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The Argument From Evil

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Philosophy 1020
John Thorp

The Argument From Evil September-27-12 Introductory Digression  Refuting an argument for p  Is not the same thing as not-p For example, it is possible to think the Ontological Argument is wrong, but you can still believe God exists. 1. The state of play We have seen four kinds of arguments in favour of the existence of God:  Ontological argument  Cosmological argument  Argument from design  Argument from miracles There are other arguments in favour of the existence of God:  The argument from religious experience This week we consider an argument against the existence of God: There is only really one big argument against the existence of god= the argument from evil 2. The nature of God a. Omnipotent (all powerful, able to do everything, or at least all things that are logically possible) b. Omniscient ( all knowing, or at least those things which can be known) c. Benevolent (good to all of creation) The Abrahamic God has other features as well, but aren't relevant to the current argument:  Eternity  Ubiquity  Aseity (there is nothing god comes from) The problem is= these features of God, the so-called "divine attributes" seem to be inconsistent with the existence of evil in the world 3. Epicurus' Agrument  Epicurus 341-270 BCE, had a school of philosophy, thought morality was based on pleasure  Either God wants to abolish evil and cannot, or he can but does not want to.  If he wants to but cannot he is impotent  If he can be does not want to he is wicked More formally: a. If an all-powerful and perfectly good god exists, then evil does not. b. There is evil in the world c. Therefore, a all-powerful and perfectly good god does not exist. 4. Hume's version (there are 4 sources of evil) a. Striving for survival and self-preservation b. Limited powers of creatures to deal with their problems c. Laws of nature d. Bizarre events in nature God could have made it so that humans don't have to struggle so much to survive. So that animals don't have to eat each other to live. 5. Theodicy  Greek: theos=God dike=justice  A theodicy attempts to show why and how the presence of evil in the world is compatible with the existence of a good and omnipotent God.  Three main theodicies: a. Divine retribution b. The free-will defence c. The soul making theodicy a. Divine retribution:  In addition to being all-good, God is just. The pain and suffering that people encounter is simply God's retribution for the evil that they have d
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