Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716)
On The Problem of Evil
This is the Best of all Possible Worlds
The Leibnizian Response to Eight Objections to Traditional Theism
Objection 1 - Theism is false because the existence of evil demonstrates that God lacks either power, knowledge or goodness.
- P1 Whoever creates unnecessarily, or allows evil in their creation does not create well.
- P2 God created unnecessarily and allowed evil in the creation.
- C1 God did not create well.
- P3 Whoever does not create well, lacks either power, knowledge, or goodness.
- P4 (C1) God did not create well.
- C2 Therefore, if God exists, God lacks power, knowledge, or goodness.
P1 and P4 are false. Any instance of evil may be accompanied by a greater good, and since this is the best of all possible worlds, any evil that exists is necessary for the greater good.
Objection 2 - Theism is false because there is more evil than good in the universe.
- P1 If there is more evil than good in rational creatures, there is more evil than good in the world.
- P2 There is more evil than good in rational creatures.
- C1 There is more evil than good in the world.
P1 and P2 are false. First, the good in non-rational beings outweighs the evil in rational beings. Second, good is infinite and evil finite; thus a fewer number of rational beings pursuing good will outweigh a larger number of rational beings pursuing evil.
Objection 3 - Theism is false because God punish us unjustly.
- P1 Every future event which is caused is predetermined.
- P2 Every future event is caused.
- C1 Therefore, every future event is predetermined.
- P3 Every predetermined event is a necessary event.
- P4 (C1) Every event is predetermined.
- C2 Therefore, every event is necessary.
- P5 If sin is necessary, then punishment is unjust.
- P6 (C2) All sin is necessary.
- C3 Therefore, punishment is unjust.
P3 is false. There are two distinct forms of necessity; one is contrary to freedom of the will, and therefore morality, and one not:
- - Absolute Necessity is insuperable and related to the essence of things.
- - Conditional Necessity can include the will as a determining factor of future contingent events.
Objection 4 - Theism is false because if God exists, God is as responsible for evil as we are.
- P1 If a person fails to prevent and/or contributes to the immorality of another person, they are immoral (i.e., share in the moral guilt).
- P2 God can, but does not, prevent, and contributes to our immorality.
- C1 Therefore, God is immoral (i.e., shares in our guilt).
God does not will, but allows certain evil to exist for the greater good of the universe. There is a distinction between two types of divine will:
- - Antecedent Will is God's desire for the greatest amount of good possible in the universe.
- - Consequent Will is God's permission of certain instances of evil necessary for the achievement of the greatest amount of good possible in the universe.
Objection 5 - Theism is false because if God exists, God is the cause of evil.
- P1 Whoever creates something is responsible for what is created.
- P2 God produces a universe in which sin exists.
- C1 Therefore, God is responsible for (i.e., the cause of) sin.
Sin is the by-product of imperfection which in turn arises from finite nature (viz., "privative nature"). Hence, sin is the degeneration of finite perfection which is a possible future contingent state of the best possible universe.
Objection 6 - Theism is false because God punishes unjustly.
- P1 Anyone who punishes those who act as well as it is in their power to do punishes unjustly.
- P2 God punishes some even though they act as well as it is in their power to do.
- C1 God is unjust.
P2 is false. God does not condemn infants or heathens.
Objection 7 - Theism is false because God fails to save all beings.
- P1 If God fails to give equal amounts necessary grace to all, then God lacks either sufficient power or goodness.
- P2 God fails to give equal amounts of necessary grace to all.
- C1 Therefore, God lacks either sufficient power or goodness.
The reason for this is hidden from human from human understanding. It is necessary for the "harmony" of the best of all possible worlds.
Objection 8 - Theism is false because God is not free.
- P1 To be incapable of error is not to be free (i.e., to be determined by necessity).
- P2 God is incapable of error (i.e., is bound by necessity).
- C1 Therefore, God is not free.
P1 is false. God's actions are solely determined by divine will; there are neither external nor internal forces that constrain God's desire for the good.
1. Theism is false because evil exists.
- Evil is necessary for the greater good.
2. There is a surplus of evil.
- Moral evil is outweighed by natural good and the infinity of the good of the saints.
3. Moral evil is necessary because of Divine omniscience.
- Absolute vs. Contingent necessity
4. God is an accomplice to evil.
- Antecedent vs. Consequent will of God.
5. God causes evil because God created the world.
- Evil is caused by privation, not God.
6. God is evil because he punishes the innocent.
- God does not punish the innocent.
7. God does not provide equal access to salvation, so God is evil.
- The plan of salvation is a divine mystery.
8. God is determined to cause evil and is therefore not a moral being.
- God freely chooses the good according to his nature (omniscience and omnipotence), not because he has to.
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