Answering the Problem of Evil

by Jacob Allee

apologetics - the problem of evilIntroduction

Theists have mounted a strong evidential case from science, philosophy and even history in support of their position that God indeed exists. Atheists, on the other hand, have not been so prolific in defense of their view on the whole. To be sure we are not arguing the Atheists have not been vocal about their disbelief, they have. What we are saying is that Atheists have largely claimed that their position needs no defense and so they have not bothered to make arguments for their Atheism. Often as Christian apologists and theologians we hear the refrain of “Do I need to prove that unicorns and Santa don’t exist too?” In other words, they argue, “We don’t have to disprove the existence of things that don’t actually exist.” The reasoning here, however, is faulty because the masses around the world do not intuitively believe in unicorns and Santa but the majority do believe in God or gods or at least supernatural beings. So then if the Atheist wishes to take the minority view and claim that we, the majority, are all deluded then they need to posit an argument for their minority view.

The only notable argument for Atheism is what is known as “The Problem of Evil.” This is the lone ranger of positive arguments for Atheism and as such is very popular among the believing unbelievers.  It is the constant refrain by many of those who have been deeply hurt through personal injury, loss of loved ones and various other kinds of genuinely traumatic and horrible events. These terrible tragedies and travesties have happened to them as a result of one of two different forces, natural evil or moral evil. Either way, the pain is often expressed the same way: “If God is so good then why do bad things happen?” In this paper we will deal with just that question and will prove that the problem of evil, while a serious, honest and important issue, does not provide evidence for Atheism, rather, the Problem of evil actually becomes evidence for the existence of God.

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The Formal Argument for the Problem of Evil

The argument has been stated many times and by many authors, but among all of them stands out one who, in this authors opinion, does the best job of both asserting the argument clearly and then also defending that argument and debunking attempts to refute it. While in the end his argument still fails, J. L. Mackie makes the best case for the problem of evil. In an essay entitled Evil and Omnipotence, Mackie has this to say:

In its simplest form the problem of evil 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. But at the same time all three are essential parts of most theological positions: the theologian, it seems, at once Must adhere and cannot consistently adhere to all three.[1]

Mackie, then, is arguing for an implicit contradiction rather than an explicit one because the contradiction is not immediately obvious (indeed as we will see, the contradiction is actually non-existent), but Mackie would say it is implied…

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RECOMMENDED APOLOGETICS RESOURCES FOR FURTHER READING:

If God, Why Evil?: A New Way to Think About the Question

The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World

 

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