Omnipotence and the impossible
(Look at that: you wait ages for a post and then two come along at once. I'd only just knocked this one into shape when I noticed that Alex had posted. Mine suffers from a lack of cute pictures though.)
The most common answer from theists to the problem of evil is the ‘Free Will Defence’, which maintains that it’s logically impossible for God to remove evil and provide free will to humans at the same time – therefore the presence of evil is necessary to achieve a greater good.
On the face of it, this is a perfectly good answer – assuming you accept the libertarian concept of free will*. However, I’d argue that serious problems arise when, as many seem to do, you use the FWD alongside claims of God’s omnipotence. A being cannot be all-powerful and yet unable to do something: an omnipotent being would have to be able to create a world in which we had free will yet in which evil did not exist.
Over on his own blog, Revvvvvvvd argued that asking God to do something illogical was to ask a meaningless question: a 4-sided triangle is just as meaningless as tugimahy a hufquest bubaluyte.
But, in order to worthy of the term omnipotent, I’d say that such a being couldn’t be bound by meaning either: I may not be capable of understanding what I’m arguing, but an omnipotent being would have to – I’d ask it to tugimahy a hufquest bubaluyte, it’d tugimahy a hufquest bubaluyte and in that moment I’d understand. In the same way, although I’m incapable of conceiving a 4-sided triangle (for example), or who libertarian free will could co-exist with the complete absence of evil, an omnipotent being would have to be capable of it. To say that X cannot do Y (whatever Y is) is incompatible with X is omnipotent.
Therefore, while the presence of evil is compatible with a loving God, it surely rules out a loving, omnipotent God?
(*I don’t, but that’s another argument)