Philosophy of Religion

Chapter  6. The Problem of Evil

Section 2. The Questions

Now we focus on the key questions;
  1.  Is it possible for there to be an All Powerful, All Knowing and All Good deity and for moral evil to exist at the same time?
  2.  Can the apparent inconsistency be resolved in any manner that preserves all the characteristics of an All Perfect or Supreme Being?
  3.  Is it necessary to change the idea of the Supreme Being to account for the simultaneous existence of moral evil and a supreme being?
  4. Is it necessary to change the idea of the nature of evil to account for the simultaneous existence of moral evil and a supreme being?
  5.  Does the existence of moral evil lead to the conclusion that there is no deity at all?  Does it lead to the conclusion that there is no All Perfect Being?

Signs of a problem

GREEK PHILOSOPHY

In the opening of the dialogue by Plato, PHAEDO , Plato has Socrates recognize that things come in opposing pairs.  If there was no pain we would not appreciate being well and pleasure.  When applied to the problem of Evil it would mean that if there is to be GOOD there must be EVIL and so whatever is called GOOD must come from the source of all creation and that in turn means that from that source comes EVIL as the necessary counterpart to GOOD.  This then means that the Single Supreme Being is not only the creator of GOOD but also of EVIL.  How then is the Supreme Being the deity, the creator of all to be considered as all good if the deity created evil as well as the good that there is? 

JUDEO-CHRISTIAN TRADITION

If evil is not directly the creation of the deity but comes about through the actions of a fallen angel, LUCIFER,  and the weakness of human beings who succumb to temptation to do moral evil then how is it not the result of what the deity has done?  If all comes from the deity then would not evil as well as the good come from the deity?  Now if EVIL comes from the deity or  GOD then how BAD could it be?  If EVIL comes from GOD, then how could GOD punish those who do it?  If EVIL comes from LUCIFER and from human failings and from temptations, then how could the ALL LOVING and MERCIFUL GOD punish those whom the GOD knew in advance were created by that GOD with those weaknesses and knowing in ADVANCE that they would fail?   How could the ALL PERFECT BEING not stop Lucifer, take away the failings, and prevent the temptations?  If the causes of evil doing are not stopped and if instead are quite to the contrary actually created by GOD, why would an ALL LOVING God punish those made imperfect by the deity and who GOD knew before they were created would give in to the EVIL that GOD creates, permits and knew in advance would overcome the creatures that GOD made as imperfect?

BIBLE STORIES

Bible stories do not solve the Problem of Evil they make it worse as they are stories from the Hebrews who did not think of the deity as being All Perfect and All Good.  The idea of the deity in the early Bible stories is not the idea or concept of the deity that produces the Problem of Evil.  The deity of the Hebrews appears not able to place a halt or check on the actions of the archangel Lucifer.  The deity of the Hebrews might not have been thought of as being the All Perfect being that is All Powerful.  Thus, the use of the Bible to address the Problem of Evil merely introduces troublesome historical elements into the entire matter.  If there is a fallen angel responsible for the evil and then the deity is the creator of that fallen angel then would not the deity/creator not be responsible for the evil done by the fallen angel particulalry if the All Knowing deity knew before creating the angel everything that the angel would do?   The Hebrew deity had not the characteristics of prefect and infinite powers that was part of the concept of  the later thought of the Greeks and Christians.  So for the Hebrews and their stories there is no problem of evil because they did not have the concept of the deity that produces the Problem of Evil.  One approach to dealing with the problem and solving it would be to iin some sense change the idea of the deity (Process Theology) to something closer to the earlier ideas.  Take away the All Powerful or the All Knwoing or the All Good character of the deity and there is no problem of evil as there was none until after the Christian era began.

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Copyright Philip A. Pecorino 2001. All Rights reserved.

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