If Loftus is still true to his Past position then he is going to try to move into a position that says problem of evil disproves the existence of God. To do this he's going to trade upon the work of Adrea Weisberger who says that atheist arguments always have presumption and theists always have the burden of proof. Weisberger teaches philosophy at Vanderbilt and has contributed to quite a bit of the atheistic wing of the academy with such colleagues as Quintin Smith. So apparently he's going to try and leverage a position for himself where he has presumption and I have the burden of proof even before any God arguments are made.
I can see from the comments he's made in the comment section that this is what he is probably up to.
A.M. Weisberger argues effectively that Augustine's and Process Theology's positions are concessionary solutions because they accept the conclusion of the argument from evil as stated. They do in fact deny the premises of the argument. Being concessionary means they concede the argument as stated. This means the argument doesn't apply to their views. Other arguments do, though. Read her arguments. I'm not prone to want to type them in.
In the absence of this, does it make any intellectual sense at all to say there is no suffering? That suffering is a privation? Augustine's view has been debunked so many times I'm surprised you even bring it up. And for Process Thought, such a God is unworthy of worship in my opinion, although I could say so much more about both views.
This is clearly a pointless argument because its absurd to try and give atheist arguments presumption before one even discusses the existence of God.
(1) the extent to which the problem of evil is a problem is entirely dependent upon the nature of God.
(2) Only the traditional Aristotelian God falls victim to this criticism because it is from that source that we have the idea of God as omnipotent.
(3)He who asserts an argument must prove it.
The atheist cannot assert a positive knowledge that no God exist and then expect the theist to bear the same burden of proof that he/she would bear had the theist initiated a God argument. This tactic is nothing than special pleading. It would be like arguing "prove I don't have an invisible elf on my shoulder."
(4) There is no burden of proof where there is no empirical question.
Atheists always make the mistake of thinking that the case of God talk is an empirical question and must be resolved by empirical proof. They then want to privilege their position and demand that the believer prove belief in a manner that satisfies the atheist. This is an irrational state of affairs. While it is true that if you want to persuade someone you have to reach them on a level that relates to their understanding, but that just depends upon what is being debated. Belief in God is not an empirical question, but a phenomenological apprehension. It is absurd to expect a phenomenological state to be reduced to empirical means. Thus in debating the proposition religious belief is relationally warranted, which is the only God belief proposition I care to debate, it is totally useless for atheists to try and demand that believers meet a burden of proof. The only burden the believer has to meet is the demonstration of a rational warrant. For that one need not prove the existence of God.
The problem of evil cannot be an argument against the existence of God, because it doesn't prove anything. It casts questions upon the nature of God as all powerful or all loving, but there is no reason why Christians have to defend the confusing and meaningless concept of Omnipotence, when it is not biblical position. Most answers to theodicy involve demonstrating a reason as to why God must allow evil in the world. that is usually because two equally held values are mutually exclusive. God is limited by logical necessity. Thus there is no logical reason to expect God to be able to save two mutually exclusive values if saving them involves violating logical necessity. In discussion of the problem of evil this usually comes down to free verses elimination of evil choices.
Before demonstrating my answer to the problem of evil I have one final comment on the nature of evil:
(5) The existence of Evil is not incompatible with the existence of good God because evil is not a positive force.
I take this view from st. Augustine, but more so from the modern Augustinian Reinhold Neibuhr. Evil is analogous to shadow or cold. Shadow and cold are real things, Augustine did not deny the existence of evil. But shadow is not a substance. Cold is not a radiant force, both are merely the absence of something else. In the same way evil is the absence of the good. It is not that it isn't real but it isn't solid. It results form the lack of good, thus evil is merely that which cannot be redeemed, cannot be taken up in God.
(1) The theist has the burden proof to over turn the assertion that theodicy disproves God? Special pleading.
(2) Theodicy contradicts the notion of a good God? answered by my Soteriolgiocla drama theory.
The Free Will Defense is offered by Christian apologists as an answer to any sort of atheist argument such as the problem of pain or the problem of evil. The argument runs something like: God values free will because "he" ("she"?) doesn't want robots. The problem with this approach is that it often stops short in analysis as to why free will would be a higher value than anything else. This leaves the atheist in a position of arguing any number of pains and evil deeds and then charing that God had to know these things would happen, thus God must be cruel for creating anything at all knowing the total absolute pain (which usually includes hell in most atheist arguments) would result from creation.
