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The Problem of Evil.

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Introduction

Dima Alexandrov The Problem of Evil The Judaeo/Christian tradition is founded upon the belief that there exists a supernatural personal being who is the ultimate creator and to which all other beings owe their existence. Three major characteristics are ascribed to this being (God?), that of being wholly good, wholly powerful (omnipotent) and all knowing (omniscient). This is the foundation of western religious thought and it is these characteristics and their relationship with evil which comprise the theme of this essay. I intend to show that the existence of evil is not a sufficient justification for the non-existence of God. I will argue that a wholly good, wholly powerful, God can co-exist with Evil. This does not mean that, as a consequence, I will argue that a wholly good, wholly powerful, God exists; I simply intend to argue that the presence of Evil itself is not a sufficient reason for denying the existence of a God. Evil can conveniently be thought as being split into two general classifications: 1. Human evil, such as when a person or even a state treats someone badly. OR 2. Natural evil, for example volcanic eruptions, famine and floods. Of course whilst convenient, the two broad categories of evil cannot be mutually exclusive incorporating as they do, what might be thought of as a 'crossover effect'. ...read more.

Middle

For example, gravity can sometimes be harmful but at other times it may also benefit us. When we speak of free-will we need to be clear in our understanding of what an omnipotent, benevolent being would be able to do and not do. A condition of God allowing free-will means that man (that is man in the biblical sense) must have the freedom to choose between a good action and an evil action, it simply wouldn't be logical for God to endow mankind with free-will only to remove freedom of action when an evil act is about to be committed. With that in mind, it follows that there has to be a limit to His omnipotence and omnibenevolence. Furthermore, once God has granted free-will, and considering the myriad of choices mankind has to make during his existence, either collectively or individually, it must be that at some time during mankind's existence an evil choice is made. This is the argument to justify 'original sin' as an attribute of mankind, the theological idea of mankind's fallen nature. From the principle of an omnipotent God allowing free-will, He would also be bound to allow evil in mankind. From that standpoint we get a clearer understanding of what an all-knowing (omniscient) God can do. Similarly, He would not know which choice, subsequent to a given event, mankind would make. ...read more.

Conclusion

(Hick, John. Dialogues in the Philosophy of Religion (Palgrave 2001), p. 9.) This view of Hick is a rational interpretation of the relationships between God, mankind and evil. Mankind, having free-will, is neither an automaton nor mildly accepting of 'God's Will'. Mankind questions, predicts and influences events, so illness is treated and cured and natural disasters are predicted and defences built. Armed with free-will, mankind has the opportunity to counter evil (be it natural or human). On this interpretation God looks upon mankind as an ally in His fight against worldly evil, not seeing mankind as born into evil needing to be saved by Him, but seeing mankind as accepting subjects, accepting of both God and his code of morals. It is humanity's lot to be born, to live and finally to die, there is no avoiding that. But if we seek to leave a slightly happier world behind us, then it would be consistent to always seek to pursue the good, to care for nature and for all things natural and to try to help our fellow beings grow and develop. Of course, the worthy ideal of leaving a better place behind has to be tempered with a degree of realism. We have to accept that our individual efforts may hardly seem adequate. One man can only achieve so much and yet, if only for the sake of generations to come, mankind simply cannot refuse the struggle. ...read more.

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