The Judaeo/Christian tradition is founded upon the belief that there exists a supernatural personal being who is the ultimate creator and to which all other beings owe their existence. Three major characteristics are ascribed to this being (God?), that of being wholly good (omnibenevolent), wholly powerful (omnipotent) and all knowing (omniscient). This is the foundation of western religious thought and it is these characteristics and their relationship with evil which comprise the theme of this essay. I intend to show that the existence of evil is not a sufficient justification for the non-existence of God. I will argue that a wholly good, wholly powerful, God can co-exist with Evil. This does not mean that, as a consequence, I will argue that a wholly good, wholly powerful, God exists; I simply intend to argue that the presence of Evil itself is not a sufficient reason for denying the existence of a God.
Evil can conveniently be thought as being split into two general classifications:
1. Human evil, such as when a person or even a state treats someone badly.
2. Natural evil, for example volcanic eruptions, famine and floods.
Of course whilst convenient, the two broad categories of evil cannot be mutually exclusive incorporating as they do, what might be thought of as a 'crossover effect'. For instance, suppose a farmer's indolence contributes towards a local famine. If we know only of the famine we might perceive it as a natural disaster but, on the other hand, if we recognised the farmer's indolence, we could reasonably conclude that we are suffering from a human evil.
Many are inclined to remove humanity from the equation altogether, holding that Descartes was correct to imp...
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It is humanity's lot to be born, to live and finally to die, there is no avoiding that. But if we seek to leave a slightly happier world behind us, then it would be consistent to always seek to pursue the good, to care for nature and for all things natural and to try to help our fellow beings grow and develop. Of course, the worthy ideal of leaving a better place behind has to be tempered with a degree of realism. We have to accept that our individual efforts may hardly seem adequate. One man can only achieve so much and yet, if only for the sake of generations to come, mankind simply cannot refuse the struggle.
Hick, J. (2001) Dialogues in the Philosophy of Religion (Palgrave, p. 9.)
Hick, J. (1966) Evil and the God of Love, Macmillan.
Mackie, J. L. (1955) Evil and Omnipotence, Mind 64, pp200-212.
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