The Problem Of Evil

Essay by JBabyCollege, UndergraduateA, December 2007

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For years, and for years to come, people have and will continue to struggle with the inconsistency and almost direct contradiction between religious principles and reality. It's clear to us that suffering and evil exist, and the classical concept of God would lead us to believe that this suffering and evil coexist with an omnipotent and omni benevolent being…but that just doesn't make sense. Natural disasters, murder, terrorism, and disease are just a few factors that can shake the religious core of a person. But there is a difference between suffering and evil; all evil is suffering, but not all suffering is evil. Those who experience natural disasters and disease are no doubt suffering, but those things are not caused by evil. Those who experience murder and terrorism are not only suffering, but experiencing the evil of a person or group. However, the discrepancy is not necessarily between this distinction.

The problem arises when the point of suffering is questioned. Some argue that there is no point, and the existence of those things is a sign that an omniscient, omnipotent, omni benevolent being is not real. But on the contrary, it's not the case that because there is evil and suffering, there is no God. It is the case, however, that evil and suffering exist, but that God has a reason for everything that happens in our world, even if we can't grasp what those reasons are.

There are many promising solutions to the problem of suffering and evil. There is the Greater Goods Defense made famous by philosopher Gottfried Leibniz, which basically suggests that permitting some evil and suffering allows for people to develop sympathy, benevolence, and heroism among other moral virtues. There is also the notion that evil is necessary as a means to good, or that...