A strong argument against the existence of a Christian God is contained in the theodicy problem. The existence of suffering is not compatible with an omniscient, omnipotent, omni benevolent superior being. An all-knowing being would be aware that suffering is and always will be in existence; an all-powerful being would be able to prevent suffering; and a perfectly good being would desire to end suffering. Many Christian thinkers have sought to justify this contradiction, and one of the most common counterarguments to the theodicy problem is contained in the free-will defense. Through interpretations of St. Augustine, J.L. Mackie, and David Hume's arguments in reference to the God and evil problem, the problems inherent in the argument will support the assertion that the Christian God cannot exist; the definition must be altered.
St. Augustine argues that the world is fundamentally good and believes in the concept of the Great Chain of Being. God is the ultimate and supreme good and each being, in a chain-like fashion, is a lesser degree of the perfect idea of good. Evil only comes into play when a member of God's world renounces his/her role in the proper scheme of things. Evil has no positive nature; but instead the loss of good is what constitutes evil. It is because of his definition of evil that Augustine buys into the free will defense.
Augustine attributes all evil, both moral and natural, to the free actions of human beings created by God with the capacity to do either good or evil. While God is the embodiment of goodness and cannot make the decision to be anything but good, other members in the Great Chain of Being do have the ability to willfully alter their predisposition...
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...l, and knowing, suffering should not exist in the world. The writings and interpretations of St. Augustine, J.L. Mackie, and David Hume have discredited the free will defense. This is much due to the notions that God could choose not to punish man for the sins of Adam and Eve and create them so that they always freely choose the good. The only true defense to theodicy is that a Christian God does not exist. If He were limited in His goodness, power, or knowledge, evil could find its way into the world. Altering the definition of God would only lead to greater understanding and therefore, stronger belief and greater reverence.
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