the logical problem of evil

Evil is a problem, for the theist, in that a contradiction is involved in the fact of evil on the one hand and belief in the omnipotence and omniscience of God on the other. In order to answer these questions, let’s briefly consider what it would take for any response to the logical problem of evil to be successful. The next step will involve providing an outline of some important concepts and distincti… Some philosophers feel that Plantinga’s apparent victory over the logical problem of evil was somehow too easy. Mackie's formulation of the logical problem of evil argued that three attributes of God, omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence, in orthodox Christian theism are logically incompatible with the existence of evil. [Statements (6) through (12) purport to show how this is done.] Atheologians claim that a contradiction can easily be deduced from (1) through (4) once we think through the implications of the divine attributes cited in (1) through (3). He’d like to help, but he doesn’t have the power to do anything about evil and suffering. Although much of the evil in this world results from the free choices people make, some of it does not. It is omnibenevolent, meaning perfectly good, meaning does no harm to anyone or anything. Now let’s consider the philosophically more important world W3. This is the “logical problem of evil.”. People in this world always perform morally good actions, but they deserve no credit for doing so. It certainly seems so. In fact, this is precisely the message that many philosophers took away from the debate between Plantinga and the defenders of the logical problem of evil. 255-256) writes. She writes, Natural evil—the pain of disease, the intermittent and unpredictable destruction of natural disasters, the decay of old age, the imminence of death—takes away a person’s satisfaction with himself. The evidential problem of evil (also referred to as the probabilistic or inductive version of the problem) seeks to show that the existence of evil, although logically consistent with the existence of God, counts against or lowers the probability of the truth of theism. Here is a possible reason God might have for allowing natural evil: (MSR2) God allowed natural evil to enter the world as part of Adam and Eve’s punishment for their sin in the Garden of Eden. Suppose that the persons in this world can only choose good options and are incapable of choosing bad options. God can’t have it both ways. Does Plantinga’s Free Will Defense succeed in describing a possible state of affairs in which God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil? Consistency only requires that it be possible for all of the statements to be true (even if that possibility is never actualized). Causal forces beyond your control would make you tell the truth on every occasion. Originating with Greek philosopher Epicurus,[20] the logical argument from evil is as follows: This argument is of the form modus tollens, and is logically valid: If its premises are true, the conclusion follows of necessity. The assumption behind this charge is that, in so doing, God could leave human free will untouched. We would not be human in that world. Even so, other theists have rejected the validity of the argument outright, asserting that it involves a number of logical fallacies. People in this world couldn’t do morally bad things if they wanted to. So the logical problem of evil is not a logical problem at all and does not give us a good reason to reject belief in God. Peterson (1998, p. 9) claims that the problem of evil is a kind of “moral protest.” In asking “How could God let this happen?” people are often claiming “It’s not fair that God has let this happen.” Many atheists try to turn the existence of evil and suffering into an argument against the existence of God. The logical problem of evil is usually cast as an argument for the logical inconsistency of a number of claims that traditional theism holds. Before we try to decide whether (MSR1) can justify God in allowing evil and suffering to occur, some of its key terms need to be explained. From (9′) through (12′), it is not possible to conclude that God does not exist. If we interpret the dichotomy here in premise 1 as a metaphysical (broadly logical) disjunction, rather than a strictly logical one, then the injection of a *conceivable* third option (namely that having free entities is better than not and that the nature of free will is such as to require the possibility of evil) doesn't demonstrate that the (broadly) logical problem *isn't* a problem. An action is morally significant just when it is appropriate to evaluate that action from a moral perspective (for example, by ascribing moral praise or blame). According to the logical problem of evil, the continued existence of evil since the beginning of time is a prelude to the fact that God is non-existent (Inwagen 188). In this paper Horia Plugaru argues that theism is necessarily false because attributes usually ascribed to God, such as the property of being morally perfect, are incompatible with God's alleged creation of sentient beings. (35) God is not able to make a mistake of any kind. Eleonore Stump (1985) offers another response to the problem of evil that brings a range of distinctively Christian