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The Problem of Evil in Relation to Philosophy and Religion

The existence of God is a difficult question since there seems to be no way to provide hard evidence of whether He exists. Therefore, people are divided into theists who believe in God’s existence and atheists who are confident of the contrary. The strongest argument of atheists against the existence of God, who is regarded by the Orthodox as a perfect, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent being, is the problem of evil. David Hume stated this problem as follows: “Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?” (as cited in Miller & Jensen, 2008, p. 310). Although this question seems logical at first sight, believers developed several solutions to the problem of evil, which try to explain the flaws in this logic.

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I believe that it is possible that what one feels about the problem of evil depends largely on one’s prior beliefs on the existence of God. By evil, one usually means both types of evil: natural one caused by nature and moral one stemming from people’s wrongdoings and sufferings (Miller & Jensen, 2008). Individuals who believe in God are more likely to justify the existence of evil in the world. Apart from the reasonable solutions to the problem of evil provided in the textbook, I heard people explain evil by God’s rage or the necessity to experience suffering. These explanations do not seem logical because, in my opinion, God, who is considered benevolent, would not condemn people to pain deliberately. However, they clearly demonstrate that individuals will try to justify the presence of evil if they have prior beliefs on the existence of God. Atheists, on the contrary, are likely to regard evil as the evidence of the absence of God. People are evil, and the world is full of disasters, they think, and if God were there, He would not let this happen.

Since believers are eager to defend the existence of God, I think that atheists will find a solution to the problem of evil. In fact, theists have already found some solutions, including the rejection of God’s omnipotence, the impossibility for people to understand God’s plans, evil being the absence of goodness, and evil stemming from people’s free will (Miller & Jensen, 2008). An atheist, on the contrary, is likely to see the problem of evil as disproving God’s existence. From an atheist’s point of view, if God existed, he would eliminate all evil in the world. Yet, evil persists, so atheists regard it as the evidence for the absence of God.

As for my point of view concerning God’s existence, I believe in God as the Creator since I suppose that there must have been someone to create the universe. However, I would not be so sure to call God omnipotent or omnibenevolent. I believe that God created the world, but I think that it is impossible to find out His purpose in doing so. Therefore, it seems that the solution “God’s plan for the world is inscrutable” is the most suitable for my worldview.

After learning about various solutions to the problem of evil, I found the free-will defense to be an interesting explanation. I agree that, to be truly capable of moral good, a person should be given a choice to commit moral evil. It has made me think that people are aware of goodness only because evil exists. If there were no evil, we would not know what goodness is since it would not be necessary to divide acts and events into good and bad ones. Perhaps, evil was part of God’s plan designed to show people what is right and what is wrong and allow them to make conscious choices.

Reference

Miller, E. L., & Jensen, J. (2008). Questions that matter: An invitation to philosophy (6th ed.). McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

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