Philosophy: The Problem of Evil


Natural and Moral Evil

Natural evil is the apparent malfunctioning of the natural world e.g. diseases and natural disasters.

Moral evil is the result of human immorality e.g. genocide.

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The Problem of Evil

The monotheistic God of Christianity assumes the divine qualities of omnipotence, omniscience and omnibenevolence. However, the existence of evil and suffering in the world provides a challenge to the loving God of classical thesim.

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Augustine in his book of "Confessions", recongized this problem:

"Either God is not able to abolish evil or not willing; if he is not able then he is not all powerful, if he is not willing then he is not all good."

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Inconsistent Triad

The problem of evil can be viewed as an inconsistent triad.

The 3 are logically inconsistent. If God is omnipotent, he is aware of the existing evil and suffering and knows how to put a stop to it. If God is omni bevevolent he will want to put a stop to it. Yet evil and suffering does exist.

1. God is all knowing

2. God is all loving

3. Evil exists

Therefore God must either not be all loving and knowing or both.

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David Hume

The atheist David Hume argued that only 3 possibilities exist:

1. God is not omnipotent

2. God is not omni benevolent

3. Evil does not exist

Since we have sufficient direct experience to support the existence of evil, if God exists he is either an impotent God or a malicious God; not the God of classical thesim.

Hume concluded that God therefore does not exist.

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Antony Flew

Antony Flew wrote that the biggest challenge to the believer is accepting that the existence of evil and suffering in the world is a major problem that demands an adequate response.

The problem faced by monotheists demands a solution in which the nature of God is arbitrarily changed to suit diffrent circumstances.

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Qualification and Theodicy

Aquinas argued that God's goodness is infinitely diffrent to human goodness. Therefore, it is conceivable that God allows evil and suffering to exist as a part of his greater plan of love.

Diffrent theodices have thus developed - logical theories that justify the existence of evil and suffering usually on the basis that they are a necessary condition of God's greater plan.

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Soul Deciding Theodicy

Based on the narratives of Genesis 1-3, Augustine's theodicy aruges that God created a world and it was perfect, without the existence of evil or suffering.

Genesis 1:31: "God saw all that he had made and saw that it was very good"

Augustine defined evil as the privation of goodness. Since evil is not an entity in itself, God could of not have created it. The existence of evil originates from free will possessed by angels and humans, who turned their back on God and settled for a lesser form of goodness therefore creating a privation of goodness as the narrative "the fall" in Genesis 3 tries to explain. As a result the state of perfection was ruined by sin.Natural evil occurred because of the loss of order in nature, defined by Augustine as the "penal consequences of sin". Moral evil dervied from human free will and disobedience. Augustine reasoned that all humans are worthy of the punishment of evil and suffering because we are "seminally present in the loins of Adam" seserving of the punishment for orginal sin.

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