I am redating a post from 2005 which took place, if course, before my exchanges with Calvinists. I am aware of the fact that some Calvinists, notably Sudduth, dissasociate not only themselves from what I am calling Ockhamism here, but also dissassociate Calvin from Ockhamism.
The following is a presentation of an argument from evil:
(1) Gratuitous evils probably exist.
(2) Gratuitous evils are incompatible with the God of theism (omnipotent, omniscient, all-good).
(3) Therefore, the God of theism probably does not exist.
This argument has a presupposition that some Christians have questioned. It presupposes that "good" is somehow independent of the will of God, and that it has some objective meaning independent of the will of God. That presupposition, which John Beversluis calls Platonism is that "the term good cannot mean some thing radically different from what is means when applied to men." The opposing view is that he calls the Ockhamist view, set forth by William of Ockham. This is Beversluis's exposition:
"According to this view, when we talk about God's goodness, we must be prepared to give up our ordinary moral standards. The term good when applied to God does mean som ething radically different from what it means when applied to human beings. To suppose that God must be conform to some standard other than his own sovereign will is to deny his ultimacy. His is not under any moral constraint to command certain actions and to forbid others. He does not, for example, forbid murder because it is wrong; it is wrong because he forbids it. If God would command us to murder, then that would be our duty, just as it was the duty of Abraham to sacridice Isaac, or Elijah to slay the prophets of Baal, or Joshua to slaughter the Canaanites right down to the alst woman and child. Some Ockhamist Christians have even gone so far as to say that God could have reversed the entire moral law and made virtues not only of murder but of adultery, theft, coveting and bearing false witness. As Ockhamist John Calvin puts it, "The will of God is the highest rule of justice; so that what he wills must be considered just...for this very reason, because he wills it." (Calvin's Institutes, book 3, chapter 3, section 2)And one contemporary Calvinist, Gordon H. Clark, surpasses even Ockham and Calvin on this point. "God .... cannot be responsible for the plain reason that there is no power superior to him; no greater being can hold him accountable; no one can punish ... there are no laws which he could disobey."1
1 Gordon Clark, Reason, Religion and Revelation (Jefferson, MD: The Trinity Foundation, 1986), p. 241, John Beversluis, C. S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion(Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1985) pp. 102-103.
Now if "good" means "in accordance with God's will, then there is simply no possibility that God actions can possibly be wrong. If we are prepared to set aside the concept of goodness that we are inclined to apply to human beings and admit that "good" means be definition "whatever God wills," there simply can be no problem of evil.
You've heard of Ockham's Razor, this is Ockham's Solvent. Any version of the problem of evil that you could possibly advance can be answered by one sentence, "Who are you, O man, to answer back to God?" Or, as your mother used to say, "Because I said so!"
Earlier I put together a couple of posts on why Calvinists can't solve the problem of evil. That is true. But they can dissolve it. This is, I think the only possible option the Calvinist has in responding to the objection from evil. The fact is that for the Calvinist, for all eternity, the world could have been better than it was, is, and always will be, at least by any understading of goodness that humans can make any sense of.
So if you really want to get rid of the problem of evil, this is the way to do it. Unfortunately, it gets rid of a lot of other things as well. See the link to the first chapter of my book.