Evil — Problem Of

An Evil God

      Since there is obviously much evil in the world, there is a serious problem for those who imagine that the world was created and is governed by an all powerful, all knowing, and all good God.

      The ancient Greek philosopher EPICURUS (341-271 BCE) pointed out long before Christianity even arose that the concept of God as Christians (and most other religions) envision him is a logical impossibility! Here is the way Epicurus formulated the difficulty:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able to prevent evil? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is God able to prevent evil, but not willing to prevent evil? Then he is not omnibenevolent.
Is God both willing and able to prevent evil? Then why does evil exist?

      David Hume expressed the problem this way:

If evil in the world is the intention of the Deity, then He is not benevolent.
If evil in the world is contrary to His intention, then He is not omnipotent.
But evil is either in accordance with His intention or contrary to it.
Therefore, either the Deity is not benevolent, or He is not omnipotent.

      The one other possibility, of course, is that no “Deity” exists at all! But if an omnipotent God did exist, the existence of tremendous amounts of evil in the world shows conclusively that such a God could not possibly be good. For example, only a very evil being indeed would allow the torture of innocent children to continue in the world if he had the power to prevent it.

Who made the world I cannot tell;
’Tis made, and here am I in hell.
My hand, though now my knuckles bleed,
I never soiled with such a deed.
    —A. E. Housman

      “God”, if such a bizarre entity existed, would clearly be the bitter enemy of humanity. As Bakunin said, “If God really existed, it would be necessary to abolish him.”

      Because even many religious people themselves see the power of an argument like that of Epicurus, the ideologists of religion have struggled to find an answer to the “problem of evil” for more than two thousand years. In fact, it has been said that the main reasons for the existence of theology at all are 1) to somehow prove that God exists, and 2) to explain away the problem of evil. The fact that they have found nothing rational to say on either point after all these years speaks for itself!

      See also: GOD—Nature Of

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