theological commitments to bear on the issue. [4] It does not require the joint of a consistent set of statements to be plausible. The problem of evil is based on the assumption that we know for sure what is good and what is evil for God itself. It is difficult to see that they do. Although sketching out mere possibilities without giving them any evidential support is typically an unsatisfactory thing to do in philosophy, it is not clear that Mackie’s unhappiness with Plantinga is completely warranted. As an example, a critic of Plantinga’s idea of “a mighty nonhuman spirit” causing natural evils may concede that the existence of such a being is not logically impossible but argue that due to lacking scientific evidence for its existence this is very unlikely and thus it is an unconvincing explanation for the presence of natural evils. What about W2? The problem of evil is certainly the greatest obstacle to belief in the existence of God. the terrible pain, suffering, and untimely death caused by events like fire, flood, landslide, hurricane, earthquake, tidal wave, and famine and by diseases like cancer, leprosy and tetanus—as well as crippling defects and deformities like blindness, deafness, dumbness, shriveled limbs, and insanity by which so many sentient beings are cheated of the full benefits of life. For if he does so, then they are not significantly free after all; they do not do what is right freely. Because a contradiction can be deduced from statements (1) through (4) and because all theists believe (1) through (4), atheologians claim that theists have logically inconsistent beliefs. The existence of evil makes God's existence logically impossible. (5) A set of statements is logically inconsistent if and only if: (a) that set includes a direct contradiction of the form “p & not-p”; or (b) a direct contradiction can be deduced from that set. [If you think (MSR2) is far-fetched, see Plantinga’s (1974, pp. Is W1 possible? But if it is possible for God to possess morally significant freedom and for him to be unable to do wrong, then W3 once again appears to be possible after all. We are creatures with morally significant free will. They charge that a good God would and should eliminate all evil and suffering. What does it mean to say that something is logically inconsistent? But improbability is not the same thing as impossibility. B. is the contradictory of (40). However, it is not clear that human freedom requires the existence of natural evils like deadly viruses and natural disasters. But improbability and impossibility, as we said above, are two different things. Denying the truth of either (1), (2), (3) or ( 4) is certainly one way for the theist to escape from the logical problem of evil, but it would not be a very palatable option to many theists. People have free will in this world and there is evil and suffering. And yet part of what it means for creatures to have morally significant free will is that they can do morally bad things whenever they want to. The LPE in its most basic form is a sort of trilemma, where supposedly only two of the three premises can … This is precisely what atheologians claim to be able to do. One point of conflict concerns the possibility of human free will in heaven. Many theists maintain that it is a mistake to think that God’s omnipotence requires that the blank in the following sentence must never be filled in: According to orthodox theism, all of the following statements (and many more like them) are true. To show that the first premise is plausible, subsequent versions tend to expand on it, such as this modern example:[2]. (17) It is possible that God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil. (iii) If despite initial appearances heavenly dwellers do possess morally significant free will, then it seems that it is not impossible for God to create genuinely free creatures who always (of necessity) do what is right. Stump claims that, although the sin of Adam—and not any act of God—first brought moral and natural evil into this world, God providentially uses both kinds of evil in order to bring about the greatest good that a fallen, sinful human being can experience: a repaired will and eternal union with God. He seems constitutionally incapable of choosing (or even wanting) to do what is wrong. This article addresses one form of that problem that is prominent in recent philosophical discussions–that the conflict that exists between the claims of orthodox theism and the facts about evil and suffering in our world is a logical one. The claim. [3] Most philosophers today reject this argument. 1. The asymmetry implies that bringing sentient beings into existence is always a net harm. Plantinga says, “No.” Parts (a) and (b) of the description of W3 are, he claims, logically inconsistent. This is a contradiction, so #1 is not true. So, when they do perform right actions, they should not be praised. If evil exists, then God cannot exist. Can the believer in God escape from this dilemma? Plantinga doesn’t need to have a single shred of evidence supporting the truth of his suggestion. Mar 20, 2019 #2. Other solutions to the problem include John Hick’s (1977) soul-making theodicy. According to Kushner’s portrayal, God is something of a kind-hearted wimp. 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