The problem of evil refers to the nature of God. Many assume that God is benevolent but hardly anyone really considers the possibility that God is not all good but rather an all evil, malevolent God. The question is if God is all good and all powerful, then why did he create a world full of evil and suffering? There is so much suffering in this world that a lot of people find it hard to believe that, if God does exist, he is good. There is the argument that an all good, all powerful God would create some suffering in the world to perhaps allow people to achieve greater goods. However, in all honesty, there is more evil than good in the world and so the likely hood of that isn’t very high. So in order to explain the nature of the problem of evil, then one has to consider the possibility of an evil God as well as a benevolent one. Is God willing to prevent evil, but unable to? Is God able to prevent evil, but unwilling to do so? Or is God able to prevent evil and willing to?
If everyone goes along with the assumed theory that God is all good, it is harder to come up with reasons and theories that would explain Gods reason for allowing evil and suffering in the world. However, if you consider the idea that God is not all good but rather evil, then everything becomes clearer. Then again, there is the question of if there is an all evil God, then why did he create beauty and happiness in the world? Or why did he bother creating the world in the first place if he was just going to see it destroyed by the evil within human nature? The answer is this; he simply created beauty and goodness so that he could take it all away, to see us all suffer. This theory however, only seems to raise new questions rather than just answering the old and so it still leaves the question, is God good or bad?
Another argument would be free will. The Bible states that God granted humans the gift of free will. However some would say that as a result of this, we have created our own evil and suffering. We start our own wars; we are the reason so many people are dying of starvation. But then there are those who would argue that it is better to have free will because it is a good that ‘far outweighs the evil it produces’. The Ireanean theodicy attempts to explain natural evil as well as moral evil. This theodicy states that things like bad experiences can make a person stronger. For example people who have suffered through a life threatening disease and survived may say that they have actually gained something from it, regardless to how much pain it brought. Similarly, by creating natural evil, God is allowing us to ‘grow and develop morally and spiritually’.
However the issue with this theory is that it fails to explain why God allows suffering to be distributed to some, while others enrich themselves in luxury. Therefore we are again brought to the question ‘is God good or bad?’ There are other ways of explaining why evil happens. One is Augustine’s theory that evil is the result of angels who turned away from God. Generally, Augustine’s theodicy is the traditionally accepted one. He based his theory on two key passages from the bible: Genesis 3 and Romans 5:12-20. Augustine believed in a good God who created the world with goodness and evil is a ‘privation of good’, not an entity itself but something that lacks goodness.