Philosophy

Theism and the Problem of Evil: A Critical Study

Theism and the Problem of Evil: A Critical Study

ABSTRACT

The presence of evil in a world said to be created by a “Being” who is not only omnipotent, omniscient and perfectly good is problematic. It is a problem that has a perturbed man for ages and coupled with various natural disaster still make the concept problematic one. How can there be a loving God, an all-powerful and all-knowing God and still face the problem of evil, if he is perfectly good and created everything then where does evil originate from?

Atheist or agnostics base their case on the lack of evidence for God existence, however, atheists have at least one very powerful positive argument for their position that there cannot be a living, all-loving, all-powerful God because there is so much evil and suffering in the world. Atheists raise questions like this: If you were a parent wouldn’t you do everything in your power to prevent your children from needless suffering? Many innocent children suffer from painful diseases, with this kind of problem how can we affirm a loving and all-powerful God in the world.

In this study, we are going to look through the lenses of philosophers who talk about the problem of evil and God’s existence. Our main focus on this work is theism and the problem of evil which will dwell in chapter four of this work. Before going to the main work, we will first look at the evil problem, the different types of evil and different explanations (philosophical and religious explanations) of evil.

We will talk more in chapter four that deal with the problem of Theism and the Problem of Evil.

According to Augustine, evil is not a being, it is a result of privation of good, so it was not and cannot be created, evil cannot exist on its own. John Hick in his analysis gave some points about why it is evil in the world. On his Greater Good Defence: God himself could not achieve a certain result without allowing us to struggle against evil and to endure suffering some evil are necessary for achieving a certain good end. The good that is achieved outweighs the evil and the same or a greater amount of good could not have been attained by any means that did not involve the presence of those evils.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page

Table of Contents

Abstract

CHAPTER ONE:

1.0 General Introduction

1.1 Statement of the problem

1.2 Purpose of the study

1.3 Significance of the study

1.4 Scope of the study

1.5 Methodology

1.6 Literature Review

1.7 References

CHAPTER TWO: THE CONCEPT OF THEISM

2.1 Meaning of Theism

2.2 The Idea of God

2.3 The Various Arguments for the Existence of God. Theist Perceptive

2.4 References

CHAPTER THREE: THE CONCEPT OF EVIL

3.1 Concept of Evil

3.2 The Problem of Evil

3.2.1 Types of Evil

3.2.2 Ontological Evil

3.2.3 Montal Evil Suffering

3.2.4 Natural Evil

3.3 How various philosophers try to find a solution to this problem (evil)

3.4 References

CHAPTER FOUR: THEISM AND THE PROBLEM OF EVIL

4.1 What Theists understand as the problem of evil

4.2 John Hick’s Greater Good Defense

4.3 John Hick’s on Evil and the God of Love

4.4 Augustine’s Approach to the concept of Evil

4.5 Plotmus on the Problem of Evil

CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

5.1 Summary

5.2 Conclusion

5.3 References

Bibliography

CHAPTER ONE

1.0 INTRODUCTION

The idea of God and the problem of evil is one of the most controversial themes in philosophy. Various arguments have been advanced down the ages by philosophers and theologians on this very problem of Evil and God and there has been no definite answer to this problem. The theist gave reasons why evil persists in the world created by a loving God, who also believed that he is omnipotent, omniscient and all-merciful. There seems to be a conflict between the theist and atheist on this very problem of God and Evil. The atheist used this as a fertile ground to prove that there is no God as claimed by the theist.

John Hick in “Gender Good Defence” is of the view that when God initially created humanity, there was still some work to be done in making us a completed product. However, this remaining work could not be accomplished by God alone, we have to contribute to the process. Using the Greater Good Defence, Hick argues that even God himself could not achieve certain results without allowing us to struggle against evil and endure suffering.

Furthermore, the first chapter will concentrate on the statement of the problem, theism and the problem of evil. A method of research, purpose and the significance of this work will be discussed.

The second chapter will dwell on the meaning of theism, the idea of God and the various argument for the existence of God (prove of God’s existence).

The third chapter will be on the concept of evil as the problem, the meaning of evil and the different philosophical explanations of evil and finally the different types of evil in the world.

Chapter four will dwell on the problem (Theism and the problem of evil). We will first look at and examine evil as the problem and different ways of explanation given by theists concerning this very problem of evil and God.

Finally, chapter five will be the summary of this work, reflecting what has been inferring from chapter four then evaluate and conclude the work.

1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

The existence of God and the problem of evil has been a problem for a long that men have searched for the reason why evil persist in a world claimed to be created by God who is omnipotent, omniscient and all-merciful. Man has tried to find out the causes of evil, why the man was created by God involved in bad action or why man carry out bad action on their fellow man and why there is so much evil in the world especially natural evil.

The theist is faced with the problem of evil and this lead to their search of what is evil and causes of it, if it is a thing and also what and who is responsible for evil in the world. Different theists have given different views of evil. The Manicheans claimed to have the answer to the problem of evil, according to them, there are two ultimate principles and all sources of all things namely, Ormued (The Principle of Good) and Ahriman (The Principle of Evil). The Ahriman is the source of evil, darkness and all material things.

