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The Problem of Evil in the Judeo-Christian Tradition Depicted in Hicks' Philosophy of Religion

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The problem of evil is a difficult objection to contend with for theists. Indeed, major crises of faith can occur after observing or experiencing the wide variety and depths of suffering in the world. It also stands that these “evils” of suffering call into question the existence of an omnibenevolent and omnipotent God of the Judeo-Christian tradition. The “greater good defense” tries to account for some of the issues presented, but still has flaws of its own.

In the excerpt from Philosophy of Religion, John Hicks outlines the problem of evil as such:

(a) If God were truly omnibenevolent, he would then wish to eliminate all evil;

(b) If God is were truly omnipotent, he would then be capable of eliminating evil;

(c) Evil exists in the world.

Therefore: (d) God is not omnibenevolent or He is not omnipotent.

Either element of the conclusion is damaging to the traditional understanding of a Judeo-Christian God. It seems simple enough. A benevolent Creator appears incompatible with what we understand to be the existence of evil. Evil is opposed to God’s will, eventually cumulating in the crucifixion of God’s son, Jesus. One must then wonder how an all-loving and all-powerful God would allow such pain to occur to both his creation and Jesus. A perfect God’s world should be similarly perfect. The world is not perfect so it seems that God must not be all-loving or He must not be all-powerful. Rejecting the existence of evil, immediately rejects too much of the Judeo-Christian tradition to be considered, though some philosophers have considered it.

The traditional Christian answer to why God allowed the death of Christ is for the absolution of humanity’s sin. However, this begs the question, as an omnipotent God why was it necess...

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...owardice or evil (2) must then work to minimize good (1) and maximize evil (1). This process can continue ad infinitum

It also follows that God, not as benevolent as could be hoped, prefers the maximization of good (2) as opposed to the minimization of evil (1). This is disquieting for the individual who might be the victim of suffering a “greater good.”

It appears that the problem of evil is a substantial one. While arguments exist that can challenge assumptions of the problem, it sometimes requires some definition contorting and does not answer all the challenges evil presents. The greater good defense presents some key insights into how we must perceive God’s actions but does not completely defend against the presented problems of evil. Therefore, a more plausible defense is needed to eliminate the problems evil creates with the Judeo-Christian concept of God.