God and the Problem of Evil

There is no doubt that God and the problem of evil contradict each other. In today’s blog, I am going to explore why the existence of evil and suffering in the world causes such a big problem for a belief in the Judeo-Christian God.  With such evils happening in the world, such as the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide, how can God exist?

God and the Problem of Evil: The Epicurean Trilema

The traditional Judeo-Christian God is omnipotent and omnibenevolent. Omnipotent means that God is all powerful (remember ‘p’ in it for powerful!). Omnibenevolent means that God is all loving.

There is a trilema here (three possible options). Either God does not love us, so evil exists in the world. Or, God is not omnipotent – he does not have the power to stop evil, so evil exists. Or, God does not exist. This was originally asserted by Epicurus, hence the name Epicurean hypothesis. It is also sometimes known as the inconsistent triad, because of the inconsistencies surrounding God and his existence with reference to evil and suffering.

God and the Problem of Evil: Ways forward for Christians

Indeed, this is a big problem for the Christian believer, as it challenges the essence of God, or the existence of God himself. However, many Christians believe that there are reasons for evil existing in the world. Perhaps this is all part of God’s plan and beyond human understanding.

Indeed, if evil and suffering did not exist, we would not learn and develop as human beings. Nor would we have the opportunity to do good and help others. Another key argument is that it is man who causes evil and suffering, not God. If God did not give us freewill, we would not be individuals, but simply robots.

There are several theories have been put forward by Christian philosophers to try to overcome the problem of evil. If you are interested in finding out more, I recommend that you read about the Augustinian and Irenean theodicies.  Follow this link to find out more about God and Suffering: Augustine on Evil.

St Augustine's Confessions available on www.amazon.com

St Augustine’s Confessions available on Amazon

What do you think about God and the Problem of Evil?

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on God and the Problem of Evil, so please feel free to comment on this blog.

Advertisements

How successful is the Teleological argument in proving the existence of God?

For many scholars, the answer to the question of the Teleological Argument comes down to probability. Which is more probable, God as a designer or the universe as ‘brute fact’? Does God Exist?

Is the Teleological Argument for God’s Existence really ‘proof’?

Even Hume, with all of his criticisms, accepts that it is more probable that the universe was designed and that therefore there was a designer. However, he argues that there is no proof that the designer is God. It may point to the existence of a conscious designing intelligence, but this is not necessarily the God of Classical Theism.

John Stuart Mill and challenges to the Design Argument

According to J.S. Mill, the existence of evil challenges the success of the argument from Design.  The existence of evil in the world suggests that the designer of the universe has limited power, knowledge or love and therefore cannot be the God of Classical Theism. Process Theologians, however, have argued that God suffers alongside us, and the existence of evil does not challenge the existence of a loving, powerful God.

Peter Vardy on Probability

Peter Vardy states that this argument will never be conclusive as it rests on probability and individual judgment. For example: there is no scientific explanation for why life should strive for greater and greater complexity and intelligence. This allows believers to use a Creator God to explain how the matter in the universe is being directed towards a goal or purpose. However there is no proof that this is in fact the case.

What is your Conclusion on the Teleological Argument?

Clearly, the conclusion you arrive at relies upon your personal conviction. If the accumulated evidence of design is compelling enough, you may leap to the conclusion that God is the designer of the universe. For a theist, the apparent order and purpose of the universe increases the probability that God exists and provides support for his/her beliefs. An atheist, on the other hand, may believe that the argument is inconclusive.

According to Paul Davies, it comes down to how you interpret the facts that science gives you. It is the role of science to explain how the universe got here and the role of religion to explain why. If you apply Ockham’s Razor, the simplest explanation for apparent design and purpose in the universe is most likely to be true. The simplest explanation for a theist will be God as the designer.  But what is the simplest explanation for you?