Reflections on the Problem of Evil
- Evil is a thing
- Therefore God created evil.
This challenge is not new.In the 4th century, St. Augustine tackled it, as did St. Thomas Aquinas centuries later. What we call evil, they explained, is in fact a deprivation of the good and is therefore not really a “thing” at all.Like the hole in a donut, it describes what is not there, what is missing.
But this does not always satisfy the challenger.Often, they may counter: an all powerful, all loving God would not have allowed deprivations any more than he would have created evil. God still remains at fault, in their view, because he is the originator of the system that results in this "non-thing" -evil – which we rightly view as bad.
This response has superficial appeal. It seems to accept the difference between a deprivation and a thing, and confronts the believer with the same challenge: a good God would never have allowed such deprivations in the first place.But this challenge actually misses the point of the distinction that Augustine and Aquinas drew; through sloppy thinking, it continues to view evil as a thing, even though it pretends not to and adopts the language of deprivation…
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