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Atheistic philosopher William Rowe concluded that there is no good state of affairs where an omnipotent, omniscient being would be justified in allowing evils where no possible good can arise from them taking place; he also calls these inscrutable evils, which are evils that cannot be understood. Rowe (1990: 3).
I disagree with his first conclusion as from my Reformed position I reason God wills all things with good motives for the greater good as a primary cause with good motives in moral perfection, although secondary causes that are rational beings, may have sinful motives, and therefore disagree in writing with the concept of gratuitous evil, and this is presented in my Wales, PhD 'Theodicy and Practical Theology' and in two posts on this blog, one the top ranked in pageviews as of December 2012, 'Gratuitous Evil Revisited' and also 'Gratuitous Evil'.
I reason my view would be in line with Romans 8: 28-30 in the life of a Christian believer.
Rowe with his second point does present a concept that many evils from a human perspective, not God's perspective I must make clear in my view, would be inscrutable and therefore would be very difficult if not virtually impossible to understand for humanity. I would also further state that these would be very difficult if not virtually impossible to explain.
Two major problems humanity has in trying to understand certain great evils:
Finite human nature
Human beings simply do not understand with limited minds and knowledge all the reasonings of other human beings, and all the potentials for great amounts of evil.
Human beings do not understand fully the infinite reasonings of God.
Human beings do not understand, apart from little stated in Scripture about them, the reasonings of angelic and demonic beings, and the workings these beings could do in God's will. Angels would work with good motives, demonic beings with sinful motives (Job). The concept of angelic beings performing evils, as in human experienced evils, with good motives may be controversial but 2 Kings 19: 35 for example reads:
New American Standard Version
35 Then it happened that night that the angel of the Lord went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when [a]men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were [b]dead.
It appears an angel is performing the work of God. I do realize some Evangelicals will take as a possible interpretation that 'the angel of the Lord' is the pre-incarnate God the Son, but that is speculative theology not clear from the Hebrew Bible.
Human beings do not understand all the reasonings, not rational as in a human or angelic sense, but still reasoning within the intuitive nature of the animal world and all potential evils.
Human beings cannot anticipate all potential Natural Evils.
Sinful human nature
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
21 But now apart [a]from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those [b]who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all [c]have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a [d]propitiation [e]in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, [f]because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who [g]has faith in Jesus.
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
There is now legal justification and an on going work of justification (1 Corinthians 6: 11) for those in Christ.
Even so, until the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15) and the culminated Kingdom there is human corruption and imperfection that will damage human perception to various degrees including in regard to evil.
I therefore agree with a concept humanly speaking of inscrutable evils as well as unexplainable evils.
A combination of human finitude and sinfulness makes understanding evil as in knowledge of it, and predicting it, inadequate, including evil in great amounts.
The Bible is of assistance of course, in particular the Book of Job, as is good solid, sound academic work on the problem of evil and theodicy. Fellowship and prayer are also essential.
But certain questions in reality lead to the need for a remedy and that is connected to the historical work of the atonement of Christ on the cross found in the Gospels, and also the documented resurrection of Jesus Christ and the promised resurrection of believers tied into the Second Coming (Matthew 24, 2 Thessalonians 2).
ROWE, WILLIAM L. (1990) ‘The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism’, in Adams and Adams (eds.) The Problem of Evil, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
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