Ramble. Focus. Ramble.

The Problem of Evil

Two very important attributes of God are that He is omnibenevolent (morally perfect) and omnipotent (all-powerful). He does not wish to harm his creation and he is strong enough to overcome any force that may come in his way. Moreover, He is also omniscient (all-knowing) and so He knows when evil exists. The question, thus, arises that the perfectly moral God when knows about the existence of evil and when He can use his power to eliminate it then why does He not? Why would He let innocent lives be crushed and why would He promote pain and suffering? Why are guiltless children born with dreadful diseases? Why are some people more disadvantaged then the others? Why does Africa suffer from hunger, whereas Europe is quite relatively healthy and prosperous? Our world contains sources of hardship, inconvenience and danger of innumerable kinds; hence this world cannot have been created by a perfectly benevolent, all-powerful deity.

Therefore, the Absolute being is either not aware of the existence of evil and hence He is not omniscient or He is not omnipotent and cannot do anything about evil. Thirdly, He may not be morally perfect and may not want to eliminate evil. There is another possibility and that is that God may not exist altogether. This is the flaw in God’s existence, also called the problem of evil. Epicurus put it this way:

“Is He willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is He impotent? Is He able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent? Is He both able and willing? Whence then is evil?”

Moreover, the concept of hell is a very strong advocate for the problem of evil. If there is a life after death and there is heaven and hell for good and bad people then how is the Almighty morally perfect. Had he been morally perfect would he make his creation suffer on earth as well as in heaven after this life?

Every news channel has stories about enormous casualties and suffering in different parts of the world. Likewise, everyone can take a closer look in their neighbourhoods and find misfortune breaking lives. This problem has made philosophers to ponder God’s existence. God’s existence has thus become a question. Is there a wholly good God that would create such a world where evil exists? Many people tried finding the solution to the problem of evil and many solutions do appear acceptable. For instances, if we go with Anselm’s definition of God we have to admit that God is beyond our comprehension and human mind is very narrow to be able to understand why has God let evil in the world. There could be a greater good involved and so God has let evil in the world so that the greater good be achieved. For instance, when a parent takes his child to the doctor for a vaccination so that a childhood disease can be prevented he has some greater good in mind. However the child who undergoes the pain may see it differently.

Then again, the example does not very well resolve the problem of evil because the parent is not omnipotent ad he cannot prevent the pain of the vaccination and he has to get his child vaccinated. However, the God who created the universe should know how to prevent the pain and yet vaccinate the child.

William L. Rowe’s Version of the Problem of Evil: he believed that there are instances of acute agony that could have been prevented without losing some greater good. If the God is omnipotent and omniscient then He would know how to get rid of evil without losing the greater good. But He lets his creation suffer. Hence, there does not exist an omniscient, omnipotent and wholly good being.

Another way to put it is how Aquinas’s objector put it. He said that evil and God are two contraries. But we know that God is infinite goodness and when one of the two contraries is infinite then the other contrary is destroyed altogether.  But we know that evil does exist so either God does not exist or He is not infinite goodness.

Thomas B. Warren asked the question of the problem in this way:

“Is pain an intrinsic evil? To whose will are you attributing it? and Is it in harmony with God’s will? To say that a state, thought, or action is intrinsically evil is to say that some will brought it about and that it is out of harmony with God’s will.


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This entry was posted on March 13, 2011 by in Philosophy and tagged , , .
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