The Problem of Evil


atheism1

I keep coming across posts about how “ridiculous” it is that atheists use the problem of evil to “disprove God.” The problem of evil is a very interesting argument. For one thing, it isn’t meant to disproves gods in the sense that many people think. Gods can still exist and this argument can still be, for the most part, right. Rather, it is meant to disprove a very specific kind of god: an all good, all powerful, and all knowing god. As such, it seems that a lot of Christians view this argument as the strongest one that atheists have, while atheists tend to view it as the weakest.

So lets look at the problem of evil:

Premise 1: If God exists, then God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect.
Premise 2: If God is omnipotent, then God has the power to eliminate all evil.
Premise 3: If God is omniscient, then God knows when evil exists.
Premise 4: If God is morally perfect, then God has the desire to eliminate all evil.
Premise 5: Evil exists.
Premise 6: If evil exists and God exists, then either God doesn’t have the power to eliminate all evil, or doesn’t know when evil exists, or doesn’t have the desire to eliminate all evil.
Conclusion: Therefore, God doesn’t exist.

The first Premise stated that if God exists, he must be all knowing, all powerful, and all good. There are gods who have been said to exist in the past who are none of these things, or who only have one or two of these properties. As such, this argument either states that these gods couldn’t possibly exist, or that these are not the gods being referenced for this argument. Given the time period in which this argument was created, it can be assumed that the author believed that only the Christian God could possibly exist, so was only concerned with showing why the Christian God could not exist. The Christian centrism of this argument is one reason why atheists tend to say it is a weak argument: it is perfectly possible to say “my god is not all knowing, all powerful, and all good, so your argument isn’t about my god.” However, it seems like most Christians do believe that their God does have those three qualities. Since Christians also tend to believe that only their God can exist, it makes sense why they would feel that this is either the strongest argument or the argument most worth responding to. Personally, I can see both sides of this coin. On one hand, I was swayed by the problem of evil. It wasn’t the only thing that swayed me, and I didn’t have the argument in the premise/conclusion form, but I was swayed by the problem of evil. On the other hand, it is too Christian centric to be very useful. There are better arguments to use.

The second premise simply states than an all powerful god can eliminate evil. I doubt anyone would be willing to argue against this, since it is definitionally true. And I’ve heard a number of Christians say that they do in fact believe that their God could eliminate evil if he so chose.

Premise three states that an all knowing God knows that evil exists. This is also definitionally true, so it is unlikely that anybody would argue against it. And, again, Christians seem to accept that God knows evil exists, they just believe that humans are at fault for it.

The fourth premise is interesting. The premise states that an all good god would desire to eliminate evil. Again, nobody seems to disagree with this. In fact, many Christians state that God is saddened by the evil in the world and wants it gone. It is that claim made by Christians that interests me. It sounds as though the Christian God is powerless against humanity. It sounds like the God they perceive is all god, but is not all powerful.

Premise five states that evil exists. I don’t know of any Christians who would disagree with this, though I do know of a few atheists who would. Personally, I think calling something evil is a cop-out. Yes, bad things happen. Yes, people do bad things. But I don’t see any reason to blame ill-defined evil on the bad things that happen, or to call bad things evil. However, since this argument is meant to convince Christians and not me, I think this premise is worth having, since it is accepted by those who are meant to accept the argument.

Premise six states that, if both God and evil exist, then there are three choices: either God cannot stop evil, he doesn’t know that evil exists, or he doesn’t care if evil exists. This tends to be the bit that most Christians dislike. And it is the focus on this premise that makes me disagree with the Christians who attempt to discredit this argument. If you accept every premise up until this point, then I cannot see how you can possibly disagree with this premise. For those of you who do agree with this argument up until this point, please explain this to me: how is it that an all knowing, all powerful god, who allows evil to exist, all good? How do you justify this?

The argument concludes that God doesn’t exist. Again, this is only true of a god that is all good, all knowing, and all powerful. A god that does not have all three of those properties could still exist if this argument is true. As such, this conclusion is problematic if you were to attempt to apply it to gods in general. It only works for the Christian (or rather, the Abrahamic) God, and only for those who believe the Christian God has all three properties.

Advertisements

118 responses to “The Problem of Evil

  • reason4thehope

    I have come at this problem from the angle of free will, which has a couple of relevant properties: it is indispensable to the existence of authentic love, and its very existence is compelling (note I don’t say conclusive) evidence that there is a God in the first place. I won’t attempt to reconstruct it all here, but I have a couple of major posts that cover this ground if you’re interested.

    http://wp.me/p2ix1i-4R

    http://wp.me/p2ix1i-9

    Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      Well I suppose my biggest question is what makes you think there in genuine free will. From what I read I’d imagine that you’d agree that authentic love needs free will, but while I’m not concerned with a definitive proof here, I do wonder what sorts of evidence persuade you to thinking we have freewill?

      Like

      • reason4thehope

        This question really reveals that you and I are both people of faith, just in different ways. I can’t prove that free will exists; you can’t prove that it doesn’t.

        Based on my experience of reality, I would find it a far, far greater leap of faith to believe that I DON’T have free will. I count my experience as evidence, but at bottom, my belief in free will rests on faith, because it overrides the logic I laid out in my posts.

        On the other hand, if you believe there is no free will, you must let abstract logic override your own experience of reality–asuming you don’t feel like an unseen hand is drawing you along through life.

        Either view is a form of faith. And maybe this all sounds like an elaborate non-answer, but it’s the best I’ve got.

        Like

  • Father Carrozza

    God is all goodness, all beauty, all truth, It is the absence of God that causes evil, so blaming God for evil is like blaming light for darkness or heat for cold. Heat eradicates cold just as God eradicates evil, but he has to be welcomed in.

    Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      Well hot and cold are relative as relative gets-20 if warmer then -40, so it wouldn’t be wrong to say that -20 is hot compared to -40.

      So I’m going to argue that your analogy doesn’t work ever well.

      But at always, you can claim your God is all goodness, you can claim God=Good, or you can claim God=Good+Other traits, but the question posed by Socatese to euphrado still stands. If it good because of the gods or are the gods good?

      Not to mention the further and more fundamental problem that making a claim like “God is good” is not something we have to or I would suggest ought to accept without evidence.

      But your entitled to your opinion.

      Like

  • DougFo

    I liken the problem of evil to the invention of electric light. It was discovered that the resistance in a wire when an electrical current is run through it produces a glow. I order for this not to be a fire hazard the idea of putting in a transparent glass container was quickly adopted. The problem was that when you did this, a wire would quickly oxidize and become broken. Countless hour were spent trying to get the right allow and thickness to circumvent this problem. Then Edison realized that if there was no oxygen in the glass container, that would vastly change the issue. A 40 hour bulb became a 1500 hour bulb.

    God is the oxygen in the glass container. Without it, the problem of evil really isn’t a problem at all.

