit to his power.”(2) In summary, God is said to have unlimited power.
This brings us to the second attribute of God; Omniscience. This is a reference to the knowledge of God. One that is omniscient, knows all. Christians tend to refer to God as the “Seat of all Knowledge.” In fact, this is one of the standard arguments giving for prayer or scripture study. As the oft quoted proverb states; “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he will direct thy paths.”(3)
We now arrive at the final attribute of the tri-omni God; Omni benevolence. This is the belief that God is morally perfect, the ultimate good. The New Testament states “He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love.”(4)
Thus, in this debate, my opponent must defend the existence of a God as defined by these three attributes. Again, they are Omnipotence, Omniscience, and omnibeneovolence.
"is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then, he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then, he is malevolent. Is God, both able and willing? Then, whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then, why call him God?" (Epicurus, the Greek philosopher)
I imagine most have been exposed at one time or another to the Problem of evil. The quote from Epicurus is perhaps its original form. Here I will demonstrate that Evil exists, and that because of this reality, a tri omni God as defined does not exist.
All who observe the world we live in notice the reality that is Evil. For example, there exists a multiplicity of instances of intense suffering. Often this happens to the innocent, or at the very least, the undeserving of the suffering to which they are subjected. Sam Harris put it this way. "Nine million children die every year before they reach the age of five. Picture an Asian tsunami of the sort we saw in 2004 that killed a quarter of a million people; one of those every ten days killing children only under five. That"s twenty four thousand a day, one thousand and hour, seventeen or so a minute" Any God who would allow children by the millions to suffer and die in this way and their parents to grieve in this way either can do nothing to help them, or does not care to. He is therefore either impotent or evil."(5)
Remember, this is not a comprehensive account of evil that exists. It is merely the tip of the iceberg. Imagine all of the other people that suffer evil through no fault of their own. Consider birth defects. Consider the sentient animals that can and often do suffer. While many may argue the semantics of evil or what evil consists of, it seems clear that the intense suffering of the innocent is evil. Thus, it seems to me clear; Evil indisputably exists.
The Logical problem
The following is taken from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
"P1) If God exists, then God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect.
P2) If God is omnipotent, then God has the power to eliminate all evil.
P3) If God is omniscient, then God knows when evil exists.
P4) If God is morally perfect, then God has the desire to eliminate all evil.
P5) Evil exists.
P6) If evil exists and God exists, then either God doesn’t have the power to eliminate all evil, or doesn’t know when evil exists, or doesn’t have the desire to eliminate all evil.
C) Therefore, God doesn’t exist.(6)"
A Tri Omni God does not exist. This is clearly demonstrated through the problem of evil.
(2) C. S. Lewis,The Problem of Pain
(3) Bible Proverbs 3: 5-6
(4) Bible 1 John 4:8
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Thank you, Kasmic, for taking on this debate with me! Pro gives one argument for the resolution: the problem of evil.
I. Two clarifications: types of evil and different arguments
Two clarifications are in order. First, there are two types of evil that philosophers discuss, and we need to keep them distinct: moral evil and natural evil. Moral evil is any wrong-doing committed by human beings (or angels and demons). It amounts to everything that makes its way before a judge and jury. Natural evil is that which brings about suffering, but without a moral dimension to it. A rock falling down a cliff and killing a man is natural evil because the rock is not somehow morally culpable. A man shooting someone in an alleyway is moral evil. Second, there are two version of the problem of evil, broadly speaking, and Pro fails to say which one they want to defend. On the one hand, we have the logical version of the problem; here, the atheist argues that much like the immovable rock and the irresistible force, God and evil are incompatible with one another. On the other hand, there is the probabilistic version, according to which God and evil are logically compatible, but nevertheless massively improbably with respect to one another.
II. The structure of the argument
Now, given Pro’s deductive formulation, I take it that they want to defend the logical version. With respect to his seven-stepped argument, I agree that if the premises are true, the conclusion follows. Now, I think we simplify matters and boil down (1) through (7) into an argument based on two, central claims:
1. God is all-powerful and morally perfect.
2. Evil and suffering exist.
Pro claims that (1) and (2) are logically contradictory. Given that they are not explicit contradictions of one another, there must be further statements that, if true, entail an inconsistency. These “extra” claims are premises (2) and (4) from above argument:
3. If God is omnipotent, then God has the power to eliminate all evil.
4. If God is morally perfect, then God has the desire to eliminate all evil.
Not only must (3) and (4) be true if (1) is to contradict (2); they must be necessarily true, much in the same way that “2 + 2 = 4” is necessarily true. (1) and (2) are purported to contradict one another; that relation is logically necessary, and therefore (3) and (4), if they are to generate a contradiction, must be necessary as well.
