Leibniz's Problem of Evil

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May 7th, 2007

Accounting for Evil:

When attempting to prove God's existence one must account for aspects of the world that appear to be contrary to our understanding of divine presence. One question in particular that deserves attention is the existence of evil throughout the world around us. If, in fact, a Christian God does exist, he/she would then presumably be all good, all-knowing, and all-powerful, and therefore would use his/her powers to stop evil from being a part of our world all together (Leibniz 261). Gottfried Leibniz addresses this "problem of evil" in his Theodicy by offering a scenario in which both a Christian God and evil can plausibly coexist.

As Leibniz tries to validate God's existence, he is forced to rely upon certain defining characteristic from which we have come to associate with the Christian God. One such characteristic is God's inherent benevolence to which we attribute his teachings of virtuous living. This said, if God does exist, it's only rational to assume that he/she is a representation of good and therefore would oppose evil as a whole. Another characteristic that we associate with God's existence is infinite knowledge, or as we have come to refer to it, his all-knowingness (261). This, however, as Leibniz points out, implies since there's evil in the world, God is must be aware of it. And, as a result of this all-knowingness combined with the all-goodness, if given a choice between a world in which evil exists and a world in which evil does not exist, God would choose the world free of evil. However, these traits do not necessarily disprove God's existence unless they are accompanied by the capability to act on this inherent goodness and knowledge. Unfortunately, the last universal assumption we have come to associate with God, according to Leibniz, is his unlimited power (261). Which means if God does exist (and, therefore, is all-good and all-knowing), he would undeniably use his power to eliminate the world's...
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