    Like

  • Clubschadenfreude, Pt 1. Evidence for “baseless claims.” Wild Assumptions. | Christ is The Cure

    […] the original post the author (ClubS) begins with, “I received a very long comment on someone else’s blog and wanted to take the time, and space, to respond to a Christian who is […]

    Like

  • nuclearkumquat

    Hello! This is a nice summarization of the so-called “Problem of Evil”, a problem that is consistently brought up by opponents of Christianity, and one that continues to leave many members of the faith without a response. There is, however, a very sound rebuttal to this argument. Premises 1-5 are, of course, all biblically sound. We know that god is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, and all-good. These aren’t the only attributes of God, but they provide a relevant basis for this argument. The problem with “The Problem of Evil” argument is that it eroneously assumes that God’s will is monothetic, meaning that He has but one desire or one line of thought. We know from our own experience, however, that motive is often driven by polythetic will. If our own actions can find their basis in multiple wills, then why suppose that the Supreme Being does not act similarly? I’ll provide an example:
    Imagine that you are about to confront your life-long friend about an abusive drug problem. Before reaching his home to talk to him, you are alerted by another friend that many people have already approached this person in attempts to convince him to stop abusing drugs. You decide, in light of this information, that it is best not to talk to him about his problem. This action (not confronting him) is motivated by several factors (movements of will): You desire what is best for your friend, You want him to come to his own realization of what is best for himself, however, you do not believe that your talking to him will bring about either of these previous two things, and you also wish to still remain his friend as well as to be patient with him. The list could go on, but as you can see, there are many factors, or “wills” that go into making this one decision. God acts in a similar manner. The Lord certainly despises evil, and according to Christian doctrine He will in fact rid the world of it one day. God also wills, however, that we be of free will so that we can fully realize His grace. He understands that His intervening in some affairs will not produce a positive outcome (short of stripping humanity of their own will, which to God is undesirable). In other words, God wills us not to be evil, but His will for our will to be unrestrained so that we may freely choose Him is equally important. So God allows us to choose our own course of action, and sometimes we don’t choose the best one. This pushes the responsibility of evil not to God, but to us.
    So “The Problem of Evil” argument isn’t really all that strong (in my opinion, take it or leave it). The blame for evil rests on mankind, not God. Though some Christians (such as Calvinists) may believe that God micromanages each action in the cosmos, many Christians hold a belief in free will, which this argument does not take into account. I hope this is a sufficient response, and though it may not convince you to turn to Christianity, I hope that it at least provides you insight into Christian theological views on the Problem of Evil.
    Now, I’d like to propose a counter-question, if you will be so kind as to respond. Many atheists propose the Problem of Evil to Christians, but what about the Problem of Good? Deep down, humanity is a rather selfish and violent species. Psychology shows that people tend to do what is within their best interest, biology shows that we are built to ensure our own survival. You may argue that it is within our best interests to stick to the group (evolutionary “strength in numbers” if you will) but what about the times when it’s not so beneficial to do so? Humanity is strange in that we can be both very cruel, but also very kind, and for no good reason at all. So if our psyche, and indeed our very genetic makeup, insists that we be selfish and self-serving creatures, then why is there so much good in the world? Where does good come from, the kind that often inconveniences the individual performing the act, and going against his/her very own nature?

    Liked by 1 person

  • mitchteemley

    Thanks for the thoughtful post! A few considerations from the other side: The reason evil exists, according to biblical theology, is free will. Beings with free will cannot be programmed to be good; they must be free to choose it–or not. (God’s omnipotence is “limited” by the fact that He “cannot” do that which is irrational or self-contradictory, so among other things, he cannot create free will that is not free will). Nevertheless, in order to fill the cosmos with something far greater than the mere absence of evil, God chose to create beings with free will. This is a temporary state, however. In ways we can only imagine (in our finite understanding), Scriptures speak of a time when God will not only take away the pain of the evil that has occurred (Matthew 24:8), but apparently even the fact that it occurred (Revelation 21:4).

    Liked by 1 person

  • clubschadenfreude

    EC, there is no reason to consider a possibility that has no evidence for it. I could consider it possible that there are fairies in my garden but since there is no evidence and the possibility is near zero, I have no logical reason to consider the possibility true and act on it.

    So, am I “closed minded” if I don’t believe in fairies? If so, what do you to to make sure that fairies in your garden (or your domicile) are happy?

    Like

    • equippedcat

      Really? Are you trying to be obtuse? To consider a possibility is a completely different status as believing it. To reject a possibility out of hand is closed minded. To think that the only options are to reject completely or accept completely is rather limiting, wouldn’t you say?

      I consider all the (reasonable) things YOU say to be a possibility, but I don’t believe them.

      Like

      • hessianwithteeth

        Well I don’t think clubschadenfreude is for one moment saying that it an either or situation. Rather that to loosely quote hitches. Claims made with out evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.

        Sure you can consider a claim in a sort of hypothestical, but an assertion with out evidence is a blaseless claim, and while some times they can be fun to poke at, but really there is not harm in dismissing them with out evidence.

        It’s not my job to refute or support every claim made without evidence. A claim with out any supporting evidence is little more then sounds.

        Why is it my job to consider every single claim no matter how outlandish, no matter how it might not even be possible to get evidence for it?

        Like

        • equippedcat

          If you come across a claim or even assertion which you think unlikely and uninteresting, by all means dismiss it. If however, it interests you, or you want to discuss it with the source, then to reject it completely only because there appears to be no evidence in support would seem to limit you with respect to that subject.

          Like

      • clubschadenfreude

        Do you believe that there are fairies in your garden, EC? Why or why not?

        Like

        • equippedcat

          No, I do not believe there are fairies in my back yard. If there are fairies, they probably don’t hang out in the desert. And I don’t believe there are fairies in more hospitable climes either. Because I have not had any experience or even indication which would support that belief, nor has anyone I know well enough to trust their experience.

          But if you think there might be fairies in my back yard (or anywhere), I’ll at least consider the possibility.

          Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            What would it take for you to agree, not simply consider, that there is indeed a possibility that there are fairies in your garden?

            Like

          • equippedcat

            ?? I’ve already agreed that there is a possibility that there are fairies in my back yard (not a lot of gardens here in the desert), Did you mean to say what would it take for me to BELIEVE there are fairies in my back yard?

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            No, to agree to the possibility. To consider a possibility is not agreeing that the claim of possibility is valid.

            You seem very concerned about the idea of a garden. We could change it to kachinas in the desert.

            Like

          • equippedcat

            A “claim of possibility” is often valid; the exception would be if something was truly impossible, and not that many things are. Accepting a claim of possibility is not incompatible with believing the inverse. It can make for less confrontational discussions, and gives an opportunity to evaluate other ways of thinking which might actually be of benefit.

            What I’m interested in is accuracy. I don’t have a garden and neither do many people around here. The environment is antagonistic to gardens. Since I don’t have a garden, I corrected the claim to one which had some degree of possibility.

            A kachina is a Native American doll representing a spirit. I reject the possibility that there are fairies in my kachinas.

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            so do you believe that is it possible for tiny supernatural creatures living at the bottom of my garden or kachinas in your desert. Is this possible or truly impossible? How do you act? Do you be careful where you walk and what you do so you do not possibly offend the supernatural beings?

            I do not see how I can say “no fairies exist” and simultaenously say “its possible fairies exist”. One of the statements is false. It would be indeed less confrontatoinal if one lies and says one agrees with one’s opponent. I have a question: Would you want me to lie to you?

            A kachina isn’t a doll, it’s a spirit. A kachina doll is a kachina doll. A quick google would tell you that. And I said kachinas in the desert.

            Like

          • equippedcat

            If fairies or kachinas exist and choose, or are forced, to hide their existence, then I really hope they can avoid my big feet or are immune to them. Since as far as I can tell they probably don’t exist, it would be pretty silly to inconvenience myself trying to figure out what I should do to avoid insulting them.

            Do they exist? It is highly unlikely, but it is not truly impossible, particularly if they are supernatural, which we are unable to perceive by the very definition of supernatural.

            You are right, “no fairies exist” and “it is possible fairies exist” are incompatible views, and one is necessarily incorrect. However, “i believe no fairies exist” and “it is possible fairies exist” are NOT incompatible, and it is possible both are correct..

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            That’s quite the hair splitting, not that is necessarily a bad thing. Supernatural things are always claimed to effect the real world. The problem is that there is never any evidence of such things.

