Unformatted text preview: If God is allpowerful and perfectly good, why is there so much evil? What is evil, anyway?
For present purposes, Not thinking of evil as a "thing" or a "force." Any very bad state of affairs. The sort of thing "good" people generally try to prevent or eliminate. Kinds of "evil"
Wrongful action Evil will Kinds of "evil"
Wrongful action Evil will Natural Evil
Natural disasters Diseases Pain and suffering Untimely death How can a good God allow evil?
We can still ask this question even if we think there is not an objective standard of good/evil. Relative to the moral standards of those who believe in God, how can a good God allow evil? "To appreciate the good, we need evil to provide contrast."
1. We could appreciate the good things of life even if we were aware of bad ones only as possibilities. 1. Why wouldn't a mere "speck" of evil have been sufficient? David Hume (1711 1776)
Demea Cleanthes Philo Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion Hume's question
What can we say, on the basis of observation and experience, about the cause of the universe? Intelligent? Morally good? Benevolent? What about "evil?"
What does the presence of evil in the world tell us about God's moral character? There is a lot of evil in the world.
Demea and Philo make a very long list. pp. 1479 Suffering and benevolence
In the Dialogues, Hume's Philo argues that a benevolent God would not allow his creatures to suffer. Demea and Philo make a very long list. pp. 14750 Philo's argument
1. If God is benevolent, then God prevents as much suffering as he can. 2. If God is allpowerful, then God can prevent all suffering. 3. But all of God's creatures are miserable. 4. So either God is not allpowerful, or else God is not benevolent. "Epicurus' old questions are yet unanswered. "Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? whence then is evil?" p. 150 Demea's proposal: Providence and the "Big Picture"
God has morally good reasons for not always making his creatures happy reasons that are presently beyond our ken. (pp. 1501) If this were right, then premise 1 of Philo's argument (as I have represented it) would be false. Demea's proposal: Providence and the "Big Picture"
Question: How, precisely, is this relevant to Philo's argument? Are the goods for the sake of which God allows suffering good for those who endure it? Could an omnipotent being achieve those goods without allowing suffering? Cleanthes rejects Demea's proposal.
There is no empirical evidence for it. At best, it establishes the bare possibility that God is benevolent. p. 151 Cleanthes' response to Philo
There is more happiness than misery in the world. p. 151 Philo's response to Cleanthes Pain is more intense and durable than pleasure. Why is there any suffering at all in the world? Bare logically compatibility doesn't establish empirical plausibility. pp. 1512 Two main issues Is it possible for an omnipotent, omniscient creator to have a good reason for allowing all the suffering that exists in the world? How likely is it?...
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- Fall '07
- Philosophy, Suffering, Demea Cleanthes Philo, Wrongful action Evil