The Problem of Evil


– introduction to a discussion of “Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People”? –

twofaceIf you were all-powerful and you were going to create a universe, what kind of universe would you create?

Well… I don’t know exactly, haven’t thought about that before.

And suppose you were all-loving, too – would the universe you create include a world like this one?

No, I guess I can’t really say that this is the “best of all possible worlds.”

You would make some changes?

I think most people would. Like, too many bad things are always happening. When’s the last time something good made the front page of the news?

People suffer, you mean?

People suffer who don’t deserve to suffer. Children, innocent people. That old question of why do bad things happen to good people…

Which is also called the “problem of evil.” Explaining bad things is a “problem” for those who believe in God and who claim that God is both all-powerful and all-loving.

Because if he really loves us he must hate to see us suffer? And if he has unlimited power he could easily get rid of evil?

Yes. All we have to do is look around and we see that he hasn’t eliminated suffering, so either he doesn’t love us all that much, or he is not as powerful as he is said to be.

You mean, because evil exists, he can’t be both all-powerful AND all-loving at the same time?

Yes, one or the other but not both. In fact, we can add omniscience, too. If he knows everything, he KNOWS how to eliminate suffering. If he is omnipotent, he has the POWER to eliminate suffering. And if he is omnibenevolent, he would LOVE us enough to want to eliminate suffering. But he doesn’t, unspeakable tragedies occur all the time. So, to claim that all three of those statements about God are true seemingly can’t be right, and to do so would be irrational since they logically contradict each other.

That’s discouraging. We are so often told that God is perfectly good, perfectly loving, infinitely merciful, hates to see his children suffer – so why is there so much evil in the world?

We’ll come back to this question shortly but in the meantime let’s hope someone can shed some light on this for us…

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