            Like

  • Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – a small interlude | Club Schadenfreude

    […] my subscribers.  I received a very long comment on someone else’s blog and wanted to take the time, and space, to respond to a Christian who […]

    Like

  • Allallt

    I’m not religious. Just thought I’d point that out before offering ways around the Problem of Suffering.
    I call it the problem of suffering to stop religious people ignoring the question and asking me how I can claim the existence of evil. Small point, but still a habit I’ve found worth employing.
    And from there, I put it to you that on the religious perspective, there is no such thing as evil (negating premise 5).
    The first problem is ‘free will’ (I don’t believe in it, but the religious tend to). Human-caused suffering/evil is necessary because our autonomy is more important than our wellbeing. If you accept that premise, suddenly human caused suffering is not an evil because the expression of freewill is more important than wellbeing.
    I have problems with that, firstly that we don’t get to express our freewill freely. A victim has their freewill abrogated by the person who causes the suffering by fully expressing their freewill. If freewill was really important there would be an economic or democratic expression of freewill. Instead, freewill is expressed in relation to force. That is more like nature’s ‘red in tooth and claw’ than God’s love and desire for us to express our freewill.
    The second way to do away with the concept of evil, from a religious perspective, is to claim that all things that happen which cause natural suffering (drought, famine, earthquakes, disease etc) are a necessary investment is greater happiness at a later date (either in Heaven or later in life).
    The problem with this, ironically, becomes the Problem of Comfort! If suffering is an investment, one that will be reimbursed 100 times over in Heaven, my life of relative comfort turns out to be God not investing in my long-term happiness at all. Why do Africans get to starve and have that repaid 100 fold, when I get comfort; nothing to repay in Heaven? Why am I less tested?
    The other problem with natural suffering is that it makes God limited in power. If the only way God can achieve the good is through the bad, then It is limited in power. It should be able to achieve the good only through the good.

    Hope you find this interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • hessianwithteeth

      That is well put. Hessian and I were having much the same discussion as this, but you make some excellent points I hadn’t though of. This along with some of culbschadenfreude’s points make for a rather compelling argument against several formulations of gods. Something the problem of evil was always ill suited towards.

      Like

    • equippedcat

      You don’t believe you have “free will”? What is it which constrains your will?

      Like

      • Allallt

        It’s more of a case of where the degrees of freedom come from. Why isn’t it just physics?

        Like

        • equippedcat

          Physics prevents you from doing some things, like walking through a solid wall. However, physics does not prevent you from many choices in your life. Physics does not prevent you from jumping out of a 20th story window, although physics can ensure you will regret it. And many things, physics has no impact on at all.

          If “A” is possible, what forces you to chose A or Not A? If both “A” and “B” are possible, what forces you to choose A instead of B? What if “B” is illegal? That might discourage you from doing it, but it does not “prevent” you from doing it, although the legal system may cause you to regret it.

          I say that you do have free will. The only way you could not have free will is if God exists AND He takes it away from you. Which it is claimed He does not do.

          Like

  • Seth Scott

    Well put, I think this is one of the clearest renderings of the problem of evil I’ve seen. It’s interesting how you say Christians tend to see this as the best argument, and atheists one of the weakest — I had never thought of it in that light before. As we Christians, however, do have a very specific idea of who God really is, I suppose it makes sense that an argument tailored to the Christian God would seem more insurmountable.

    And, as arguments go against the existence of the Christian God, I agree with others that the problem of evil is the hardest to reconcile with thoughtful Christian faith. As for the argument itself, I agree with you that it is inescapably valid, given the premises. However, I find it unsound — Premise 4 is where the fatal flaw is, I think. Premise 5 is also questionable, depending on your definition of “evil”. But I’ll start with the first:

    I’m surprised if I’m the first one in your experience to disagree with Premise 4. Sure, it sounds reasonable, but I think it relies on a utilitarian theory of morality — i.e., that the chief end of morality is to minimize pain (evil) and maximize pleasure (good). I think this is a good “working definition” for morality from a naturalistic point of view — however, if the Christian God exists, I don’t think He is a utilitarian.

    One must understand the metaphysical implications of Christianity: To the naturalist, everything significant occurs in the here and now, in our physical, temporal existence; to the Christian, however, our whole existence on earth is merely an appetizer to an eternal main course. Just as a mother undergoing labor — some of the worst pain possible to the human body, I understand — can count it all worth it when she holds her newborn child, so do we believe the potential quality of our eternal existence can overshadow even the worst imaginable earthly suffering. If this is a true and accurate paradigm through which to view earthly suffering, the worst evil imaginable would not be the presence of earthly suffering, but anything that would cause eternal suffering. From such a vantage point, if earthy suffering could be used to prevent eternal suffering, than allowing such earthly evil would actually be the most moral thing one could do, right?

    As for Premise 5… I happen to disbelieve in evil, at least as a “thing”. I think a more accurate way of viewing it (from the paradigm of my Christianity, of course) is to view it as a nothing, a lack — the shadow to God’s light. Where there is no God, where there is rebellion against Him, things depreciate into a lack of good — it’s not that things are “more evil”, it’s that they are “less good”. Thus, evil would be an absence of good — it’s not a “thing” or a “substance” in and of itself.

    Now, none of this can act as a valid argument to support my worldview — I’m just thinking, so long as we’re taking the existence of the Christian God as a premise, we should take into account all the implications of that existence when formulating our premises and conclusions.

    Thanks for posting!

    Liked by 2 people

  • paidiske

    Process theology is the theological position that God is changing, as creation is changing. That the relationship between creator and creation is so intimate that God is not unmoved by it. It’s a 20th century development in theological thought, closely related to similar movements in philosophy.

    Like

  • abpenland

    Excellent post, but you left out the best response I’ve heard to this argument: that we can’t assume to know what god deems perfectly moral. A Christian friend of mine explained that for all we know, “evil” is a tool used to better mankind, not just a presence in the world that he does nothing about.

    I honestly couldn’t come up with a response to that, although I’d love to hear one. I feel like “we don’t know the whole story” is a bit of a cop-out, but I don’t know how to respond to that in a way that would make sense to a Christian.

    Like

  • steveesq

    As a former atheist, I know where you’re coming from, and I wrestled with this also. It’s good that you’re seeking the Truth. When you are ready, God will reveal Himself to you. Faith is a gift that you must be open to receive. God will not force you to believe in Him, but you will one day when He decides you are ready. You can ask for it and He may give it to you.

    As for why there is evil, and whether that proves God is real or not, and your premises is really an exercise in false logic. Your assumptions are skewed. As a few have mentioned, you first need to define what is good and what is evil. And how do you know what is good and what is evil? If it’s based upon what you decide, then you have disproven your point that there is no god, because you are your own god and you could declare that everything is good, everything is evil, or some things good and somethings evil. But, you’re not the Creator but only a small god. And that is called pride, the first sin from which all others sins derive, and that is the promise made by the devil to induce Eve and Adam to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, that they could be as gods, knowing the difference.

    God has given us ten commandments by which we are to live within those bounds and he has given us the freedom to choose to obey or not. Evil comes from the violation of those commandments, which is sin. God can do anything, including to take away our freedom to sin, and there would be no evil. But he didn’t create puppets on strings, he created men and women to live within the freedom of the bounds set by the rules of the commandments. And, if one is going to knock the commandments, first consider anything you do in life, which is governed by a set of rules. Who’d want to play baseball or any game without rules? What would be the point and the result? We can do anything within the bounds of the rules and that is where the adventure lies, and where we can attain the best we can be. Remember that freedom is not license, but the ability to do what we ought to do.

    I’ve seen comments here about electrochemical processes, etc, which proves nothing. There is something called the uncaused cause. Nothing can come from nothing. There must be a first cause of everything else. That first cause is God.
    Take a look at a flower, or your hand, and study its intricate perfection. Did that come from pure accident, out of nothing? Think of a watch. Think of all the many small pieces involved in making that instrument. First, those pieces do not come from nothing; someone has designed and created them. Second, if you took all those pieces and placed them in a bag and shook then up, would they assemble themselves into a working timepiece? Of course not. Their creator then put them together to make a functioning instrument. You are the same, as is everything else.

    Finally, Jesus is real. He lived, taught, died, and rose from the dead. He founded the Church and that Church is still here 2000 years later, during the same time span in which whole nations, empires, philosophies, and other religions have come, thrived and wholly disappeared from the earth. The Church is the only institution that has not, despite the repeated attempts during that whole span of time to destroy Her. These are facts, and not just words.