The problem is that neither (3) nor (4) can be shown to be necessarily true.
III. God can create any world he wants?
Take statement (3): if God is all-powerful, He can eliminate all evil. While this is certainly true (He could smite all evil-doers instantaneously and stop all hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and all suffering throughout the world), this point by itself isn’t all that interesting. If evil exists only for God to then eliminate it, one still has the problem of explaining why God allowed evil in the first place. So, the crucial premise on the atheist’s part is the following:
3’. If God is all-powerful, He can create any possible world he wants (including a world without evil).
A possible world is just a logically consistent way the world might have been. According to (3’), God has the power to create any logically possible world, including worlds where there is no moral or natural evil. The problem is, (3’) is not necessarily true. Given the reality of human beings with real, significant free will, God’s omnipotence does not guarantee that he can create any world He wants. Free will provides a stark limitation on God’s power because, as many theists have pointed out, it is logically impossible to make someone freely do something.
A clarification is important here: certainly, it is logically possible for a whole host of free people to always choose the morally right action (there is no contradiction in that statement), but it may be the were God to create a world involving those free people, some of them would choose evil, so that such a world is not feasible for God, even if it is logically possible in and of itself.  The key idea here is that free creatures are co-actualizers of the world along with God, so He is not the only one to determine what the world looks like. He can decide to create free creatures or not, but once He has, He must role with whatever choices they make.
The key, then, is this: in any world with free creatures in it, it is possible that at least some of those people choose to do evil rather than good. It may be that if God wants to create free creatures capable of moral good, He must allow for the reality of moral evil. (3’), then, is not necessarily true and therefore the logical version of the problem of evil fails. Now, the atheist will claim that this response at most explains moral evils; what of all the natural evil in the world that is not a result of free actions? Philosopher Alvin Plantinga has given a good response here.  The following statement is possibly true:
A. Natural evil is the result of demonic activity (that is, the free choices of non-humans).
If God creates non-human free creates (i.e., angels), he must allow for the possibility that some choose evil and wreak havoc. Now, you might find (A) to be massively improbable, given the implausibility that all natural evil finds its way back to Satan’s minions, but recall, we are dealing with the logical version of the problem, and so long as (A) is logically possible, it shows that God’s omnipotence does not guarantee that God can create a world without moral and natural evil.
IV. Does God want to create a world without evil?
Turn then to the second assumption made by the atheist: (4) if God is morally perfect, then he desires to create a world without evil.
Again, (4) as well is not necessarily true. It is possible that worlds in which no evil exist have overriding deficiencies in them, such that God would not prefer them over worlds with evil. Perhaps such worlds only contain five people, and therefore comparably little moral good. Perhaps were God to create a world without evil, there would be no moral good in it, and moreover, no free creates. Moreover, as Craig and Moreland point out, “in many cases we allow pain and suffering to occur in a person’s life in order to bring about some greater good or because we have some sufficient reason to allowing it. Every parent knows this fact.” . It is possible that for every evil in the world, God permits it to bring about some greater good, and God’s being all-loving does not preclude him from preferring a world with moral good in it at the price of some moral evil. If it is possible that were God to eliminate some evil from the world, he would have to eliminate a greater good, then (4) is not necessarily true, and again, the logical problem of evil fails.
V. Actually, God and evil are consistent
At this point in the dialectic, I have shown why (3) and (4) are not necessarily true, and therefore that the atheist has failed to show that God and evil are incompatible. But we can go one notch further and show that God and evil are compatible. To do so, we need only come up with a logically possible statement that is compatible with (1) and (2). The following, as suggested by Plantinga, will do the trick:
5. God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting the evil in the world.
(5) is compatible with (1) and (2), and it is possibly true. If it is possible that God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting the moral and natural evil in the world (less evil would only entail less good, and there is no better trade-off between good and evil in the world), it follows that the existence of an all-loving, all-powerful God is compatible with evil. Moreover, my conclusion stands comfortably within the mainstream of philosophy today, and that is why the logical problem of evil has largely been abandoned. As philosopher James Beebe writing in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy writes, “it seems that the Free Will Defense successfully defeats the logical problem of evil” . For this reason, most atheists have abandoned the logical formulation of the problem, and I suggest we follow accordingly.
