The logical problem of evil, as opposed to the evidential problem of evil, is the contention that to posit the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient, wholly good god in an evil world constitutes a logical contradiction. In other words, an all-powerful god, all-knowing god, and a perfectly good god could not permit evil. (The evidential problem of evil says it is unlikely, not necessarily impossible, for such a god to exist given the amount of evil in the world).
Plantinga explains the essence of his argument:
[W]e can make a preliminary statement of the Free Will Defense as follows. A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being equal, than a world containing no free creatures at all. Now God can create free creatures, but He can't cause or determine them to do only what is right. For if He does so, then they aren't significantly free after all; they do not do what is right freely. To create creatures capable of moral good, therefore, He must create creatures capable of moral evil; and He can't give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so (God, Freedom, and Evil , 30).1. A world with significantly free creatures is more valuable than one with creatures who are not significantly free.
I would like to know on what basis Plantinga makes this claim. How can one say that a world with significantly free creatures is really more valuable than one without such free will? He is making "significant free will" more important than the permission of evil and the subsequent suffering it entails. I would like to see an argument for this assertion.
2. An act can only be considered morally significant or praiseworthy if the individual could have made a different choice.
In other words, if one is not capable of making an evil choice, then his choice to do right is not morally praiseworthy. Plantinga explains:
What is relevant to the Free Will Defense is the idea of being free with respect to an action. If a person is free with respect to a given action, then he is free to perform that action and free to refrain from performing it; no antecedent conditions and/or causal laws determine that he will perform the action, or that he won't. It is within his power, at the time in question, to take or perform the action and within his power to refrain from it.This would mean that none of God's actions are morally praiseworthy and that in reality the term morality does not apply to God. As James R. Beebe puts it:
...[I] shall say that an action is morally significant, for a given person, if it would be wrong for him to perform the action but right to refrain or vice versa (Ibid., pp. 29-30).
God, it seems, is incapable of doing anything wrong. Thus, it does not appear that, with respect to any choice of morally good and morally bad options, God is free to choose a bad option. He seems constitutionally incapable of choosing (or even wanting) to do what is wrong. According to Plantinga’s description of morally significant free will, it does not seem that God would be significantly free. Plantinga suggests that morally significant freedom is necessary in order for one’s actions to be assessed as being morally good or bad. But then it seems that God’s actions could not carry any moral significance. They could never be praiseworthy. That certainly runs contrary to central doctrines of theism ("Logical Problem of Evil").3. To accomplish the greater good, God is justified in permitting evil.
The Free Will Defense can be looked upon as an effort to show that there may be a very different kind of good that God can't bring about without permitting evil (God, Freedom, and Evil, p. 29).My problem with this is twofold. First, it contradicts the concept of absolute morality which Christians claim to hold. However, in the Free Will Defense, it is okay to allow some evil so that a greater good will come from it. This is "the end justifying the means" which Christians usually attribute to moral relativism. Such a view takes a teleological or consequential view of ethics as opposed to what Christians normally insist upon, a deontological view. In other words, actions are not intrinsically right or wrong but are judged to be right or wrong depending upon the results of the actions.
Second, to permit an evil to occur when one could have prevented it makes one culpable. Christians often make the distinction between God permitting evil and God causing evil. They argue that God cannot cause evil because that would violate his holy character. Why does it not violate his holy character for him to permit evil? If I permit my child to do evil, how can I hold him responsible for what I permitted; and, furthermore, how can I escape culpability in the evil he committed? Permitting something is a form of condoning it.