Essay on Problem of Evil

Essay on Problem of Evil

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  • Created on: 02-01-11 18:52
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Explain how different approaches to the problem of evil lead to different ideas about the nature of
God. Which in your view has most integrity?
The problem of evil is best known by the following;
"God is omnipotent" (All powerful)
"God is Omnibenevolent" (All loving)
"Evil Exists"
How can an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God allow evil? If he was all powerful, then surely he
could stop the evil ­ but he doesn't which means he can't be omnibenevolent. So perhaps he is all
loving, but he is unable to stop evil happening ­ which means he isn't omnipotent.
Remove one of the statements and the problem of evil goes away, but believers seem to be
committed to believing that God is omnipotent and omnibenevolent and it's very difficult to argue
against there being evil in the world. This is therefore known as the inconsistent triad about God. The
fact that evil exists leads to a problem and hence the nature of God is different all around the world.
Many philosophers over the years have challenged this, and attempted to explain the problem of
St Thomas Aquinas worked on redefining the term "evil" and also blames evil on humans rather than
God. His argument was that God created man, in the image of God. However, God had given us moral
autonomy (free will, freedom to make choices). Aquinas says that because we have free will, this
leads to sin and its consequences ­ evil and suffering by making wrong decisions. For example, the
story of Adam and Eve. The presence of the apple tree meant that there was the potential for evil,
and due to our free will to make decisions hence they chose to eat an apple. Evil is therefore defined
by Aquinas as a privation or absence of good. Aquinas has therefore kept the idea of God being
omnibenevolent and omnipotent (he created a creation that reflected his nature and therefore the
creation started as perfect). St Thomas Aquinas's God is all powerful as he creates this perfect
creation and he also explains that evil is the fault of humanity and hence cannot be blamed on God.
God therefore can still be known as all loving.
Irenaus believed that God is fully in control and knows what he's doing. His idea of God is that he
does not make a creation that goes wrong but is perfect for his purpose. Our purpose is to develop
as human beings from "image of God" to the "likeness of God", and this is our destiny. The image of
God refers to us being born with the potential to be like God and through living in this world we can
be on a parallel with God ­ "likeness". Irenaus says that this cannot happen in a lifetime, only after
death. His followers then built on this and said that we have an everlasting number of lives, and
hence with an everlasting amount of time, one can ONLY end up like God in the end. Irenaus states
that experiencing evil and suffering are a necessary part of the process to becoming like God. Here
God is shown to be all powerful because he creates the world and it gives an explanation as to why
evil exists. ...
The book of Job in the Bible takes a completely different approach. Throughout this chapter God
comes across as very arrogant and not all loving. Job questions God as to why Job has suffered so

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But God simply replies by shouting at him, "Who are you to question my wisdom?" He doesn't
need to defend himself because he is "God"; the almighty and the best. Gods' point of view is that
Jobs' complaints are not relevant and he is not one to question what God does. In essence it is
showing that humanity cannot challenge God but should simply take it on the chin and accept his
actions.…read more


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