    Finally, finally, remember that God’s ways are not our ways. He is the Creator and we are His creatures. He allows us to choose between good and evil, to sin or not, and permits evil and the suffering so that a greater good may come from it. When Jesus was crucified it was the greatest evil, deicide, and people thought all was lost. Then He rose from the dead, revealing the greatest good, that Heaven is open to those who are faithful, and through Him we can obtain our own salvation through the love and mercy of God. And if someone is going to challenge whether he was existed or not, then they must also explain how we know Napolean, Julius Caesar, George Washington, or their great, great grandparents existed.

    These are large questions and cannot be answered all cut and dry in a few moments, but perhaps over a lifetime. But if you ask, if you seek, if you knock, these things will be revealed to you. Don’t forget, these are called mysteries, and there’s a reason that word is used. God is real, even if you refuse to accept that fact. I can insist I am a fire engine, and you may all go along with me, and tell me and everyone else that I am indeed a fire engine, but that does not make me a fire engine. I am but a man, no matter what I believe. This is called objective truth. And objective truths can be known. Like God.

    Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      I’d appreciate your initial statement, your correct we have not been defining evil. Though had you been carefully reading the post you would have noticed that we are not actually supporting the problem of evil, or insisting that it’s true we are just talking about it. Had you done a more careful reading you would have realized that we had admitted ti evil being “ill-defined” and that the primary goal of this post was to have a discussion about the argument itself.

      Then you go down the holy rolling, you know god, preaching rather then arguing path. God exists and one day you’ll figure it out! I’ll just keep making bald face assertions until you do!

      Buddy. I don’t really care what you think. I care why you think it and how you came to the conclusions you did. While you do have a good point with defining evil, your can’t just insist god exists to an atheist and then tell me how thing are a certain way with out offering any evidence to support any of your claims. Some of which goes flatly against what I know. Such that Jesus was a true historical figure. It remains unclear weather or not a real Jesus existed and if he did. It remain unclear to what extent the new testament correctly tells his story and ideas.

      While I’m not a biblical scholar, almost every biblical scholar and historian I have talked too (some of which have been Christan) have not had any of the undoubting certainty you have. Which makes me think you don’t actually have any education or training in the relevant fields which doesn’t come from obviously biased sources.

      Sure there are arguments for the historical Jesus, but those arguments are not definitive. You can say he exists all you like, just like you’ve been saying god is real, but that doesn’t make it true.

      You also seem to heavily imply, if not outright say, that I know your god exists. The complete and udder arrogance that you think you know my mind better then I do is shocking and insulting.

      Tone it down, or take your unfounded certainty elsewhere. I am under no obligation to give you a podium to preach from. Worse your lack of argument is both unhelpful and uninteresting.

      Liked by 1 person

    • equippedcat

      Actually, God gave the Israelites 613 commandments and then 10. He gave us 2…

      Like

  • landzek

    I am skeptical about the possibility of polemical terms expressing the truth of All. I like a more teleological approach: evil is good. The devil is in cahoots with God. But evil is good in a way that justifies goodness in that one cannot exist without the other; that is, unless there is a heaven, but then we just started at the beginning of the proposal.

    Like

  • D.T. Nova

    Personally, I prefer the version of this argument that mentions “suffering” instead of “evil”. That way it should be indisputably clear that the already-dubious “free will” excuse doesn’t resolve the contradiction.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Problems With Evil | Amusing Nonsense

    […] and Withteeth wrote this post about a canned argument called “The Problem of Evil.” It’s a line of reasoning […]

    Like

  • The Brain in the Jar

    It’s a brillaint post, really. I frequently see people who can’t even bother defining God before saying whether it exists or not, and they tend to assume their definitions is the only one. I don’t have anything to add, but you deserve some praise.

    Liked by 1 person

  • giinganut

    You should look into God’s Love. Because it proves all three of those traits.

    Like

    • clubschadenfreude

      The Christian god is claimed to be “loving”, however it fails to even fulfil the definition of love given in the bible in 1 Corinthians. I will ask, how is it love to allow people to be harmed for no point?

      Like

      • giinganut

        Love allows us to freely choose. God loves us so much that he gives us choice. He can’t force us to love him back or else it is not love. So he gives us a choice to choose Him (good, righteous, pure desires) or to choose evil ( bad, impure desires). We naturally cling to sin because we are sinners even before we are born because adam and eve DECIDED (chose) to eat from the tree. Hence, we as humans choose to do the evil because it is easier to do and much harder to resist and do good.

        So his love allows us to choose and then we choose evil. We do the evil, God does not. God does not stop all evil because then he would be forcing us to “love” him back

        Liked by 2 people

        • clubschadenfreude

          There is llittle evidence that indicates your god wants free choice or love. It wants obedience. It also fails the defintion of love in 1 Corinthians, since this god is jealous, keeps accounts of all supposed wrongs, is impatient, is boastful, is proud, is easily angered, intentionally deceives, and does evil. You may wish to read your bible. I have, as a Christian and as not, and I am very familiar with it.

          In the bible, we have repeated instances where this god has abrogated free will. It mind controlled the pharoah, and the egyptian people, and then murdered people for doing exactly as it made them do. This god removed free will when it supposedly made everyone talk differently in the tower of Bable story. Every supposed miracle removed free will from someone when their actions were made null and void. Your god removed any free will from Job’s family when it intentionally allowed them to be murdered for a wager. Your god and its son/self, JC say that parables are used to prevents some people from ever beleiving, and Paul in Romans states that there are some people who will never be able to accept this god because this is how this god supposedly made them.

          As for Adam and Eve, this god either intentionally allows its supposed archenemy into the garden and knew exactly what would happen, or was too stupid to know that the “snake” was in the garden and was unable to stop anything. We have two human beings who were absolutely ignorant, to the point of supposedly not knowing the difference between good or bad, and therefore would have no idea it was “bad” to disobey this god and were told that everything in the garden was from this god and was good, which would include the “snake”. Now, why should Eve disbelieved a magical powerful being that she had no idea what it was?

          You have made up nonsense to make you feel better about your bible. And I find it much easier to do good rather than evil. So your baseless claim is again shown to be nonsense.

          Oh and your bible says that God is responsible for evil (Isaiah 45) and intentionally will send evil spirits to deceieve people (2 Thessalonians 2, 1 Kings 22(same story in 2 Chronicles 18). So again, this god does not allow free will but constantly interferes. Or shall we not believe your bible and what it says?

          Liked by 1 person

      • equippedcat

        Just because you don’t see a point does not mean there is “no point”.

        Like

        • clubschadenfreude

          Well, EC, you are more than welcome to tell me the point of allowing people to be harmed if you supposedly love them. You seem to think you know this point, so: How is it love to allow people to be harmed, EC?

          And, this isn’t about allowing your child to experience a needle jab to make sure he/she is immune to a nasty disease, this how is it love to allow cancer to kill people? how is it love to allow someone to starve to death? What is the point of allowing people to starve to death or to die in agony from cancer?

          I will guess you will try to claim that your god has some “mysterious” plan that will excuse it all. I’m an intelligent, empathetic humane human being and if I were omnipotent, I certainly would be able to get by without having to hurt people.

          I have seen other excuses by Christians which are just as ridiculous as the “mysterious plan” nonsense: that this god needs people to suffer and die to “teach” the rest of us something; that people deserve to be punished by this god; that it’s the fault of the human and on and on. None of it can be shown to be true, and the excuses offered are sycophantic.

          Like

          • equippedcat

            I’m sorry, I did not mean to imply that I was God. Just like you, I don’t know why these things happen, and I don’t like them happening. Unlike you, I can see the possibility that God knows why they happen, and sees a greater good from them than we can see from our perspective. You only judge things on how they affect you, and perhaps your family and possibly your friends. Things can also affect someone on the other side of the earth, or 14 generations in the future. Do you ever consider that?

