Tag Archives: Hume

The Problem of Evil? Part 6…

Now, there are a few other points I want to add here.  First, I think Hume makes an odd “mistake” in his supposed logical argument against  the existence of God.  If God is both omni-benevolent and omnipotent, why do we have evil?  Hume only includes God’s benevolence, and God’s omnipotence, and then attempts to pit them against each other.  One thing is obvious, he believes he is making a case against the Judeo-Christian idea of a God, which I do find significant in that it is usually the idea of the Christian God that non-believing philosophers, are dead set against.

So, I don’t find his argument against God holds up even under the logical scrutiny of other non-believers if they realize that God has many more attributes that must be taken into consideration.  The first two that jump to my mind is God’s Holiness and His Justice.  Is God benevolent?  Yup, but He’s also Holy and perfectly and absolutely Just.  This factors into the free will solution as well; God has a standard, if we fail to meet that standard, He will execute Justice.

Adam ate of the tree and the prescribed action in the divine justice system was quickly carried out.  Again, one cannot put forth an argument against God if one does not have, or present, an accurate “picture” of the very thing one is arguing against.

The other side to all of this talk of the “problem of evil” is that it is self-defeating when offered by a non-believer as an argument against God.  To label something well and trully evil, there must be an absolute objective standard of what evil is.  Just as with morality, the concpet of evil has no meaning if there is nothing but matter; if we are but mere matter, there cannot be anything truly called “evil.”

There can be things we do not like, but any connection to real morality would not be there IF we are nothing but mere matter.  Whether or not Hitler was right or wrong in his actions, for example, would only be someone’s opinion.  As a Christian, I can truly label Hitler’s actions as evil and wrong, and have those labels be meaningful.  By phrasing the problem of evil as the problem of evil, a non-believer is basically admitting that there is indeed real right and wrong; an absolute standard.  This “argument against God” falls prey to itself.

Now, there are some non-believers who will put this argument forward, but what they are really asking a believer to do is to explain evil.  The very human question, often asked in times of pain, depression, death, etc… is “Why?”  Many of the “solutions” I’ve put forth in this series covers that idea.  And, yes, I do favor the free will solution.  It makes sense both logically and scripturally.

But, in the end, I don’t find Hume’s “problem of evil” a problem at all, not in the sense of an argument against the existence of God.

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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.

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