The problem of evil? Part 1…

I’ve gone over some of the arguments for the existence of God, now I’m going to turn to the one major philosophical argument against their being of God.  Please hang in there with me; I’m doing this in several parts since I’m trying to fight off a lovely illness, and I don’t feel like typing for long periods of time at the present. 🙂

This argument against God is often called “The problem of evil,” though even more often people just ask it as a question, such as, “If God exists why is there evil in the world?”

The philosopher Hume put it this way; “Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?”

Some other vocabulary will suffice in this introduction; the difference between natural evil and moral evil.  Natural evil is that evil that occurs because of nature, or the natural world; if I trip and fall, gravity will pull me down.  Sometimes when we trip, we break a bone, which leads to suffering…that is one example.  Also things like starving, or drowning.  Anything that is a result of a natural law, or an effect can be considered a natural evil.

Moral evil is much more “personal” to humans.  This evil springs from human will.  Anything we do to ourselves or others falls in this category; murder, torture, rape, abuse, etc…. are examples of moral evil.

So, evil is present in our world, not many people dispute that.  Most don’t dispute that it is a bad thing either…especially moral evil.  In my next few posts I’ll be looking at different responses to this idea of “the problem of evil,” including mankind’s free will, and also asking if it is even a logical argument against God.


Filed under Apologetics, Atheism, Logic, Philosophy

6 responses to “The problem of evil? Part 1…

  1. Pingback: How to get Inspiration?

  2. Carl Sachs

    And of course, there’s the problem of whether the concept of “evil” has any meaning whatsoever in the absence of theism. So the problem of evil might pose an obstacle to certain conceptions of God, such as the Epicurean objection that Hume rehearses, but it is not a problem that arises as a problem without a theistic background. There is no “problem of evil” in Taoism or Buddhism, for example.

  3. Kliska

    That’s one of the big shortcomings of Hume’s argument; it is a very limited approach to a very limited version of God from Hume’s own perspective…it doesn’t really even work from a Christian POV either because Hume’s argument leaves out some very important core characteristics of God.

    Anywho, I’ll get to that soon…I’m still coughing too hard to concentrate well, and I have a lecture to give tomorrow on inductive logic to my students, I ought to take bets on whether or not my voice will last…based on logical reasoning of course.

  4. Pingback: The problem of evil? Part 2… « The Christian Scribbler

  5. Pingback: The problem of evil? Part 3… « The Christian Scribbler

  6. Pingback: The Problem of Evil, Part 5a… « The Christian Scribbler

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