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Analysis Of The Problem Of Evil Philosophy Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Philosophy
Wordcount: 3521 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In the paper written by Collins entitled,” The Problem of Evil Basics,” It has been noted that reconciling the concept of existence of a perfectly good God and evil is necessary in solving the problem of evil. Collins presented two valid arguments in clarifying the problem of evil in the theistic perspective. One argument is coming from theodicy. Theodicy argues that God exists and He permits evils in this world. The Defense argument proposes that the existence of evil is not dependent on the notion that God exist. The Defense argument further claims that if there is God and He is good, then evils in the world would not exist. However, since evils exist, then there is no God because the existence of a supreme being presupposes that good would prevail. With this, should we justify evils in relation to the existence of God? Or should we deny the existence of God in order to justify evils? Basically, the analysis of this paper would revolve around the above contentions.

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Basically, the problem of good and evil is quite a complicated and complex topic. It has no definite answer since it goes beyond the sphere of the material world and human knowledge is limited. This is not to say that the finite capacity of the human knowledge is inadequate in comprehending the said topic. Plausible explanations can still be formulated and accepted in responding to the issues mentioned above.

Accordingly, if we would provide a justifiable explanation about the problem of evil, one’s personal analysis is necessary but it has to be coupled with the arguments coming from the philosophical claims of the experts. Of course, everybody has his/her own explanation about the existence of evils in this world. Evils are usually viewed as something harmful or destructive to the normal flow of things. It can be caused by man or by nature.

The issue of morality would also be tackled in line with the existence of evil. In this sense, it is inevitable that the concept of right and wrong actions when it comes to human actions would have to be explained. On the other hand, natural occurrences such as floods, typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis and the like are judged based on the harm done to man, other living creatures and the planet in general. In short, harm as a result of a natural phenomenon is equated with evil. In addition, the natural inclination of other primitive creatures such as lions, tigers, sharks and other ferocious animals could also be seen as evil producing actions. This is because the actions of these predators normally bring more harm than good to their prey. If deeply analyzed, the survival of the fittest within the world of the primitive creatures inevitably create destructive condition in the wild. Though they are part of the evolutionary process, as argued by most biologists or other natural scientists, the whole process can be equated to an evil producing condition where subduing other species is a natural phenomenon. Now, how does the concept of God situate in the mentioned assumptions?

In the paper entitled, “In Connection Building Theodicy Handout,” the Greater Good Principle is explained in relation to the problem of evil. This principle suggests that if God is perfectly good then He has all the power to eliminate evils in the world. Consequently, God allows evils but those which are freely chosen by man. This strengthens the proposition that God doesn’t exist because evils are ever-present in this world.

On another angle of the debate, the Theodicy argument has been criticized by many experts. In the paper of Collins, the flaws of theodicy argument were explicated. It is said that suffering in this world is a result of committing sin. This is why by committing sinful acts, man receives certain kind of punishment in the form of suffering. Thus, suffering is inevitable and should be accepted. However, as argued by Collins, this argument is flawed because it does not explain clearly why God allows evil and the reason why the innocents have to suffer also.

The second theodicy argument is the fall theodicy which states that suffering was a result of the fall of man. This line of thinking claims that man has to suffer because of the original sins committed by Adam and Eve. However, this is also flawed because no concrete explanation could be extracted as to why God allows evils to happen.

The third argument is the Satan theodicy which declares that suffering is a consequence of the rebellion of Satan from God. This is another invalid argument simply because it would be hard to prove that such situation is real. Also, it does provide any concrete explication as to the reason why God has to allow evils to exist in this world.

In a related academic paper, “Evolution and the Problem of Evil,” the Intelligent Design argument in the creation of the universe as perfect has been debated by the natural scientists and advocates of evolutionary theory. It is argued in this perspective that the Intelligent Design theory conveys that God is cruel since He allows sufferings of lower forms of animals. The anatomy of the ferocious animals such as tigers, lions, and the like is basically designed to cause sufferings to other creatures. Thus, this implies that the God we know who created the universe is either evil or doesn’t exist.

In an article, “Why Does God Allow Evil?” written by Eric V. Snow , it was explained the basic reason why God allows evil to exist in this world based on the Christian perspective. The premise of the article is that God created man in his own image and with 100% free will. As God’s creation, man has to choose to be 100% righteous. It was based on the thesis coming from Genesis 1:26 which states that” Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” This is one of the basic arguments of the theist. This proposes a belief that God created man in his own image which has a righteous path. However, the goodness of man should be chosen because of free will. Being righteous is not an easy and immediate process. It has to be intended and calculated by man. Man must also know and will it. Moreover, the article argued that God created man with free will like himself. Without free will man would be nothing like God. Incidentally, total obedience to God’s laws is the only way to be righteous. Hence, pain and suffering are caused by man’s free will as a result of bad motive, ignorance and miscalculated intentions.

