02 Jan '13 16:18>
I'm still waiting for you to tell me exactly which premises of the argument you think are false and why. I have already granted that you are perfectly free to read the "greater good" in the way you describe. You say that the greater good is served by nothing less than God permitting his creatures to act freely. Fine. Again, consider this fully granted for the purpose of argument. Now, proceed with explaining why you think the argument fails.
The problem you will have is that you cannot seriously tell me that premise 2 is false in virtue of this particular reading of the greater good. That is just absurd, since there are any number of instances of suffering that have absolutely nothing to do with facilitating human free will. Let's take a specific example. You're aware of course of all the suffering and havoc wreaked by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. Do you have some account of why your God saw fit to let such events unfold? You cannot seriously claim with a straight face that His reasons for not preventing such instances of suffering have anything to do with His needing to provide a congenial environment for the freedom of his creatures. No one in his right mind actually thinks that such instances of suffering are requisite for human freedom. There are simply countless instances of suffering that are like this; that bear no relevance to discussion of those things that provide for human free will. So, at minimum, there needs to be a lot more to your theodicy than just saying that God needs to allow His creatures to be free in order to serve the greater good. (I'm actually being quite generous here, since, in fact, even if we restricted our attention only to those instances of suffering that have been brought about directly by acts of human free will, it would still be virtually impossible to justify the claim that all such instances were necessary for human freedom and hence necessary for your greater good to be served.)
I also find it rather hilarious that you think it takes an "exaggerated sense of justice, fairness or even righteousness" to suggest that an agent who by supposition has the power; knowledge; and opportunity to prevent such an event, would do so. You imply that to suggest such a thing shows a lack of historical and broad picture perspective. Well, for me to take you seriously there, you need to actually give me reasons to think that there are substantive, relevant considerations that these persons have failed to entertain. You haven't done this in the slightest, though, because as I already explained above, your attempt at theodicy offers no reasons at all that would make any sense of why your God would stand by and watch something like that event unfold.
The above was from LJ in response to my comments on the thread now since closed. I had an unusually hectic season and failed to respond prior to the closure of the thread, but will attempt to do so here.
What does life look like without God? Any atheist can tell you: it has moments of joy, of laughter, of sorrow, of general melancholy and, ultimately, no resolve. This is not an attempt at insult, but rather, an assessment of boiled down existence. There is no meaning to life, because life being what it is--- it just is--- has no meaning. We cannot say 'you're supposed to give life its meaning,' since there really is no 'supposed to' in something that just is.
What does life look like with God? Any theist can tell you: it has moments of joy, of laughter, of sorrow, of general contentedness and ultimately, resolve. Of course, the theist may very well live like the atheist, but the point is, only with God can there be resolve... even if it is only a trick of the mind.
When the man and the woman were in the Garden, suffering did not exist in any form. They voluntarily followed His plan. When the man opted to reject God's plan, he chose his own plan instead--- and all that it entailed. He couldn't possibly see all of the ramifications of life without God with all of its iterations, but he understood that death and all of its expressions were part of the package. There was no third option, one which had parts of God (wherein suffering is mitigated) and parts of man (wherein death holds sway).
You're wishing God to intervene in some cases but to allow others to slide. Why do you get to decide which instances of suffering will be allowed to happen and which He ought to dispense with?
This entire existence we are part of takes place in a sphere in which God's plan does not hold sway. Rather, this is what life looks like without His plan in place. Frankly, I think it sucks, but in other ways, I am grateful for it since its existence made mine possible. Does that mean I wouldn't have been created had the man and the woman opted to stay with God's plan? Hmmm. Now that's a good question.