The Problem of Evil – Part 1
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Hey y’all Cruz here, in some of the more recent posts the problem of evil has been brought up in the discussion. I told Knockgoats that I would put up some posts for discussion on this issue and others. Here is the first post.
The problem of evil is an argument that tries to show that classical theism is incoherent. It is generally taken to be the most effective positive argument against the theist’s position. In the rest of this post I will just outline the problem and I will give different replies to the problem in following posts.
The argument holds that the three big ‘omni’ properties that God has are incompatible with the existence of evil in the world. In other words the belief that there is a being that is omni-benevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent being is incompatible with there being a world with evil in it.
It should be noted that just listing these three properties does not yield a valid argument against God’s existence. All we have so far is something like this:
(1) God is omnipotent, omniscient and omni-benevolent.
(2) Evil exists.
(3) Therefore absurdity.
What we need is some way to move from the properties listed in (1) to the following proposition:
(C1) If God exists, then evil would not exist.
From there we can take (2) and by modus tollens deduce that God does not exist.
Simply asserting (C1) does not seem to do much for the strength of the argument. Since it seems that most theists already hold that God exists and that evil exists, we need some further premises that theists already hold to be true to show that because they are committed to the truth (1) they must also be committed to the truth of (C1). So in order to get (C1) we must add the following three premises:
(a) If God is omni-benevolent then He would do whatever He could to prevent any evil from occurring.
(b) If God is omniscient then He would know when evil exists and every way in which evil would come into existence.
(c) If God is omnipotent then He has the power to prevent evil from coming into existence.
(1) combined with these three premises entails (C1). Then we can, as I said earlier take (C1) and (2) to get:
(C2) God does not exist.
This is not the only version of this problem, so if you guys want I can post the up another version of it that is pretty much the same but is an argument from probabilistic premises to the conclusion that God probably does not exist. But for now lets focus on this for now.
Do you guys think this argument could be made stronger? Are there less assumptions that can be made to get to the same conclusion? Another thing I would like to discuss is what you guys think may be plausible replies that the theist can give in response to this argument, and then think about why some would be more plausible than others, they may (though doubtfully) be all plausible responses or they may all just be total crap. As I post I am going to try to make the weakest replies seem to be as plausible as I can make them. I personally think that there is one route to go for the classical theist in making a response to the problem of evil. But I just want to let you know in advance that for the sake of discussion, I will be trying to argue for positions that I do not personally hold.
Let the discussion begin!