What is meant by the problem of evil and suffering for religious believers? Examine two solutions to this problem.

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1. What is meant by the problem of suffering for religious believers? Examine two solutions to this problem.

Evil and suffering is a problem for religious believers as it challenges the existence of God. Theists believe that God is omniscient, omnibenevolent and omnipotent, however if he was then he would want to abolish evil and suffering. Augustine said “Either God cannot abolish evil or he will not: if he cannot then he is not all-powerful, if he will not, then he is not all good”. J. L. Mackie argued that the existence of an all loving and powerful God, and the existence of evil and suffering is incompatible, and this results in the inconsistent triad. Mackie has said that “if God is omnipotent and omnibenevolent how can there be evil and suffering in the world”. The existence of evil in the world goes against the qualities that religious believers think God holds.

There are two types of evil that cause suffering: natural evil and moral evil. Natural evil is the malfunctioning of the natural world which causes floods, diseases and earthquakes. Moral evil is the result of humans taking actions that are morally wrong, for example 9/11 and the Holocaust. These were both planned and carried out by humans. This challenges God’s nature as he allowed these incidents occur causing many innocent people to suffer. If God was all loving then he would want to put an end to evil and suffering. Flew believes that this is the biggest problem for religious believers because they do not have an answer as to why God should not intervene. Evil and suffering raises question about God’s goodness and it may lead people to believe that God is not all good, therefore he is morally imperfect. As this is not the God of classical theism, some may suggests that he is not worthy of being worshipped.

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One solution to the problem of suffering is the Augustian theodicy. Augustine argues that the Bible shows that God created a world that was perfectly good and free from any defects. He defined evil to be the privation of good, as he believed it was the going wrong of something that is actually good in itself. Augustine believed that evil is not a thing or substance that God created; however there are higher and lesser goods. He suggested that evil came about because God gave beings (angels and humans) freewill and they chose to turn away from God and ...

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