The Problem Of Evil

There is a thought or rather question that runs through the minds of many who ponder about God and the existence of evil. This thought is the Problem Of Evil. It is somewhat a natural Philosophy but nevertheless its first endeavour at the question is cited to Epicurus in the Epicurean Paradox. There are many versions and interpretations of the Problem Of Evil but I’m going to present it in its basic form as the question is more a natural thought than it is created theory.

The argument is a form of Modus Tollens, which means the way that denies by denying. Modus Tollens are valid arguments, although they may not necessarily be true but the set up of the argument makes it valid.

In example:

  1. If you own a car, then you are a man.
  2. You don’t own a car.
  3. Therefore you are not a man.
Now I have explained the form of the argument here is the Problem Of Evil in its basic form:
  1. God exists.
  2. God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent which means he’s all powerful, all knowing and all good – this combination makes him perfectly good.
  3. An omnibenevolent all good God would want to prevent evil.
  4. An omniscient all knowing God would know of the existence of evil.
  5. An omnipotent all powerful God would be able to prevent evil.
  6. A being with these traits knows when and how evil comes into existence, would be able to prevent it and is actively opposed to it hence evil wouldn’t exist.
  7. If an omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent God exists then evil wouldn’t exist.
  8. Evil exists.
This is a thought provoking argument. Why does evil exist if God is described to have those traits? The religious views of God attempt to refute this argument by pointing out examples in religious texts. Some people believe evil exists due to the original sin, as we are present in the loins of Adam. If this is true then God is not omnibenevolent, because he is punishing us because of the first mans actions. If the first man was imperfect, then God should have spent another day to correct this as it is in his power of omnipotence.There is also another point of free will. God apparently made beings with free will, which is the causation of moral evil. It’s argued that it’s evident in the fall of man and fallen angels. This point can also be refuted due to God’s described trait of omniscience. Omniscience which means all knowing, put into practice would mean God knows what happened, what is happening now and what will happen. If God is omniscient he would have known that with free will came with the possibility of evil, and in our creation God would have known we had the means to cause evil. Also in religious texts, God punishes people for committing evil using natural evil – which is another contradiction of omnibenevolence.

There are views of this which assumes God must not have one of these traits. If God was just omniscient and omnipotent, he wouldn’t act because he isn’t all good – however he knows and has the power to do so. This doesn’t necessarily make God evil, but not good, or God is of neutral alignment. If God was omnipotent and omnibenevolent, maybe he could prevent evil but doesn’t have the knowledge to do so. If God is omniscient and omnibenevolent, then he would know of the existence of evil and be against it but doesn’t have the power to prevent it.

When presented in a form of Modus Tollens, this argument is quite hard to refute. I never believed in an acting God so this argument convinces me further that either God doesn’t exist or God is not omnibenevolent. It could be argued that life is used to measure your faith, goodness and the true benevolence of God will be shown on judgement day. However that still doesn’t support the point that in life God has not shown this benevolence so how good can he be if he wants us to die first before scolding us for doing evil or reward us for doing good?

What do you think of this argument?

Is it convincing?
Does it make you question your faith?
What are your refutations of this argument?

Author: Jude

5 thoughts on “The Problem Of Evil

  1. The problem of evil is my cup of tea, among other challenges offered for existence of God. I find the deductive case from evil very weak because it assumes things that are not necessarily true. Thus not convincing.

    1-5 and 8 are clearly true, if God exists. 6 and 7 are not necessarily true.

    God’s ability, desire and willing to prevent evil, does not entail that evil wouldn’t exist simply because God may have a good moral reason(s) to permit evil.

    Example John is a doctor, and John’s mother is in pain and suffering, and slowly dying. John loves her mother, John desire to end her mother’s life quickly, right now if possible and save her all pain and suffering. John has the ability to do it, by simply increasing insulin and knows how to do. Does this necessarily entail that John would do it? I do not think so because John might have a reason, whatever that reason is, not to do it. A reason could surpass his desire and will. Thus:

    1. God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent.
    2a. God created a universe that contain evil and has good moral reason(s) for doing so.
    8. Evil exists.

    2a does not even have to be necessarily true, but simply possibly true. Is it possibly true that God could have reasons to permit evil? If yes, then the deductive logical problem of evil fails. If no, then the burden of proof, and quite a heavy and would be bold to say impossible, is on the defender of this case to show that it is impossible for God to have good moral reason for permitting evil. I think a defender need to be omniscient to be warranted in her claim.

    Does it make you question your faith? No.

    Let me know your thoughts.

  2. Evil does not exist. You can’t cut it half and put it in a picnic basket. You can’t spread peanut butter on it. It has no molecular structure and is not found on the electromagnetic spectrum. Evil “exists” only in the human mind. If all human beings vanished, all conception of evil would vanish simultaneously.

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