What is the Philosophical Problem of Evil

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The Problem of Evil has been said to be the single greatest threat to the religion ever. Indeed, this subject is thought to first have been broached by the Hellenic philosopher Epicurus in the 2nd and 3rd century BC.

Evil is a force, person, action or anything which causes pain and suffering, mental or physical. Although it is most commonly used to describe an intentional act, this is not always so. It is normally segregated into Natural Evil and Moral Evil, which I shall expand on later.

There are two forms of arguments about the problem of evil. One is the atheist’s logical, clear reasoning, and the other is the believer’s guilt racked doubts.

Here is a classic example of the atheist’s argument:

1. God exists;

2. God is omnibenevolent (therefore must wish to eradicate evil);

3. God is omniscient and omnipotent (therefore must be able to eradicate evil);

4. Evil exists and always has.

If we are to believe the Scriptures, then the first three points above are correct, and the last we can see is correct. But the last contradicts the rest, so one of the four must be wrong. But the Scriptures say the first three are correct, and the last is evidently so. But the last contradicts the rest…

And so on and so forth until most people become so confused as to fall unconscious, give up or refuse to speak and leave in a huff.

Therefore, atheists say, either:

1. God does not exist;

2. God is not omnibenevolent;

3. God is not omniscient and omnipotent or

4. Evil does not exist.

Now, after fully exhausting that path of reasoning and leaving the atheists victorious, we come onto what the struggling faithful think of the Epicurean Paradox.

Sometimes a person who has lived his entire life believing strongly in a merciful deity is confronted by such pain, suffering or cruelty that he asks himself: ‘How can God be so merciful if he can stand by and watch such evil acts go on? I and my fellows suffer injustice daily, while innocent men are killed by soldiers fighting another man’s war. Poor children are stolen away from their families and sold as prostitutes or their organs removed for wealthy clients. Entire families are struck by diseases and die painfully on the streets, unable to afford medicine or even food and drink. How can God look down on this and not help us? How?’

He is racked with indecision and guilt.

Natural evil occurs from what most consider the earth’s natural processes; earthquakes, eruptions and so on. Moral evil results from the actions of humans; rape, murder, poisoning via pollution and so on.

The unfairness of Natural evil is repelled with either of two points: the sins of man (that Man’s sins are reflected in nature, by destruction and death) or the phrase ”The blade must pass through the fire else it will break 1” (that to learn humility and gain wisdom Man must first be tempered by pain).

The faithful believe that Moral evil stems straight from the actions of Man. In fact, everyone believes this, but what atheists ask is why is it that God allows us to commit such crimes and monstrosities. Surely if he cares for us so much, he would protect us? The age old reason, of course, is that God’s mind is far too lofty for us to reach. His mental powers are boundless. We can not possibly hope to explain his actions!

But here comes what I consider to be the strongest leg religion has to stand on. FREE WILL. We are told that God gave us minds to think for ourselves and make our own choices, not merely to be puppets. He gave us choice, so that we can choose our path. We cannot merely sit and moan and wait for God to save us.

Evil exists in this world, often a result of our own actions. God has given us the power over ourselves to be able to choose the right path. He did not create us as his puppets, but free-thinking beings in our own right. Now we must overcome the evil within us and venture out to help others.

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