What does God's omnibenevolence consist in? I think that we need to do a little more work on fully explaining what we mean by this. In fact I'm somewhat distraught, because it seems that if we affirm God's all-goodness we should already know what we're talking about. I think that some of the notions which are typically bound up with omnibenevolence really don't make sense.
In a post a while back I presented the Prussian Free Will Defense. I think the argument is sound. The conclusion that we end up drawing from it is the following. It will be important in determining what omnibenevolence can be and what it cannot be:
(C1) It is not the case that there is some moral principle in the nature of an omnibenevolent and omnipotent being which prevents him from creating a creature who does something immoral.
"Actualizing all possible goods":
I think it's relatively easy to understand omnipotence and omniscience. Omnipotence is just the ability to do all that is possible. Omniscience is just the knowing of all things. So does omnibenevolence consist in the actualizing of all good things?
I'm convinced that this notion is incoherent. (C1) shows that God's omnibenevolence is compatible with God's not actualizing worlds which he could have actualized in which all moral agents always freely choose to do the right thing. And that is certainly incompatible with God's omnibenevolence meaning that he actualizes all possible goods.
The idea that omnibenevolence means "actualizing every possible good" is probably in contradiction with the idea of omnipotence anyhow. One could think of two goods which are mutually exclusive but are both within the range of God's power. For example, my marrying Lucy and my marrying Edith are both goods which are mutually exclusive and possible for God to actualize. However, God can only bring about one of these. Hence, if God is omnipotent, he can't be omnibenevolent if that means that he actualizes every possible good; there are some goods which God could actualize but doesn't.
"Preventing all unnecessary evil":
It seems that the existence of an all-good being must preclude the existence of unnecessary evil. Responses to the problem of evil like Plantinga's Free Will Defense say that some evils which take place are justified by greater goods. But the atheist objects that there are some evils which are probably not justified by greater goods, and in general, the theist agrees that if this were true then an omnibenevolent God would not exist. The typical attempt to solve the problem is to claim that no evils are unnecessary.
But what if the theist were to take a different route and say that even if there were evils which could have been prevented that this doesn't rule out the existence of an all-good God? In fact, I think (C1) shows that this is true. For take again the possible world W1 in which all agents always freely choose to do what is good. (C1) shows that there is no moral principle in the nature of an omnibenevolent being which prevents him from actualizing a world W2 where an evil is committed even though he could have actualized W1 instead. But in that case, some of the evils which take place are unnecessary; they could have been prevented by God's actualizing W1.
So we see that, based on (C1), omnibenevolence cannot imply the actualizing of all possible goods. Neither does it imply the preventing of all unnecessary evils. Yet this seems to sap omnibenevolence of any real content. How could we call something "all-good" which allows needless suffering and withholds a great many good things from us?
To me this is a big problem. I want to find some possible ways in which we can understand omnibenevolence in light of these objections. Any thoughts?