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Mackie’s Logical Argument from Evil and Plantinga's Free

Will Defense: A Comparative Revaluation


PAVLOS SILVESTROS
Thessaloniki (Greece) 2018 [Draft]
Abstract

The topic of this paper is the Problem of Evil in contemporary Philosophy of Religion.
In particular, I will be examining comparatively Mackie’s Logical Argument from Evil
(MLAE) and Plantinga's Free Will Defense (FWD). My aim here is to question the
widely accepted view that FWD is successful and MLAE outdated. Thus, I will
reconstruct the relevant arguments and discuss the main objections, in an attempt to
defend the claim that both these projects are ‘useful failures’. Meaning, they neutralize
each other and at the same time push the philosophical discussion forward.

A. Introduction: Historico-Theoretical Framework

In the 18th century the Scottish philosopher David Hume notes that Epicurus’ old
questions regarding evil remain unanswered: Is God willing to eliminate evil but not
able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is God able to eliminate evil but not willing? Then he
is not omnibenevolent. If God is both willing and able to eliminate evil? Then why is
there evil in the world? (Hume 1779: D 10.25). Traditionally, from this cluster of
theological-philosophical questions the so-called Problem of Evil is generated: If and
how exactly: the variety, amount, intensity, duration, distribution, kinds and particular
instances of evil in our world (e.g. pain, cruelty, social injustice, murder, rape, torture,
wars, genocides, illnesses, harmful mutations, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes,
mental/physical suffering, dysfunction of living organisms, natural and moral
disorder/imbalance/defects, scarce planetary resources etc.) can be reconciled with the
existence of an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent God who freely and ex
nihilo created this world.

In the second half of the 20th century the Australian philosopher John Mackie
writes the notorious article titled “Evil and Omnipotence” (1955) and renews (at least
for analytical atheology) the philosophical approach to the Problem of Evil. His
approach is innovating, because he posits it as a problem of logical incompatibility
(Logical Problem of Evil); aiming to show ‘that religious beliefs […] are positively

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irrational, that the several parts of the essential theological doctrine are inconsistent
with one another’ (Mackie 1955: 200). More specifically, Mackie argues that the
propositions: an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God exists and there is evil; are
mutually exclusive, that is, logically impossible (contradictory) all to be true at the same
time –there is no possible world where all these propositions can be true. A prominent
attempt to reconcile them was the response known as the Free Will Defense (FWD),
formulated by the analytical philosopher Alvin Plantinga (1967; 1974a; 1974b; 1985a;
2009). Plantinga essentially puts the blame for the existence of any evil in the misuse
of the God-given morally significant freedom by the created human and nonhuman
persons (transworldy depraved individual essences).

B. The Logical Problem of Evil and Mackie’s Logical Argument from Evil

According to John Mackie (1955: 200) the Logical Problem of Evil (LPE) ‘in its
simplest […] form is this: God is omnipotent; God is wholly good; and yet evil exists.
There seems to be some contradiction between these three propositions, so that if any
two of them were true the third would be false.’ Starting from these as premises he
constructs the Logical Argument from Evil (LAE) in order to make explicit the alleged
implicit contradiction. Mackie’s Logical Argument from Evil (MLAE) can be
reconstructed as follows:

(1) If God exists, then he is omnipotent.


(2) If God exists, then he is wholly good (omnibenevolent).
(3) Evil exists.
To complete MLAE Mackie adds the connective suppositions (links)1 (4) & (5).
(4) Evil is opposed to good, in such a way that a good being always eliminates evil
as far as it can.
(5) There are no nonlogical limits to what an omnipotent being can do.2
(6) If God cannot eliminate evil, then he is not omnipotent.
(7) If God is not willing to eliminate evil as far as he can, then he is not wholly
good.

1
See: Oppy (2017) for a lucid methodological discussion on logical arguments, and especially about
the crucial role of ‘links’ in this kind of arguments.
2
‘It may be replied that these [logical] limits are always presupposed, that omnipotence has never
meant the power to do what is logically impossible. […] This interpretation of omnipotence may,
indeed, be accepted as a modification of our original account […]’ (Mackie 1955: 203). ‘[…] [I]t has
been agreed all along that omnipotence does not include the power to do what is logically impossible’
(Mackie 1982: 160-1). Also see: Plantinga (1967: 118, 168-73).

