In his famous article "Evil and Omnipotence," J. Mackie scathingly criticizes the belief that God can be both omnipotent and wholly good. My paper will evaluate the validity of the paragraph that begins "First I should query" The paragraph specifically deals with God's failure to eradicate evil while preserving our free will. Mackie argues that God's failure reveals the logical incompatibility between His omnipotence and His omnibenevolence. Mackie's argument is formulated as follows:.
1. If God is omnibenevolent, He would prefer men to choose good, as He preserves their free will.
2. If God is omnipotent, He has the ability to make men consistently choose good, as He preserves their free will.
3. If He wants to and is able to make men choose good over evil, men should always choose good.
4. But men do not choose good sometimes.
5. Therefore, God cannot be both omnipotent and omnibenevolent. .
The first premise is self-explanatory in that the word omnibenevolence means preferring good and rejecting evil. Mackie places emphasis on the second premise. He believes that the fact God allows men to freely choose good on some occasions proves His capability to make them do so on every occasion. According to Mackie, since God already let men freely choose the good occasionally, "there is no logical impossibility in a man's freely choosing the good on every occasion." The third premise unites the two premises above and states that men must always choose the good, given God's willingness and ability to eradicate evil while preserving men's free will. The fourth premise indicates that men do not choose good sometimes and overturns the third premise. With the overturned premise, Mackie concludes that God cannot be both omnibenevolent and omnipotent.
The argument above not only is logically valid, but also seems to be convincing at first glance. With some scrutiny, however, one can find a logical incompatibility in the second premise.