To propose that this world is morally good despite the vast quantities of evil and suffering, as I did in a recent article, is obviously to introduce a concept that will be met with some resistance. I will consider various objections at this point through a series of articles. I’ve been involved in Apologetics long enough to know that the quality of objections is roughly scalar between two extremes, really good objections and really lousy objections. It would not be possible to consider every half-baked objection that can be leveled against the Christian worldview, not even against a specific argument like this one. The objections that follow are only a few of what I consider to be potentially the most reasonable objections. The intent is not to answer every possible objection but to illustrate how most of these objections end up being flawed when you actually spend some time thinking through them.
Before we get to those, though, consider what any objection would ultimately need to accomplish. Anybody who claims that God is a moral monster for creating this world is suggesting that God should not have created this world. Well God’s options were pretty simple as the chart below demonstrates.
Create nothing. Create our world. Create some other world. Pick one. I don’t think most of God’s critics would seriously advance the idea that God should not have created anything at all. Most of them would probably suggest that there is a different, better, world that God ought to have created. Fair enough, tell us about that world. As my article attempted to illustrate, and as I will explore further in the following articles, the alternatives are not so obviously superior to what we have. They may be better in some ways, but they would be demonstrably worse in other ways. So if somebody doesn’t like this world then what alternative would they propose? When they offer some alternative – if they even bother to offer some alternative – consider carefully all the implications and unintended consequences of their alternative (as I attempted to do in my original article). It seems to me that most alternative worlds are either logically impossible (like a world with free will but no possibility of moral evil) or they are logically possible but the consequences of creating such a world haven’t been seriously thought through.
And if they don’t have an alternative to offer, if they just like to complain, well that should tell you something.
But suppose they want to argue that God should have made the “perfect world” alternative that I described in the original article and which I will expound upon in a subsequent article. Despite the fact that such a world would be devoid of any virtue, any heroism, any nobility, indeed anything that gives the human experience any depth and significance, they still believe God should have created that world. It is not enough to point out that they, personally, would have preferred such a world because we can simply point out that God, personally, preferred this one. His preferences trump ours; end of conversation. It is not enough to point out that God could have made such a world because such declarations are trivially true and uninteresting. The only real option at their disposal is to argue that God should have made that world. God was morally obligated, as a morally perfect being, to create the “perfect world.”
One reason it would be interesting to argue, on moral grounds, that God ought to have created this “perfect world” that I described is because a person would essentially be arguing that God was morally obligated to create a world devoid of moral obligations for anybody else. It would have been better for God to create a world without any degrees of better and worse for anybody else. We can speak of duties that God has, but he has absolutely no right to impose duties on those he creates. It would have been kinder of God to create a world where I am not expected to be kind. God should have been more compassionate so that I don’t have to be! I would be very interested in seeing somebody argue on moral grounds that this world is objectively morally wrong precisely because they would be applying a measuring stick to God that they vehemently refuse to allow God to apply to them. It would be an ironic state of affairs to argue from such a perspective, but anything short of God’s moral obligation to create the “perfect world” is mere complaining and blustering.
That all assumes, of course, that they run with the “perfect world” option that I described. Again, if they actually provide details of some other Plan B that they feel God should have created, well then you’ll need to consider their proposal on its own merits.
So, as we consider various objections through these next posts, please bear in mind that coming up with a viable alternative is really the path that any logical objection needs to end up walking. If somebody is going to complain about this world like an armchair quarterback complains about the play that the actual quarterback ran, it is never enough to say, “that was the wrong choice,” demand nothing short of, “this is what should have been done, and here’s why.” What does the world look like that God should have created (details, please)? Please explain why God was morally obligated to create said world instead of ours?
Even if the objections to my argument succeed in undermining the moral goodness of this world, the objector is still only half way there. With that in mind, here is an overview of the objections I will consider.
What the objections must ultimately accomplish (this article)
- Too much suffering (the ideal hero-building world)
- Suffering is unfairly distributed
- Why me? Why did God let this happen?
- What about the Garden of Eden and Heaven?
- Heroism just isn’t worth it
- Animal suffering