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Do theodicies explain why God allows evil in the world? Show more Show less

A theodicy is a story that attempts to demonstrate that the presence of evil in the world does not disprove the existence of a perfectly good, almighty, and all-knowing God. Theodicies and defences are two forms of response to this conundrum. Evil can be classified into natural evil such as disease and physical catastrophes or moral evil, which can be summed up as "man's inhumanity to man."

No, the opposite: the existence of evil disproves the existence of God Show more Show less

David Hume in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779): “Is [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? whence then is evil?”
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The only explanation for evil is that there is no God

The existence of evil is fundamentally incompatible with the existence of God.
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Benevolence, omnipotence, omniscience, and existence are all predicates of God. If God is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good, then God must have the ability to eliminate evil. The fact evil exists demonstrates that God cannot exist as an omnipotent, benevolent force.

The Argument

The properties of God (power, knowledge and goodness) are logically inconsistent with the evil in the world. If God exists, there would be no evil in the world; there is evil in the world; therefore, God does not exist[1]

Counter arguments

This interpretation of evil and the existence of God assumes that the accuser is an infallible moral observer. To assert that evil exists and that this evil is in direct contrast to God’s benevolence is to say: “I am morally qualified to assess God is flawed”. Nobody is in a position to make this assertion. Nobody is morally objective or omniscient to be able to categorically point to an incident of “evil” and say with infallibility that the act is objectively and morally evil.



[P1] God is by definition omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect. [P2] If God is omnipotent, God can eliminate evil. [P3] If God is omniscient, God knows evil exists. [P4] If God is morally perfect, God wants evil to be eliminated. [P5] Evil exists. [P6] Therefore, God is either non-existent, not omnipotent, not omniscient or not morally perfect. [P7] Therefore, God does not exist.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P5] To conclude with certainty that evil exists would require someone with infallible moral judgment to confirm its existence. Nobody is qualified to make that assertion.


Further Reading

Schuurman, H. (1993)Two Concepts of Theodicy. American Philosophical Quarterly, 30 (3), 209-221


This page was last edited on Friday, 17 Apr 2020 at 12:18 UTC