The Existence of God and Evil
The problem of evil has been around since the beginning. How could God allow such suffering of his “chosen people”? God is supposedly all loving (omni-benevolent) and all powerful (omnipotent) and yet He allows His creations to live in a world of danger and pain. Two philosophers this class has discussed pertaining to this problem is B.C. Johnson and John Hick. Johnson provides the theists’ defense of God and he argues them. These include free will, moral urgency, the laws of nature, and God’s “higher morality”. Hick examines two types of theodicies – the Augustinian position and the Irenaeus position. These positions also deal with free will, virtue (or moral urgency), and the laws of nature. Johnson decides that God is either evil or both good and evil. Hick believes that the world is the grounds for soul-making and indirectly defends God in the face of evil. Hick’s argument is stronger than Johnson’s. I believe that evil exists in order to teach humans virtue that God has created. I also believe, like Hick suggests, that God, the universe, and His creations are inherently good, and that evil comes from the corruption of the good.
Johnson begins with a situation of evil – a baby dies in a house fire. From there, Johnson begins examining the theists’ “excuses” and refutes them one by one. Free will is the first to be discussed. The theist states that God gave free will to humans so that when accidental or purposeful evil occurs, it is only the humans’ responsibility. However, this does not follow through. Can it be called good when a bystander knowingly does not help when witnessing a horrible event? Johnson says, “Certainly not” (Pojman 121). Good would be the bystander taking action and stepping in to help those suffering. So then, is it right to say that God is good for not interfering as a bystander? Again, certainly not. Standing by allows the suffering and evil to continue, hence it is not good. A theist would go onto say that people should not have help in the face of a disaster. This would make humans dependent on outside help. Johnson finds two criticisms. This statement seems to imply that emergency and medical services be eliminated because humans are dependent upon their help. If this implication does not apply, this type of world (without the help from God) does not make people independent. The emergency and medical services still exist, meaning the majority is dependent on the minority. Humans, with their free will, created these services because God did not step in to prevent suffering. Therefore, free will of humans does not defend God in the face of evil.
Moral urgency, or the need for virtue, is the second defense Johnson examines. A theist would state that God allows suffering in order to make humans stronger (in a morality sense) and more virtuous. Without this suffering and evil, it would eliminate moral urgency needed to teach us morals and virtue. This would mean that God is obligated and just in causing humans to suffer. Johnson simply responds with, “All of this is of course absurd” (Pojman 122). The vast majority of human beings, according to Johnson, do not feel that good is being done when maximizing moral urgency. This would mean more suffering for the people. Proof of this is emergency and medical services counteracting “God’s moral urgency” or danger and pain. Even so, theists believe that God needs to create opportunities for the world to develop important virtues. Johnson agrees. This may be right, but the amount of suffering occurring is not necessary for humans to develop virtues. Johnson also points out that in eliminating all evil, future generations would not be able to develop virtues. In not developing virtues, the future generations would not be virtuous. In order to maintain that virtue development, humans should stop attempting to eliminate evil and stop improving the world. However, as stated previously, maximizing the need for virtue is not...
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