In connection, the article further explains that suffering would make man trust God. Pain is experienced so that faith in God would be attained. It was also the position of the article that man’s knowledge is inadequate enough to understand why God allows evil. Man is not in the position to question the intention of God. Like Job, man has to believe and obey God without question. Since death is inevitable, we would be judged by God based on our actions in the material world. Hence, God allows evils in this world because of His benevolent intention for us whatever it may be. Free will is given to man in order for him to know and obey God’s laws. Pain and suffering are merely temporary tests in attaining the rightful path, as argued by the article (Snow).

In another article, “The Problem of Evil,” by P.J. McHugh (2006), the same argument was put forward about the problem of evil. As stated by McHugh (2006), the common ground of all who believe why God allows evil to prosper in this world is the free-will defence. Man is a self-directing agent with a limited source of freedom that would make him responsible for his every decision. With freedom, man is free to choose between right and wrong as a moral agent. However, with free will it also recognized by McHugh (2006) that evil actions are unavoidable. Good can’t be separated by bad actions. This is why man has to be careful in making decision because every decision has an accompanying good and evil consequences.

Accordingly, the free-will defence is challenged by the idea that if free will is God-given and that it is the cause of evil actions, then it is logical to assume that God is also responsible for creating a creature that produces harm because of free will. The question still arises, why did God create a being that can do harm to the world?

McHugh (2006) presented the Augustinian Theodicy in answering the above question. According to McHugh (2006), Augustine (354-430 A.D.) formulated explanations that influence the thoughts of the Christians for many centuries. One of the fundamental premises of the philosophical view of St. Augustine is that the universe is good because it was created by a good God with a good intention. Every creation has a good purpose in line with God’s good intention. Evil is a result of an on-going process of attaining good that is innate in all the things created. The universe is perfect and out of that perfection is the ultimate purpose of goodness. In short, evil is an intended consequence of taking the path of goodness which is divine. However, those who don’t abide with the divine path imposed by God, would be punished as they would be judged at the end of human history. McHugh (2006) claims that the Augustinian theodicy seems to be removing the responsibility from God when it comes to evil actions of man. The Augustinian theodicy further assumes that evil is the consequence of free will as misused by man.

McHugh (2006) also presented criticisms of the said theodicy by St. Augustine. According to him, the universe that God created might have gone wrong. With all the evils in the world that we would observe, this universe might not have went to the things that God wanted it to be. It is either God committed a mistake of creating the universe or He did not really intend to make the universe perfect as assume by some Christians. The second criticism offered by McHugh (2006) is the one proposed by the scientific perspective about the evolution of mankind. As explained by the Augustinian point of view, man was created perfect and good. However, the scientific evidence would prove that man evolved from the lowest form of animals that can be argued as imperfect and hostile creatures. Primitive man has crude knowledge of morality and that hostility seemed to be his natural response to his environment.

In the same argument, natural disasters and calamities existed long before man came into this world, as proposed by the evolutionary perspective. These natural phenomena certainly cause evils and sufferings. Consequently, if these phenomena already existed before man, then it is logical to assume that they were not caused by man. If they were not caused by mankind, then God was the one responsible for evil effects of such natural calamities.

The third argument against the Augustinian theodicy is the existence of hell as a venue for those who will not abide by the law of God. The concept of hell is a punishment for those who will choose to do wrong. This concept is challenged because it only show how God’s justice works. Sinful acts are punishable according to St. Augustine’s argument that is why man is compelled to do good which is the main intention of God. If this is true, then majority of the human race might be tormented in hell since humanity now is characterized by immorality and sinful acts. Is this the justice that God wants man to realize? Whatever the answer to this question, it is certain that the concept of hell acquits of God’s purpose of punishing the disobedient.

In a related article, “The Problem of Evil,” written by Vincent Cheung (2004), it discusses the problem and solution in the issue of the existence of evil. Cheung (2004) also recognizes that the basic problem of the Christian point of view about good and evil is that there is a God who is omnipotent and omnibenevolent. In this line of thinking, if God is all-powerful, then He has the ability to eradicate all the evils in the world. If God is a loving supreme being, then He would not allow evil to thrive that causes pain and suffering to mankind. What complicates the Christian perspective is the notion that God and evil are irreconcilable concepts. If God really exists then there is no evil, as argued by Cheung (2004). Accordingly, if evil exists, then there is no God who is ever loving. In case that God really exists and evil also prevails in this world, then the God that really exists is not an ever-loving supreme being. In this line of thought, the God that exists might be a being who loves suffering and pain because He allows evils to prevail. In short, it is a choice between God or evil.

Cheung (2004) offered insightful analysis in reconciling they contradictions of God and evil. It was argued in his article that the flow of argument of the problem of evil can’t be answered by the Christian perspective. The Christian point of view of God is illogical and can’t be accepted because it has many flaws. If one has to take the route of the Christian perspective an all-powerful and all-loving God would not exist with the evil prevailing in this life. This is why in the article, Cheung presented a more logical argument that emanated from the fundamental premises of the Christian perspective.

