JOHN W. LOFTUS SAID:
“Steve, the problem of evil is stated by me in these words: If God is perfectly good, all knowing, and all powerful, then the issue of why there is so much suffering in the world requires an explanation. The reason is that a perfectly good God would be opposed to it, an all-powerful God would be capable of eliminating it, and an all-knowing God would know what to do about it. So, the extent of intense suffering in the world means for the theist that: either God is not powerful enough to eliminate it, or God does not care enough to eliminate it, or God is just not smart enough to know what to do about it. The stubborn fact of evil in the world means that something is wrong with God’s ability, or his goodness, or his knowledge. Again, the explanation needed if from within what you believe. In fact, even if there were no atheists around to argue for it, you would still have to deal with it.”
Yes, John, we know the drill.
1.The *amount* of evil (extent, intensity) is not the issue.
The argument from evil, if is to have any traction at all, is a *qualitative* argument, not a *quantitative* argument.
Not, how *much* evil, but evil of a particular *kind*: namely, *gratuitous* evil.
You need to establish the existence of *gratuitous* evil. I’ve pointed this out to you umpteen times.
2.So, we would need to begin by reformulating argument. The correct formulation would be:
“A benevolent God would be opposed to gratuitous evil.”
3.So Loftus needs to establish the existence of *gratuitous* evil. How does he propose to do that?
He claims to be mounting an internal argument. But I have yet to see him even begin to mount an internal argument for the existence of *gratuitous* evil.
What examples of evil in the world would count as *gratuitous* evil *according to Christian theology*? That’s the question?
That’s the question, John.
As I’ve said before, there’s more to an internal critique than Christian *theism*. You need to bring the whole of Christian *theology* to bear.
Not just three divine attributes plus a generic dose of brand-X evil.
4.When Loftus talks about “so much suffering in the world,” or “the extent of intense suffering in the world,” or “the stubborn fact of evil,” he clearly has a number of unspoken examples in mind of what *he* considers to be evil.
Three more problems:
i) Not everything he thinks is evil, a Christian thinks is evil; and not everything a Christian thinks is evil, he thinks is evil.
ii) Indeed, he doesn’t think anything is intrinsically evil.
iii) While I might agree with him that *some*, but not all, of his stock examples count as genuine evils, I would not agree with him that they count as gratuitous evils. He has given me no reason to think that consistent with my theology.