I’ve become interested in the Moral Argument for the existence of God as of late, because it makes some interesting claims. First, it claims that objective morality exists–that there is a moral nature or order that is essentially good that exists above our minds and imposes its obligations on all our situations. Second, it claims that this moral order is part of God’s nature, that it is not arbitrarily uttered by mere words. Thus, we can know what is moral, make moral claims, and live by moral standards because God’s nature is foundational to all of morality. To deny God’s existence doesn’t mean one must be immoral, but that to have objective morality one draws upon divine resources.
No matter what we think of the argument, the general idea is that God is essentially good. Goodness is simply part of God’s character, and his commands follow from that nature. In other words, the nature is foundational to the commands, not the other way around.
But when I was reading an interview of a Calvinist theologian this morning, I saw that one of my suspicions was confirmed; that the Calvinist answer to the Problem of Evil seems to imply that evil doesn’t really exist. Consider the opening question of the interview that suggests that it may be “misleading” to speak of the problem of evil. Why would it be misleading? From the following premises (1) God is all-powerful, (2) God is all-good, and (3) [inferred from (1)]) God brings about everything that comes to pass, including our choices it follows that there can be no evil. For God, what it means to be good is to do only good; there can be no metaphysical foundation for one of his creatures to call something he ordains bad. Evil doesn’t really exist.
Nevertheless, we still experience evil and have some kind of knowledge of it. How do we come to this knowledge? Perhaps it comes from what God calls evil by name. This seems to be intuited by one of the commenters who writes, “I’ve always thought more thought should be given to letting God define ‘good” and ‘evil.'” He goes on, “Most often, something we think is ‘evil’ is really part of something ‘good’ in God’s economy.” And, “But, perhaps God does not have a ‘problem of evil’, but rather we have problems understanding his ways.”
Notice how this comports with the logic above: God doesn’t really have a problem of evil, because evil really doesn’t exist. Yet there is a glaring inconsistency: on what basis does God call something evil? If everything that comes to pass is brought about by God, and everything God does is good because he is essentially good, then there is no metaphysical foundation for calling something evil. Yet God calls things, things that he ordains, evil. Thus the argument for objective morality as essential to God is undermined.
If my suspicions are correct, this could potentially be a very powerful argument against Calvinism since it would show that it 1) undermines objective morality, 2) undermines moral epistemology, and 3) falsifies biblical theology’s claim that evil exists. We would then have several good reasons not to adhere to Calvinism.