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Are God And Evil Real?

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The question of God’s existence is an issue that I have personally been on the fence about for the past year and have kind of deliberately avoided investigating. I wasn’t sure how to go about it or why it was even important. Because I was putting off doing this for so long, having an assignment that required me to finally take the step to search for truth seemed ironic. Throughout the semester, we have been discussing arguments of God’s existence from philosophers like Anselm of Canterbury and his Ontological argument up against Thomas Aquinas’s “perfect island” rebuttal. We also have discussed God’s existence through free will and determinism. None of these arguments really convinced me one way or the other on the issue. I knew there had to be something more powerful of swaying my beliefs so I would no longer be a fence sitter on the matter. I happened to have a conversation with my older brother about God and the points he brought up struck a curiosity within me that I just couldn’t stop thinking about. How could God, who is omnipotent, allow so much suffering and pain in the world? I later discovered in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the argument to be called the problem of evil.

The problem of evil is very complex and lengthy but can be broken up into two sections. The first problem is called the logical problem of evil, the second being the evidential problem of evil. The logical problem suggests that it is logically impossible for God to be omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect while evil exists. If God has unlimited power and can do anything, he must not want to prevent evil for it is very obviously prominent in our world. If he knows about evil and he wants to intervene to prevent it, then he must not be able to, which means he is not omnipotent. If God lacks omnipotence, omnibenevolence, or omniscience, he is no longer God as defined by Judeo-Christianity. Since evil exists, God must be lacking at least one of those features which concludes God doesn’t exist. However, the argument doesn’t end there and many theist philosophers have objected with counter arguments or justifications for God’s lack of intervention.

The most notable counter argument used against the logical problem of evil is called the Free Will defense which was constructed by Alvin Plantinga. He suggests that in order for humans to have free will, which is a necessary and defining feature of what it means to be human, we must have the capacity to choose evil as well as good. He also states that God cannot do what is logically impossible. For example, he cannot make 4 + 4 = 9 because then what would 5+4 equal? Moral goodness cannot be known and chosen without knowing and having the ability to choose evil because it is logically impossible according to Plantinga. This brings into question whether or not in heaven, a perfect place that theists believe no evil can occur, humans will have free will. If humans are unable to choose evil in heaven, will they still be the same creatures? And if humans are able to retain their freedom of will in heaven but only choose to do what is right, why couldn’t God have created a world in which there are choices of evil, but humans always choose good? A world of that nature is certainly conceivable thus it is plausible and it is surely morally better than a world where humans sometimes choose evil and there is suffering. Another problem that is also brought into question is whether or not God has free will, for if he does not have the ability to choose or even want to do evil, he does not carry significant moral freedom. If God is only doing what he is programmed by nature to do, his actions are not good or evil therefore his morality isn’t worthy of being praised.

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Plantinga’s argument can be ultimately summarized to God and evil can co-exist if God has a morally good enough reason to allow evil. While this may solve the problem of evil as it exists morally, it does not give an answer to diseases that kill thousands of innocent children by the day or to earthquakes and natural disasters that devastate hundreds of thousands of people. This is referred to as natural evil, to which Plantinga also has a rebuttal argument for. He states that natural evil was born of the first moral evil that Adam and Eve committed in the book of Genesis. The argument may not satisfy an atheist who does not believe that those events took place, but it still gives a plausible justifiable reason to why God allows natural evil to occur.

There is also the evidential problem of evil which was given by William Rowe who suggests that while it may not be logically impossible for God to exist, there are evils that are unjustified and unnecessary that exist which shifts the likelihood of God’s existence to be improbable. The only reason for an omnipotent and omnibenevolent being to allow evil was if he was morally justified to do so. However, Rowe suggests that there are evils in this world that are not justifiable, such as intense animal suffering or human suffering caused by natural occurrences. If God has no justifiable reason to not prevent suffering, wouldn’t he use his omnipotence to prevent or put an end to unnecessary suffering?

There are a lot of different arguments that provide grounds to believe or to not believe in the existence of God. Ultimately, over the hundreds of years that new arguments have come forward and been rebutted has not lead to any concrete truth or falsity on the matter. God’s existence cannot ever be a proven certainty so it is up to the individual to weigh the arguments and decide for themselves which arguments appear to be more logically sound to them. Personally, I find that if God cannot doing something, it contradicts his omnipotence. There may be a creator of the universe, but that does not mean it has to be omnipotent, omniscient, or morally perfect. Setting that standard seems to be absurd considering what evils do exist unnecessarily in our world. The problem of evil doesn’t necessarily prove that it is impossible for a God or creator of the universe to exist, but it does bring serious issues to the Judeo-Christian God as he is defined in religious texts.

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Are God And Evil Real? (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 27, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/are-god-and-evil-real/
“Are God And Evil Real?” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/are-god-and-evil-real/
Are God And Evil Real? [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/are-god-and-evil-real/> [Accessed 27 Nov. 2022].
Are God And Evil Real? [Internet] Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2022 Nov 27]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/are-god-and-evil-real/
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