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            You have claimed that you know that there could be a reason. I am asking you for that possible reason that you insist might be out there. You insist that I may be wrong but cannot show that this is the case. All you offer is a “maybe” to excuse your god’s impotence or intentional causing of harm.

            Again, what “greater good” can come from someone dying in agony from cancer, EC? Your bible says I know good and evil as well as your god. Do you believe that? And if so, that would mean that I can question your god with no problems, and know that it’s actions are not good at all.

            You hope I judge thing only on how they affect me, family and friends. That is not the case, and you are wrong again. I know that there could be possible benefits of certain actions now to future generations. However, again, what benefit does someone dying in agony from cancer help someone 14 generations hence?

            I have consider this quite a lot, it’s quite similar to the time traveler paradox and killing Hitler. I have also considered that you are making up excuses for your god by trying to claim that it has some “plan”, which we see no evidence of in the past, present or future.

            You accuse me of not seeing some possibility that your god knows why it needs harm and misery and will make a greater good. You appear to not consider the possibility of: your god is not the good deity you want to pretend it is, or that your god simply doesn’t exist and harm happens to people without its command, but according to human mistakes and simple bad luck.

            I see no greater good in harming someone. I certainly see no greater good in harming someone if your god is supposedly omnipotent, which means it can do anything and doesn’t need anything to make its efforts easier. If this god was omnipotent and omnibenevolent, it shouldn’t need to harm to cause whatever it wants caused.

            Like

          • equippedcat

            Yes, I know for an absolute fact that there MIGHT be a reason. I also know for an absolute fact that there might NOT be a reason. I prefer that there is a reason, but my preference has absolutely no impact on whether there is a reason or not. Neither does your claim that there is no reason.

            And no, if there is a reason, I have no idea what that reason is, And if there is no reason, then I would admit that God is not omni-something.
            .
            I don’t claim that you are wrong. I claim that you MIGHT be wrong. I am aware that you MIGHT be right. You refuse to even consider the possibility that I am right.

            I don’t claim that God exists as described. I claim that God MIGHT exist as I see Him described. But I am aware of the possibility that He exists, but not as described, Or even does not exist at all. You refuse to even consider the possibility of His existence.

            There is nothing wrong with being certain about your position. Probably endears you to those who agree with you. There is nothing wrong with realizing that anything which cannot be proven may not be so. Probably causes disquiet to those who agree with me. We are who we are, no?

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            I know that you are not right because there is no evidence for your god at all, EC. I also know that by definition, omnipotence means all-powerful and that means there would be no *need* for your god to harm anyone.

            If you do not claim that your god exists as described, that seems to indicate you find your bible false. Do you?

            It does seem that you do find it wrong for me to be certain since you want to say that it “endears” me to someone, which seems to be implying that I am only certain because it supposedly gets me something.

            Like

          • equippedcat

            If you were not certain about things which cannot be known for certain, it might not be a waste of time discussing them with you.

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            It seems that your argument has become that we cannot be certain of anything. Am I correct in how I read your post?

            Also, to ask you again “If you do not claim that your god exists as described, that seems to indicate you find your bible false. Do you?”

            Like

          • equippedcat

            Not particularly. More like “closed mind gathers no wisdom”. 🙂

            I do not claim that “my God is not as described”. I believe my God is as described, but because I can’t show it to be so with any degree of certainty, I don’t claim it. I believe the Bible is at least based on that which is so, but again, I can’t show that, so I don’t claim that either. I try not to claim anything which cannot be shown to be so.

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            So, if I don’t agree with you, i’m closed minded. How nice to know.

            Like

          • equippedcat

            No, if you refuse to even consider the possibility that there might be some minute chance your unproven belief might be incorrect, you are closed minded. I’d say the same thing about some religious folk, even if they agree with me.

            Like

      • logicinlife

        clubschadenfreude, I will be quoting sections of your post (in order) and addressing your points underneath each quotation.

        “There is llittle evidence that indicates your god wants free choice or love.”

        You say this, but you choose to remain in disbelief, you want nothing to do with God and thus your eternal soul will get your desire, that is; separation from God.

        Being totally deprived, human nature and the atonement of Christ on the cross continues to display love as the evidence is in the fact that here we are talking on this topic still while the same arguments are being raised again.

        “It wants obedience. It also fails the defintion of love in 1 Corinthians, since this god is jealous, keeps accounts of all supposed wrongs, is impatient, is boastful, is proud, is easily angered, intentionally deceives, and does evil.”

        If you are going to reference a section of the bible, at least include a specific verse… which I believe you’re looking for 13:4. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”
        God is jealous because we were created for unity with Him and continue to ignore Him. Are you a parent? Would you not be jealous if your child chose to love someone else as if that person was their parent?
        “God is jealous when someone gives to another something that rightly belongs to Him.” (For more on God’s Jealousy: http://www.gotquestions.org/jealous-god.html)

        You say, “keeps accounts of all supposed wrongs”, scripture contradicts this statement as well, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25) Hebrews 8:12, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

        God is impatient yet he continued to stick with Israelites despite how many times they found idols. I recommend, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=12&article=1395

        God is boastful, proud, easily angered, intentionally deceives and does evil? Firstly, please show me where God intuitionally deceives, and please provide evidence that you are aware of God’s hidden agenda by knowing His intentions. Secondly, God is easily angered? Yet despite all of our failures He is still reaching out to save those whom He loves, His creation.

        Lastly, God does evil? How can you even DEFINE evil? What is the source of Evil? How do you differentiate good and evil? Your authority to claim the Law Giver commits evil is quite silly. In the naturalistic realm, yes the law givers commit evil, but Evil is entirely separate from God. “For he has said, ‘It profits a man nothing When he is pleased with God.’ “Therefore, listen to me, you men of understanding. Far be it from God to do wickedness, And from the Almighty to do wrong.” (Job 34:10)

        “You may wish to read your bible. I have, as a Christian and as not, and I am very familiar with it.”

        Reading is not the same as understanding, which is evident from your comprehension of basic theology. I notice that there is a lot of subjective nature in your analysis thus far, which makes me question how capable you were while “objectively” looking at the bible. I read my bible and I have as an Atheist (anti-theist – as well) and as a Christian. And while I was an Atheist I believed that I was very familiar with it as well, but in truth the folly is undeniable. “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.”(Ephesians 4:8)

        Regarding your claim that “as a Christian”, you have merely displayed that you know little regarding the bible, “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” (1 John 2:19) I recommend; http://www.gotquestions.org/ex-Christian.html and while you thought you were Christian you most likely were not and while there are many who think they are Christian, they are not. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)

        “In the bible, we have repeated instances where this god has abrogated free will. It mind controlled the pharoah, and the egyptian people, and then murdered people for doing exactly as it made them do.”

        This is just silly. Scripture tells us that the Pharaoh had his heart hardened much as you have, and so the question is ultimately, what causes and fixes such? ” Pharaoh was a sinner who deserved the righteous judgment of God. Some say that God simply strengthened Pharaoh’s heart towards its natural tendency. Others maintain that God actively hardened his the heart. Whichever the case, Pharaoh rejected the true and living God and God used him for His own purpose.” For this question I will simply recommend more links for I fear that my words will be read with glazed over eyes. http://www.gotquestions.org/hardened-heart.html and https://carm.org/bible-difficulties/romans-philemon/god-hardened-pharaohs-heart-right

        Simply because God doesn’t act upon your will, doesn’t mean that you can speak as if you are in the authority to correct the creator. Whenever I create something like a piece of music, I can do with it what I please, and none can object because I am the creator.

        “This god removed free will when it supposedly made everyone talk differently in the tower of Bable story. Every supposed miracle removed free will from someone when their actions were made null and void. Your god removed any free will from Job’s family when it intentionally allowed them to be murdered for a wager.”

