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A Theistic Argument for the Problem of Evil

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Calvin Schoneck


A theistic possibility for the problem of evil.

The existence of evil is perhaps one of the most contradictory realities of western monotheistic belief. God is believed to be the best of all things, he is omniscient, omnibenevolent, and omnipotent,  and yet evil still exists. This would not be a problem for theists if good and evil were widely considered to be the doing of god, but god is described as the epitome of all that is good. Can the omnipotent being responsible for the creation of the universe logically allow evil? While there are several possible explanations that the theist may offer, they all eventually come to the end that god lacks one of his defining traits. Omnipotence and Omni-benevolence cannot simultaneously exist in a world that has evil in it.

 As Mackie described this argument, the problem for theists, lies in the fact that accepting the existence of evil requires the recanting of one of gods defining traits. Despite there being no true adequate solutions for the problem of evil, there is one argument that the theist can offer which logically explains the existence of evil in “the best of all worlds.”

Before the problem of evil is to be addressed though, there must be several premises that are assumed when talking about a monotheistic god. 1] God is omnipotent; he is capable of any ends by any means. Therefore he would logically be able to create any universe that he wanted. 2] God is wholly good, and would therefore want to create a universe that is devoid of evil. Evil itself is not a problem on its own, but when combined with these presupposed traits of god, the existence of evil becomes a contradiction

The problem of evil is as follows;

1) A wholly good and omnipotent god exists somewhere in the universe

2) But evil exists

3) Therefore, a wholly good and omnipotent god cannot logically exist.

Before continuing further it must be noted that premises 1 and 2 are not in fact contradictions, but are simply assertions of good and evils existence, and alone do not serve to further any argument. But when combined with the two pre-supposed premises regarding the nature of god, the assertion of premise three becomes possible. Why would a god, who is both omnipotent and wholly good, allow for evil to exist?

The most common argument for the theist is actually the only one that has any validity when scrutinized .Theists can reject premise three all together, they may argue that there is in fact a reason for evil; that god, in designing his plan, deemed evil and suffering permissible, or maybe even necessary. By accepting that God’s logic and reasoning are beyond the comprehension of man, but still holds the best interests of humanity in mind, theists are able to completely avoid the problem of evil all together. While this may seem like outright denial, it is actually much more than that; consider the classical arguments for the existence and non-existence of god.

For example the bible, despite what it says, does not actually serve as any proof that God exists, just as the Big Bang does not serve as proof that God doesn’t exist. They are simply assertions of principles that appear to have some bearing in the tangible world. This position still allows the theist to maintain their belief in a wholly good and omnibenevolent god, while accepting the existence of evil since there is no way to prove that evil and suffering aren’t morally justified.

The fallacy of this argument is not contradiction like most other theistic solutions for the problem of evil, it is that the theist is presuming that morals and morality come explicitly from god. By this logic then, if evils existence is morally permissible or necessary for god, then evil actions are morally permissible or even necessary in some circumstances for humans.  I think this stands to directly contradict what the theist’s argument has to offer since it is very unlikely that they themselves would be obliged to accept that there is no transcended objective standard for morality because all morality is permissible to god. Despite that the theist is likely to object that god is indifferent to good and evil actions of Earth I will continue since this can actually serve as a rational explanation as to why evil may exist.



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