Omnipotence & Omnibenevolence entail Omniscience

The classical problem of Theodicy is articulated something like:

  1. God is all powerful and all good.
  2. Evil Exists
  3. If God is all Powerful then he has the ability to prevent evil.
  4. If God is all good then God always wishes to prevent evil.
  5. But, if 1, 3 and 4 are true, then 2 is false, and if 2 is true, then one or more of 1, 3, or 4 are false.
  6. Therefore, God is not both all powerful and all good.

Suppose that somebody were to call the logic of this argument into question by suggesting that God may be all powerful and all good without being omniscient, and that evil might be explained by the fact that God is not omniscient. In other words they say that God, being all powerful, has the ability to prevent any and all evil, and that being all good he always wishes to prevent evil, but that, not being omniscient, there are instances of evil which God knew nothing about. Suppose that there will be events which cause suffering, and are thus instances of evil, but God doesn’t foresee these events and/or doesn’t foresee the evil they will occasion; obviously in that case God could be all powerful and all good and yet, because his knowledge was deficient, simply did not, in fact, prevent evil (because he didn’t know any better).

I think one cannot argue this way for a number of reasons, but the clearest and simplest is perhaps also the one which best highlights an insight about how the classical formulation of the problem is actually a good formulation:

  1. If God is all good, then he would desire to know (foresee, at least in a counterfactual sense) what would occasion evil if he did nothing about it.
  2. If God is all powerful then he can know what would occasion evil if he did nothing about it.
  3. Therefore, if God is all good and all powerful then he must be either omniscient, or at least have knowledge of all things which would occasion evil if he did nothing about them.

In other words, if God is all good then he desires to know X, and if God is all powerful then he can make it the case that he knows X, where X stands for all those things which would, if he did nothing about them, occasion suffering. However, prior to knowing about something, God might not be able to know whether knowing it would help him sanitize the world of instances of evil. Therefore, God would want to, and be able to, know everything in order to know that he knew X. Therefore God would know all truths.

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About tylerjourneaux

I am an aspiring Catholic theologian and philosopher, and I have a keen interest in apologetics. I am creating this blog both in order to practice and improve my writing and memory retention as I publish my thoughts, and in order to give evidence of my ability to understand and communicate thoughts on topics pertinent to Theology, Philosophy, philosophical theology, Catholic (Christian) Apologetics, philosophy of religion and textual criticism.
This entry was posted in Apologetics, Philosophy of Religion, Theodicy, Theology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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