The Problem of Evil

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Jordan
  • Created on: 19-11-12 16:56

The Problem

  • Natural evil- suffering caused by nature e.g. earthquakes
  • Moral evil- suffering cause by people e.g. genocide

The Epicurean Problem:

  • 1) If God is omnipotent then God can stop suffering
  • 2) If God is omnibenevolent then God should want to stop suffering
  • 3) But suffering exists
  • 4) Therefore either: God isn't omnipotent, God isn't omnibenevolent or God doesn't exist

Mackie's Inconsistent Triad:

  • J.L. Mackie put forward the problem in the form of an inconsistent triad
  • An inconsistent triad is a group of three statements, of which the truth of any two would make the third necessarily false
  • Mackie's three premises are; God is all-loving, God is all-powerful and God exists
1 of 5

Augustinian Theodicy

Put forward by St Augustine 4th C. and has wide Christian acceptance

Nature of Evil:

  • If evil were a thing then we would have to say that God created it
  • However evil is actually the 'privation of good', so it is not a thing but a malfunction of good
  • For example blindness is not a thing but the malfunction of something good, the eye
  • So if evil is the absence of good then it is not a thing and we can still say that 'everything God created was good' (Genesis 1)

Source of Evil:

  • God created humans and angels with free will
  • However some of them misused this free will, turning their backs on God and losing their places in creation (the Fall)
  • The 'Original Sin' of these angels and humans caused creation to go wrong (malfunction) resulting in moral and natural evil
2 of 5

Augustinian Theodicy

Role and Purpose of Evil:

  • "all evil is either sin or punishment for sin"
  • Adam and Eve were the first humans
  • Since all humans were seminally present in Adam we share responsibility for Original Sin
  • However, since He is all-loving, God saved us with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus


  • Logical error- Schleimacher said that it is logically impossible that evil simply created itself out of nothing
  • Moral error- Hell appears to be part of the design of the Universe, this would suggest that God anticipated evil
  • Scientific error- relies heavily on Genesis and the Fall, these are not opinions that are generally considered to be accurate these days
3 of 5

Iranaen Theodicy

Put forward by St Iranaeus 2nd C.

Nature of Evil:

  • True goodness must be freely chosen
  • Genuine free wil requires a choice, so for free will to truly exist, so must the choice between good and evil
  • Therefore evil is actually instrumental to humans attaining God's likeness

Source of Evil:

  • All humans were created at an epistemic distance (distance of knowledge) from God
  • This is because if we were fully aware of God observing us all the time then we would choose good because he wants us to, not because we want to
4 of 5

Iranaen Theodicy

Role of Evil:

  • God created humans in his image
  • However we must develop into his likeness
  • Evil is essential to this as there are obstacles for us to overcome to achieve God's likeness, also we must choose goodness to be like God
  • The World is a 'vale of soul-making'


  • Jesus seemed to go out of his way to stop suffering
  • Many develop good qualities without suffering and many are made worse as a result of suffering
  • Does the suffering have to be so extreme?
  • Why does the process of development take so long?
  • Evil seems to be a random occurence
5 of 5


No comments have yet been made

Similar Philosophy resources:

See all Philosophy resources »See all Evil resources »