At the heart of ideological liberalism lies a paradox: If all folks are equal, why is there inequality? This contradiction has been of critical historical importance as it provides a rational spur to the impetus to challenge liberalism's present hegemony, especially the challenge presented in recent decades by the so-called “woke” social justice movement. But to philosophers trained in theology and philosophy of religion, we can recognise this paradox as something more: it is a restatement of the ancient problem of evil.
The Problem of Evil
“Deus, inquit, aut uult tollere mala et non potest; aut potest et non uult; aut neque uult, neque potest; aut et uult et potest. Si uult et non potest, imbecillis est; quod in Deum non cadit. Si potest et non uult, inuidus; quod aeque alienum a Deo. Si neque uult, neque potest, et inuidus et imbecillis est; ideoque neque Deus. Si uult et potest, quod solum Deo conuenit, unde ergo sunt mala? aut cur illa non tollit?”
“God, he says, either wishes to take away evils, and is unable; or He is able, and is unwilling; or He is neither willing nor able, or He is both willing and able. If He is willing and is unable, He is feeble, which is not in accordance with the character of God; if He is able and unwilling, He is envious, which is equally at variance with God; if He is neither willing nor able, He is both envious and feeble, and therefore not God; if He is both willing and able, which alone is suitable to God, from what source then are evils? Or why does He not remove them?”
—Lactantius, De ira Dei, Ch. 13 (c.318)
The problem of evil is the primary argument against the existence of God as traditionally understood. It runs roughly as follows, (phrasing from SEP):
- If God exists, then God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect.
- If God is omnipotent, then God has the power to eliminate all evil.
- If God is omniscient, then God knows when evil exists.
- If God is morally perfect, then God has the desire to eliminate all evil.
- Evil exists.
- If evil exists and God exists, then either God doesn’t have the power to eliminate all evil, or doesn’t know when evil exists, or doesn’t have the desire to eliminate all evil.
- Therefore, God doesn’t exist.
Theist responses to the PoE, culminating in gnostic rejection of goodness of material world
The Liberal Problem of Inequality
Dive into why liberalism needs equality, despite the fact of inequality; side-note on ideological liberalism vs pragmatic liberalism
Enumeration of conventional liberal (“theist”) responses to the LPoE
Linking of SJW denunciation of systemic discrimination with Gnostic denunciation of the Demiurge's evil world-system
The Illiberal Solution
Exposition of the atheist-analogue: the truth of inequality and the falsity of the liberal faith