A dilemma is a situation that presents a choice between a few options, all of which are undesirable.
The problem of evil presents a very practical dilemma for one who believes in “God” as it 1.) forces us to deny the traditional view of “God” or 2.) realize that our god is an absurdity and probably nonexistent.
Most Christians try a third option to this “dilemma” … they attempt to turn it around as evidence for God’s glory by playing the mystery card.
Although this may work for the faith of some, it’s a cop out and deserves the ridicule it has received by secular critics. In fact, Christians have pressed this “mystery of God” assertion on so many inappropriate levels they have gained a stigma of not only pushing the boundaries of stupidity, but of being anti-reason.
The problem of evil is NOT a mystery.
A mystery is something that can be understood, but, because of a lack of evidence or knowledge, remains beyond our grasp.
The question of who assassinated JFK remains a mystery, not because we can’t comprehend it, but because we lack the knowledge to comprehend it. If we’d finally figure out who murdered JFK, his death would no longer be a mystery and would be understood by all.
An absurdity is something that simply makes no sense.
Affirming that a circle can be a square.
Writing an unathorized autobiography about yourself.
The problem of evil is a dilemma that at worst presents an absurdity, but never a mystery.
If you assert that God is supremely good, and, at the same time, you assert that He has the power to stop evil, but doesn’t then you have an absurdity on your hands, not a mystery.
If you affirm God’s goodness in the face of evil, you must either deny his omnipotence, omniscience or omnipresence.
If you affirm his omnipotence, you must deny or drastically redefine his goodness.
When confronted with the practical reality of this problem, believers who don’t use the God of gaps often do one of two things:
They jettison their faith.
Or, they attempt to “grab the bull by the horns.” In other words, they attempt to redefine the premise of the problem … they attempt to redefine “God”.
The attempt to redefine God usually goes in one of these three trajectories:
1.) Reformed theology upholds God’s omnipotence and omniscience by attempting to redefine the goodness aspect of God, emphasizing the glory of God in relation to the sinfulness of man.
2.) Arminianism attempts to uphold their understanding of God’s goodness at the expense of omnipotence by asserting the ability of man to limit God’s power.
3.) Open theology attempts to build on Arminianism and redefine not only omnipotence but the omniscience aspect of God by asserting that man’s freedom somewhat redefines God’s future plans.
In one way or another, when confronted with the problem of evil we all must discard “God.”