Explain the difficulties which the problem of evil poses for the religious believer.

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Explain the difficulties which the problem of evil poses for the religious believer. [35]

Evil is a multifaceted term that can refer to moral evil (acts committed by human beings such as murder or rape) or natural evil (naturally occurring events such as famines, diseases and earthquakes). Both forms cause unimaginable human suffering. John Hick described evil as “physical pain, mental suffering and moral wickedness.” It is not surprising, then, that the existence of evil can be a stumbling block for religious believers.

Evil and suffering poses an obvious problem for the believer who trusts in a loving and powerful God. As Epicurus surmised in his inconsistent triad, if God is willing but unable to prevent evil he must not be omnipotent. Or, he could be able to prevent it and doesn’t. This means he is not omnibenevolent, and is not worthy of worship. The existence of evil calls into question the traditional theistic attributes of God. Hume had very similar ideas to Epicurus, he wrote, “Epicurus's old questions are still unanswered.” The ironical Hume suggests that the god who designed the universe must have been a failure at the job and should have tried his hand at something else. The creator of our universe, says Hume, might have been a god in his dotage. Or perhaps he was `an infant deity' still practising his craft.
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The suffering of children is a particular stumbling block for believers. It is understandable why sinful adults should suffer, but unless one holds to the doctrine of total depravity children are innocent. The Brothers Karamazov by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky explores this theme. It tells the story of brothers Ivan and Alyosha - Alyosha is a holy young monk, whilst Ivan is a worldly-wise young man returning home from the big city. Ivan tells Alyosha he cannot accept the suffering of children, using the horrific practices of the Turks shooting babies when they invaded Russia as an ...

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