Evil and Suffering the Logical Problem of Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Evil and Suffering

The logical problem of evil is that if God is all-good then evil should not exist. Perhaps one can argue, then, that evil is a creation of man and that God cannot not prevent that, but God being Omnipotent, and, therefore, by definition able to accomplish all should be capable of preventing if not destructing evil. Either then God is not all good, or he is not all able. Or, alternately, another reason should exist in order to explain the existence of evil.

The whole earth… is cursed and polluted. A perpetual war is kindled amongst all living creatures. Necessity, hunger, want stimulate the strong and courageous; fear, anxiety, terror agitate the weak and inform. The first entrance into life gives anguish to the newborn infant and to its wretched parent; weakness, impotence, distress attend each stage of that life, and it is at last finished in agony and horror. (Hume, 2006, p.55)

If the world, according to Philo (in Hume's Natural Dialogues) had an omnipotent God ruling it, and the omnipotent God were compassionate too, the very existence of evil infers a contradiction. God has to be either omnipotent or compassionate or suffering has to not exist. Cleanthes considers the universe to be harmonious and structured, but a brief glimpse at the world tells us that it is a miserable place filled with evil.

The universe, elaborates Philo, is a machine with each creature in it fighting for survival. It is, as Darwin would put it, a race for life that is determined by 'survival of the fittest'. Here, it is not happiness that is the goal, but a ceaseless struggle of ecosystem against ecosystem for survival. Given that that is the case and witnessing the amount of misery that exists in the world, it is difficult to conclude that an infinitely wise, powerful and compassionate God controls the world. Design of the universe tells us otherwise. We can at best deduce that God is morally neutral.

John Hick's (1977) response to the problem of evil is that God is all-powerful and all-good, and that it is because of His very goodness that He created us and put us in the world where evil serves as challenge for 'soul-making'. In other words, that the difficulties and suffering inherent in the universe impel us to grow and that we have free-will which enables us to determine whether or not we wish to use this suffering for our spiritual growth:

The value-judgment that is implicitly being invoked here is that one who has attained to goodness by meeting and eventually mastering temptation, and thus by rightly making responsible choices in concrete situations, is good in a richer and more valuable sense than would be the one created ab initio in a state either of innocence or of virtue. (1977, 255)

Suffering, in other words, makes us better and stronger humans, and the fact that the world is so designed to include suffering is only to reinforce us, and this supports the argument of intelligent design rather than destructing it. God's plan is to incorporate suffering for spiritual growth.

There are arguments against Hick's reasoning. Firstly, suffering is not confined to human; animals suffer too. How can you justify that? Is their pain supposed to be for their spiritual growth. And how justify suffering against vulnerable humans such as infants or people so ill that they are called 'vegetables' (having lost all ability of consciousness)? How can they, lacking intellectual and mature characteristics of will, grow through their sufferings?

Secondly, this game of soul-making doesn't seem to be played very well: some people die young before they have a change to use their suffering for…

Sources Used in Document:


Hick, J. Evil and the God of Love, New York: Harper and Row, 1977.

Hume, D. Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. London: SCM Press, 2006.

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