2
(8) If God is both omnipotent and willing to eliminate evil as far as he can, then
God eliminates evil (completely).
(9) If God exists, then evil doesn’t exist.
(10) Evil exists. [3]
⸫ God doesn’t exist.
C. The Failure of Mackie’s Logical Argument from Evil
Alvin Plantinga in God and Other Minds (1967: 118) is right to object that Mackie’s
supposition that: a wholly good being always prevents or eliminates evil as far as it
can; cannot be reasonably accepted by anyone (theist or otherwise), for it seems rather
implausible. He supports this by bringing an example of a medical case. Suppose there
is a physician who cannot prevent the pain (evil) from our leg without mutilating it, and
although he is not willing to mutilate it –for he chooses the painful treatment that will
save the leg; he reasonably can have a claim for moral integrity-excellency. Now, if we
assess that pain always is something bad (evil), and at the same time we agree with the
physician's decision not to prevent the pain in this case (at least in one) although it is
regarded an evil, then for us Mackie’s supposition (4) is ‘clearly false’ Plantinga (1967:
118; 1974b: 17-24). (The same case can also be made using the familiar example of
childhood vaccination.)
By extend, a morally perfect being can permit evil, provided that it has a morally
sufficient reason (Plantinga 1967: 124). Therefore, a premise like (7): If God is not
willing to prevent evil as far as he can, then he is not wholly good; is obviously false
and cannot reasonably accepted, hence Mackie’s Logical Argument from Evil is
unsound. Also, the premise in question should be reformulated as: If God is not willing
to prevent evil as far as he can and hasn’t any morally sufficient reason for allowing it,
then he is not omnibenevolent (morally perfect).
D. Plantinga’s Free Will Defense
Plantinga (1967: 131) notes that: ‘a morally perfect, omniscient, and omnipotent being
would permit an evil state of affairs to exist only if that evil state of affairs were a [1]
logically necessary condition of [2] a good which outweighed it’ (emphasis mine). So,
he proposes as an outweighing good the existence of ‘moral good’ that can be brought
about only by God’s creatures and for the potential existence of it: is logically necessary
that these creatures (human and nonhuman) will be significantly free persons (viz.
moral agents); and in order for these persons to be significantly free, God must allow
some evil state affairs to obtain. Thus, God’s morally sufficient reason for allowing evil
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in our world is the existence of ‘moral good’, that can be brought about only by giving
to some creatures significant freedom, which also has the potential to be the cause of
some evil.
In more detail Plantinga (1974a: 165-6) explains:3
What does the Free Will Defender mean when he says that people are or may be free? If a person S is
free with respect to a given action, then he is free to perform that action and free to refrain; no causal
laws and antecedent conditions determine either that he will perform the action, or that he will not. It is
within his power, at the time in question, to perform the action, and within his power to refrain.
Also, some additional definitions and clarifications are required. Any given
action A is ‘morally significant’ for a free person (agent) S, iff it would be for S right
to refrain from performing A and wrong to perform A –or vise versa; and S is
‘significantly free’ in a given situation C at a certain time T, iff S is free at T regarding
at least one A (Plantinga 1974b: 30). Hence, the ‘morally significant freedom’ is the
freedom regarding morally significant: actions, decisions or choices; viz. regarding
morally significant acting/activity. For example, the possible free choices between:
eating an orange or an apple; buying vanilla or chocolate ice cream; under normal
circumstances, aren’t morally significant. Choices like these do not concern our
significant freedom. On the contrary, choices such as whether to accept or not a bribe,
to lie or tell the truth, to risk my life to save someone from drowning or not, and so on;
are morally significant, that is, they concern our significant freedom. The potential
result of these latter can be either good or evil; a morally neutral/indifferent outcome is
not possible with respect to this kind of actions, decisions or choices.
Furthermore, Plantinga (1967) responds to Mackie’s (1955: 209)4 challenge: that
was available to God ‘the obviously better possibility of making beings who would act
freely but always go right’ by introducing the idea of ‘transworld depravity’.
Transworld depravity in a nutshell describes the case of a person that in every possible
world that he is significantly free goes wrong regarding at least one morally significant
action.
Thus, Plantinga’s FWD can be reconstructed as following (1974a: 183-9):

