The previous post was concerned with creatio ex materia, or creation from preexisting stuff. This is relevant to the Problem of Evil because ex nihilo creation—creation from absolute nothing—makes God the Ultimate source of evil: all things came from Him and hence He and He alone is responsible for both the good and evil in the universe.
This post lays some groundwork for another aspect of the Problem of Evil, God’s omnipotence. In a nutshell, the issue is this: if God is capable of doing all things and does not prevent evil, how can He be loving or good? I feel the key to this question lies in what God is capable of doing, so here I will ask questions about the scope of possibilities regarding God’s interaction with the universe.
To start off, we recognize that there are apparent laws that govern the universe, at least physically speaking. One man of God taught that this extends to spiritual matters as well, saying there are “laws of eternal and self-existent principles.” In other words, there is an ordered framework of laws for eternal existences (And I am not referring to just those laws we've discovered so-far; we can make the assumption also that the laws of nature could entail a lot more than we understand at this point). In any case, we must ask, does God supersede these laws, or does He work within them? Can He break them? Can He do anything that we can think of (or that He can think of), or are there limits beyond the logical impossibilities?
For example, can God make the stuff into whatever He wants? Can He make a proton act like an electron or give a photon mass? I don't know. But if He couldn't, would that make God any less powerful? As I will explain, for me the answer is no. God would not be less able to save us, to create worlds, to do His work. But it would make the absolutist form of omnipotence in need of redefinition.
At this point, I realize that some people cringe at altering perfect absolutist omnipotence: all things that are logically possible are possible. When I first read the idea that God can’t do everything, I shuddered. How could you trust or worship a being that couldn’t do everything logically possible?
Before I explain this I want to be clear on one issue and will not budge: irrevocably God's power is great enough to accomplish His purposes. Also, I recognize there are a variety of opinions on this matter; I do not wish to offend, but I want to try to explain this idea. I am aware that many readers may not agree with this, but I submit it for the sake of open-mindedness.
Returning to our discussion, we realize that most agree there are some things which God cannot do. Much of the Judeo-Christian and Muslim world supports the notion that God cannot lie: this is one thing that is logically possible, but not possible for God (see Heb 6:18 for one Christian example). Whether or not He is unable to lie or it is a self-imposed restriction, He cannot do it—and that’s a good thing, I think we’ll agree.
So, we see that at times it appears better for God to abstain from even some logically possible actions. There are two possibilities to evaluate: 1) Are there other actions that, while being logically possible, God avoids in order bring about some greater good? Or 2) are there actions that He does not undertake because somehow, given His higher laws, they are not actually logically possible?
A simple, but hopefully helpful analogy follows: suppose God had all power in the universe to do anything logically possible, except make neon-green giraffes. Would that make Him any less powerful? Would it make Him any less venerable? For me, God and the world wouldn't change at all: we would still have complete confidence in Him and His power. In all points that make God our God—the reasons why a relationship or knowledge of Him would be important—dismantling absolutist omnipotence for an omnipotence that works within an environment, pragmatically does not diminish God in any way. (We’d each have to answer these questions; for my part, I hope it wouldn't make a difference: it would be similar to thinking less of George Washington for having wooden teeth—his wooden teeth had no bearing on the measure of his greatness.)
But now imagine instead that there were actually a law we didn’t know about, which governed preexisting entities: the Law of Colored Giraffes. This law states it is physically impossible in this Universe to have a neon-green giraffe. Now we look again at God's omnipotence: God can now do everything possible in the Universe, and is therefore omnipotent. Hence, our understanding of what laws God follows informs our understanding of the definition of omnipotence. And this can have bearing on the Problem of Evil as we look at the degree to which God is free or willing to interrupt, override, or alter our decisions that cause pain to others.
For the more scientifically musing reader, I've included some of my own musings on some of these thoughts in the first comment. The views there are only my musings, which views could change on whims, but perhaps they may provide a little food for thought.