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In a gist, Cheung (2004) argued that there is God who is all-powerful and all-loving. With God’s power, He is capable of eliminating suffering and pain. His benevolence would result to His intention of eradicating evils. Consequently, evil still exists because God a good purpose for it. With God’s power and goodness, He would eventually end all these sufferings and pains in life. The prevalence of evils doesn’t mean that God doesn’t exist. It merely implies that it would eventually be eliminated because God is good.

Analysis and Conclusion

With the surveyed articles presented above, this paper has formulated its own analysis to answer the quite controversial issue of the existence of evil.

First and foremost, this paper proposes that there is God. If we would formulate a notion of God, it is always good and logical to assume that He is all-powerful and all-benevolent. It would be difficult and more painful to imagine that there is supreme being who exists for the sole purpose of punishing us. There is God because there is a creation. The cause and effect analysis of St. Thomas Aquinas is quite a convincing argument for this. It would be natural for a creator to produce something with no good intention. For instance, a sculptor would not create a work of art with bad intention on his/her mind creating it. It is innate to him/her to produce a beautiful and as much as possible perfect masterpiece. Of course, the actual product would not be as perfect as it is in his/her mind. However, this doesn’t imply that the sculptor is evil. He may be innately good even if there is imperfection in his/her creation. Needless to say that this analogy also applies with the existence of an all-loving and all-powerful God.

There is a supreme creator who made man in his own image. As an all-powerful being, God couldn’t interfere with the affairs of man because of free will. Free will has unintended consequences, that we call evils. Inasmuch as God wants to eradicate evils and harms in this world, His authority could have superseded by the power of free will which He gave to man as a sign of love. Through free will, man make choices so as not being controlled by God. If free will doesn’t exist, man is like a puppet that is being controlled by a puppet master. Subsequently, since God loves man, He took his control out of man’s life.

In connection, free will doesn’t mean doing evil. It is a powerful instrument of choosing the right path. With it, man should take the right path. Although evils seem to reign in life, they could be viewed as temporary. It is logical to assume life is meaningless if we are just expecting bad things to happen. We might have to annihilate humanity if that would be true. However, it is the position of this paper that every choice that we make has an accompanying equally balanced results that may good or evil. There are no options that have purely good or bad consequences. In other words, there is no situation in this world that would only produce an unpleasant result because that would mean complete annihilation of everything. The result would come from a balance of good and evil actions.

Now, when it comes to the nature of things in the lower form of animals, harm really exists. It is the normal flow of things that other creatures to subdue other species. It is part of the grand design. It is a design that can only be sustained if man would not interfere in it. It would be valid to assume that man’s interference with nature has caused destruction to the planet. This is because the natural laws are perfect. It has all the necessary functions for the planet to survive. Typhoons, earthquakes, and the like are natural occurrences that are caused by the overproduction and overconsumption of man through the utilization of the environment’s resources.

The natural inclinations of the lower forms of animal are also necessary for the survival of each and their own species and for the emergence of the new species. These phenomena are all beneficial to the existence of the planet. Man seems to be the unnecessary component in sustaining the equilibrium of the planet if free will would not be used properly.

It is certainly true that man is capable of moral actions. Man’s actions may interfere or not with the natural flow of things in nature. However, as mentioned earlier, there are actions that are good-producing. These actions may contribute to the well being of the planet if man would only realize the power of free will. In contrast, evils caused by man are unintended consequences of the free will given by God. This is why free will is coupled with superior intellect. Man is guided by free will and a superior intellect for him to do good and avoid harm to others. The superior intellect is here to compensate with man’s free will.

There are no absolute standards of good and evil. It has to depend on the ability of man to evaluate a particular situation. It can be judged based on the motive, actual behavior and the consequences of the action. In short, actions should be based on the use of the ability of man to calculate, rationalize and good intention. Man has to plan his actions with the intention of doing good.

In relation to theodicy, it is the position of this paper that there is God but He doesn’t want evils to happen. Evils can be speculated as a result of unintended consequences of free will and superior intellect of man.

With regards to the Defense argument, it is more valid to claim that evils don’t have to be equated with the non-existence of God. The problem of evils doesn’t depend on whether there is God or not. It is a necessary result of the free will, miscalculation or ignorance of man. Definitely, there are choices to be made in life. The best choice is coming from many choices with the use of the intellect and free will. Evils would arise because of irrationality, lack of planning, miscalculation or ignorance. Equating evil with the non-existence of God is like blaming God for man’s mistakes. In this line of thinking, man is removing himself from accountability that makes God his scapegoat.

Finally, it is the position of this paper that part of the theodicy argument is valid more particularly the argument that God exists but he has no intention of bringing harm to this universe. Evils, as emphasized above, are unintended consequences brought about by man’s ignorance, miscalculation and bad intention. It is also the point of this paper that it is illogical to accept the Defence argument since the existence of evil can’t be equated with the denial of God.

Of course, it would be noted that this paper doesn’t assume that it provided all the absolute answers nor it has figured all out the problem of evil. The problem of evil is quite complicated issue that it can’t be discussed easily in a single paper. The analysis of this paper has been deduced from several articles and from the finite capacity of the writer.

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