Excerpted from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "The Problem of Evil"

7.4 The Need for Natural Laws

A final important theodicy involves the following ideas: first, it is important that events in the world take place in a regular way, since otherwise effective action would be impossible; secondly, events will exhibit regular patters only if they are governed by natural laws; thirdly, if events are governed by natural laws, the operation of those laws will give rise to events that harm individuals; so, fourthly, God's allowing natural evils is justified because the existence of natural evils is entailed by natural laws, and a world without natural laws would be a much worse world.

This type of theodicy is also exposed to serious objections. First, what natural evils a world contains depends not just on the laws, but on the initial, or boundary conditions. Thus, for example, an omnipotent being could create ex nihilo a world which had the same laws of nature as our world, and which contained human beings, but which was devoid of non-human carnivores. Or the world could be such that there was unlimited room for populations to expand, and ample natural resources to support such populations.

Secondly, many evils depend upon precisely what laws the world contains. An omnipotent being could, for example, easily create a world with the same laws of physics as our world, but with slightly different laws linking neurophysiological states with qualities of experiences, so that extremely intense pains either did not arise, or could be turned off when they served no purpose. Or additional physical laws of a rather specialized sort could be introduced that would cause very harmful viruses to self-destruct.

Thirdly, this final theodicy provides no account of moral evil. If other theodicies could provide a justification for God's allowing moral evil, that would not be a problem. But, as we have seen, no satisfactory justification appears to be available.