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Alternatively: ‘a person S is free with respect to an action A only if (1) it is within S's power to
perform A and within his power to refrain from performing A, and (2) no collection of necessary truths
and causal laws –causal laws outside S's control– together with antecedent conditions outside S's
control entails that S performs A, and none entails that he refrains from doing so’ (Plantinga 1986:
236).
4
Ibid: ‘If there is no logical impossibility in a man’s freely choosing the good on one, or on several,
occasions, there cannot be a logical impossibility in his freely choosing the good on every occasion.’

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(1) If God exists, then he is omnipotent, omniscient and perfectly good
(omnibenevolent).
(2) God exists.
(3) God is omnipotent, omniscient and perfectly good.
(4) A perfectly good being always prevents evil as far as it can, unless it has a
morally sufficient reason for permitting evil.
(5) If a person S suffers from transworld depravity, then it isn’t within God's
power to actualize: any world in which that person is significantly free but
does no wrong –viz. a world in which S produces moral good but no moral
evil.
(6) God can create significantly free persons only by instantiating some
creaturely essences.
(7) Every person is the instantiation of an essence.
(8) It is logically possible that every creaturely essence suffers from transworld
depravity.
(9) If every creaturely essence suffers from transworld depravity, then it is
beyond the power of God himself to create a world containing moral good but
no moral evil.
(10) Every essence suffers from transworld depravity.
(11) God actualizes a world containing moral good.
(12) There is evil.
(13) In our world there are persons with significant freedom and our world
contains moral good.
(14) Hence, there is evil in our world.
(15) So, God had at least one morally sufficient reason for permitting evil in
our world: this was the existence of moral good in our world, for which the
actualization of some significantly free persons (creaturely essences) was
logically necessary; and unfortunately, all creaturely individual essences were
transworldy depraved.
(16) Therefore, there is evil in our world and God exists.
⸫ The propositions: an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent God
exists & evil exists; are mutually consistent.
E. The Failure of Plantinga’s Free Will Defense
(1) Moral Objections
Plantinga presupposes that there are true counterfactuals of creaturely freedom, which
also constitute an essential part of divine foreknowledge. Under this account (and also

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according to Molinism), God as an omniscient being knew beforehand and in every
detail, all the ‘future’ (as designated in earthly timeline) occurrences of evil ‘E’ in our
world: e.g. the Great War, the Holocaust, the anthropogenic climate change etc.; and
despite that, he actualized a world where calamities such as these are included. Thus,
God can be held partially responsible for E, hence culpable for E; since in a way he
brought about the totality of states of affairs, meaning he indirectly caused5 E via
knowingly actualizing a world including the significantly free agents which inevitably
would have produced E.6
Also, in support of the moral objection Oppy (2017: 58) draws an analogy
between biological parents and God:
It seems quite compelling to think that, if human parents had foreknowledge that, were they to have a
child, their child would be raped, tortured and murdered before the age of two, then those human parents
would choose not to have a child. How, then, could it be acceptable for God to choose to have lots of
children in full knowledge that they will be raped, tortured and murdered before the age of two?
Furthermore, God in a multitude of cases of premature death (due to natural or
unnatural causes), seems to act like an agent provocateur for moral evil, because he
actualizes significantly free agents that will never get the change to do even one good
deed, though inevitably (as depraved essences) they will go wrong regarding at least
one morally significant action (and may be condemned for all eternity as sinners). More
importantly, it is morally appalling even the thought that not only God in full knowledge
actualized a world containing the Holocaust, but he also sustained all the necessary
conditions and casual-physical relations till the completion of this profound atrocity.
As Marilyn Adams (2001: 196) brilliantly notes:

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‘Take any particular event E: it could be that there is an unbroken chain of causality ending in E and
going all the way back to creation. If so, God’s relation to E would be as follows: God created an initial
set of these objects, with those causal powers, sustained them and their successors in existence,
knowing that E would eventually occur as a result of his creation and sustenance. God indirectly causes
E, i.e., sets in motion and sustains a train of events that issues in E. Suppose E is a bad event: on
occasionalism, God directly causes E, but in the current scenario, he does so indirectly. Is there any
reason to think that in the first case, God bears more responsibility for the bad than in the second case?
I do not think so. […] On occasionalism, God directly causes the brain events; on secondary causalism,
I not God cause those events (although of course God conserves me in existence and concurs with my
causal activity). […] It is hard to see how it could be that his causing the bad directly is incompatible
with his being wholly good, while his causing the bad indirectly is not’ (Plantinga 2016: 142-3).
6
‘I take it to be an implication of the distinctiveness of God’s ontological niche that creatures are
dependent on God, not only for their coming into but also for their continuing in being; likewise, all
created agents are dependent upon Divine concurrence in the exercise of their causal powers. This
means that much of Divine action in relation to the created world […] is actually agency enabling’
(Adams 1999: 84).

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Whether one believes in Adam’s fall or credits evolution, God is the One Who sets us up in an
environment in which we are radically vulnerable to participation in horrors. Primary responsibility for
this occurrence must rest with God!
For example, God as perfectly free and sole ex nihilo creator of our planet is
directly and solely responsible for the scarcity and uneven distribution of the planetary
resources, which is one of the main causes: of conflict (evildoing) between significantly
free persons (and of struggle for survival amongst animals in general).
(2) Additional Moral Objections
If significant freedom is such great good, then it appears rather unfair/unjust that not all
persons have equal access to this great good and are deprived of it due to the actions of
other free persons, various social circumstances or natural conditions (factors that
render them unable to act as free agents e.g. severe cognitive disability). Furthermore,
God ought to have ensured that the freedom of certain people would be restricted in
some degree: if the significant freedom of someone else were endangered (for the sake
of others’ freedom); in order to guarantee the significant freedom for all (universally),
and not only for the fittest, luckiest or most powerful individuals and groups.
For example, even in the most liberal political theories, the need to delimitate and
secure freedom through law is recognized, for of its growth and expansion (not
necessarily for the sake of some value other than liberty). It is implausible to suppose
that a society ceases to be liberal simply because it has a prison system that temporally
deprives some freedoms of convicted criminals in order to protect the political
community.
(3) Internal Tension Between Theistic Beliefs
Plantinga's idea of transworld depravity appears to be incompatible with certain
essential theistic views regarding the state of humans in the Afterlife. In particular, it is
in opposition with the assumption of the existence of heaven, that is, a world where
every human agent (being morally uncorrupted) will always do freely what is right.
As William Hasker (1989: 24) points out:
[…] [I]t is said of the redeemed in heaven both that they freely serve and worship God, and that they are
not able to sin; this happy inability is the result of their own free choices and is not typically seen as a
diminution of freedom. But acts of this sort are not free in the very strict sense required by libertarianism.
If we are exacting on our definition of ‘free’ but lax in applying the term, trouble is inevitable.
Also, Beebe (2016) notes:
This […] view of heaven poses the following significant challenges to Plantinga's view: (i) If heavenly
dwellers do not possess morally significant free will and yet their existence is something of tremendous

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value, it is not clear that God was justified in creating persons here on Earth with the capacity for rape,
murder, torture, sexual molestation, and nuclear war. It seems that God could have actualized whatever
greater goods are made possible by the existence of persons without allowing horrible instances of evil
and suffering to exist in this world. (ii) If possessing morally significant free will is essential to human
nature, it is not clear how the redeemed can lose their morally significant freedom when they get to
heaven and still be the same people they were before. (iii) If despite initial appearances heavenly dwellers
do possess morally significant free will, then it seems that it is not impossible for God to create genuinely
free creatures who always (of necessity) do what is right.
The question remains: Why God did not create a world W4 that would include
only those free agents who always will do solely the good, if there isn’t any logical
impossibility to this scenario? Bear in mind that Plantinga’s libertarian account of free
will doesn’t allow influences from their characters or natures to play a decisive role on
their significantly free actions, viz. there can't be any determinants for those actions
whatsoever. Also, prima facie, it seems that there isn’t any metaphysical impossibility
in creating W4, since ‘according to the Judeo-Christian story of Adam and Eve, it was
God's will that significantly free human beings would live in the Garden of Eden and
always obey God's commands. If Adam and Eve had followed God’s plan, then W4
would have been the actual world’ (Beebe 2016).
(4) Mackie’s Basic Objection
Mackie in The Miracle of Theism (1982: 174) puts froth the following strong objection
against FWD, which specifically targets the 10th premise of Plantinga’s argument:
But how is it possible that every creaturely essence suffers from Transworld depravity? This possibility
would be realized only if God were faced with a limited range of creaturely essences, a limited number
of possible people from which he had to make a selection, if he was to create free agents at all. What can
be supposed to have presented him with that limited range? As I have argued [1955], it is not logically
impossible that even a created person should always act rightly; the supposed limitation of the range of
possible persons is therefore logically contingent. But how could there be logically contingent states of
affairs, prior to the creation and existence of any created beings with free will, which an omnipotent god
would have to accept and to put up with? This suggestion is simply incoherent. […] Plantinga has not
rescued the free will defense but made its weakness all too clear.
In other words, divine omnipotence is seriously questioned here, since it appears
as been restricted by something beyond logical limits, viz. metaphysically by a defect
of some creaturely essences. But that’s unacceptable, especially, given the assumption
that Omni-God is also a perfectly free and ex nihilo creator-sustainer of everything –
including of course all creaturely essences!
(5) The Dilemma of Grounding Libertarian Freedom

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Plantinga in The Nature of Necessity (1974a: 190) notes that ‘[…] the actualization of
a world W containing moral good is not up to God alone; it also depends upon what the
significantly free creatures of W would do if God created them and placed them in the
situations W contains.’ But an additional crucial question is inevitable, in what the
following depend on: ‘what the significantly free creatures of W would do if God
created them and placed them in the situations W contains’? What could possibly be
the ground for that?
If, on the one hand, it is depended on the conditions that hold in world W (in the
sense that there is no logically possible world where identical conditions met, and these
creatures do –ceteris paribus– differently), then it is world-dependent; and by extension
their freedom is bound by the conditions (truth-making core) of W: it is world-bounded.
But this, according to the libertarian account of freedom, means that these creatures are
not free. Since nothing in the context in which a free choice X takes place is allowed to
(pre)determine the outcome of X. On the other hand, if what some significantly free
creatures will do is not world-dependent, given that there are logically possible worlds
with identical conditions where –ceteris paribus– they do differently, then God could
select only the creatures that he knows in advance that they will always freely choose
the good; and actualize a world containing exclusively such creatures (universal
sanctity). Since, not only ‘is up to God whether to create free creatures at all’, but also,
which creatures to create. The point is that this possible universal sanctity does not
need to be true, believed to be true or to be plausible, it even does not have to be more
probable than ‘transworld depravity’; but suffices to be a logically possible (non-
contradictory) hypothesis! Anything else would be an unacceptable restriction of divine
omnipotence.
Therefore, for Plantinga's FWD to be consistent must confront the logical
dilemma of either canceling the libertarian free will or improperly restraining God's
omnipotence; but, whatever he chooses to compromise, it can’t satisfy the main purpose
of his defense, since it fails to show that the propositions in question are mutually
consistent.7 However, this failure does not simply mean that Mackie's Logical
Argument from Evil (as is as stands) succeeds –despite that Plantinga’s FWD based on
the idea of transworld depravity is almost certainly incoherent– because the basic

7
One of the best critiques against Plantinga’s Free Will Defense (roughly on these lines) can be found
in Oppy (2004; 2006: 264-81).

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premises (links)8 of MLAE can be easily challenged without any significant theoretical
cost for the classical monotheistic worldview.
(6) Objections Against the Free Will Defense of Open Theism
One conclusion of Graham Oppy in Describing Gods is that the hypothesis in which
Omni-God creates a universe where there are creatures with libertarian free will, faces
unsurpassable difficulties, unless if (OT): ‘God has quite restricted knowledge about
the future of the universe that God brings into existence –because there is no knowing
how chance and/or agent causation will be played out in advance of their being played
out in the universe […]’ (2014a: 268). In other words, only if God can’t know in
advance how some future contingents will play out (i.e. the actual results of agent
causation), it is possible for the free agents to perform –under the libertarian
conception– free actions. So, if the above supposition (OT) is accepted, then Plantinga’s
FWD might have a better change for internal consistency and immunization against
rebuttals which depend on Mackie’s basic objection (viz. that it is logically possible for
God to create free agents which always would freely choose the good) (Oppy 2004;
2006: 281-9). Also, this supposition (OT) is what broadly differentiates Open theism9
from Classical theism, namely only the former accepts (OT). Thus, for Open theism,
the fate of our universe is undetermined (or at least partially/locally lies an
indeterministic element), hence the course of world history is considered an open-ended
process in which human free agents (individually and collectively) play a decisive role.
The outcome of the immanent battle between earthly Good and Evil is up to humanity.
Consequently, the moral fabric of our world is primarily mankind’s doing.
However, Open theism’s account of divine foreknowledge generates two serious
problems. First, the restrictions put upon divine omniscience are considered very
controversial. And second, presents God as a risk taker which is ‘open to charge of
gross negligence or recklessness’ (Mackie 1982: 175-6).10 From a logical-metaphysical
point of view the worldview of Open theism possibly has the following theoretical cost:
Open theism’s account of divine foreknowledge is incompatible with the strong
version of Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR), and by extend that means the
abandoning of all cosmological arguments for the existence of God that presuppose a

8
See: Oppy (2017).
9
For a classical discussion in favor of Open theism see: Hasker (1989).
10
For a persuasive and extensive argumentation with concrete examples in support of those charges
see: Gale (1996: 98-178; 2007: 48-70).

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strong interpretation of PSR (Oppy 2006: 275-6). Since, the play out of cosmic future
depends on something beyond God’s knowledge: intrinsic chancy events and results of
exercised creaturely libertarian free will. So, factors such as randomness and
unpredictability infect God’s plan, thus an extensive need for probabilistic/open
explanations emerges, and consequently only a weak interpretation of Principle of
Sufficient Reason may survive.
Open theism seems to be incompatible with Anselm’s definition of God as ‘a-
being-than-which-no-greater-can-be-conceived’ (Proslogion: 2-5). If that’s the case,
then all ontological arguments for the existence of God that presuppose this definition
must be abandoned. Because: (i) God is wholly/firmly being put inside our three-
dimensional time-line, hence his atemporal or extra-temporal status is udermined; (ii)
Divine knowledge is now considered mutable and time-dependent (since, under this
account God can know the outcome of agent causation only a posteriori), though
traditionally were thought to be immutable and eternal; (iii) the conception of God as
sole perfect-knower is not possible to maintained. Therefore, Open theism is at odds
with Perfect-being theism.
In more detail, a being X that exists now T1 (2018) doesn’t know at least some
future contingents (e.g. the results of creaturely significant freedom in 2038). But we
can conceive a being X΄ greater than Χ, which is a being that would exist in the end of
times (T3) and would have maximized its knowledge. Since, in the end of world history
(T3) can be conceived a being X΄ which is epistemically greater than X, then God is X΄
and not X, but now (T1) either X΄ doesn’t exist either isn’t the same with X. Whatever
is the case X is not the greatest conceivable being, but in Open theism’s conception of
divine (foreknowledge), X is God; thus Open theism’s God (X) isn’t the Anselmic God.
Moreover, a lifelong-learner cannot be considered a perfect-knower, since it doesn’t
seem reasonable an analogous claim regarding divine omnipotence: how God can
increase his already perfect power over time (e.g. going to the gym or via divine
doping...)? Something that can be improved in any way (for example, in the sense of
epistemic progress) it is not the best possible but can be upgraded and become so (over
time and via the mediation of various progressive stages). However, God must be
already perfect and not on the way to become perfect, or else signifies a change of
paradigm: that is, a departure from the classical metaphysical framework of Perfect-
being theism towards to Process theism –in which Becoming has primacy over Being.

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Furthermore, to know with absolute certainty (non-probabilistically) the outcome
of certain free acts before they are performed is not logically impossible in the same
sense as ‘square circles’ or ‘married bachelors’. For the support of the assumed logical
impossibility, some additional basic suppositions are required, such as: (1) the denial
of the existence of true counterfactuals of freedom (a subject that philosophically is
quite controversial); (2) the asymmetry between Past and Future, and (3) the logical
impossibility of retroactive or backwards causality (Zagzebski 1991). And even if
knowing beforehand the outcome of exercised human freedom is proved to be logically
impossible, it doesn’t by itself entail that God doesn’t know it, for it may be the case
that humans simply don’t have the libertarian conceived freedom.
On the other hand, Open theism seems to better reconcile divine omniscience
with human freedom (due to the robust ‘openness’ of the future). And, perhaps, gives a
more satisfactory response to the thorny question of ‘why God didn’t actualized only
those free agents who would freely always do only the good?’ Because God does not
know the effects of free acts before they are done.
Mackie sums it up sharply in The Miracle of Theism (1982: 175-6):

If God does not know future contingents, and, in particular, does not know what free choices human
agents will make, it follows that in 1935, for example, he knew little more than we did about the
catastrophic events of the twenty years to 1955, and equally that he knows little more than we do now
about the next twenty years. And such a limitation of his knowledge carries with it a serious effective
limitation of his power [e.g. knowledge is in a sense: power]. Also, this account forces the theologian to
put God firmly inside time. […] [A]nd the theologian cannot, without contradiction, give God also an
extra-temporal existence and extra-temporal knowledge. This may, indeed, have some advantages: it
would make things more interesting for God, and eliminate the sheer mystery of extra-temporal existence
and action. But it abandons important parts of the ordinary religious view. […] Although, on this account,
God could not have known what Adam and Eve, or Satan, would do if he created them, he could surely
know what they might do: that is compatible even with this extreme libertarianism. If so, he was taking,
literally, a hell of a risk when he created […] Satan. Was the freedom to make unforeseeable choices so
great good that it outweighed this risk?

Finally, Oppy (2017: 58-9) argues rather convincingly by drawing an analogy


between biological parents and God:

[…] [E]ven if our universe is, in some respects, chancy, it seems more a less inevitable, something like
(D15 & D16) [meaning: “There is all of this horrendous suffering in our universe that is due to human
agency” & “There is all of this horrendous suffering in our universe that is not due to human agency”]
would become true. […] It seems pretty compelling to think that, if human parents recognized that it was

12
near enough to certain that, were they have a child, their child would be raped, tortured and murdered
before the age of two, then those human parents would choose not to have a child.

F. Conclusion
After the comparative reexamination the following conclusions can be drawn: (1)
Mackie’s Logical Argument from Evil (MLAE) as it stands it is unsound, because at
least one of its premises is clearly false. (2) Plantinga’s Free Will Defense (FWD) in its
standard formulation is unsuccessful, because is internally inconsistent; however,
Plantinga managed with his critique to rebut MALE. (3) Mackie’s response to FWD
with his strong basic objection is decisive. (4) Therefore, even though FWD is a failure,
that doesn’t mean that MALE is a success; both are unsuccessful but renewed the
discussion about a longstanding big theological-philosophical problem, thus FWD and
MALE can be considered as useful failures. (5) Open theism’s twist-reformulation of
Free Will Defense doesn’t succeed either, though it avoids the internal inconsistency;
hence, the classical monotheistic worldview doesn't seem to provide a morally
sufficient answer to the problem of moral evil, except from the possibly effective:
‘defensive stance’ of some forms of Skeptical Theism –an issue that wasn’t examined
here. (6) So, perhaps, it’s about time the dominant philosophical view to be revised, at
least regarding the evaluation of Plantinga’s FWD and the prospects of new-alternative
Logical Arguments from Evil in the 21st century.

13
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