One of the major philosophical debates concerning God's existence involves the problem of evil. The problem has two basic formulations, one is deductive, the other inductive. The deductive form of the problem asks the following: Is the existence of evil logically compatible with a necessarily benevolent and necessarily omnipotent being? One of the philosophers who discusses the problem is Richard Gale. I will begin this essay by outlining the deductive problem of evil according to Gale. I will then try to refute the deductive argument and prove that the existence of evil is indeed logically compatible with a benevolent and omnipotent being. A conclusion will then follow.
The deductive argument has been around since the time of Epicurus.1 In its simplest form, the problem is stated as follows:
1. God is omnipotent
2. God is wholly good
3. Evil exists
Proponents of the argument believe the set of propositions is logically inconsistent, i.e. that at least one proposition must be false. This basic formulation is problematic. It presupposes two important things: First, that God and evil are logically incompatible; and second, that God's omnipotence is unlimited. It is obvious, then, that some additional premises are needed if the argument is to succeed. W.L. Mackie was one of the first philosophers to provide these additional premises.2 He adds the following premises to the set:
4. A wholly good (omni-benevolent) being eliminates and prevents every evil he can.3
5. There are no limits to what an omnipotent being can do.
With the insertion of these revised principles, Mackie hopes to deduce a contradiction, namely that evil does not exist (from 1,...
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...Ibid. P. 103
8 Some philosophers have referred to this idea as the Condition of Reasonable Epistemic Access (COREA)
Christlieb, Terry. "Which Theisms Face an Evidential Problem of Evil?" Faith and Philosophy 9 (January 1992): 45-64.
Griffin, David. Evil Revisited: Responses and Reconsiderations. Albany: SUNY Press, 1991.
- - -. God, Power and Evil: A Process Theodicy. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976.
Plantinga, Alvin. "Epistemic Probability and Evil." Archivio di Filosophia 56 (1988).
- - -. "The Probabilistic Argument from Evil." Philosophical Studies 35 (January 1979): 1-53.
Reichenbach, Bruce. "Natural Evils and Natural Laws: A Theodicy for Natural Evils." International Philosophical Quarterly 16 (June, 1976): 179-88.
Rowe, William L. "Ruminations About Evil," Philosophical Perspectives 5 (1991).
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