Problem of evil


We have written on this topic severally. We’d like to state here that in an atheistic universe, such as one we live in, the problem of evil doesn’t arise. In fact, this discussion should rationally end here. Humans being what they are and having big brains employ them in discussions that all involved know are going nowhere. I say there is no problem of evil for the atheist because the universe just is and it is indifferent to us. This shouldn’t be understood to mean there is no suffering, far from it. There is real and untold suffering around us all the time.

The problem of evil exists solely for the theist to answer. They have proposed an all-knowing, good and powerful god. It is beholden on them to reconcile suffering with the existence of the type of entity they have proposed.

I contend that this post is misleading in its attempted explanation and conclusion.

In the first instance, he writes

Since we’re responsible for our own actions, common sense tells us that it’s perfectly justifiable that we should experience pain when we do things that usually result in pain

and I disagree. One because the hidden premise in this statement is we have some free will to act whichever way we please and that our suffering is always our mistake. It ignores the reality of suffering inflicted on us by actions of others.

He then says

Many then come to the conclusion that since pain and suffering can potentially be unjustified in certain circumstances, then it follows that either God is not all-powerful, not good, or not existent at all.

which again I think is a loaded statement. It premises that to explain away suffering, the deference is to god. This maybe true in some cases, but it is not a good starting point for a philosophical argument.

Reference is made to this  and he formulates the problem thus

1. God exists and is omnipotent, omniscient, and wholly good.
– – – a. There are no limits to what an omnipotent, omniscient being can do.
– – – b. A wholly good being always prevents or eliminates evil as far as it can.
2. Evil exists
3. God has the potential to eliminate all evil. (from 1a)
4. Therefore, God will eliminate or prevent all the evil He can. (from 1b & 2)
5. Therefore, God does eliminate or prevent all evil. (from 1a & 4)
6. Therefore, There is no evil. (from 5)
7. Therefore, There is evil and there is no evil. (from 2 & 5)

The argument as stated seems sound but not valid. It’s starting premises assume the existence of god, the very being that is in question. I don’t think the argument can be rescued. Having said that, we shall consider what the OP has proposed as a solution to the problem.

He tells us first that we must limit the omnipotence nature of god. We are told that logic[logos] is a property of god, this of course as we all know is borrowing from Plato’s philosophy. It tells us nothing about the nature of god. Logic is a tool. It is not a property of a thing. To say god’s omnipotence is limited is to claim to know the nature of the god one is talking about. We would like to be told how the theist acquired this knowledge.

I think this solution that he suggests ought to be rejected. He writes, 1a should be changed to read

 “there are no non-logical limits to what an omnipotent, omniscient being can do.”

and the question we must is what, if any reason do we base this conclusion on? It is in my view an evasion.

To claim that by making 1b read as

 “a wholly good being always prevents or eliminates evil as far as it can unless it has sufficient reasons to allow it.”

rescues the supposed god from the problem is beyond me. What good does it do to a child suffering from cancer to know that god has sufficient reason to allow it to suffer? What good does it do to those trapped in Gaza or the earthquake in China to know that god has a good reason their houses have been flattened or why they are bombed. Who worships such a god?

To conclude, after rewriting the problem, that

 the existence of evil supports the existence of God.

is in my view a poor way of arriving at conclusions. If, to get away from a problem all we  must needs do is rewrite the problem, anything can be explained away. I contend, as I have said always, that even if it were to be allowed that the premises are valid, they would in no wise be proof for the existence of god. The most they can do is attempt to show that a specific conception of god is compatible with evil. It tells us nothing about the nature of god nor whether such an entity exists.

A lot has been said about objective moral values here and elsewhere. I don’t want to repeat them here. All I will say that this statement

Apart from God, there are no objective moral values.

does not prove the existence of god. The theist needs tell us what are these objective moral values? The larger question the theist must deal with is presented in the Euthyphro dilemma.

When he writes,

a person who doesn’t believe in God is claiming that evil and wickedness are evidence agains such a being, that person is appealing to an objective morality that cannot exist apart from God–nullifying the argument.

the problem of evil argues that existence of evil is inconsistent with a wholly good and powerful god. It is this the atheist is asking the believer to respond to. The atheist, as far as I can tell isn’t appealing to an objective morality but to common sense.

The genocide was and is wrong not because god says, for the god of the bible has no problem with it, but because any rational person would agree it is wrong everywhere to kill a person just because they don’t belong to a different race.

If there is a god who created this world we live in, that god is tyrant, capricious and malicious.

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

28 thoughts on “Problem of evil

  1. A supernatural evil? No.

    Corporeal malice? Yes, humans are living proof.

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  2. john zande says:

    Nicely dismantled. I jumped to the post and found my brain doing little somersaults in confusion. Applause for finding the energy to address the nonsense.

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    • makagutu says:

      Thanks for the kind words John.
      I find these theists a peculiar lot, they like to limit things. They have limited omni abilities, limited facts for Jesus and I don’t know what else!

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      • john zande says:

        It is amusing that they’re dialing back on the Omni-Fellow’s powers as even they have realised its nonsense to try and defend the full pie. This is where your question comes in: How do “you” know?

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        • makagutu says:

          They created a box from which there is no conceivable way of escape unless they take the high road and say they don’t know and have been speaking from ignorance.

