Welcome back to my series analyzing the problem of evil (See the opening post). The first Theodicy is: "The Greater Good".
According to this Theodicy, God is not evil because the suffering and injustice in the world serve some greater good. A dentist who has to pull a patient's infected tooth causes pain and suffering, but since this is done for the greater good, it is not an evil act. Similarly, God causes the pain and suffering in the world but these serve some greater good and so it doesn't count as evil.
One problem with this Theodicy is that it actually doesn't resolve the paradox. It denies the fourth claim that evil exists by making what appears to be evil into a means to the end of some greater good. Evil is transformed into an instrumental good.
But even ignoring this problem, this Theodicy doesn't pass the Holocaust Test. What greater good could justify the horrors of the Holocaust? This further undermines the claim that God is all-good. Even assuming that the Holocaust serves some divine purpose, that purpose must be evil if the only way to achieve it was through the Holocaust. An end that is only reachable by a means that is unjust is itself unjust.
Does such a general principle mean that the dentist is evil? This indicates a lack of clarity in this discussion. Are suffering, pain, and injustice equivalent? Injustice is irredeemable. An injustice cannot be justified by the outcomes achieved by it. It remains an injustice regardless of the outcome. Pain and suffering, on the other hand, are not like this. A pain can be justified by the outcome: as the dentist analogy shows. Notice how one's evaluation of the dentist changes if he causes more pain than necessary, has no reason for removing the tooth, does little to reduce the pain of his patient, or performs the operation without the consent of the patient. So long as the pain is serving an accepted purpose it is not deemed wrong. The pain becomes a type of injustice when it is forced upon an innocent party or where the goal of the pain is some injustice.
The Holocaust brought about the pain, suffering, and death of millions of innocent individuals. It is not, therefore, analogous to the dentist's drill. It is an injustice of cosmic proportions; and as such, it is deeply offensive or greatly confused to characterize it as an instrumental good to some divine purpose or greater good.
This Theodicy does not resolve the paradox. It moves the question of God's goodness from the current evil to the unknowable divine purpose to which this current evil is supposed to be a means. Since we are not privy to divine purposes or the greater goods the evils are supposed to serve, we are not in a position to judge the merit of these ends or goods. But, that means we are not in a position to judge God's goodness either. Thus the problem of evil remains.