God Freedom And Evil Pdf
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- 3. The Problem of Evil and Theodicy
- Alvin Plantinga's free-will defense
- Logical Problem of Evil
- The Problem of Evil
This chapter questions two common interpretations of Leibniz's theodicy. The first interpretation maintains that, all considered, most of the arguments Leibniz uses are traditional. The second interpretation maintains that Leibniz's conception of evil and his justification of God are roughly fixed since the Confessio Philosophi The chapter argues that Leibniz regards injustice as the real evil.
3. The Problem of Evil and Theodicy
The existence of evil and suffering in our world seems to pose a serious challenge to belief in the existence of a perfect God. If God were all-knowing, it seems that God would know about all of the horrible things that happen in our world. If God were all-powerful, God would be able to do something about all of the evil and suffering. Furthermore, if God were morally perfect, then surely God would want to do something about it. And yet we find that our world is filled with countless instances of evil and suffering.
These facts about evil and suffering seem to conflict with the orthodox theist claim that there exists a perfectly good God. The challenged posed by this apparent conflict has come to be known as the problem of evil. This article addresses one form of that problem that is prominent in recent philosophical discussions—that the conflict that exists between the claims of orthodox theism and the facts about evil and suffering in our world is a logical one.
The article clarifies the nature of the logical problem of evil and considers various theistic responses to the problem. Special attention is given to the free will defense, which has been the most widely discussed theistic response to the logical problem of evil. Journalist and best-selling author Lee Strobel commissioned George Barna, the public-opinion pollster, to conduct a nationwide survey.
If God is all-powerful, all-knowing and perfectly good, why does he let so many bad things happen? It would be one thing if the only people who suffered debilitating diseases or tragic losses were the likes of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin or Osama Bin Laden. As it is, however, thousands of good-hearted, innocent people experience the ravages of violent crime, terminal disease, and other evils.
Michael Peterson , p. Something is dreadfully wrong with our world. An earthquake kills hundreds in Peru. A pancreatic cancer patient suffers prolonged, excruciating pain and dies.
A pit bull attacks a two-year-old child, angrily ripping his flesh and killing him. Countless multitudes suffer the ravages of war in Somalia. A crazed cult leader pushes eighty-five people to their deaths in Waco, Texas.
Millions starve and die in North Korea as famine ravages the land. Horrible things of all kinds happen in our world—and that has been the story since the dawn of civilization. Peterson , p. They claim that, since there is something morally problematic about a morally perfect God allowing all of the evil and suffering we see, there must not be a morally perfect God after all. In the second half of the twentieth century, atheologians that is, persons who try to prove the non-existence of God commonly claimed that the problem of evil was a problem of logical inconsistency.
Mackie , p. Here it can be shown, not that religious beliefs lack rational support, but that they are positively irrational, that several parts of the essential theological doctrine are inconsistent with one another. Evil is a problem, for the theist, in that a contradiction is involved in the fact of evil on the one hand and belief in the omnipotence and omniscience of God on the other.
Mackie and McCloskey can be understood as claiming that it is impossible for all of the following statements to be true at the same time:. Any two or three of them might be true at the same time; but there is no way that all of them could be true.
In other words, 1 through 4 form a logically inconsistent set. What does it mean to say that something is logically inconsistent? None of the statements in 1 through 4 directly contradicts any other, so if the set is logically inconsistent, it must be because we can deduce a contradiction from it. This is precisely what atheologians claim to be able to do. Atheologians claim that a contradiction can easily be deduced from 1 through 4 once we think through the implications of the divine attributes cited in 1 through 3.
They reason as follows:. Statements 6 through 8 jointly imply that if the perfect God of theism really existed, there would not be any evil or suffering. However, as we all know, our world is filled with a staggering amount of evil and suffering.
Atheologians claim that, if we reflect upon 6 through 8 in light of the fact of evil and suffering in our world, we should be led to the following conclusions:. Putting the point more bluntly, this line of argument suggests that—in light of the evil and suffering we find in our world—if God exists, he is either impotent, ignorant or wicked.
It should be obvious that 13 conflicts with 1 through 3 above. To make the conflict more clear, we can combine 1 , 2 and 3 into the following single statement.
There is no way that 13 and 14 could both be true at the same time. These statements are logically inconsistent or contradictory. Statement 14 is simply the conjunction of 1 through 3 and expresses the central belief of classical theism. However, atheologians claim that statement 13 can also be derived from 1 through 3. Because a contradiction can be deduced from statements 1 through 4 and because all theists believe 1 through 4 , atheologians claim that theists have logically inconsistent beliefs.
