Everyday it is possible to read a newspaper, or turn on TV or radio news and learn about evil going on in our world. Banks are robbed, cars are stolen, violent murders and rapes are committed. Somewhere in the world the aftershock of an earthquake is being felt. Cancer is killing millions of people each year, while other debilitating conditions continue to affect many with no cure to end their suffering. President Bush said that our country is fighting a war against evil. We all agree that evil is real and cannot be ignored; the problem comes when we try and rationalize the concept of God and evil coexisting.
Two types of evil exist in our world today. Natural evil occurs when earthquakes, hurricanes, and storms occur causing devastation in the world. Moral evil occurs when a person makes a choice as to how he will act in a certain situation. Everyday moral decisions are made. People decide whether to steal, give in to anger and harm another, falsify information, and behave in a way unacceptable to society.
The problem of evil is this; If God is loving, then he would want to end evil; and if he is all-powerful he would be able to do just that. Since evil exists, how can God be both omnipotent and loving? The Christian Science answer to this question is that evil is an illusion of the human mind. The Judaic/Christian faiths do not hold to this theory. The Bible is full of descriptions of good and evil in human life. Evil is pictured as dark and ugly. The ultimate example of evil for the Christian is the crucifixion of Jesus, a violent rejection of God’s Messiah. St. Augustine’s view is that the universe is good, (a creation of a good God and meant for a good purpose). He does not hold to the belief that matter is evil. He believes that there are higher, and lower, greater, and lesser goods in abundance and variety. “Everything is good in its own way, except that it may have become spoiled or corrupted.” Whether the evil is an instance of pain, or some disorder in nature, it is the distortion of something intrinsically valuable. Since evil is negative, logic would reason that it was not willed or created by God. Why does an all-powerful God allow suffering and pain? What about moral evil? Why was a world created in which such things exist?
One defense for evil is the free-will defense. This says that peop...
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...il depends on his definition of God and the word good. Most people think good means the best possible outcome, the absence of pain or problem, pleasure and happiness. Loosing is not good to us, even if loosing might help to develop good sportsmanship or a good work ethic. We do not consider being in need good, though it may help us to appreciate the times when we had plenty. A debilitating disease or handicap is not good, though any life has positive moments, and joy can be found if it is looked for. Our negative responses to all these things helps to create their outcome. How sad it would be if God has simply created a world devoid of any problems with people who never need struggle with making the right decision. Whether it is called “soul making” or character development the world is enriched by qualities such as love, compassion, generosity, and mercy.
No definite answer can be reached as to why evil exists, but philosophy helps us to examine our own beliefs and consider why it is we think as we do.
Augustine, St. Augustine’s Confessions VII.
Hick, John. Philosophy of Religion 2nd Edition.
Mackie, J. L. “Evil and Omnipotence” Mind. April 1955.
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