Does The Problem Of Evil Disprove God's Existence?

1955 words - 8 pages

Philosophers have looked for ways to explain God's existence for centuries. One suchargment that the believer must justify in order to maintain the possibility of God's existence is theproblem of evil. In his essay, 'The Problem of Evil,' by Richard Swinburne, the author attempts toexplain how evil can exist in a world created by an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolentBeing, namely God. Swinburne uses to free-will defense and says that God gave us a choicebetween doing good and doing evil. If someone chooses to do good over evil, then that Good isgreater than if one had no choice at all but to do good. This is a weak argument and in order toclarify those weaknesses one can look at Steven M. Cahn's essay entitled 'Cacodaemony.' Thisessay parallels Swineburne's, but states that an omniscient, omnipotent, omnimalevolent Demoncreated the world. By looking at how weak the argument for cacodaemony is, one can see howunlikely it is that the Demon exists and then can see that the existence of God is just as unlikely.In 'The Problem of Evil', Swinburne says that an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolentBeing created the world. If this were true, how can evil exist in this world? If God consciouslyknew He was creating a world in which there is evil, then He would not be omnibenevolent. IfGod did not know He was creating a world in which evil exists, then He would not be omniscient.If God is omnipotent then He would be able to stop any evil from occurring. Either way, Godwould not be what Christianity makes him out to be. Swinburne argues that the theodicist, onewho believes that it is not wrong for God to create a world in which there is evil, can logicallyexplain the existence of evil in the world.The main argument that the theodicist uses is the free-will defense, which claims that Godgave humans the freedom to choose between doing acts of good and acts of evil. The theodicistargues that the good person could do is greater if it is chosen instead of doing evil. It is better tochoose to walk an elderly person across the road instead of deciding to push the elderly person infront of an oncoming car. The theodicist believes that it is better for a person to have that choice,though nearly everyone would naturally choose to help the person across the street, than to haveno choice at all and be forced to help that person. Swinburne writes that giving people a moralresponsibility to do the right thing is good. 'But if He did so by imposing a full character on ahumanly free creature, this would be giving him a character which he had not in any way chosenor adopted for himself' (9). Swinburne believes that the freedom to choose and develop ones owncharacter is a very important thing and each person deserves to have the ability to choose betweenGood and evil.This, however, does not justify the amount of pain and suffering in the world. If someonewere to consciously choose to do an evil act over a good one, the suffering caused to the innocentpeople involved...

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