The Problem of Evil: Is the Existence of Evil Evidence Against the Existence of God?

Essay by elissa308University, Bachelor'sA+, June 2004

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The presence of evil in the world seems to be the most prevalent source of religious doubt and skepticism in our society. The traditional theistic view of God is that he is omni-present, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent. However, this presents a conflict with the existence of evil in our world. Why would such a loving God allow so much pain and suffering?

Over the years, both philosophers and theologians have tried to answer this question, which seems to be at the very heart of the atheistic argument from evil. There are two methods of approaching the argument: logical and evidential. I will argue that both of these forms of argument are irrelevant to the existence of a theistic God.

The logical argument claims that the existence of evil is logically incompatible with the existence of an omnibenevolent, omnipotent God, making theism impossible. J.L. Mackie argues from this standpoint, and claims that the very nature of a theistic God is incompatible with the existence of evil.

In his article, "Evil and Omnipotence", Mackie defines evil as any kind of pain and suffering, which is the generally accepted definition of evil among philosophers. He then presents the following premises:

1) God is omnipotent.

2) God is wholly-good.

3) Evil exists.

Mackie argues that these claims are logically incompatible with one another. However, he states that the logical inconsistency is not explicit, and that further premises need to be drawn in order to support his position. He derives the following two additional premises from the original premises:

4) God is opposed to evil, in such a way that a good thing always eliminates evil as far as it can.

5) There are no limits to what an omnipotent being can do.

Mackie feels that these additional premises implicitly show that the theism is...