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Examine what Theists understand as the Problem of Evil.

Uploaded by *katie_pierce* on Nov 01, 2002

It is impossible to deny the existence of evil in the world as we as human beings experience pain and suffering every day. It is generally accepted that there are two different types of evil – natural and moral. Moral evil is caused by human beings and occurs when humans inflict suffering on other people (e.g. world wars, the Holocaust), animals (e.g. animal testing) or the environment (e.g. pollution, destroying the rainforests). Natural evil is not caused by humans and occurs naturally in the world – e.g. earthquakes, droughts and cancer. However, not all evils can be easily separated into these categories as humans can contribute to natural evils – i.e. although cancer is a naturally occurring disease, humans often do things which bring it about.

The problem is not the evil itself but the fact that it exists in the first place. The problem of evil is a problem caused by the nature of God. If we believe that God created everything (‘creatio ex nihilo’), then he has total responsibility for the existence of evil as he must have created it. This provokes the question: why did God create evil or why does he allow evil to exist?

The God of classical theism is all good and all-powerful. This suggests that he would want to remove evil for the good of the human race and is able to do so. Therefore, if God is all good and all-powerful then there should be no evil in the world. However, there clearly is evil in the world. This brings about the following possibilities and questions.

God is not good all good – is he a malevolent God?

God is not all-powerful – is he worthy of worship?

God does not exist.

This is the problem of evil. Augustine summed it up most effectively when he said, ‘Either God cannot abolish evil or he will not. If he cannot then he is not all-powerful. If he will not then he is not all good.’ Augustine viewed evil as merely the absence of good just as dark is the absence of light, a non-being – ‘a name for nothing but the want of good’. He looked to the Bible to account for the existence of God and believed that the fall of humanity from grace, as shown in Genesis, showed the origin of evil. He believed that evil came into the world because human beings had deliberately turned...

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Uploaded by:   *katie_pierce*

Date:   11/01/2002

Category:   Religion

Length:   14 pages (3,145 words)

Views:   1449

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