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The Problem of Evil

Mackey on Evil

Miles DeCoster

on 4 November 2016

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Transcript of The Problem of Evil

Evil and Omnipotence
God is Omnipotent
The Existence of Evil
Supremely Good God
God is both Omni and Benevolent
Problem: Evil Exists
Possible Solutions
Mackie's Conclusion
This means that God is all powerful.
- An all powerful God can do anything, including making it the case that the world has no evil in it.
God is Benevolent
This means that God cares for his/her creations (us) and would make it the case that no evil existed in the world if he/she could.
Combine the 2 commonly accepted characteristics of God and it follows that there should be no evil in the world.
There is obviously evil in the world.
- Babies are abandoned, men and women are raped/assaulted/killed on a daily basis, human beings torture animals, etc.
1. Give up one of the beliefs about God or the belief that evil exists.

2. Claim that good cannot exist without evil.
-Evil is to good as hot is to cold.

3. Claim that the universe is better with some evil in it.
- Good is that much better with evil in the world, just like beauty is that much more beautiful because ugly things exist.

4. Claim that evil is the result of human freewill.
-In order for us to be free, we have to be able to err and do evil things.
Solutions 2-4 all have problems

-Therefore 1 is the best solution
Aside: What's the difference between evil and merely bad?
Claim that the universe is better with some evil in it.
Claim that evil is the result of human freewill.
- We should give up one of the following beliefs: that God is all powerful, that God is all good, or that evil exists.
Argument goes like this:

P1: There is 1st order evil (pain/misery) in the universe.*I wouldn't call this "evil"*
P2: There is also 1st order good (pleasure/happiness) in the universe.
P3: The conflict between 1st order evil and 1st order good creates 2nd order goods (benevolence, heroism, etc.)
P4: A universe with 2nd order goods is better than a universe without 2nd order goods.
C: The universe is better with evil in it.

So maybe God could make it the case that evil didn't exist, and yet good did exist, but that world would be kind of boring for us.
Argument goes something like this:

P1: 1st order evil is necessary for 2nd order goods like benevolence and heroism. (Which is why God allows 1st order evil to exist.)
P2: 2nd order evil is not necessary for 2nd order goods, but necessarily follows from the freewill of humans.
P3: Freewill is a 3rd order good that is better than 2nd order goods. (The universe is better with freewill.)
C: The universe is better with evil in it, but evil is not God's fault.
Claim that good cannot exist without evil.
-Evil is to good as hot is to cold.
Response: If God is all powerful why couldn't he/she/it just change it so that evil and good don't have to come as a pair?

Response: Evil is not required for good, just like hot is not required for cold. Hot and cold are just comparative words we use to describe kinetic energy
But wait.... don't we still need some kind of comparison to good in order for us to appreciate good?
1. Yes, but does the comparison need to be with evil?
But wait again... wouldn't removing the stuff we call really evil now, just bump up the less evil stuff to the status of really evil?
1. Probably, but the people in the possible world without our really evil stuff don't have the benefit of our perspective. We should ask ourselves: "Would my children be living in a better world if rape was off the table?"
Wait... what about 2nd order evil?
Response to response:
But what if evil doesn't really exist, just like hot and cold don't really exist?

What if evil is just the absence of good?
Evil doesn't exist on its own, just like empty space doesn't exist on its own.
What about neutral stuff?
Does being free require that I be able to do anything, and/or think anything?
Why didn't God just create us in such a way that we always had good free wills?
Wills such that we would never intentionally do harmful acts to others.
If we're really free, is God
all powerful?
Full transcript