Premise 1: If God is omnipotent, then he is able to prevent every instance of evil.

Premise 2: If God is omniscient, then he is aware of every instance of evil.

Premise 3: If God is omni-benevolent, then he wants to prevent every instance of evil

Thus, 4: If God exists then he would prevent every instance of evil.

Premise 5: There are a great many instances of evil.

Conclusion: There is no omnipotent, omniscient, omni-benevolent God.

During class discussion of this argument, a couple of students pointed out, correctly, that God does not come across as omni-benevolent in the Bible. One very bright student said that he never was told that God is all-loving and asked why it matters whether he is or not. “Ah” I said, “If God is not omni-benevolent, then why should we worship him? Can a being that commits or allows evil be worthy of worship?” Standard question, stock response.

But then the student says, “We worship him because we want to get into heaven.”

“So it doesn’t matter whether God is uncaring or callous, we should worship him for the reward?”

“Yes.”

I probably shouldn’t have been, but I was surprised by this answer. “Isn’t that self-centered in a way that completely contradicts the message of the gospels?” I asked.

“Well we care about others and want them to be forgiven also, so that is why we spread Jesus’ message.”

A wonderful solution to the problem of evil. The conclusion is fully embraced, there is no omni-God; but there is a God who created us, expects certain things from us, and can punish us for failing to live up to his expectations. So why don’t more theists take this way out?

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