 Craig and Moreland, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview.539.
 Plantinga, Alvin. God, Freedom, and Evil. 57-58.
 Craig and Moreland. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, 539-40.
 Beebe, James. “Logical Problem of Evil.” <http://www.iep.utm.edu/evil-log>.
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Please, keep in mind throughout the remainder of this debate that in reference to the syllogism I provided my opponent explicitly agrees that if the premises are true, then the conclusion follows. Miles addresses evil in two types; Moral and Natural. Based on my arguments, it seems obvious that the evil in which I am referencing is natural. Indeed, all of the examples I provided were natural. This is essential as the word evil in the syllogism I provided is in reference to evil as I argued it; that is to say, natural “intense suffering of the innocent” is evil and is incompatible with a tri-omni God.
Missing the Mark
Understanding the problem of evil in the context of natural evil is crucial as much of my opponent’s defense is via Free Will. From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy we read that “many evils are caused by natural processes, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and other weather conditions, and by a wide variety of diseases. Such evils certainly do not appear to result from morally wrong actions. If that is right, then an appeal to free will provides no answer to an argument from evil that focuses upon such evils.” (1) My case is one such argument. Further, concerning the free will defense, professor of philosophy at Duke University Walter Sinnott-Armstrong stated the following; “Probably the most popular response to the problem of evil is that free will is so valuable that God let us have it even though he knew that we would, sometimes at least, misuse it and cause evil. And sure enough a lot of evil in the world is caused by human actions… there’s much evil that cannot be justified in this way. And that’s because it’s natural evil.” (2) It seems clear as natural evil is not a result of some other moral actor for which free will might cover. Even my opponent’s own source where he quotes James Beebe concludes that “It seems that, although Plantinga's Free Will Defense may be able to explain why God allows moral evil to occur, it cannot explain why he allows natural evil.” Thus we see the bulk of my opponent’s objections miss the mark as they reference free will.
Issues of the Free Will Defense
Aside from my opponent’s arguments largely unable to apply to natural evil ergo my argument, the Free Will defense has many devastating issues all its own. For example, it relies on an appeal to libertarian free will. This is disastrous for the argument as no account or justification of such free will has been found. Therefore the argument is reliant on an unsupported assumption. Further, the free will argument suggests that it is a good thing for us as people to have the ability and agency to significantly harm each other. Even if we accepted libertarian free will as a concept it is reasonable to assume people could have such freedom and still not have the ability to harm each other so significantly. As follows, if we are to accept the free will defense my opponent must do what philosophers have been unable to do thus far. That is, show that libertarian free will can and does exist and that type of free will would necessarily entail the freedom to significantly harm each other.
Consider free will on a spectrum, the more power or knowledge you have, the more freedom. You are not free to do that which you are unaware to do, nor are you free to do that which you lack the ability. The only way to have completely free will would require omnipotence and omniscience. The best case scenario for the theist is to argue that God gave us all exactly the right amount of free will. No more or no less. This simply creates another problem as we are not all equally free. Consider age differences, mental capacities, and physical limitations. Stephen Hawking for example is perhaps more free than I given his intellectual prowess, and in turn I am more free then him physically. Do he and I have the same significant free will? What of the mentally handicapped? Consider the baby who dies in pain right after birth. Did that child have significant free will? It seems to me evident that as there do exist many without the ability to significantly, it seems to follow that if this is God’s creation there can be significant free will without the ability to significantly harm others.
Miles argues that perhaps natural evil is the result of free will from non-humans. This is strongly refuted by the objections in the prior paragraph. To pile on, we ought not buy into this argument as it postulates invisible, undetectable free agents in the world that do great harm but cannot be shown to exist. It is akin to me arguing there is an invisible, undetectable elephant that follows my opponent around constantly that has the power to harm him. While it cannot be proven false I don’t think anyone should walk around with that assumption as there is no evident reason or justification to believe it true.
My opponent suggests that perhaps God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting evil in the world. Again I will turn to Professor Sinnot-Armstrong: say “Evil builds character. The child suffers and dies, but the parents become more courageous and observers become more compassionate. Again, just think about it. God is omnipotent. God can make these people compassionate by showing them movies or making them dream about evil and learn things in other ways. You don’t have to have people actually going through it. Also, it’s unfair to make this child suffer so that somebody else will learn something. We would certainly not praise a parent who let their child die in a horrible way just to teach that child’s sibling some kind of lesson because it wouldn’t be fair to the child who suffered. And that means God is not fair if he’s doing the same thing.” (2)
It seems to me that my opponent will have to do more than just claim that there may be sufficient reasoning or some compensating good to justify the evil I have pointed to. We would not make such assumptions in any other circumstance; he would have to show why we should assume there is such compensation.
