I’ve just finished a literature survey in preparation for my SEP entry on Skeptical Theism, and I’ve noticed a bit of a loose end. Consider two kinds of possible worlds including God and evil (from Russell and Wykstra’s 1988 dialogue). One kind of world is the “morally transparent” world where the reasons God allows suffering are “near the surface” and so fairly easily discernible by us. Another kind is a “morally inscrutable” world where the reasons why God allows evil are either buried “beneath the surface” or in the distant future.
Wykstra’s original 1984 debut of CORNEA (man there is a lot of philosophy in that paper!) advanced the thesis that it is more likely that God would create a morally inscrutable world. Russel and Rowe give reasons for the opposite claim. Below the fold I’ll briefly summarize their arguments and suggest why it seems to me the atheist has the upper hand in this argument, and issue a call for attention to the research project of defending the goodness of a morally inscrutable universe.
In the 1988 dialogue with Bruce Russell where Wykstra introduces the deep(inscrutable)/shallow(transparent) universe distinction, Russell notes that transparency seems to be an intrinsic good. Rowe (2001, reply to Bergmann) notes that the Parent Analogy Wykstra originally appealed to backfires, because a loving parent would want their dear children to understand, and an all powerful parent would have the ability to make it happen (I dress it up a bit).
Wykstra’s argument for the thesis that theism makes more likely a morally inscrutable universe is based on the Extended Parent Analogy (EPA). He says that as intelligence, goodness, and ability increase, so does the probability of goods lying in the distant future. He contrasts this with the case of chance or ignorant, wicked, or inept parents, where it is contrastingly unlikely for goods to lie in the distant future.
I suppose that is somewhat plausible, but he neglects to consider that as those traits increase, it is also likely that the Russell-Rowe line of thought is *also* made more likely.
There hasn’t been sufficent discussion of this in the last decade, and that’s a shame, because it does seem like there should be some goods associated with the inscrutable universe, but it’s hard to flesh it out (for me, anyway (for example, the idea of the good of trust came quickly to mind, but I couldn’t make it stick)).
So I welcome suggestions for how the theism might illustrate the goodness of the morally inscrutable universe, since, as it seems to me, the non-theists seem to have the upper hand in this particular thread.