La Croex expends far too many words in an argument that could be expressed very simply: In order for evil not to exist, God could have refrained from creating the world; further, since God is the greatest possible good, no goodness was added to God as a result of creation. Why then did God create? And would it not be better if He had not?

On the theist’s own view prior to creation there was nothing missing from the perfect value of God which would call for creation.

One possible approach to a satisfactory apologetic of creation, for example, might be to point out that if God had not created, then there would be no human free will or human moral good.

But this kind of an approach would require a further premise to the effect that a created, hierarchy of value adds to the overall value and, hence, God created.

It would follow from this, however, that created value adds to God’s value and, hence, that God is not the greatest possible good because His goodness can be increased by the addition of created value. (124)

But Thomas Morris has solved this problem to my satisfaction in his Our Idea of God. He notices a distinction between

a being, an entity, an individual, on the one hand, and any state of affairs which involves that individual. The distinction is a fundamental and quite simple one. I am an individual being, my Pelikan 800 fountain pen is an individual entity, and we are both involved in the state of affairs of my writing this sentence with my Pelikan 800 fountain pen.

Likewise, we must carefully distinguish between the state of affairs of that fountain pen’s existing and the object which is that fountain pen.

With this sort of distinction clearly in mind, we can clarify exactly what the central claim of perfect being theology is: It is that God is to be thought of as the greatest possible being. And this is a claim that does not entail the separate proposition that the state of affairs of God’s existing alone is the greatest possible state of affairs. …

We can acknowledge that the state of affairs consisting in God’s sharing existence with our created universe is greater than the state of affairs of God’s existing in pristine isolation or solitude. But from this, it does not follow that there is any being or individual greater than God. This would be the case only if God and the created universe could be thought of as parts of a larger object, God-and-the-world, which could be assigned a value as a distinct individual, additively derived from the values of its parts.

And this is prohibited for at least two reasons.

First, there is no natural principle of unity in accordance with which God and the created universe would together compose one object.

Second, it is just conceptually precluded by perfect being theology that God ever be considered a part of a larger and more valuable whole, an entity distinct from, but partially composed by, God.

With all this in mind, we can affirm the positive value, even the great positive value, of the created universe, without thereby posing any threat to the conception of God as the greatest possible being, and without any risk of contradiction arising in connection with that conception. (142-3)

If the overall state of affairs of God + the world is better that the state of affairs of God alone even despite the presence of evil in the world, then La Croex’s argument fails.


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