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The problem of evil

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Charlotte Gemmell

on 26 April 2013

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Transcript of The problem of evil

David Hume The atheist Hume argued that only 3 possibilities exist:
1.God is not omnibenevolent
2.God is not omnipotent
3. evil does not exist.
Since we have sufficient direct evidence of the existence of evil, if God does exist he is either malicious or impotent, this goes against the God of classical theism. Hume concluded that God does not exist. The problem of evil The monotheistic god of Christianity, judaism and islam assumes the divine qualities of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence. However the existence of evil provides a problem for many religious believers questioning, gods power, knowledge, and genuine love, and even leading them to question his existence.
'Either god is not able to abolish evil or not willing; if he is not able then he is not all powerful, if he is not willing then he is not all-good.'
The inconsistent triad
J.L Mackie devised his Inconsistent triad as a means to examine God and the existence of evil. It summarizes that if God is omnibenevolent but evil exists, he therefore cannot be omnipotent, if he is omnipotent but evil exists, then he cannot be omnibenevolent, and lastly if he is omnibenevolent and omnipotent then evil cannot exist, however it does, therefore a God having the two qualities is not possible. What is evil? John Hick defined evil as 'Physical pain, mental suffering and moral wickedness'. For Hick the consequence of evil is suffering.
Moral evil: The result of human immorality. e.g. murder, rape, genocide.
Natural evil: The apparent malfunctioning of the natural world, or evil beyond human control. e.g. Hurricanes, earthquakes, Disease. Augustinian theodicy Based on the narrative of Genesis 1-3, Augustine argued that God created the world and it was perfect, without the existence of evil.
Genesis 1:31:"God saw all that he made, and it was very
Augustine argued that evil is a privation of goodness, and seeing as evil is not an entity itself, God could not have created it.
The existence of evil comes from the free will given to angels and humans, who turned their backs on God and settled for a lesser form of goodness thus creating a privation of goodness. As a result the state of perfection was ruined by sin.
Natural evil: occurred due to the imbalance within nature created by sin and therefore is a punishment for sin.
Moral evil: created through human free will and disobedience.
Augustine argued that God reserves the right not to intervene since he is a just God, and humans are worthy of punishment. It is by his love and infinite power that we a able to accept his invitation of salvation and eternal life in heaven. Critisisms of the Augustinian thoedicy - One of the principle criticisms of the Augustinian theodicy is that proposed by F.D.E Schleiermacher. He argued that it was a logical contradiction to make the claim that a perfectly good world went wrong since this implies evil came from nothing ex nihilno, which is a logical contradiction. Either the world was not perfect to begin with or God made it go wrong, in this case it is God not humans who are to blame and the existence of evil is not justified.
- If the world was perfect and there was no evil, then how did the knowledge of evil come about? How did Adam and Eve have the freedom to disobey God if evil and goodness where yet unknown? The disobedience of Adam and Eve suggests prior knowledge, and therefore existence of evil, and therefore Augustine's interpretation of the tree of knowledge is questionable.
- Augustine's view is also inconsistent with the theory of evolution which asserts that the universe began in chaos and is continuously developing, rather than diminishing, which is what Augustine's theory argues.
- Augustine's view that everyone is seminally present in the loins of Adam is biologically inaccurate, and so questions whether God is justifiable in punishing one human being for the sins of another. Irenaean Theodicy Like Augustine, Irenaeus argued that evil is the consequence of human free-will and disobedience. However, believed that God has some responsibility for the existence of evil and suffering. Irenaeus argued that God made the world imperfectly, so that the immature imperfect beings could develop through a soul making process into 'children of God', in his perfect likeness. For Irenaeus, God could not create perfect human beings, because for attaining the perfect likeness of God requires the willing co-operation of humans. God therefore had to give humans free will in order for them to willingly co-operate. Since freedom requires the ability to choose Good over evil, God had to allow Evil and suffering to occur.
Natural evil: has the divine purpose of developing compassion through soul making.
Moral evil: derived from human Free-will and disobedience.
Irenaeus concluded that eventually Evil will be overcome and humans will develop into God's perfect likeness and enter into an eternal life with God in heaven. The problem of evil philosophy The purpose of evil 1. Evil is a test.
2. Evil is a punishment for thousands of years of sin.
3. Evil is inevitable, with the existence of freewill.
4. Evil allows love the be displayed. (Soul- making theodicy) Hick's reformation of the Irenaen Theodicy John Hick highlighted the importance of allowing humans to develop themselves. He reasoned that if God made us perfect then we would have the goodness of robots, which would love God automatically without further deliberation. God wants humans to be genuinely loving, and so gave them freewill.
If God interfered and became to close humans would be unable to make a free choice and therefore would not benefit from the developmental process. This is known as the counter factual process. Therefore God created humans at an epistemic distance from himself, a distance of knowledge.
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