All Powerful and All Good
It has been argued that the third and fourth premises of the syllogism in round one are not necessarily true. Consider carefully what my opponent is saying. Essentially he is claiming first that a morally perfect being would not necessarily have the desire to eliminate the natural intense suffering of the innocent; and second that a omnipotent being does not necessarily have the power to eliminate the intense suffering of the innocent. If a God does not desire to eliminate such suffering, why call him good? If a God does not have the power to eliminate such suffering, why call him omnipotent? This is especially odd as based on what I know of my opponent he claims to be a Christian. Did Jesus not supposedly perform miracles and relieve suffering? Did he not desire to do so?
Let us address a minor claim my opponent made. He asserted that the view that evil and a tri-omni God are compatible “stands comfortably within the mainstream of philosophy.” It seems to me that if the bar for a convincing argument is this low, or rather, if my opponent feels this to be a sufficient argument or support for his position, perhaps he should consider that in the modern world of philosophy 72.8% are atheist, 14.6% are theist, and 12.6% are classified as other. (3) Applying my opponents reasoning, it seems the concept that a God does not exist is comfortably within the mainstream of philosophy, indeed the overwhelming opinion, is sufficient as an argument or support for the resolution.
The Free Will defense is unsupported as we have no reason to believe libertarian free will exists. Even if we assumed such, the argument does not apply to the evil referenced in this debate. If a being is omnipotent and morally perfect, but does not have the power or desire to eliminate evil; why call that being either omnipotent or morally perfect? Is there a sufficient reason for a baby to be born and suffer excruciating pain simply to die moments later? Does the God in question not have the power to relieve the pain? Is there any possible compensation for such an occurrence? To the best of our knowledge it seems fair to say not. The existence of such natural suffering of the innocent, that is to say, the existence of evil in the world, is logically incompatible with the existence of a tri-omni God. Since such evil exist, God does not.
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I. God and evil: contradictory?
As a preliminary note, recall the two versions of the problem of evil: God and evil contradict one another, or though logically consistent, probably do not coexist. A good way of grasping the difference is that the first makes a claim about all possible worlds (namely, in none of them do God and evil coexist), while the second only makes a claim about the actual world (namely, in this world, God and evil probably do not coexist). Thus, the logical problem of evil is a tremendous claim with a very high burden of proof.
1. If God exists, then God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect – I agree.
2. If God is omnipotent, then God has the power to eliminate all evil – Here I argued that premise (2) is not necessarily true. For all we know, in any world in which God creates free creatures, some of them go wrong and do evil. The atheist would have to show that there is a possible world of free creatures that God could create, such that none of them would choose evil. How could the atheist even get off the ground in proving something like this? It is plausible, then, that (2) is not necessarily true, and so on this point alone, the logical problem of evil falls from grace.
Pro issues a number of objections: (i) “It seems clear [that] natural evil is not a result of some other moral actor for which free will might cover”, (ii) “The Free Will defense is unsupported as we have no reason to believe libertarian freedom exists", (iii) libertarian freedom doesn't entail the ability to significant harm one another, and (iv) “If a God does not have the power to eliminate such suffering, why call him omnipotent?”
Objection (i) is Pro's claim that I have "missed the mark" of his argument because I have failed to address natural evil. Not so! In my opening statement, I argued that it is possible that all natural evil finds its way back to the choices of non-human persons (i.e., angels and demons). If that is logically possible, it shows that God’s omnipotence does not preclude natural evil. Pro replies that “we ought not buy into this argument as it postulates invisible, undetectable free agents in the world…[that] cannot be shown to exist." Ironically, this reply misses the mark. I’m not claiming that angels and demons actually exist and that natural evil finds its source in their activity, only that such is logically possible (philosopher Alvin Plantinga discusses Kronos, a world where demons are in complete control of the natural order; Kronos, I submit, is logically consistent and therefore possible). You might complain that logical possibility is too low a bar to reach, but this just underlines how high the atheist’s burden of proof is if he is to carry the logical problem of evil. It is indeed massively implausible to ascribe natural evil to demonic activity in the actual world we inhabit, but it is possible, and for that reason, the problem of natural evil fails as well.
