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Just as there are arguments for the existence of God (cosmological, teleological, ontological and so on), there are arguments against the existence of God. One of these is the famous ‘problem of evil’. You might have seen it evoked by a quotation attributed to Epicurus, an ancient Greek philosopher, which goes:
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” – source
The challenge evil poses for theism is obvious and does not require a degree in philosophy to see. We are exposed to suffering and evil on an almost daily basis. Some of us probably have asked why God allows us to suffer, or why God allows such things as war, disease and natural disasters to occur. It is not surprising, given this, that the “argument from evil is an objection to theism as old as theism itself”. (Everitt, p. 227)
The argument from evil aims to show that there is an incompatibility between some of theism’s doctrines (which not all theists may endorse) and certain features of the world, namely the existence of natural and moral evils and the suffering they bring about. As old as the argument is, a great deal of discussion about is still taking place in contemporary philosophy of religion. This series, “Arguing About Evil”, is meant to offer readers a glimpse of the ongoing debate and the latest developments related to the problem of evil.
Links to all posts that are part of this series will be posted here:
- Arguing About Evil: An Introduction
- Arguing About Evil: Two Kinds of Arguments
Next post, we’ll consider two kinds of arguments from evil: logical and evidential.