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  3. I agree with John. nice job, Mak. It shows great patience on your part to pick through the arguments, if you can call them such, and respond to the points as you have. I, when I read such tripe, take out my boiling kettle and fire up the cookin’ oil. Some nonsense I just have to use to satiate my evil atheist hunger. Hee Haw!!! Great post, my friend!

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  4. Brian M says:

    I agree. Nicely done!

    Completely off the topic, but when can we see an update at Naked Ape, Mr. Zande? Your site is how I discovered our erudite Kenyan host!

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  5. Mordanicus says:

    John, I concur with Brian. It’s too long ago I read anything on your place.

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  6. Excellent post, Noel. The belief in evil and gods stems from the older, primitive parts of the brain. People who continue rely on dogma to explain reality, when we have vasts amounts of information available at our fingertips, demonstrates their choice to remain primitive.

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  7. archaeopteryx1 says:

    I really can’t add to anything that Mak said, when he finishes with a topic, you can usually stick a fork in it. Instead, I just wanted to share a thought I had. Early this morning, before the sun even rose, I was sitting in my parked car, relaxing with a cup of coffee, when I noticed a mosquito walking across my windshield.

    I have a lot of mosquitos on my acre, sufficiently so as to warrant visits very evening from dragonflies and swallows, who fly in zig-zag patterns, following the twists and turns of fleeing mosquitos and scooping them up by the gulletfuls. West Nile virus has broken out again in this area, as it has for the past several summers, and a new, debilitating virus has popped up this year, the name of which escapes me – both of which are mosquito-borne.

    But as I watched this frail creature walk across my windshield this early morning, I realized that they don’t mean to be causing all of this trouble – they aren’t “evil” – they actually have only one purpose in life, to survive and propagate, no other – it’s in fact the virii that have adapted to use the mosquito’s feeding habits to insinuate itself into the bloodstream of a victim. It, too, is merely trying to survive and propagate, with no evil intent.

    To the best of my knowledge, Man is the only animal who deludes himself into believing he has a “purpose.” That delusion has given rise to the arts and the humanities and the creation of works of great beauty, but also to wars and atrocities too mind-numbing to name – I just couldn’t help wondering who has the happier life.

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    • Well said, Arch.

      What boggles my mind is that we have significant evidence on the causes of anti-social behavior and natural catastrophes. But we are still living in a superstitious world (limbic system) that relies on outdated, archaic beliefs to explain the nature of reality. Example: the mosquito-borne virus is caused by “Original Sin” — mankind’s rebellion/disobedience towards an all-knowing creator.

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      • Brian M says:

        And this is the crux of the matter…if this…GOD is all knowing and all powerful, it knew original sin would enter the world. And did nothing to change Creation. Sure…”mysterious ways” and all that, but at what a cost in suffering. From an interesting Elizabethan poet: “Created Sick…commanded to be well” sums up our existential position if one believes in the Abrahamic religions. Which is appalling.

        On a related note, I am not a believer in “nature” as some beneficient entity…nature is horrific and wasteful, and “mad” in the suffering involved. I actually think crazy horror writer H.P. Lovecraft nailed it in his vision of vast, utterly alien, utterly uncaring entitites “bubbling away” at the center of reality. 🙂

        I might recommend another blogger who has a rather…tragic…view of the universe as an uncaring, insane reality hostile to life. He has…interesting…ideas, but I seem to have “adopted” his conception of the universe…”The Universe is cold and does not care” LOL>

        http://rantswithintheundeadgod.blogspot.com/2014/07/can-we-transcend-worlds-monstrousness.html

        Bleak as heck, but interesting:

        There is no perfect transcendence in nature, no escape to a realm that’s not thoroughly undead. This is the most sorrowful revelation of our time, that Being, which is the fact that something exists, isn’t redeemed by anything we social creatures would care most about, namely by some person or other. Atheism is rationally compulsory, but more importantly the dismissal of exoteric theism is ethically and aesthetically necessary to complete science’s rational picture. And atheism is horrific since it implies that Being is undead, that the forces that drive the world’s elements to organize themselves are implacable—not because we’re beneath their contempt, of course, but because they’re effectively zombies whose confounding energy mocks the egocentric delusions of all living things: we value life, but whatever we can do, an undead monster can do better. Our microcosms—languages, cultures, fictions, institutions, artificial habitats—may have noble intentions if they’re designed to redeem the undead world, to mitigate the grim implications of modernism. But even our rebellious creativity is a child’s foolishness compared to the ironic might of natural forces which spin off entire universes, needing no forethought or goals since they’re content to create absolutely everything that fits within time and space and untold other dimensions.

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      • makagutu says:

        For the longest duration of mankind, we have been incredulous, stupid, superstitious and during this time, priests- those masters of the netherworld- ruled supreme. We are just only beginning to stretch our imagination and they are fighting back real hard.

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    • makagutu says:

      Thanks good friend for the kind words. I think you exaggerate a bit on my abilities.

      The mosquito must have the happy life. If it has any memories, I guess it must be of its domicile and source of food and that is all.

      MAn suffers because he thinks himself very special.

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  8. Sonel says:

    I full agree with your statement Mak : “If there is a god who created this world we live in, that god is tyrant, capricious and malicious.” I want to talk to this god in person and tell him/her that somewhere they totally messed up. It so easy for them to blame this god of devil they believe in when my mess up.

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