They note that philosophers have always believed it is never rational to believe something contradictory. Can the believer in God escape from this dilemma? As a perfectly good God, he also feels your pain. Denying the truth of either 1 , 2 , 3 or 4 is certainly one way for the theist to escape from the logical problem of evil, but it would not be a very palatable option to many theists.
In the remainder of this essay, we will examine some theistic responses to the logical problem of evil that do not require the abandonment of any central tenet of theism. Theists who want to rebut the logical problem of evil need to find a way to show that 1 through 4 —perhaps despite initial appearances—are consistent after all.
We said above that a set of statements is logically inconsistent if and only if that set includes a direct contradiction or a direct contradiction can be deduced from that set. That means that a set of statements is logically consistent if and only if that set does not include a direct contradiction and a direct contradiction cannot be deduced from that set.
In other words,. Notice that 15 does not say that consistent statements must actually be true at the same time. They may all be false or some may be true and others false. Consistency only requires that it be possible for all of the statements to be true even if that possibility is never actualized.
It does not require the joint of a consistent set of statements to be plausible. It may be exceedingly unlikely or improbable that a certain set of statements should all be true at the same time. But improbability is not the same thing as impossibility. As long as there is nothing contradictory about their conjunction, it will be possible even if unlikely for them all to be true at the same time.
This brief discussion allows us to see that the atheological claim that statements 1 through 4 are logically inconsistent is a rather strong one. How might a theist go about demonstrating that 16 is false?
Some theists suggest that perhaps God has a good reason for allowing the evil and suffering that he does. Mass murderers and serial killers typically have reasons for why they commit horrible crimes, but they do not have good reasons. If God were to have a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil, would it be possible for God to be omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good, and yet for there to be evil and suffering?
The most that can be concluded is that either God does not exist or God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil. So, some theists suggest that the real question behind the logical problem of evil is whether 17 is true.
If it is possible that God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil and suffering to occur, then the logical problem of evil fails to prove the non-existence of God. If, however, it is not possible that God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil, then it seems that 13 would be true: God is either not omnipotent, not omniscient, or not perfectly good.
An implicit assumption behind this part of the debate over the logical problem of evil is the following:. Is 18 correct? Many philosophers think so.
It is difficult to see how a God who allowed bad things to happen just for the heck of it could be worthy of reverence, faith and worship. I just felt like letting it happen. What would it look like for God to have a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil? Suppose a gossipy neighbor were to tell you that Mrs. Jones just allowed someone to inflict unwanted pain upon her child. Your first reaction to this news might be one of horror. But once you find out that the pain was caused by a shot that immunized Mrs.
Jones as a danger to society. Generally, we believe the following moral principle to be true. In the immunization case, Mrs. Jones has a morally sufficient reason for overriding or suspending this principle.
A higher moral duty—namely, the duty of protecting the long-term health of her child—trumps the lesser duty expressed by If God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil and suffering, theists claim, it will probably look something like Mrs.
Alvin Plantinga , has offered the most famous contemporary philosophical response to this question. He suggests the following as a possible morally sufficient reason:.
God could not eliminate much of the evil and suffering in this world without thereby eliminating the greater good of having created persons with free will with whom he could have relationships and who are able to love one another and do good deeds.
MSR1 claims that God allows some evils to occur that are smaller in value than a greater good to which they are intimately connected. If God eliminated the evil, he would have to eliminate the greater good as well.
God is pictured as being in a situation much like that of Mrs. Jones: she allowed a small evil the pain of a needle to be inflicted upon her child because that pain was necessary for bringing about a greater good immunization against polio.
Before we try to decide whether MSR1 can justify God in allowing evil and suffering to occur, some of its key terms need to be explained. It is the view that causal determinism is false, that—unlike robots or other machines—we can make choices that are genuinely free.
According to Plantinga, libertarian free will is a morally significant kind of free will.
Alvin Plantinga's free-will defense
Logical Problem of Evil
Alvin Plantinga's free-will defense is a logical argument developed by the American analytic philosopher Alvin Plantinga and published in its final version in his book God, Freedom, and Evil. Mackie beginning in In , Mackie conceded that Plantinga's defense successfully refuted his argument in The Miracle of Theism , though he did not claim that the problem of evil had been put to rest. The logical argument from evil argued by J.
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The epistemic question posed by evil is whether the world contains undesirable states of affairs that provide the basis for an argument that makes it unreasonable to believe in the existence of God. This discussion is divided into eight sections.
The Problem of Evil
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