        I am afraid you are confusing “free will” with “we are our own gods.” Free will is the ability to make choices freely. As will is “the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action:” The people in babel chose to freely to built the tower, God simply acted upon their actions. It is the same as a judge sentencing a murderer for his choice to murder. There are actions AND consequences.

        “Your god and its son/self, JC say that parables are used to prevents some people from ever beleiving, and Paul in Romans states that there are some people who will never be able to accept this god because this is how this god supposedly made them.”

        Please cite these verses and I will correct your misconceptions. Context and more context, which seems to be neglected by most; including liberal christians. (not the political liberal, but liberal in it’s definition.)

        “As for Adam and Eve, this god either intentionally allows its supposed archenemy into the garden and knew exactly what would happen, or was too stupid to know that the “snake” was in the garden and was unable to stop anything.”

        So you complain that we have no Free Will, but you complain when we are given a choice? If you put the garden into a locked box where “somehow the evil one got in” than you can draw such conclusions. But it is not closed until the fall. Maybe you misunderstood what a “garden” is, but it is surely not a box. It would be understood as another dimensional plane that resides on earth, but was unable to be perceived by the continued fallen state of man. There is a lot research that can be done on this topic and most atheists or anti-theists are unwilling to even travel to this topic because it is meaningless. I recommend you conduct some research and you will enter into a world of eastern thoughts regarding the serpent vs. literal interpretation of such, folklore and so on. It is not a topic that I wish to dwell in for it will not be profitable for either of us.

        “We have two human beings who were absolutely ignorant, to the point of supposedly not knowing the difference between good or bad”

        God is Good, and therefore, since they dwelled only with God, they knew not what evil was. It’s a very easy concept. Sin and Evil boiled down are separation from God. God cannot sin, because to sin would mean that he is separating himself from his-self.

        “and therefore would have no idea it was “bad” to disobey this god.”

        As the creator, you would know and as such God warns them that sin lead to death, both spiritual and physical. Your speculation is concluded through your subjective view that “we don’t know if THIS God is good”, but we are discussing the FIRST people created WITH the creator. Absolutely silly.

        “You have made up nonsense to make you feel better about your bible.”

        You have misunderstood the bible to feel better about your disbelief.

        “And I find it much easier to do good rather than evil.”

        Without God you can’t define good or evil.

        “So your baseless claim is again shown to be nonsense.”

        Lord, help this one.

        “Oh and your bible says that God is responsible for evil (Isaiah 45)”

        “Notice that the context of the verse is dealing with who God is, that it is God who speaks of natural phenomena (sun, light, dark), and it is God who is able to cause “well-being” as well as “calamity.” Contextually, this verse is dealing with natural disasters and human comfort issues. It is not speaking of moral evil; rather, it is dealing with calamity, distress, etc. This is consistent with other scriptures.” https://carm.org/does-god-create-evil

        “and intentionally will send evil spirits to deceieve people (2 Thessalonians 2, 1 Kings 22(same story in 2 Chronicles 18).”

        Sigh, http://www.gotquestions.org/lying-spirit.html.

        https://carm.org/god-send-deceiving-spirit-1kings-22-22

        “So again, this god does not allow free will but constantly interferes. Or shall we not believe your bible and what it says?”

        Your entire post is merely a lack of understanding. In your attempts to “find truth” you have only shown that you did not spend enough time to finding answers, which in some cases have boiled down to you considering context which is quite elementary.

        I hope to bring little offense, but I also hope that you go back and re-evaluate the lies and deceit you have received. I hope that one day you will TRUELY enter the Kingdom. While you believed yourself to be a christian before, I pray that you would stop that claim, for it simply is not true. If you would like to talk further, I enjoy chats such as these and we can exchange information.

        “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (I Corinthians 2:14)

        Like

        • clubschadenfreude

          Excellent, a nice long post. I like to do those myself. LIL, I looked over your blog and your post and you appear to be a fairly typical type of Christian, one who thinks he has the only “true” version and that no one else does. The problem is that you have no more evidence than anyone else, and you all have the same lack of evidence for your claims. Every Christian claims that their version of their religion is “Bible at its core” and all of you disagree on what that means and what your god supposedly “really” meant.

          You advise reading the bible without “doubts” which is not using logic or reason, but using willful ignorance and blind faith. You use the tired old claims of a Christian that the only way someone can be honest or unbiased, is by agreeing with you.

          But let’s get to your comment to me. Those will be at my blog, http://clubschadenfreude.com/2015/02/10/not-so-polite-dinner-conversation-a-small-interlude/

          You are more than welcome to comment there. All comments get through, unless they are full of useless cursing and insults.

          Liked by 1 person

    • ejwinner

      Smith tortures Jones to death. God so loved Smith he gave him the choice to torture and kill Jones – but apparently god didn’t love Jones so much?

      But the torture was a test for Jones’ love of god? Too late, he’s dead.

      But it all comes out right in the afterlife? Unless of course Jones is not one the ‘chosen few’ receiving god’s grace (regardless of how good he was alive). In which case he is not important; so let Smith torture Jones? Because if Smith is one of the graced, he can repent and join god in heaven.

      In contract law, the principal is responsible for the actions of the agent. If god created humans as his agents in the material universe, then he is responsible for everything they do. If not, there is no contract and we need not bother with god, no matter what he says.

      Human law is frequently wiser than divine law, because we write it in our own interests. Smith has committed a felony and represents a threat to other humans, and society moves to stop him, whatever his status in the hereafter – which frankly interests me not at all, and doesn’t concern us here on earth.

      Liked by 2 people

      • equippedcat

        Human law may SEEM wiser to us, because it appears to be of “more benefit” to us, now. Truly divine law, if such exists, may be of more benefit to us long term (as in crappy for you, but wonderful for your great-great-great grandchild).

        Like

        • ejwinner

          I fail to see how a divine providence that allows Smith to torture Jones, repent, and enter heaven on grace, is of any benefit to the grandchildren of Jones.

          Like

          • equippedcat

            That Smith COULD go to heaven under certain circumstances was a major stumbling block to me being saved. But that is an individual result. I’m more concerned with what Jones suffered. And there is no doubt that it really sucked for Jones, and his wife and their kids. The thing is, what was the positive result?

            I don’t know either, but then I’m not God, and my ability to perceive the future is provably flawed. Because torture DOES happen, all I can do is work to minimize it and hope that any which does occur actually does someday have some positive result.

            Here is a possible thread (yeah, it is silly; I said my prognostication skills were lacking). Jone is tortured to death. His child is so affected by it, that they spend their life working on it, and manage to develop and release a virus which ties people together empathetically but had no other significant symptoms. After several months, “everybody” was infected and found that if they tortured someone, they felt the pain themselves.

            Like

        • hessianwithteeth

          Maybe but that’s speculation it could easy be much worse or ultimetly unconcered with humanity.

          Like

          • equippedcat

            If there is no God, then yes, no way to know whether the eventual results will be “good” or “bad”. It there is a God, who is as claimed, then it would seem likely the eventual results will be “good”.

            Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      I don’t think your using the same definition of “prove” as I am. Mind to elaborate on what you mean when you say “prove?”

      Like

    • equippedcat

      Huh? Not only does it not prove them, it does not even indicate them. It is a claim, just like the omni claims; each of which is separate. Any one of them could be so, or any combination, or even none of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  • logicinlife

    While I find your writing to be admirable, this argument is one that goes round and round, for good reason. “In truth, however, the “problem of evil” is a problem for the atheist—not the Christian theist. First, atheistic philosophy cannot provide a definition of “evil.”” Ultimately, atheists, agnostics and anti-theists are all left with the problem of “good” as well as “evil.” This argument is a classic and as such has been refuted. It is only by the lens of relativism that one can ignore the counter. While the effort is appreciated, I recommend this page for a starting point. http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=12&article=890

    On a sidenote. I am unsure why you decided to follow my blog, and while I want to avoid assumptions I cannot help but “feel” (which leaves it to be relative truth) that your intent is hardly noble. Though, if you merely wish to read what I have to say, than welcome brother. I will therefore return the “follow” and look forward to your posts.

