The latest round of my recent interaction with Publius made me realize that there might be a new move in the theological chess game known as theodicy. The usual opening gambit is, "Why would an all-powerful God allow the existence of evil?" And the usual reply is that evil is regrettable collateral damage caused by God's granting us free will, which is necessary for our salvation (at least that's the Arminian response. I actually have no idea how Calvinists deal with the theodicy problem. If I have any Calvinist readers perhaps you could enlighten me?)
But it occurred to me that evil is actually a red-herring. The real question is: how can there be unsaved souls in the presence of an all-powerful all-loving God? To put this in the starkest possible terms:
1. Either it is God's will that I be saved, or it is not.
2. If it is not, then God is not all-loving.
3. If it is, and I can thwart God's will (by e.g. not believing in Him) then God is not all-powerful.
I think this formulation is more powerful than the usual one because it prevents playing evil off against salvation as the greater good. Unsaved souls in the presence of an all-loving all-powerful god are simply a logical impossibility. Hence, if I (or anyone else for that matter) reject God, then that rejection in and of itself is proof that God cannot be all-loving and all-powerful.
(Note that this argument does not depend on free will. It doesn't matter why someone rejects God, only that someone does.)
Take that, Descartes!
Note: this argument does have one tacit (i.e. unstated) assumption. See if you can figure out what it is.