The Problem of Evil

Published: 2021-06-29 07:07:31
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Category: Philosophy

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INTRO TO PHILOSOPHYThe Problem of EvilAn in Depth LookBrandon12/6/2013Prof. Anon (MWF, 11:10 a.m.)        The Problem of Evil is a philosophical question that has been debated throughout history. Thinkers, religious figures, and historical philosophers have debated the subject. The triggering questions are: Is God willing to prevent evil but unable to do so? Then he is not omnipotent. Is God able to prevent evil but unwilling to do so? Then he is malevolent. If God is both willing and able then why would there be evil in the world?[1] Essentially, the argument attempts to disprove the existence of an all knowing and infinitely powerful God. Efforts with solutions have been given and are labeled fallacious or adequate. However, these solutions have a tendency to alter the premises and falsify themselves. Even modern day philosophers such as Peter Van Inwagen attempt to create a solution to the problem of evil.        Philosophers have sought solutions to this problem. The major propositions to solve are that God exists; God is wholly good; and evil still exists. All three can’t be true at the same time yet all three are essential to many religious beliefs. If one doesn’t believe that God is not wholly good, omnipotent, or that evil exists than the problem of evil wouldn’t be a topic that you would need to ponder. There are several adequate solutions to this question. A few people have simply denied God’s omnipotence and several more have simply changed the meaning of the term.[2] Others have claimed that evil is simply an opinion or a point of perspective. They say that what we think is evil is not actually evil. The Pope has given another answer. He has said that humans have a limited perspective full of irony and confusion. God has created the world perfectly. This difference in perspective makes us see what we believe to be evil when it is actually harmony and is the right thing. More often than not, people tend to try and keep all of the propositions intact and try to find a fifth proposition.        There are fallacious solutions which try and solve the Problem of Evil by removing contradiction without abandoning any of its constituent propositions. However, they don’t really remove a contradiction but instead they hide it. All of the propositions appear to be maintained but are not. “Good cannot exist without evil.”[3] How can there be good without evil? Everything must have an opposite. Poor has rich, tall and short, hot cold, the list continues on as far as language takes us. The first problem with this premise is that it sets a limit on God. If He is infinitely powerful than he should have the ability to create a world where good can exist without evil. One way to answer that would be to say that omnipotence does not mean the power to do what is logically impossible. However, people of religion often believe God has the ability to do the impossible even if it means defying logic. Also, labeling good and evil this way would force a new definition of the terms upon us. We would then have to relate it to a quantity or quality instead of a characteristic or feature. “Evil is necessary as means to good or goodness.” Essentially what is being said here is God uses evil to bring about goodness. Again the question arises about God being infinitely powerful and omnipotent. This shows that God may have a limit or has set limits on himself. “A universe with some evil is better than a universe with none.” Similar to the previous statement, this solution claims that evil allows for good to come about. For example: death and disease allow for sympathy and medical advances. This statement does differ from the previous one as it claims evil to be absolutely necessary for goods whereas the previous is evil are physically necessary. “Evil is necessary for free will.” Here we take God’s responsibility for evil out and put it on human beings. Since God has given free will to humans, humans occasionally act cruelly.[4] The reasoning for God giving humans free will can be explained as free will being such a great good and that it would be unimaginably worse to lack free will. But why can’t God create a world in which there is free will without an evil if he is omnipotent? This would bring about another possible restriction on his infinite abilities, the ability to alter free will. Altering free will would not make it free will at all. As one can see, none of the above arguments has stood up and been able to maintain the three propositions. J. L. Mackie says “Quite apart from the problem of evil, the paradox of omnipotence has shown that God’s omnipotence must in any case be restricted in one way or another, that unqualified omnipotence cannot be ascribed to any being that continues through time.” (Reason and Responsibility, 107).

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