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For What Reason Is the Problem of Evil a Problem for Religious Believers? Essay

a)For what reason is the Problem of Evil a problem for religious believers? (9)

Probably the most powerful reason against the existence of The Classical God of Theism (hereafter referred to as God) is evil and suffering in the world. The problem of evil is an ‘a posterori’ argument, established from experience based on empirical senses. It is also synthetic as evil and suffering can be seen around us daily. There are a number of possible reasons for the problem of evil and why it causes a problem for religious believers, making it an inductive argument also. In his book Philosophy of Religion John Hick defined evil and suffering as “physical pain, mental suffering and moral wickedness” “The Rock of Theism” is what David Hume called the Problem of Evil as it is a strong argument for atheists to use against the existence of God and such a hard one for theists to address. The challenge of evil is the ultimate challenge to believe in God as it can’t be solved.

The problem of evil causes problems for religious believers as it presents four problems, a theological problem as it challenges the nature of God, a philosophical problem as the believer has to accept conflicting claims, a diverse problem as evil comes in different forms with each requiring its own explanation and finally a challenging problem as the existence of evil and suffering is real and happening every day. As there is more than one type of evil that also causes problems for religious believers as God didn’t just create one evil but multiple ones. Moral evil is “all evil caused deliberately by humans doing what they ought not to do” (Richard Swinburne) e.g. murder, terrorism, war whereas natural evil is “the evil that originates independently of human actions” (John Hick) e.g. volcanoes, famine, disease. Leibniz coined the term ‘metaphysical evil’, which is tracing back the evil (moral and natural) to their ultimate cause. Monists claim that the universe is a single harmonious unity that is good and so evil is a mere illusion in our minds, “evil is not something God has created it is simply the absence of good”.

The problem with this is that it seems to contradict our own experience of the world where there is obviously evil and suffering. Another problem for religious believers is that for atheists the problem of evil is convincing evidence against Gods existence as they claim that a loving God wouldn’t have created a universe so full of evil and suffering. “I cannot imagine any omnipotent sentient being sufficiently cruel to create the world we inhabit” (Iris Murdoch.) There are many problems religious believers face to do with evil and suffering. If God created the world ex-nihilo (out of nothing) then he is totally responsible for it. If He was all powerful then He would have to power to stop evil and suffering, but it still exists and if He was all loving then He would want to stop it, but evil and suffering affects everyone.

As evil and suffering exists, either God isn’t all powerful and all loving or He doesn’t exist. In 1955 J.L. Mackie proposed the Inconsistent Triad. He furthered the work of Epicurus and Hume and constructed the inconsistent triad. Epicurus first proposed the dilemma as a riddle and Hume furthered his theory and concluded that “the Omni qualities of God and evil cannot exist simultaneously but as evil does exist, then the Classical God of Theism cannot”. Through the triad Mackie said “the conjunction of any two entails the negation of the third”, so logically the triad doesn’t hold up. The theist must recognise what Basil Mitchell describes as “the full force of the problem”, if one angle can be removed the problem is solved, but while 3 angles remain there exists a logical inconsistency that must be resolved.

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