Philosophy GCSE Good and Evil

These cards can be used to study the topic of 'Good and Evil' for GCSE Philosphy (Religious Studies) students.

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What is Evil and Suffering?

Evil is the absence (privation) of good. Whenever bad things happen in the world that causes suffering, it is because of evil.

There are two categories for evil: moral and natural.

Moral evil is caused by humans and our own choice e.g. homicide (murder), ****, theft etc

Natural evil is caused by nature with no apparent human action causing it e.g. eathquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes etc

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The Problem of Evil

There is a problem with evil for many people, especially Christians. Christians believe in an omnibenevolent (all-loving) and omnipotent (all-knowing) God yet evil exists (the inconsistent triad). 

There are two logical reasons: God is omnibenevolent but not omnipotent which is why evil exists OR God is omnipotent but not omnibenevolent which is why evil exists.

Both these arguments make sense but, to Christians, it wouldn't fit. For them, God is both omnibenevolent and omnipotent yet evil still manages to exist in the world.

This is called the Problem of Evil.

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Arguments against God's existence

As a result of evil in the world, many philosophers will try to explain that by arguing against the existence of God.

Epicurus, a 1st century Greek philosopher, argued that, if evil exists, then God must not be either omnibenevolent or ompnipotent (see the inconsistent triad). 

Frederich Nietzsche, a 19th century German philosopher, stated that the world is imperfect due to the existence of evil. If God created the world, He would've made it perfect so God cannot and does not exist.

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Theodicies are a name for theories that argue for the existence of God; they are theories that have been constructed around the idea of God existing in the world.

Theodicies can be used to explain the existence of evil without diminishing that of God's.

Irenaerus argued that God put evil in the world during its creation to naturally develop humanity. He said that suffering helps us grow as human beings and teaches us valuable lessons such as compassion.

Augustine argued that evil isn't necessarily a substance or a thing in itself. Evil is merely the absence or privation (meaning lack of) goodness in the world.

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Christian arguments against evil

Christians acknowledge the existence of evil in the world but they believe that they can explain it without diminishing the fact that God is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent. 

Free Will
God gave humanity free will so that we could make our own choices and be less like 'robots'. Our choices include both good and bad decisions and each come with their own consequences. Some humans choose bad decisions leading to the existence of evil. God cannot intervene because that would merely render our free will useless.

The Devil
Many Christians blame evil on the Devil. He is known in the Bible for tempting people away from God, even tempting Jesus into eating bread during his 40 days and nights in the desert. The Devil is believed to be the opposite of God.

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Christian arguments against evil 2

Original Sin
Some believe that evil entered the world through The Fall and Original Sin. When Adam and Eve used their free will to eat from the tree of knowledge (disobeying God), they ultimately fell from grace (The Fall). As a result, every human is born with Original Sin and, therefore, the ability to create evil.

A Test of Faith
Some Christians believe that evil and suffering is merely a test of faith from God; if they will still believe in God after suffering or not. This can be seen in the Story of Job in the Bible. 

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Sources of Morality

So, how do people know right from wrong?

The most important tool is our conscience! We usually 'feel' what's right and what's wrong during a situation and that 'feeling' is our conscience. Christians believe that our conscience is created by God because He is morally perfect.

Christians will also look to the Bible and their faith in Jesus as sources of morality. These can also be used when they are trying to cope with suffering. A common method is also praying to God. They would also go to church for guidance and/or support.

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