Against The Argument From Evil Essay

1352 words - 6 pages

In Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion Philo Presents an interesting argument, which is referred to as the argument from evil. The basic idea of the argument is that because there is so much evil and pain in this world there is no way there is an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent God. The purpose of this paper is to show that the argument fails, by defending a view on which the presence of evil is completely compatible with this type of God that has been described.

1. The Argument From Evil
Philo’s argument from evil is as follows, “We grant that his power is infinite: whatever he wills to happen does happen. But neither man nor any other animal is happy; therefore God doesn’t will their happiness. His knowledge is infinite: he is never mistaken in his choice of means to any end. But the course of nature doesn’t lead to human or animal happiness; therefore nature isn’t established for that purpose.” Here is a more organized way of viewing his argument.
(A1) If God exists, then there is an omni-being. [omni-being: omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent]
(A2) If there were an omni-being, then there would be no evil.
(A3) There is evil.
(A4) So, there is no omni-being.
(A5) So, God does not exist.
(A1) Is how we plan on defining God in this world. By saying he is an omni-being we are assuming this God has three attributes. First we say that he is omnipotent ie; all-powerful. Second we say that he is omniscient or in other words he is all knowing. Finally we say that he is omnibenevolent or better knows as all good. (A2) Appears to follow from (A1). This is one of the more interesting premises because if our definition of God is as stated then it would almost seem impossible for God to exist. He would know about all of the evil in the world, he would be powerful enough to stop it and because he is all-good he would stop the evil. (A3) is obvious. You look around you and you see evil and pain all around. Philo shows in Dialouges Concerning Natural Religion that there are four sources of misery in the world: physical pain, the fact that the world is conducted by general laws, the limited abilities of every particular species and the fragile nature of the universe. (A4) follows from (A2) and (A3). This is because if you just look at the middle three premises there is an argument right there. (A5) follows because if we have defined God in this situation as an omni-being and according to (A4) there is no omni-being then there is no God.

2. Against The Argument From Evil
There are six main arguments against the argument from evil. The first of the six argument is against (A3) by saying that life is good. Although this is an appealing argument at first it actually fails right away just because the argument from evil never states that there isn’t good. It just states that there is evil so by saying this life is good you haven’t actually argued against that premise. The second argument is that God is limited. This...

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