    Thank you and God bless.

    “When you say there’s too much evil in this world you assume there’s good. When you assume there’s good, you assume there’s such a thing as a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil. But if you assume a moral law, you must posit a moral Law Giver, but that’s Who you’re trying to disprove and not prove. Because if there’s no moral Law Giver, there’s no moral law. If there’s no moral law, there’s no good. If there’s no good, there’s no evil. What is your question?”

    —Ravi Zacharias

    Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      What is your definition of evil? I go with the dictionary definition, which is to say “something that is very bad.” The atheists that I know use this definition too. However, it seems to me that Christians either also use this definition or simply define it as “something God says is evil.” Neither are very clear definitions, which is why I believe “evil” to be a useless term. How would you define it to make it clear?
      Why do you think that I can’t define good without evil? Why do you think that good is a problem for me at all? You’ve said that it is, but you haven’t said why. Personally, I haven’t had any issues with “good.”
      Why do you assume that my reasons for following your blog must be malicious? That seems highly unfair to me.

      Like

      • logicinlife

        Which dictionary have you been using? The dictionary definition as from dictionary.com (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/evil), Evil is defined firstly as; ”
        1. morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked: evil deeds; an evil life.
        2. harmful; injurious: evil laws.
        3. characterized or accompanied by misfortune or suffering; unfortunate; disastrous:
        to be fallen on evil days.
        4. due to actual or imputed bad conduct or character:
        an evil reputation.
        5. marked by anger, irritability, irascibility, etc.:
        He is known for his evil disposition.”

        Not only do NONE of these definitions simply say, “something that is very bad”, all of these definitions other than number five require a measuring stick. In the context of our conversation, which you have seemed to stray from, we’re speaking on morality.

        As I said, I wished to avoid that assumption and since you say that your intent is good, I welcome it. Though, in your argument you are playing semantics. Speaking on moral law, how can you define what is good and what is bad? You cannot define good without evil because evil is in opposition to good. Good is a problem for you as evil is a problem for you, you have no basis for defining what can be good or evil. You cannot claim what is evil without knowing what is good first. The same goes for truth. You cannot say something is false until you know the truth. You can use “the dictionary definition”, which as you said, “something that is very bad.” But what is bad? According to morality. Whenever you play semantics and look at a fruit and say, “that is a bad fruit” because it is rotten, does not explain what is bad in standards of morality.

        Regarding good, you as an atheist must explain why both good and evil exists. Your argument is that evil exists (moral evil) and thus God does not exist. With the existence of good and evil to explain your folly enters the light, because you must explain both. Evil is defined as measured to good, which you cannot account for the existence for. J. P. Moreland has noted, “Evil is a lack of goodness. It is goodness spoiled. You can have good without evil, but you cannot have evil without good.”

        “While evil is certainly real, it is important to recognize that evil does not have existence in and of itself. Rather, it only exists as a privation (or a parasite) on the good. It exists in the same way that a wound exists on an arm or as rust exists on a car. The rust cannot exist on its own any more than cold can exist without the existence of heat or darkness can exist without the existence of light.” (Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/definition-of-evil.html#ixzz3RIW2tQKu)

        Going back to your original argument, you fail to account for other options and thus display failed logic where logic once surrounded the original premise that your argument is based off of.

        You present, “If evil exists and God exists, then either God doesn’t have the power to eliminate all evil, or doesn’t know when evil exists, or doesn’t have the desire to eliminate all evil.”

        Lets go through, one by one.

        “If evil exists and God exists:

        Then either God doesn’t have the power to eliminate all evil.” (As he does, according to the book of revelations.)

        “Or doesn’t know when evil exists” (which is also faulty for Christ died so that we can be credited righteous instead of wicked)

        “Or doesn’t have the desire to eliminate all evil.” He does, but at a low cost, and he does as I said in revelations.

        Regarding the Christian God, your logic is easily broken. All of your options are incorrect. Instead the option is; God is eliminating evil from the hearts of men and therefore using evil for His will while as many souls are saved as possible before he destroys all evil at Christ’s return. It is because of God’s goodness that evil still remains, because by scripture if God eliminated evil he would eliminate all of us because we are in a state where we need atonement. Christ, that is.

        This argument would be more profitable if you focused on where evil and good comes from to begin with since you have yet to address such.

        Good day, and God Bless.

        Like

        • hessianwithteeth

          Um…my definition actually fits just fine in that first definition you offered. And in the second and fourth. And what exactly are the measurements of evil with the definitions you gave? Your definition just leaves us with more terms to define. At what point does something become immoral? How is wicked being defined?
          Since we are using a particular language to discuss concepts, I don’t see how we can get around discussing semantics. They are kind of important.
          If evil is the opposite of good, why do you require evil to define good? Since evil is often said to be the absence of good, isn’t it that you need good to define evil and not the other way around?
          This is not my argument. I actually said I doubt that evil exists. This is a well-known argument that I am discussing. Perhaps you should read my post closer.
          You said I have some failed logic (I’m not sure if that is in something I actually said, or in the argument I’m discussing, since you don’t seem to realize that there is in fact a difference), so what is it? You can’t just say there’s failed logic and leave it at that. Actually explain the problem.
          You explanation of the Christian God doesn’t actually solve any of the problems in the argument (which, again, isn’t my argument). How is God eliminating evil? How is God using the evil? Why do the souls have to be saved (I mean beyond “because humans are fallen”)? If evil will be destroyed at Christ’s return, why can’t it be destroyed now? Why is Christ’s return necessary? How does that process make any sense? How does God’s goodness make it so that evil still exists? And if Christ’s return will eliminate evil, will God cease to exist at that point? You seem to imply that eliminating evil will eliminate God. Why are we in a state of needing atonement (again, go deeper than “because we are fallen”)? And can God eliminate evil without eliminating us? If so, why doesn’t he? If not, why can’t he?
          I’m not interested in where good and evil come from. I’m interested in the Christian claim that God is the source of morality. However, we have discussed morality without God on this blog before. As for the argument, if you want a single argument to discuss every aspect of morality, then you do not understand how philosophy works. And if you want every argument to start from the beginning, then we’ll never get past that point. Different arguments discuss different elements of different concepts/beliefs. This one discusses the specific belief that God is all powerful, all knowing, and all good while allowing evil to continue to exist.

          Like

  • erik buys

    “But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles…” When I read those words of Paul I started thinking differently about the Christian God… Apparently “omnipotence” etc. gets redefined. So, to me, this is not really my discussion, but interesting nonetheless.

    Like

  • paidiske

    A question: does the time scale of God’s action matter?

    For example, if one were to answer that all evil will eventually be eliminated, but is not *yet*… does that answer the problem?

    Like

  • Dustin John

    Being all-knowing and all-powerful at the same time is self detonating and contradictory. If a god is all-knowing, he knows what will happen tomorrow. If he is all-powerful, he can change what will happen tomorrow. If he changes what will happen, he can’t then know what will happen. If he knows what will happen, then he can’t change what will happen.
    Great post and gives me a lot to think about. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • hessianwithteeth

      Not necessarily. If it is the case the said deity knows all possibilities of all there possible actions, which would come with the territory of being omniscient. Though it is an easy mistake to make.

      Thanks for the comment. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Dustin John

        That’s true, but if he knows all possible actions, he can no longer change them? Right? maybe I’m missing something. lol

        Like

      • Dustin John

        For instance, can he create a rock to heavy for him to lift?

        Liked by 1 person

        • hessianwithteeth

          OH well I suppose it depend on the type of omnipotence if your dealing with an omnipotence which is not bound by logic then everything is possible, though in the case of logically limited omni’s then I think your correct.

