The Problem of Evil

The Problem of Evil

The problem of evil is one of the most disputable issues among the theorists in theology and theological philosophy. This problem is based on the following argumentative ground. As it is commonly known, God is omniscient (knows and can predict everything), omnipotent (is able to do everything), and perfectly good (is not able to do anything morally bad or wrong). Therefore, God is able to know that evil is going to be committed. God is able to prevent the evil. The evil, however, exists and happens all over the world. Therefore, the existence of God or God’s perfectness can be placed in doubts. The philosophers used to distinguish the evil of the two types: moral evil (when the evil happens because of people’s actions: crimes, immorality, cruel intentions) and natural evil (natural disasters such as hurricanes, tsunamis, floods). This paper briefly considers different views on the problem of the evil resolution.

However, before giving the description to different theories dealing with the resolution of the problem of evil, it is necessary to consider in details how the concept of God is defined in the given context. As it is generally accepted, the term “God” is defined in two main ways. The first one defines God as the force, which has created the world. It is the main moving force, and the primary cause of everything existing in this world. The second one defines God as the reflection of people’s desire to live a good life. This may include the desire that good will defeat the evil, that justice will triumph, or after the death, people’s souls will not die and will go to a place where they will enjoy the eternal pleasure. The God, in turn, is regarded as the mean, by which this desire may be implemented.

St. Augustine offered the following solution to the problem of evil. As he stated, the evil happens because of the Fall of Humanity. That is why people are responsible for evil because they have agreed to be tempted by the devil. Therefore, the God is absolved of creating and giving permission to the evil to occur. Moreover, God gave people the opportunity to purify from the sin sending Jesus Christ who made satisfaction for the sin to the world. Therefore, it proves that God loves people and forgives them for the evil they commit. However, people choose to commit evil on their own, and God cannot be blamed for this. There is only people’s fault in the evil.

In accordance with Irenaeus’s point of view, the existence of evil is necessary and is not an occasional phenomenon. As he states, the evil is a significant part of the process of soul-making as it creates the range of problems, resolving which people learn what is good, what is bad, and what is needed for people’s spiritual development.

John Hick whose theory bases on the Irenaeus’s ideas states that the relations of God and a human are similar to the relations between a parent and a child. A parent whose task is to bring up a full-fledged child with appropriately developed moral principles should accomplish the double task. The first part of this task consists of giving birth to a child, in other words, creating the physical body. The second part of this task includes educating a child about what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong, and what is a virtue and what is evil. One of the main parental duties is to teach a child how to cope with the temptations, which lead to sin, and live a good life, which is considered good and right in accordance with the covenant of God. In addition, a human possesses such trait as a free will. Thus, evil is the issue of person’s free choice. Therefore, if a child commits evil, the father cannot be blamed.

In accordance with Alvin C. Plantinga, the presence of evil is purposely created by the God in order to provide humans with the freedom of choice and the possibility to compare what is good and bad. If a person lives and faces only good things in his or her life, it is impossible to state that a person lives in freedom. A person is unable to appreciate the goodness if he or she cannot compare it with any alternative concepts.

Leibniz is one of the most famous theorists who deal with the problem of evil. In accordance with Leibniz’s point of view, people live in the best of known worlds. As it is not exactly known whether other worlds exist, it gives the possibility to state that the human world is the perfect one. Thus, people cannot state with certainty that the world they live in is not as perfect as it could be and that the world actually is not the best possible of all existing worlds. People, in fact, have no comprehensive arguments and enough knowledge, which would allow them to state that this world is not the most perfect among possible. Therefore, the evil exists for the purpose to make the world more perfect because perfectness may be sensed only when it is compared to something opposite.

Peter Kreeft states that all the beings that live in this world are the Creator and the creatures, which are produced by the Creator. As the Creator creates only the real creatures and things, He could not create the evil, which is an abstract concept. Therefore, evil is produced by the creatures in the process of their interaction. Evil is regarded by Kreeft as the wrong choice, and the negative consequences of this choice are the just punishment for the sin. God is the source of joy and love. Those who act against God lose joy and love and, as the result, suffer.

Similarly to some above-mentioned philosophers, Mackie believes that good cannot exist without evil. Evil is necessary because, without it, people will not understand what is goodness and how it should be achieved. Thus, evil is the mean, by which a person may achieve goodness and virtuousness. Therefore, whether to commit the evil is the issue of the free choice. In general, freedom is the good thing given to people by God; it depends only on people how they will use their freedom.

Pike considers the evil as the inalienable part of the perfect world, which is also discussed by Leibniz. The reason why God allows evil and suffering to take place in the perfect world is that the perfectness implies the balance. If the life consists only of good things, it cannot be stated that it is balanced. Good things should be balanced by the bad things.

There also exist theorists, especially among those who are committed to the ideas of atheism (non-recognition of God’s existence), who do not see any possibility of resolution of the problem of evil and argue that the above-mentioned theories do not base on any practically proved grounds. However, as this paper is dedicated only to the approaches of those who offer the resolution to the evil problem. The points of view of theorists who deny the possibility to resolve this problem are not considered in details here.

Returning to the above-listed theories and approaches to the resolution of the problem of evil, it is necessary to mention that all of them give comprehensive answers for this issue. However, all of them may be considered as suitable only in case people accept the fact of God’s existence unarguably. Those who do not recognize the existence of God will not find the above-mentioned theories rational and practically confirmed. However, those who believe in God may find quite comprehensive answers and explanations if they have some doubts about God’s existence or about his omniscience, omnipotence, and perfect goodness. If to summarize the theories mentioned above, we will receive the following overall picture about how to explain the presence of evil in the world. Thus, firstly, it is necessary to remember that the evil appeared after the breaking of obedience and Human Fall in the Garden of Eden. Therefore, this is not the God who is responsible for sin appearance, but the people who allowed themselves to fall into the sin. The second important thing that should be taken into consideration is that God gave people the possibility to purify from their initial sin by sending His son, whose sufferings were the symbol of people’s spiritual purification. Furthermore, the evil exists in order to serve as the comparative orienting point for teaching people what is good or bad. The relations between God and people remind the relationships between the parent and the children where the parent teaches his/her children how to live a good life. Thus, the evil is needed in order to explain what a good life is and how it has to be achieved. The evil also is the inalienable part of the perfect world because the perfectness cannot exist without balance. Thus, good and bad things have to be balanced, as well. Finally, evil is people’s free choice. The presence of the possibility of this free choice is a god thing created by the God. Therefore, people must enjoy this freedom and, if they are deeply committed to God, they will not choose the evil. However, if people do, they will suffer, and these sufferings will be an absolutely justified punishment for the sins.

Speaking about my opinion about how the problem of evil can be resolved, I may state with certainty that I also consider the evil as the issue of the free choice. Our freedom is given to us in order to provide people with the possibility to develop souls on their own. If we choose the wrong way, we are punished and receive the negative consequences, and it allows us to know that we have chosen the mistakable way and should correct something in our lives. Speaking about people who do not commit any sins, but suffer without any reasons, it may be explained that they may be exposed to the trial that God sends in order to see whether a person will lose his or her belief or will accept it with the humility. The person who chooses the second variant will be rewarded. Those who deny God and lose their belief while facing difficulties and sufferings will be considered as those who commit the evil. Therefore, what will be chosen depends only on us.

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Started by Ava Hill at October 18, 2019 - 10:42 AM