Men souls came from Ormuzd (the principle of good) while the body from Ahriman. These two ultimate principles according to them, are eternal and in perpetual conflict with each other and this conflict is reflected in the things that come from them.

Hence light and darkness, spirit and matter, good and evil are also in perpetual conflict. Christian theologians believe that evil is the wrath of God meted out on disobedient children. Augustine holds that evil is the negation or privation of being. Evil is not a thing according to Augustine and therefore was not and cannot be created. Everything that is created is good and everything that is substance is good, but evil the origin of which I was trying to find out is not a substance and was not created, therefore the question or the problem of evil should not arise because it does not make sense to ask about what is not a thing (substance). Evil cannot exist on its own but Good can exist on its own.

1.2 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

The purpose of this work is to bring out the work of different theists and their different explanations on the problem of evil and the existence of God and most importantly on how they tried to find solutions or answers to this very problem of evil and the existence of God.

Before showing why evil persist in this world created by God who is omnipotent, omniscient and all-loving (which is the major aim of this work) if it is a thing or not, then if it is a thing, who created it? What causes it?

Why does evil persist in this world created by God who is omnipotent, omniscient and all-loving? And also a critical study of different theists who try to solve or who gave their explanation and meaning to the very problem (Theism and the problem of evil) at hand.

1.3 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY

The importance of this study is to show why evil exists in the world created by God who is all-loving, omnipotent and omniscient. The importance of this work is to bring out the different explanations of the very problem at hand, the different meanings of evil and the different ways theists try in solving the problem. Most atheists or agnostics based their case on the lack of evidence for God’s existence, they argue that we cannot claim to have a loving God, all-powerful and all-merciful and still allow evil in the world, why a loving God will allow suffering in this world.

The most important of the study is the explanation by theist why evil persists in the world. Some theists claimed that evil exists because of what is known as Greater Good Defence, which explains that some evil is necessary for achieving a certain good end. The good that is achieved outweighs the evil and the same or a greater amount of good could not have been attained by any means that did not involve the presence of those evils.

1.4 SCOPE OF THE STUDY

The scope of this work is such that it would further strengthen the fact that evil is opposed to good, which is the integrity or perfection of being. The problem of evil is sometimes abstracted to designate the ill affecting subject. The existence of evil in the world would all times be the greater of all the problems which the mind encounter when it reflects on God and its relation to the world.

The problem of evil does not disprove the existence of God, evil exists, yes, according to some theist, evil exists but because man misuses his free will, according to Teilhard De Chardin a Jesuit intellectual, consider the universe as an imperfect mechanism that is undergoing constant changes in terms of development, the universe we inhabit has not yet attained its perfect goal which it is gradually moving towards. According to him, the world is still in process of formation, therefore a world or the process of evolution is a world, which suffers labour and sins at every degree of evolution we find evil always and everywhere.

1.5 METHODOLOGY

As would be expected of a research work of this nature, much of the information for this study shall be gathered from primary sources such as books and other library materials. This work will be centred on a philosophical exposition of theism and the problem of evil.

This work will be done by analyzing the concept of theism, and the various arguments for the existence of God. And generally proceeds by looking at the concept of evil, the various kind of evil.

In comparison to the nature of evil, different philosophers have taken different views of the problems of evil and our evaluation of this work will be the value of the entire work that is theism and the view of evil.

References

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Adorno, T. W., Negative Dialectics, trans. by E. B. Ashton (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1973)iii.

Almeida, Michael J., and Graham Oppy, ‘Sceptical Theism and Evidential Arguments from Evil’, AustralasianJournal of Philosophy, 81:4 (2003), 496-516iv.

Badham, Paul, Is there a Christian Case for Assisted Dying? (London: SPCK, 2009)v.

Bakunin, Mikhail, God and the State, available at vi.

Barth, Karl, Dogmatics in Outline, trans. by G. T. Thomson (London: SCM Press, 2001)viii.

Becker, Lawrence C., ‘Trust as Noncognitive Security about Motives’, Ethics, 107:1 (1996), 43-61ix.

Craig, William Lane, ‘The Indispensability of Theological Meta-ethical Foundations for Morality, Foundations, 5(1997), 9-12x.

Cranfield, C. E. B., The Apostles’ Creed: A Faith to Live By (London: Continuum, 2004)xi.

Davies, Brian, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, 2nd edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993)xii.

Dougherty, Trent, ‘Skeptical Theism’, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2014, available at:<plato.stanford.edu/entries/skeptical-theism/> [accessed 09/09/2014]xiii.

Evans, C. Stephen, ‘Moral Arguments for the Existence of God, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2014, available at: plato.stanford.edu/entries/moralarguments-god/ [accessed 05/09/2014]xiv.

Frank, Joseph, Dostoevsky: A Writer in His Time (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010)xv.

Gaita, Raimond, A Common Humanity (London: Routledge, 2001)xvi.

Gleeson, Andrew, A Frightening Love: Recasting the Problem of Evil (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)xvii.

Greenberg, Irving, ‘Cloud of Smoke, Pillar of Fire’, in John K. Roth and Mich



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