Divine Perfection, Axiology and the No Best World Defence

Religious Studies 29 (4):533 - 542 (1993)
Advocates of the traditional argument from evil assume that an omnipotent and morally perfect being, God, would create a world of the greatest value possible. They dispute that this world is such a world. It is difficult to disagree. They go on to conclude that this world could not have been created by God. It is, however, possible consistently both to agree that God could have guaranteed the existence of a better world than this world and to reject the conclusion that this world could not have been created by God. Specifically, one may argue that this world is not a world of the greatest value God could guarantee, not because there is some other world which is, but because there is no such world. After all, it is plausible that for any possible world, no matter how good, there is another possible world which is even better, that the range of values for possible worlds has no upper limit. If this is correct, then for any world God creates there is a better world God could have created. So the argument from evil collapses, since it is logically impossible even for an omnipotent god to create a particular world which is the best or equal best possible world. God cannot act in accordance with the prescription ‘Create the best world possible!’, since there is no such thing. Nor can God act in accordance with the prescription ‘Create the best world you can!’, since from the perspective of an omnipotent being there is no such thing. This no best world defence has been advanced by Peter Forrest, John McHarry and George Schlesinger
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DOI 10.1017/S0034412500022575
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