The Problem of Evil and Existence of God
Atheist: I just do not understand how you Christians can believe in God, while there is so much evil and suffering in this world.
Christian: What is it that you do not understand?
Atheist: I do not understand because your belief about God is incompatible with the evil and suffering we encounter in this world.
Christian: How is our belief about God incompatible with existence of evil and suffering?
Atheist: Because you believe that God is totally good(omnibenevolent), all-knowing(omniscient) and all-powerful(omnipotent) and that He created the world.
Christian: Yes, that is true. But how is that incompatible with the evil and suffering we encounter in the world?
Atheist: Well, If God is good and loves all human beings, it is reasonable to believe that he want to deliver the creatures he loves from evil and suffering.
Christian: Go on.
Atheist: And, If God is all-knowing, it is reasonable to believe that he knows that evil and suffering exist and knows how to deliver his creatures from evil and suffering.
Christian: I am listening.
Atheist: And last, If God is all-powerful, it is reasonable to believe that he is able to deliver his creatures from evil and suffering.
Christian: So that led you to conclude that, God wants to eliminate evil and suffering, He knows and have power to eliminate them yet evil and suffering exist.
Atheist: Exactly. So your God, either want to eliminate evil, but does not know how to, then he is not all-knowing, or your God wants and know how to, but not able to, then he is not all-powerful or your God knows and able to eliminate evil, but he does not want, then he is not totally loving.
Christian: To that, you concluded that it is reasonable that the Christian God does not exist.
Atheist: Bingo! Can you see how contradictory, irrational and inconsistent your own teaching about God is?
Christian: If it is contradictory and inconsistent as you claim, oh yes! Not only will Christian’s belief about God, be possibly false, but necessarily false.
Atheist: Can you see now, why I just do not understand how you Christians can believe in that God.
Christian: I understand your position. Can we look at the logic in what you just said and try to find the contradiction, you supposed?
Atheist: Sure thing
Christian: I will write down your propositions, so we can see were your supposed contradiction is.
- God exists
- God is omnipotent
- God is omniscient
- God is omnibenevolent
- God created the world
- The world contains evil
Christian: Did I present your propositions correctly?
Atheist: You have, yes.
Christian: Where is the contradiction? For there to be a contradiction, you need to show that (1-5) entails a missing and assumed proposition 7. The world does not contain evil.
Atheist: I am lost! Please explain that.
Christian: I mean, If you can show that we Christian believe(1-7) then there would be a logical contradiction (between 6 and 7). Thus Christian’s belief about God would be inconsistency and necessarily false.
Atheist: I can see what you are trying to explain here. But back to what I was saying. Is your God not omnipotent, that he have the power to do all things?
Christian: Indeed God is omnipotent, but I suppose you have not fully understood what it means by omnipotence. Sorry if I am wrong.
Atheist: What does it mean then?
Christian: God’s omnipotence means that he can do all logically possible tasks. Consequently, God cannot do a non-logical tasks. Example: There is no amount of power a being could possess to make a square circle or a married bachelor.
Atheist: I never thought it that way.
Christian: The Bible also records that God cannot lie(Titus 1:2) or he cannot swear by a being greater than himself(Hebrew 6:13) because there is not being greater than himself.
Atheist: Is this a trick to avoid answering the problem of evil and suffering?
Christian: Not at all, I just wanted you to understand what it means by God been omnipotent.
Atheist: So what do you Christians have to say about existence of evil and suffering in this world?
Christian: Well, it is logically rational and consistence to believe that God created a world that now contains evil and has a good reason for doing so.
Atheist: Really! Can you show me the logic behind that?
Christian: Indeed, I will marge (1-5) into one.
- God exists, is omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, and created the world.
- God created a world that now contain evil and has a good reason for doing so.
- Therefore, the world contain evil.
Christian: 1 and 2 entail 3.
Atheist: Oh! Now you got me pondering.
Christian: Remember, we do not even have to claim that proposition 2 to be true, but only logically true, meaning “If it is possibly true”. Because if it is possible then there is no logically contradiction in our belief in an omnibenevolent, omnipotent, omniscient God and existence of evil and suffering we find in this world.
Atheist: But why would a loving God permit evil and suffering?
Christian: We do not have to know “why” for proposition 2 to be true.
Atheist: I cannot conceive any good reasons why a good and loving God would permit evil.
Christian: We have to be careful not to fall into an appeal to ignorance. Beside, one has to be all-knowing to say that.
Atheist: I see there is no logical contradiction but I still have a problem in believing a God who will permit so much evil and suffering in the world.
Christian: I totally understand and respect your position, perhaps we can take our talk further and I will try to explain how could God permit evil and suffering.
Atheist: Sound like a good idea.
Christian: How about next week, same time.
Atheist: That fits me.
Christian: Well then, thank you for a wonderful talk.
Atheist: You are welcome, see you then.