I had lunch with a friend yesterday to talk to him about, among other things, a video game he is programming. He mentioned this thought experiment that came to him in the process:
Every hypothetical universe that would allegedly be as good or better than this one has a creator, even completely random ones created by rolling dice to determine constraints (for role playing games and so-on). Even hypothetical universes imagined for the sake of thinking about multi-verse theory are imagined. Thus, anybody who finds the argument from suffering compelling, but accepts various writers, thinkers, and other hypothetical universe constructors to be good or real is inconsistent.
Imaginary is not meant to mean unreal, but simply conceived in the mind. One might object, “but in our universe, real, conscious beings suffer.” That’s fine, it’s a thought experiment, but if there is a creator behind the entire cosmos, one must imagine that any involvement in the life of humans on earth would have to be a statistical anomaly (we’re zero percent of the universe). This is a crass anthropomorphism, but the Bible is full of them, so deal with it.* An omniscient being (if we imagine for the sake of argument that this being is like us…which God isn’t really) who is managing the cosmos would find any individual event incredibly insignificant.
Also, he noted that this isn’t meant to be a proof of any sort, but a thought experiment to determine whether or not a world created in which suffering is conceivable or even necessary is necessarily created by an evil being.
Anyway, it’s an interesting experiment. My mind has gone several directions with it over the past 24 hours.
*The Bible acknowledges that it uses anthropomorphisms (Deuteronomy 1:31 and Numbers 23:19) in order to help people repent of their sins and seek forgiveness. Even calling forgiveness, ‘forgiveness’ implies an anthropomorphism because God isn’t literally a banker who tallies up our moral debts.