Why J.L Mackie Influenced Me

Essay by Jays_FanHigh School, 12th gradeB+, March 2010

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Out of all of the philosophers that we studied in this class, I think that I gained the most knowledge while learning about J.L Mackie. His main philosophical discovery was the Problem of evil and how the fact that evil exists questions the existence of God. The problem can be stated very simply: If God is so good, why is his world so bad? If an all good, all wise, all loving, all just, and all powerful God is in charge, why does he seem to be doing such a miserable job at it? Why do bad things happen to good people? The problem has two basic formulations, one is deductive, the other inductive. The deductive form of the problem asks the following question: Is the existence of evil logically compatible with such an untouchable, omnipotent being?J.L. Mackie wrote a very convincing piece on the problem of evil called "Evil and Omnipotence," in which he attempts to show that one of the following statements must be false in order for them to be consistent with each other.

#1. God is omnipotent.

#2. God is wholly good.

#3. Evil exists.

After all of the research I did on him I personally came to the conclusion that God does in fact exist. Although Mackie himself doesn't come to this conclusion, I came to the conclusion myself that he must exist. Evil will never be abolished. Since the beginning of time, the temptation to go against the common good, or at least against what is "right" has come up in the minds of everyoneThe whole debate revolving around this issue is the fact that evil shouldn't exist around the presence of an omnipotent being who in turn should be able to prevent such actions. But the truth is that evil does exist and it is likely brought upon by St. Lucifer, who is also known as Satan. God gave everyone free will and when Lucifer chose to go against God, he did not stop him because he was within his rights.

-Evil does exist naturally-God shouldn't be blamed for the bad decisions of humans"The problem of evil is the most serious problem in the world. It is also the one serious objection to the existence of God. No sane person wants hell to exist." More people have abandoned their faith because of the problem of evil than for any other reason. It is certainly the greatest test of faith and also the greatest test of a person's commitment to their beliefs. For the sake of this argument, let's just say that God is present and that he does truly exist. A serious question that needs to be addressed is: Why must the human race blame God for the imperfections that individuals choose to make? I think that it is fair to say that evil only arises through the power of personal choice. Debatably, human beings have the right to their own free will and the choice to side with evil is just as easy as it is to side with what is right. This being said, it seems unreasonable to argue that because an omnipotent figure supposedly exists, human choices are secondary to the fact that God should be there to prevent such evil. Chaos in the world shouldn't be blamed on a being that isn't even physically here to prevent anything. When it gets right down to it, humans can make any decisions they want, God does not have the power to briefly take over your body to change bad decisions that you may or may not make. Now that we are getting deeper into this philosophical mind field I think that the Nature vs. Nurture debate can even be brought up. Even if God creates us as pure, perfect beings, our upbringing could easily corrupt our God given values to the point that evil is so casually committed that it comes second nature to people. To finish off on this point I personally believe that to blame God for the existence of evil is a preposterous accusation and human choices are directed at themselves and the choices people make no matter how hard we try is ultimately up to them.

My point may be true in the sense that moral evil is caused entirely by humans but natural evil such as natural disasters and poverty stricken areas would be hard to prove that humans cause this upon themselves. This is where a lot of the religious doubt and the question of why do bad things happen to good people come up. Looking at the current disaster in Haiti you may find yourself asking why do the unspeakable things happen to people who do not have the resources to deal with it. Disasters such as this can be contemplated in the sense that this happened for a reason but another possibility is that this happened for no particular reason and the risk has always been there. People should be prepared for something like an earthquake because they are in an area where things like that will inevitably happen. If God was such an omnipotent being he should have had the power to prevent such a catastrophe but there is a possibility that the people who died were here for a reason and their purpose here on earth had already been fulfilled and there is no way of determining what God is thinking and the reasons for his actions.

Before I progress any further into my research I will go over the actual definition of evil which is: "morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked: evil deeds; an evil life. Morally evil and Natural evil." So what this is saying is that evil is anything that goes against what is right or just and the opposite of this would be anything that works toward the common good. First, it would be important to distinguish between the two kinds of evil: moral evil and natural evil. Moral evil is much different than natural evil because it pertains to a more personalized aspect of the word. It can relate to anything that a human being is totally in charge of such as murder, rape or theft. Natural evil is a totally different form. This would be the one that people would blame God for having them happen and it pertains to things such as earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and so on. There can be times when the two are grouped into one for example a natural disaster may turn a community into disarray forcing people to commit moral evil which would involve them stealing and even go as far as killing to satisfy their survival instincts.

The problem of evil seems to be a question that will never truly be answered because no one is capable of knowing something like this with absolute certainty. To work towards a solution you must first realize that evil is not a thing, but it is more of an entity or a being and all beings are created by God or in one case, they are God. Genesis states that everything created by God is good but if evil exists, it suggests that God created evil.

While researching this issue it is easy to put a religious spin on most of the points that I have mentioned because if God stepped in and created some idealistic perfect fairytale lifestyle for man kind there would be no conflict in the world and people would be living without learning anything. With pain comes experience and in a sense at the same time we are gaining knowledge. I am not saying the more pain in the world the more knowledge we as people can obtain but living in a perfect world would seem somewhat useless because there would be nothing to learn, and people would learn nothing about what it means to lose someone or what it means to go through a rough patch it life because it is at these times of sorrow that we become stronger and learn how to deal with situations for the future. If God really is the perfect being a theory such a this might be true and to make life perfect would really only be hurting us because it would drain the meaning out of life.

Works Cited"Common Sense Atheism » Problem of Evil." Common Sense Atheism. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Mar. 2010. .

"J. L. Mackie: Facts, Discussion Forum, and Encyclopedia Article." AbsoluteAstronomy.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Mar. 2010. .

mcamp. "Evil and Omnipotence- The Problem of Evil." HubPages. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Mar. 2010. .