One of the oldest dilemmas in philosophy is also one of the greatest threats to Christian theology. The problem of evil simultaneously perplexes the world’s greatest minds and yet remains palpably close to the hearts of the most common people. If God is good, then why is there evil? The following essay describes the problem of evil in relation to God, examines Christian responses to the problem, and concludes the existence of God and the existence of evil are fully compatible.
“The problem of evil is often divided between the logical and evidential problems.” At the heart of each problem is the belief that the existence of God and the existence evil are incompatible. They present an “either/or” dilemma: either God exists or evil exists, for they cannot exist together. Clearly evil does exist, therefore, God must not. The logical problem of evil (LPE) proposes that if God exists, He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent; in short, He would have the ability, knowledge, and desire to prevent evil. With the obvious existence of evil, God must not then exist.
Christians have argued against LPE through in a variety of arguments (a number of these arguments could be labeled more broadly under the term “theistic,” but due to the nature of this paper, they will be cast from a Christian perspective). Some Christian arguments are considered sounder then others, but it is generally granted the Christian has succeeded in his task. Of note, the Christian doesn't need to explain why God would allow evil; he only needs to provide a reason that shows the existence of evil is not incompatible with the existence of God.
Bluntly, the Christian could first appeal to the limits of human epistemology: claiming that there is no sound argument, taking into account only what we know, where it would be morally wrong for an omnipotent and omniscient person to allow evil to exist. Humans simply cannot know all there is to know in order to conclude God and evil are incompatible. This popular argument attempts a total refutation of LPE; however, it does not directly address LPE, choosing rather to sidestep the immediate issue and attack human cognitive limitations. The argument, while successful in sense, lacks satisfactory closure to LPE and opens an epistemological Pandora’s Box, where everything we know becomes suspect. Consequently, this approach is not a strong one.
Another attempt at total refutation of LPE would be through the invocation of the Ontological Argument. In simplest terms, the argument makes the case that the very idea of God proves His existence. Put another way, because the idea of God (the Greatest Conceivable Being) can be imagined, He must exist, lest the thought of the Greatest Conceivable Being contradict itself (for existence is greater than non-existence). In regards to LPE, the Ontological Argument shows “not merely that there is an omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect being, but that it is...