Critically expose the problem of evil

The reason that I am justified in believing the proposition that either God does not exist or there is a pen in my pocket is that I am justified in believing that there is a pen in my pocket. Because of this, when they do what is right, they can properly be praised.

the problem of evil pdf

Alvin Plantingahas offered the most famous contemporary philosophical response to this question. But the above argument is subject to a very different sort of criticism, one that is connected with a feature of the above argument which seems to me important, but which is not often commented upon—the fact, namely, that the above argument is formulated in terms of axiological concepts, that is, in terms of the goodness or badness, the desirability or undesirability, of states of affairs.

the problem of evil essay

What would it look like for God to have a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil? Garden City, New York: Doubleday.

The problem of evil summary

Those who choose God will be confirmed in it, and sin will cease. The repeated witness of the New Testament is that believers should view all problems, indeed, their entire existence, from what we call the 'top-down' perspective: God and his kingdom first, followed by various aspects of our earthly existence. In response to this charge, Plantinga maintains that there are some worlds God cannot create. Being upset that God has not done something that is logically impossible is, according to Plantinga, misguided. More specifically, if God does not exist, there is no ultimate basis to judge for example the crimes of Hitler. Because a contradiction can be deduced from statements 1 through 4 and because all theists believe 1 through 4 , atheologians claim that theists have logically inconsistent beliefs. Consider the following descriptions of various worlds. For might it not be logically possible that there was an omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect being who created a neutral environment in which evolution could take place in a chancy way, and who afterwards did not intervene in any way?

Lewis, C. The answer will depend on whether, having defined God in such purely metaphysical terms, one can go on to argue that such an entity will also possess at least very great power, knowledge, and moral goodness.

But I must hasten to note, before offering a biblical viewpoint on the problem of evil, that the very act of categorizing Hitler's actions as EVIL raises an important philosophical point.

existential problem of evil

It is one thing to understand what evil is. Does Plantinga's Free Will Defense succeed in describing a possible state of affairs in which God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil?

Responses to the problem of evil

Finally, even a moderately good human being, given the power to do so, would eliminate those evils. It is the view that causal determinism is false, that—unlike robots or other machines—we can make choices that are genuinely free. The other four premises, set out at steps 3 , 5 , 7 and 9 , are plausibly viewed as analytic truths. All he needs to do is give a logically consistent description of a way that God and evil can co-exist. It would seem not. The problem of evil as it is standardly presented concerns both sorts of evil. It then follows, given that the two hypotheses are logically incompatible, that the probability of the theistic hypothesis must be less than one half. This, together with 2 , 3 , and 4 then entails that God has the power to eliminate all evil, that God knows when evil exists, and that God has the desire to eliminate all evil. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Since they are pre-programmed to be good, they deserve no praise for it. According to Edward Madden and Peter Harep. In fact, this is precisely the message that many philosophers took away from the debate between Plantinga and the defenders of the logical problem of evil.

The problem of evil book

Certainly Christians agree that what Hitler did to the Jews was a horrible crime. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. However it is likely to be challenged in various ways. The fourth and final approach, which has been set out by Michael Tooley, involves the idea of bringing a substantive theory of inductive logic, or logical probability, to bear upon the argument from evil, and then to argue that when this is done, one can derive a formula giving the probability that God does not exist relative to information about the number of apparent evils to be found in the world. If God is morally perfect, then God has the desire to eliminate all evil. The assumption behind this charge is that, in so doing, God could leave human free will untouched. What is the appropriate theory of logical probability? If God is omniscient, then God knows when evil exists. But if such a being exists, then it seems initially puzzling why various evils exist. If, as theists must surely maintain, God does possess morally significant freedom, then perhaps this sort of freedom does not preclude an inability to choose what is wrong. So universal generalizations can be justified, if they obtain in virtue of underlying, governing laws of nature.

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Logical Problem of Evil