Thursday, May 22, 2014

Reflections on the Problem of Evil

Every living and breathing human being will come face to face with the question of evil in the world.  Without a doubt, we know that there is something wrong with us, something awry with the world around us.  Our encounters with evil pose a problem for all worldviews, but many feel that evil poses a particularly thorny difficulty for Christianity.
The oldest variation of the problem of evil, known as the logical problem of evil, originates with the Greek philosopher Epicurus:
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?

The 18th-century Scottish skeptic, David Hume, revived Epicurus’ objection against God based on evil in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.  The logical problem of evil argues that God and evil are not logically consistent.  The short form of the propositional argument is simple:
If God exists, then evil does not exist.
Evil exists (i.e., it is false that evil does not exist).
Therefore, God does not exist.