Quoting the wikipedia article, "The claim that the actual world is the best of all possible worlds is the central argument in Leibniz's theodicy, or his attempt to solve the problem of evil." It is well known that this claim can be the subject of serious criticism. One example of that criticism is the last book by philosopher of religion William Rowe, Can God Be Free?, of which I link a review by Professor Timothy O'Connor.

Quoting the possibly minimum summary of Rowe's position from the Amazon page:

This book focuses on God's freedom and praiseworthiness in relation to his perfect goodness. Given his necessary perfections, if there is a best world for God to create he would have no choice other than to create it. For, as Leibniz tells us, 'to do less good than one could is to be lacking in wisdom or in goodness'. But if God could not do otherwise than create the best world, he created the world of necessity, not freely. And, if that is so, it may be argued that we have no reason to be thankful to God for creating us, since, as parts of the best possible world, God was simply unable to do anything other than create us―-he created us of necessity, not freely. Moreover, we are confronted with the difficulty of having to believe that this world, with its Holocaust, and innumerable other evils, is the best that an infinitely powerful, infinitely good being could do in creating a world. Neither of these conclusions, taken by itself, seems at all plausible. Yet each conclusion appears to follow from the conception of God now dominant in the great religions of the West.

William Rowe presents a detailed study of this important problem, both historically in the writings of Gottfried Leibniz, Samuel Clarke, Thomas Aquinas, and Jonathan Edwards, and in the contemporary philosophical literature devoted to the issue. Rowe argues that this problem is more serious than is commonly thought and may require some significant revision in contemporary thinking about the nature of God.

Now, it is clear that the issue raised by Rowe is solved fully and simply by Christian trinitarian doctrine, according to which:

A. God the Father indeed produced the best possible world that He could: the infinitely perfect divine "world" ad-intra of the Holy Trinity, though He did it not by creation but by eternal emanation or procession, and

B. God the Father eternally generates the Son and spirates with Him the Holy Spirit by necessity of nature (*), not by a libertarian free decision.

So, God the Father indeed cannot do otherwise than produce the best world, which is the divine "world" ad-intra, and He eternally does it by necessity of nature (*).

(*) as opposed to necessity from want or necessity from external imposition.

Question: Has any scholar already offered this answer to Rowe's issue?

Note that the question is fully objective. I am not asking for opinions on whether the answer is consistent with Christian doctrine or on whether it actually solves the issue raised by Rowe.

  • Trinitarian doctrine MAY solve Rowe's issue fully, but not, I suggest, simply. While I'm not familiar with the terms "eternal emanation or procession," or with the concept which says the Father generates the Son and spirates with Him the Holy Spirit, I do believe that God did not create ex nihilo (i.e., out of nothing) all that came into being. No, he created everything out of the fullness of his divine being. Big difference. To say that God started his creation by taking nothing and creating something out of it is clearly wrong. Before God created anything, all that existed was God, – rhetorician Feb 28 '18 at 0:54
  • not God plus nothing. Perhaps that is what you are saying but expressing it differently from the way I would. What seems to be missing from your argument is the concept of love. God is love. Love cannot exist in a vaccuum, which goes a long way in helping us to understand why we worship a Triune God in the first place. His infinite love was, is, and always will be expressed within the Godhead, but according to the eternal counsels of his will that love would be expressed to his image bearers by giving us his only begotten Son. That gift came at great cost to the Son. He sacrificed his life – rhetorician Feb 28 '18 at 1:16
  • as an atonement for sin. The Son's cross death, however, was a fait accompli from eternity. That is because the Lamb of God was slain before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20; Hebrews 4:6 and 9:23; and Revelation 13:8). The divine love which "hatched the plan" (and it was Plan A all along, not Plan B!) originated in God who IS love (1 John 4:8). God's perfect world was despoiled by sin, but God's plan for the ages involved setting things right by making salvation available to his sinful creatures, which then paved the way for a complete restoration of the world to its original pristine – rhetorician Feb 28 '18 at 1:38
  • state, with there never again being the possibility that sin will despoil what God has restored. Minor quibble: Do you mean ab-intra (and not ad-intra)? – rhetorician Feb 28 '18 at 1:39

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