The Problem of Evil - Mackie

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Damn That Evil

The problem of evil is an issue that is entirely too overlooked and dismissed by most Christians. I believe that it is a valid argument to renounce some views that traditional theism sets forward. This problem makes the existence of a traditional God extremely unlikely, and it makes a belief in one, irrational at best. The existence of evil is in juxtaposition with the idea of a Christian, omnipotent and wholly good God. Valid concerns may be raised that the problem of evil should cause an abandonment of traditional theism. These concerns include why an all powerful God allows the existence of evil, the fact that the existence of evil proves that there can be no omnipotent God, and that free will allows for the possibility of evil.

My main argument was conveyed by the theologian J.L. Mackie. The traditional views set up by the Christian church are not entirely reasonable. The five points that do not all work together are as follows: God is omnipotent, God is wholly good, good is completely opposed to evil and will try to eliminate the evil at any extent possible, there is no limit to what an omnipotent being can do, and that evil exists. In “Evil and Omnipotence,” Mackie asserts, “In its simplest form the problem is this: God is omnipotent; God is wholly good; and yet evil exists. There seems to be some contradiction between these three propositions, so that if any two of them were true the third would be false.” (p.200) There are logical inconsistencies including the fact that there should be no evil yet it exists. There can be several rearrangements to make this problem work. The easiest solution could be to say that God does not exist, thereby removing the problem completely. A second solution could be to say that God is not omnipotent and that we are out of his control. That he has created us and can no longer have power over us. I do not think either of these are good solutions. From reason we can conclude that God exists since nothing can be created from nothing. The second solution also seems inconsistent. If God was powerful enough to create the universe why can he not stop mindless killing that is almost always done in his own name?

The Greek philosopher, Epicurus, was the first to tackle the good versus evil quandary. According to Epicurus, the gods sought to guide with their knowledge and benevolence, yet they were more concerned with creating harmony in their own lives. They could not trouble themselves with the wretchedness of the earth yet functioned more as a moral ideal for humans to imitate. Epicurus recognized the struggle of good versus evil with his statement, “Either God wasn’t to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. If God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?” This excerpt of Epicures from 2000 Years of Disbelief highlights the logical problem with a traditional Christian monotheistic God. However, Epicurus does not resolve the existence of evil with a powerful, caring God.

In addition, the philosopher Augustine discussed the problem of evil in his treatise, On Free Choice of the Will. Augustine’s most compelling argument shows that without the lack of good, there is no ability to have any good. His argument shows us that free will is needed in order for people to make their own choices; this then dictates that free will entails the possibility of evil. Removing that possibility would result in a lack of free will. Having the ability to commit evil acts is a qualification of free will and without it, we cannot be entirely free. While this argument espouses the need for free will and its effect on evil, this argument does not prove that God is wholly good. Rather, in my opinion, it disproves the theory because it shows that God did create evil. A wholly good self would not only lack the ability to grasp the...
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