The Problem of Evil (Part 3)
Unfortunately, several authors have conceded that an “answer” to the Problem of Evil (PE) is not possible this side of heaven (such as John Frame in his Apologetics to the Glory of God). Since we cannot provide a reason or rationale for why God allows particular evils, we need to admit that the reality of evil is a mystery for Christians as well as non-Christians. Scripture does provide us with enough to trust God’s character and plan until we know more on the issue. Also, the Holy Spirit gives us a new heart in order to trust God’s purposes through the gospel.
My chief contention with this position is that it has implicitly accepted an enormously large burden of proof. A sufficient manner of addressing the PE need not be an exhaustive answer; such a standard is much too high. Here I do not purpose to close all doors to the PE, for to do so would undermine my true goal.
DE FACTO AND DE JURE OBJECTIONS
We have seen that the PE can rightly be broken down into two forms, the theoretical, and the practical. Now, let’s look at another distinction within the theoretical PE, the de facto objection, and the de jure objection. Those who raise the de facto objection seek an answer as to why God allows evil in general, and the multiplicity of evils in specific. Plantinga defines the de facto objection as, “objections to the truth of Christian belief.” In contrast, the de jure objectors question the very rationality of Christian theism in light of evil. Does the presence of evil rule out the Christian definition of God? Again, Plantinga defines for us the de jure objection,
these are arguments or claims to the effect that Christian belief, whether or not true, is at any rate unjustifiable, or rationally unjustified, or irrational, or not intellectually respectable, or contrary to sound morality, or without sufficient evidence, or in some other way rationally unacceptable, not up to snuff from an intellectual point of view. (Warranted Christian Belief. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000, pg. viii)
My goal here is to address the de jure PE and briefly touch upon the de facto. So this piece is mostly defense, with a touch of theodicy-lite.
While it is important to distinguish between these forms of the theoretical PE, we must carefully steer clear of neatly separating them. The de facto objection often poses such a serious crisis of faith in many, that it may cause some to question the very rationality of Christian truth claims.
Next we’ll take a look at the Deductive PE…