“What about Evil?”… what about it?

Many have made the claim that evil disproves an all-good, all-powerful God. My question is, how? The common argument is thus:

1. If a perfectly good god exists, then evil does not.

2. Evil exists.

3. Therefore, a perfectly good god does not exist.

or more complex:

1. God is all-good and all-powerful.

2. If God is all-good, He would prefer a world without evil.

3. If God is all powerful, He could make any world He wanted.

4. Being able to make any world and preferring one without evil, God would make one without evil.

5. There is evil, therefore, God is not all-good and all-powerful.

or even more:

1. God is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good.

2. A perfectly good being would want to prevent all evils.

3. An omniscient being knows every way in which evils can come into existence.

4. An omnipotent being who knows every way in which an evil can come into existence and has the power to prevent that evil from coming into existence.

5. A being who knows every way in which an evil can come into existence, who is able to prevent that evil from coming into existence, and who wants to do so, would prevent the existence of that evil.

6. If there exists an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good being, then no evil exists.

7. Evil exists…

However, running through the arguments, there seems to be a big leap into the mind of God. Do we know if He would necessarily desire a world without evil? If so, how do you know that? Because in order for this to be a sound argument, then it has to be necessarily true. So there can’t even be a single possible situation in which it is not true.

But I can name one right now, and that would be that God may have a desire for us to become dependent on Him, as the Bible claims, and that the best way to do this would be to make a world with evil and suffering so that He could show them that they need Him and can’t fix things on their own.

Ir if you don’t like that, maybe He has another reason to allow evil, such as knowing that a certain amount of evil can lead to a higher quality of good than in a world without evil. Now this one is speculative, yes, but is it possible, yes. What if He desires quality over quantity?

But let’s say these examples don’t work. Let’s say He does desire a world without evil. What if He can’t do it based on His other attributes. He must allow free will, and if there is free will, what if he can’t prevent evil. But this seems to contradict premise 1 of the latter two arguments, right? Or does it? It depends on how one defines “omnipotence.” Is it the ability to do anything, or just the ability to do anything logically possible? Can such an entity make a round circle or a married bachelor? Well, common sense would say not. But let’s throw out common sense. Why does that seem impossible, even for an entity that can do  literally anything? Well, by definition, the two terms in each set of words are contradictory. A square is a shape with 4 congruent sides and 4 right angles, while a circle has no sides and no angles and all points equidistant from its center. And to be married means… to be married, and a bachelor is an unmarried man… So that seems to be a problem. But why can’t an omnipotent being produce such a thing? Some will say that this shows that an omnipotent being is itself contradictory, as the idea is paradoxical to say it can create anything but can’t create some things. So maybe we could use the word “omnipotence” to simply mean “maximally great,” as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines it.  So yes, it is semantics, but this is where the whole thing seems to hinge if we accept that God wills there to be no evil. For an entity that really can do anything can make people freely do things, which is a contradiction of terms and is therefore not something a maximally great entity could bring about. So while it may be possible to have a world without evil, it may not be plausible, in the sense that it can be actualized.

Having said this, I think we have great grounds to throw out the logical problem of evil from our category of “evidence against God.” And if someone wishes to use it as such, they have the burden of proof to show that none of these things are even possible.

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About sorentmd

I am a student at the University of Cincinnati and am majoring in Philosophy and Marketing. I love the Lord, and I try to live my life in a way that pleases Him. View all posts by sorentmd

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