Objection (ii) is based on a false premise. For the free will defense to succeed, one doesn’t need to show that we do possess free will, but only that in some possible world, persons have this type of freedom. If there are possible worlds like that, then it is false to claim that God can create any world He wants; there are some worlds beyond God’s power to create because they involve free creatures who would always choose evil. The burden of proof is actually on the atheist to prove that libertarian freedom is impossible, and unless Pro gives us something to work with, the free will defense succeeds.
Objection (iii) builds on Pro's claim that "even if we accepted libertarian free will as a concept it is reasonable to assume people could have such freedom and still not have the ability to harm each other so significantly." I agree with the point, but it's not clear what significance Pro attaches to it. On the one hand, perhaps Pro thinks that the free will defense entails that all people who have free will in general have the specific capacity to inflict great harm. Given that one can be free without having that capacity (e.g., Stephen Hawking), the free will defense fails. If so, this is a really bad argument. All the free will defense requires is that we are free in a modest sense: in some circumstances, we can choose the morally right thing or the morally wrong thing. So long as modest free will is possible, then God's omnipotence does not preclude at least some moral (and natural) evil.
On the other hand, maybe Pro's point is that God's existence is compatible with some evil in the world, but it is incompatible with the amount and intensity of evil we find in the actual world. Philosophers appropriately distinguish between the abstract and concrete
Finally, to deal with (iv), we need only look at the definition of omnipotence by C. S. Lewis that Pro provided: “omnipotence means power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles to him, but not nonsense. This is no limit to his power.” I agree. Because omnipotence does not mean that God can do the logically impossible, He cannot determine the actions of free creatures, thus opening the door to the free will defense. Now, Pro may not like that God does not have the power to preclude evil, but nothing of philosophical significance follows.
In short, premise (2) is not necessarily true and therefore no contradiction between God and evil is forthcoming.
3. If God is omniscient, then God knows when evil exists– Agreed.
4. If God is morally perfect, then God has the desire to eliminate all evil – I argued that God’s goodness does not entail that he prefers a world without evil in it because such a world may have overriding deficiencies. For example, a world without evil may have only ten people in it, a relatively small amount of moral good. Or again, perhaps it is only in a world with natural and moral evil that large numbers of humanity seek out God and desire a relationship with Him. God, desiring this outcome, may then allow evil and suffering. In general, if evil is necessary to achieve some greater good (e.g., knowledge of God, character formation, and so on), then God's omnibenevolence does not restrict Him from creating a world with evil. As William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland state, every parent understands that sometimes, we allow evil for the end of a greater good. It is not necessary for me to articulate what those greater goods are, only that Pro has failed to show that God cannot have them.
About the only thing Pro says in response is to ask, "If a God does not desire to eliminate such suffering, why call him good?" This is a question, not an objection. God's goodness precludes Him from desiring the suffering of the innocent for its own sake, and I agree that He does not. Rather, God, taking the whole purview of the world into account, allows such suffering to happen in order to bring about a world of overriding goods. At this point, Pro either needs to argue that (i) God cannot be considered morally perfect by allowing evils for the purpose of a greater good, or (ii) that it is impossible for God to achieve greater goods with the evil in the world. If Pro does neither, their question is merely rhetorical and needs no response.
In short, premise (4) is false in some possible worlds, and therefore the logical problem of evil doubly fails.
5. Evil exists - I concur.
6. If evil exists and God exists, then either God doesn’t have the power to eliminate all evil, or doesn’t know when evil exists, or doesn’t have the desire to eliminate all evil - This is correct as well.
7. Therefore, God does not exist - Given the failure of premises (2) and (4), the conclusion does not follow. Pro has failed to show a contradiction between God and natural evil.
II. God and evil: consistent
Following philosophers Craig, Moreland, and Plantinga, my second contention was that God and evil are consistent with one another, so long as something like the following is possibly true:
A. God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting the natural evil in the world, and the world contains an optimal balance between good and evil.
(A) entails both that God exists and that natural evil exists, so if there is any possible world where (A) obtains, then it follows that God could exist alongside natural evil. Pro claims that I "will have to do more than just claim that there may be sufficient reasoning or some compensating good to justify the evil I have pointed to." This is false. Given that we're talking about the logical problem of evil, I do not have to show that (A) is true in the actual world, but merely that it is possibly true. If Pro wants his argument to succeed, he will have to show that (A) is impossible, and I don't know how he could do that.
Remarkably, then, the logical problem of evil fails to show any contradiction between God, moral evil, or even natural evil. On the contrary, they form a consistent triad, and there is no argument for atheism to speak of.
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