          It really depends on the definitions. If it’s about what god wants to do then there does not seem to be problem if it’s about what god can do then there’s an issue.

          Though I think the real problem stems from Omnipotence as an issue in and of itself as you’ve pointed out. A problem I suspect which can only really be addressed if you allow it to break logic.

          Though then we get into all the definitions that haven’t be discussed and we get into a tangled mess of horror.

          Liked by 1 person

    • equippedcat

      “All knowing” is not like logging onto a computer, putting in a date (like April 1, 2020) and reading the headlines, or even entire articles. It is more like time is a part of Him, and he can “feel” every result from something happening, and guide/discourage/allow/prevent events so that the eventual results fit His concept of “best”.

      Liked by 1 person

  • siriusbizinus

    Actually premise 4 is where Christians I’ve seen take issue with the argument. Generally this premise is attacked with statements about free will or some other assertion attacking the idea that moral perfection includes the idea of negating all evil. Sometimes discussions will get to the definitions behind “negation,” “evil,” and “moral perfection.” A word salad usually gets offered at that point.

    The reason why I don’t like this argument is that it argues the color of the unicorn. It attempts to define God with attributes that could be negated by evidence, and responses inevitably retreat to attributes that cannot be negated by evidence. Even if one asks a Christian to define God, one isn’t likely going to get quantifiable terms that can be bolstered by independently testable evidence.

    Liked by 1 person

  • myatheistlife

    Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipresence, and Omnibenevolence are self contradictory in the presence of evil or bad stuff. The story of such gods makes them contradictory from word one for such a god cannot have allowed evil to even begin to exist, yet it does or so it is claimed. This is bad for the Abrahamists because their very belief means their god cannot exist.

    Like

  • ecofemcarson

    It’s not that God can’t stop evil, it’s that he can’t stop people. Due to the fact that God gave humanity free will, He doesn’t stop the evil that comes out of the naturally broken, fallen state of humanity. He could eliminate it, but He chose not to because it take away free will (which is part of the value of having ‘true followers of Christ’, instead of ‘forced cooperation of everyone’), but it also eliminates most of the Trials and Tribulations that Christians temper their souls with. It’s easy to be perfect when there are no sinful temptations.
    Just things to consider. Very well thought out post.

    Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      Well in this case your not actually dealing with the problem of evil but rather your skirting around it. Your trying to justify it, but if you grant P1-4 then you can’t actually justify evil. As has be mentioned prevously if you want to solve this problem then you’ll need to reject one of the premises 1,4, or 5. The easiest is to give an account of god which does not grant him the qualities of P1. How ever your currently claiming that god isn’t truly omnipotent, and/or perfectly moral as he is apparently unable/unwilling to intercede on evil, even though being all powerful he could grant us evil free tribulations.

      Again to be clear there’s a few ways you could be addressing this, but currently you actually haven’t addressed the problem of evil as it’s formulated here, nor have you provided your own formulation of the problem.

      Like

      • ecofemcarson

        I’m not trying to solve the problem, because with evil being so broadly defined and so widespread, I know I’m unable to come up with a decent solution. I don’t have a mind large enough for that. I was only pointing out my perspective on evil, and my theorizing behind it, not trying to present a cure-all.

        Like

        • hessianwithteeth

          Perspective are okay, but you where writing in certain terms until the last line of your comment. Perhaps this was by mistake, but still something to be aware of.

          Like

          • ecofemcarson

            It’s what I personally believe, so I would write that in certain terms. It’s cool if you don’t, I’m not trying to offend or push it on anyone else, but that is my personal truth. It may not be yours, but I write my truths in certain terms, because they are certain for me.
            It sounded better in my head! Haha.

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            I’m just of the opinion that if I’m going to speak in certain terms then I better have something to back it up that better then it’s my opinion. So I’m sure you can see why we would end up at this junction ;).

            Liked by 1 person

          • ecofemcarson

            Since it all depends on the reference point and background, as well as very theoretical thinking, it’s difficult to be able to back up my statement as I would like to. Not to mention, I’ve been reading Plato and Socrates for a class, and my brain’s higher thinking powers are failing me. But I would like to thank you for making me think outside the box. I enjoy your posts ☺

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            Well I’m certainty glad you like the posts :). Enjoy your Plato lots of good thinking is bound to occur, and do try to talk about it with your peers and teacher as that’s where a good deal of the real learning happens.

            Liked by 1 person

          • ecofemcarson

            I certainly will, especially since I go to a private Christian uni. They will have some good (and strong!) opinions on this topic.

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            Though in that case I’d also suggest finding more view points outside of the Christan perspective as you’ve done here, as the view generally found in a private Christian university are generally skewed.

            Liked by 1 person

          • ecofemcarson

            They are absolutely skewed. Although my friends and I are a motley crew, pretty diverse at the very least. I don’t know if you’ve seen my posts, but I’m slightly out of place in a Christian school 😝

            Like

    • daniellaargento

      Do we REALLY have free will? Are we not the result of a whole lot of chemical processes driving behaviours? What is ‘free will’. Blindly accepting the concept of free will may be the biggest delusion we collectively suffer from.

      Liked by 1 person

      • hessianwithteeth

        It’s a very valid question, and one with uncertain answers that most of us will dislike.

        Liked by 1 person

      • ecofemcarson

        Free will had to do with higher thinking. It’s what separates us from other animals, and gives us the ability to choose. Chemical impulses and the environment one was brought up in certainly plays a role, but I like to think that we all have our own choices to make as we see fit. That’s a fantastic question, though!

        Liked by 1 person

      • daniellaargento

        Hmmm but the act of higher thinking is itself a biological electro-chemical process which is in turn driven by other biological electro-chemical processes. Also the way we think today will help determine the way we think tomorrow and the way we think today is heavily influenced by the thoughts we had yesterday. Free will may not be as willful or as free as we would like.

        Like

    • equippedcat

      It is not that He “can’t stop” people, it is that He chooses not to for reasons of His own.

      Liked by 1 person

  • daniellaargento

    Very good points. Personally I find the good/evil question most interesting. If there is a god does that god perceive good vs evil in the same way as we do? Our reference point may be entirely different. But anyway yes. I agree.

    Liked by 2 people

  • equippedcat

    Premise 6 is flawed, because it does not consider a key possibility:

    that there is some reason why evil existing is beneficial to God (or us) and thus overshadows His (and our) desire to not have it exist.

    Like

    • myatheistlife

      That might be a valid point if there were no garden of eden or heaven where evil does not exist.

      Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      Technically in that case your going to want to address P4 because in the case of what your talking about. God wouldn’t want to eliminate all evil.

      Like

      • equippedcat

        Good point. Ok, God would prefer that evil not exist, or at least not be involved with Him or His people. This probably leads to a desire to eradicate it. This desire is compared to His knowledge of where “all this” is heading. And for some reason, beyond our knowledge or even ability to comprehend, the evil amongst us is necessary for “us” (His entire creation) to get where He wants us to go. Or to keep us from getting somewhere He does not want us to be (don’t bring up “Hell”; that is an individual concept, not an “all of creation” concept).

        As an example, let us say that I desire a Lamborghini, and my current financial situation would appear adequate enough that the loan would be approved. But I know that my financial situation is shaky, and there is a very good chance that I won’t be able to handle the payments in a few months, at which time, the car would be worth much less than was owed, and the resulting financial chaos would destroy everything I had built so far. Just because I CAN satisfy a desire does not mean I always do. Satisfaction is transitory; regret much more durable.

        Like

  • Unassuming Atheist

    Great post! Why would God not eradicate evil? Is it to test us? Why test us? Why allow so much suffering in the world? Why do Christians say, regardless of how tragic something may be, that it is all part of God’s plan? Plan for what? To torture us? To push us to the brink and still display our love for him even if he rains soul-sucking suffering on some of us? None of it makes any sense. None of it.

    Liked by 2 people

Tell us what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: