Do theists beg the question in arguing against the logical problem of evil?

A common attempted refutation of the idea that the existence of evil logically contradicts the existence of God is that God could have morally sufficient reasons for allowing evil, bring about a greater good. Therefore, supposedly, the atheist is not entitled to claim that evil contradicts God’s existence without showing that there are no possible morally sufficient reasons for evil. An impossible task, given the limits on our knowledge.

However, if you define God as the Perfect Good, it seems that God must, by definition, have morally sufficient reason to allow evil, or God would not be Perfect Good. That definition, therefore, assumes the very thing under discussion: whether God is justified in allowing evil. If:rolleyes: our limited knowledge cannot justify judging God evil, then aren’t we equally incompetent to judge God “good”?

Isn’t the “greater good” defense a logically fallacious response to the problem of evil?

Not being a philosopher, I don’t understand your dilemma.
I go by revealed truth, since it all makes sense to me and is the major influence in developing my relationship with God…
You seem to be overthinking things.
Sorry I can’t help you think it through, but I wish to add a suggestion that you meditate further on the teachings of the Church, pray and conduct yourself as taught by Christ. The Holy Spirit will guide you.

I’ve never liked the “greater good” defense because it is a given that evil exists but it cannot be philosophically demonstrated that it results in a net good. It’s pure speculation.

I prefer the argument from free will. God cannot grant us free will without allowing us to turn away from him through sin (ie, be evil). That is a philosophically sound statement. Now one must demonstrate why having free will is better than being an automaton, and I’d rather do that than try to defend the “greater good” argument.

I think one can defend this argument by demonstrating that there are plausible reasons for permitting evil. One way to show this is by analyzing the existence of evil through the principle of double effect. The principle of double effect is formulated as follows:

An act which results in both good and bad effects is only justifiable…

…if the act itself is either good in itself or morally neutral;
…if the good result is not directly caused by the bad result;
…if the evil result is tolerated, not desired; and
…if the foreseen good outweighs the foreseen evil.

Under this analysis, God freely acts to create free human beings. This action is good in itself, but the result is mixed because people sometimes abuse their freedom by doing evil instead of good. Nonetheless, the good of freedom is not caused by our abuse of that freedom, and the abuse is tolerated by God, not desired. The gift of free will also outweighs the evils that are sometimes committed through it, and thus God is justified in permitting evil because doing so preserves the greater good of free will.

Let’s see… A claims that X and Y contradict each other. B claims that they do not and proposes one scenario under which X and Y are both true, thus proving that contradiction does not exist. And now you claim that this proof is fallacious, because this scenario is inevitable given the nature of X and Y…? That doesn’t look right… The point you offered supports position of B, not of A, doesn’t it?

Isn’t the “greater good” defense a logically fallacious response to the problem of evil?

It is logically fallacious. “The end does not justify the means.” (1759 CCC)
In the centuries theists have been using the “greater good” argument while unknowingly selling out the goodness of God. The atheists have been right in rejecting a “god” that ought to be rejected. The true God opposes evil with the fullness of his power. I believe the answer of evil is given here:

"Though omnipotent, God has irrevocably set a limit to his own power:
“God has not willed to reserve to himself all exercise of power. He entrusts to every creature the functions it is capable of performing, according to the capacities of its own nature.” (CCC, 1884)

In gratuitous generosity, God has arranged that real power in shaping the world be given to human beings and angels for the sake of imbuing created persons with authentic importance as co-creators. In offering himself totally to creatures, God has given himself away in a most radical manner: All powers and roles of importance that can logically possibly be entrusted to others have, in fact, been given to human beings and angels for the sake of imbuing authentic and irreplaceable importance to each creature made in the image of God:

“We can never give too great prominence to the Scholastic principle that God never does through Himself what may be achieved through created causality… For any result which does not require actually infinite power, God will sooner create a new spiritual being capable of producing that result than produce it Himself.” (Abbot Anscar Vonier, The Human Soul)

There are areas of responsibility that can only be acted upon by God (e.g. the creation of the universe out of nothing, or the governance of the entirety of reality via omniscient providence), and these cannot be given over to creatures due to the limits of logical possibility. Even so, the self-emptying of God is such that many of those actions which can only be accomplished by God himself (such as the forgiveness of sins, or the changing of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ) have been entrusted to human beings as intermediaries through the sacramental ministry of the priesthood. According to God’s generosity, if something can possibly be done or mediated by a finite power, God creates a finite creature to do it rather than doing the thing directly. Since this is a true giving, and not merely the appearance of gift, it follows that creatures now have a kind of power in the world that God does not have.

Even though sin and the suffering caused by it is an infinite offense to him, God is (though metaphysically omnipotent) functionally dependent on the actions of creatures
obedient to him in order to manifest his will and justice in the world. God is in no way controlling things directly, and if a created person chooses to do evil, then real damage is done."

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