God, Schmod, and Gratuitous Evil

In "God, Schmod, and Gratuitous Evil", John O'Leary-Hawthorne & Daniel Howard-Snyder [Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 1993], discuss the problem of evil by using a purportedly analogus story about a Being they call "Schmod," which is to be identified with God.

Here is their case:

Say that Schmod is an omnicausal being. (Roughly, an agent S is omnicausal =df. S is such that, for any effect e, either S directly causes e, or S ensures that there is some y that causes e.) Now consider the following proposition:

(P) There exists an effect E that is uncaused (e.g. quantum indeterminacy).

We take it that some physicists are justified in believing (P). But (P) entails the nonexistence of Schmod. Therefore, physicists, and for that matter all those who are justified in believing (P), are justified in being an aschmodists.

But believers in Schmod will have none of this. The schmodist claims that, for all we know, there is a causally sufficient reason, beyond our cognitive grasp, that Schmod has for permitting E. In other words, it's epistemically possible that Schmod has a causally sufficient reason for permitting E; it's an epistimic possibility that E is not indeterministic, despite appearances to the contrary.

Schmod's ways are higher than our ways, and we shouldn't expect to recognize the cause of every event, but it's possible (for all we know) that there is one for every event. Therefore, the aschmodist cannot justifiably assert (P). He is just not in a good enough epistemic position to judge the truth of (P).

Presumably, we're all aschmodists (insofar as we agree with many physicists that quantum indeterminacy exists). Is our belief in aschmodism justified?

I think it is.

In the first place it would depend on the magnitude of (P), which makes this whole argument non-analogous. Consider this proposition:

(P1) ever since the beginning of earthly existence there have been massive amounts of suffering on an ever increasing global scale which offset the pleasure in the world such that we cannot determine whether or not there is more suffering than pleasure in this world.

In the second place, since the theist proclaims that God desires or wants us to believe in him (or else we're damned), it stands to reason that he should offer us clues (or reasons) why (P1) obtains. But since he is silent on the matter, it calls into serious question whether or not he truly wants us to believe in him. For then (P1) without any explanation (or comfort) would mean he doesn't really care whether we believe in him, and if that's true, then he doesn't care about us, and if that's true we have a God who lacks omnibenelovence.

In the third place, scientists have dealt with problems like this since the dawn of science, and with the available evidence they have made great strides in understanding the workings of this universe. But according to Howard-Snyder, theists are no closer to understanding why they can't "see" a divine moral virtue that explains the existence of (P1) than at any time in the past. Therefore I can confidently claim it's implausible that anyone will do so, since there have been no successes in finding this so-called divine moral virtue in the past, and there are at present no fruitful prospects on the horizon to explain (P1). It would be akin to someone wanting to create cold fusion. The nansayers have the weight of evidence on their side.

Lastly, but not exhaustively, if theists think God's "ways are higher than our ways" with regard to (P1) (because of his omniscience), and they cannot come up with any reason for God allowing (P1) to obtain, even though we can come up with several reasonable suggestions for how God could've created differently (like no predation in the world, and the creation of all human beings as one color of skin), then God should be at least omniscient enough to create a better world without (P1). But since he hasn't done so, even though we have some idea how it could've been created better, then it's implausible God indeed has this so-called attribute of omniscience.