Full notes A* summary notes This page: C/B summary notes
The logical problem of evil as a version of the problem of evil (Mackie)
- Mackie argues that an all-powerful God would be able to stop evil and an all-loving God would be motivated to stop evil.
- Logically, something can’t exist if there’s a being with the power and motivation to eliminate it.
- So, if evil exists, then God cannot exist.
- Evil, omnipotence & omnibenevolence form an inconsistent triad – meaning they cannot all exist.
The evidential problem of evil as a version of the problem of evil (Hume or Rowe)
- Hume puts forward an evidential problem of evil.
- Hume thinks it is actually logically possible for God and evil to exist.
- However, evil is evidence against God’s existence.
- The evidence of evil that we see in the world means belief in God is not justified.
- There could be a God technically, but the evidence is against it.
Augustine’s theodicy (response to the problem of evil)
- Augustine says that God allows evil because we deserve it.
- He says “evil is either sin or punishment for sin”.
- The ‘fall’ of humanity due to Adam & Eve disobeying God caused original sin – a corruption in human nature giving us an irresistible temptation to sin. This explains moral evil – the evil humans do to each other.
- As punishment, God banished us from the garden of eden into this fallen world, which explains natural evil – evil resulting from the workings of the natural world e.g. disease and natural disasters.
Augustine vs the logical problem
- Original sin violates moral responsibility & incompatibility with omnibenevolence.
- Criticism of Augustine: how can it be fair for us to be punished for the actions of Adam and Eve?
- Their disobedience was not our fault, so it cannot be loving for God to punish us for that.
Evaluation of Augustine vs the logical problem
- Augustine responds: we aren’t punished for their actions, we are punished because we are sinful beings – because we are born with original sin!
Augustine vs the evidential problem
- Criticism of Augustine: there is lots of scientific evidence against the fall – evolution suggests we evolved.
- The idea that sin is inherited is unscientific nonsense.
Evaluation of Augustine vs the evidential problem
- Maybe the fall story didn’t happen – but there is still good evidence for original sin – look at how terrible humans are e.g. Nazis.
Irenaeus & Hick’s theodicy (response to the problem of evil)
- God allows evil because it serves the good purpose of soul-making – character development.
- To become good people and deserve heaven, we must choose good over evil.
- In that case, we need evil in order to become good.
- E.g. if you see someone suffering from disease, you might become a better person through being more compassionate.
- So, evil is required for us to be able to develop into good people who deserve to go to heaven.
Irenaeus & Hick vs the logical problem
- Criticism of Irenaeus/Hick: Why didn’t God just create us good to begin with..?
- This whole process of soul-making is unnecessary and evil.
Evaluation of Irenaeus & Hick vs the logical problem
- However – Irenaeus/Hick argue God can’t make us good.
- A good person is one who has freely chosen good over evil. If God makes us good – then we aren’t really choosing good ourselves, and then we wouldn’t really be good.
- So, Soul-making is necessary.
Irenaeus & Hick vs the evidential problem
- Criticism of Irenaeus/Hick: there is lots of evil that does not help soul-making.
- E.g. a child who dies of cancer – they were too young to understand what was happening, there’s no way that evil helped them become a better person – in fact it prevented that.
- Some evil is soul-breaking, causing people to become depressed etc – it’s not soul-making.
Evaluation of Irenaeus & Hick vs the evidential problem
- Maybe other people could have learned lessons from the child dying.
- E.g. their parents.