The apologetic answers usually fail to satisfy the atheist, because in their minds noting can outweigh the actual inflicting of pain. Something atheists evoke omnipotence and play it off against the value of free will, making the assumption that an "all powerful God" could do anything, thus God should be able to cancel any sort of moral debt, make sin beyond our natures, create a pain free universe, and surely if God were all loving, God would have done so.
The better twist on the free will defense would be to start from a different position. We should start with the basis for creation, in so far as we can understand it, and then to show how the logical and non self contradictory requirements of the logic of creation require free will. What is usually missing or not pointed out is the necessity of free will in the making of moral choices. This is the step that atheists and Christian apologists alike sometimes overlook; that it is absolutely essential in a non-self contradictory way, that humanity have free will. Thus, free will must out weight any other value. At that point, since it is a matter of self contradiction, omnipotence cannot be played off against free will, because God's omnipotence does not allow God to dispense with Free will!
Before moving to the argument I want to make it clear that I deal with two separate issues: the problem of pain (not a moral issue--tornadoes and diseases and the like) because it doesn't involve human choice. Pain, inflicted by accident and nature is not a moral issue, because it involves no choices. Thus I will not deal with that here. I am only concerned in this argument with the the problem of evil that is, the problem of moral choice. The free will defense cannot apply to makes where the will does not apply.
There are three basic assumptions that are hidden, or perhaps not so oblivious, but nevertheless must be dealt with here.
(1) The assumption that God wants a "moral universe" and that this value outweighs all others.
The idea that God wants a moral universe I take from my basic view of God and morality. Following in the footsteps of Joseph Fletcher (Situation Ethics) I assume that love is the background of the moral universe (this is also an Augustinian view). I also assume that there is a deeply ontological connection between love and Being. Axiomatically, in my view point, love is the basic impetus of Being itself. Thus, it seems reasonable to me that, if morality is an upshot of love, or if love motivates moral behavior, then the creation of a moral universe is essential.
(2) that internal "seeking" leads to greater internalization of values than forced compliance or complaisance that would be the result of intimidation.
That's a pretty fair assumption. We all know that people will a lot more to achieve a goal they truly believe in than one they merely feel forced or obligated to follow but couldn't care less about.
(3) the the drama or the big mystery is the only way to accomplish that end.
The pursuit of the value system becomes a search of the heart for ultimate meaning,that ensures that people continue to seek it until it has been fully internalized.
The argument would look like this:
(1) God's purpose in creation: to create a Moral Universe, that is one in which free moral agents willingly choose the Good.
(2) Moral choice requires absolutely that choice be free (thus free will is necessitated).
(3) Allowance of free choices requires the risk that the chooser will make evil choices
(4)The possibility of evil choices is a risk God must run, thus the value of free outweighs all other considerations, since without there would be no moral universe and the purpose of creation would be thwarted.
This leaves the atheist in the position of demanding to know why God doesn't just tell everyone that he's there, and that he requires moral behavior, and what that entails. Thus there would be no mystery and people would be much less inclined to sin.
This is the point where Soteriological Drama figures into it.
Argument on Soteriological Drama:
(5) Life is a "Drama" not for the sake of entertainment, but in the sense that a dramatic tension exists between our ordinary observations of life on a daily basis, and the ultimate goals, ends and purposes for which we are on this earth.
(6) Clearly God wants us to seek on a level other than the obvious, daily, demonstrative level or he would have made the situation more plain to us
(7) We can assume that the reason for the "big mystery" is the internalization of choices. If God appeared to the world in open objective fashion and laid down the rules, we would probably all try to follow them, but we would not want to follow them. Thus our obedience would be lip service and not from the heart.
(8) therefore, God wants a heart felt response which is internationalized value system that comes through the search for existential answers; that search is phenomenological; inter subjective, internal, not amenable to ordinary demonstrative evidence.
In other words, we are part of a great drama and our actions and our dilemmas and our choices are all part of the way we respond to the situation as characters in a drama.
This theory also explains why God doesn't often regenerate limbs in healing the sick. That would be a dead giveaway. God creates criteria under which healing takes place, that criteria can't negate the overall plan of a search.