The logical problem of evil is a philosophical challenge that has perplexed theologians and philosophers for centuries. It questions how a God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving can coexist with the evident evil and suffering in the world. This post will explore this profound dilemma through a fictional conversation between two individuals, Michael and Jackson. Through their dialogue, we’ll delve into topics like objective morality, the Euthyphro Dilemma, and the nature of God. The aim is to guide readers to understand and thoughtfully address this philosophical objection against the Christian faith.
Michael: Hey Jackson, I’ve been thinking about the problem of evil lately. It seems to me that the existence of evil and suffering in the world is incompatible with a God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving. How can such a God exist when there’s so much evil around us?
Jackson: That’s a thoughtful question, Michael. The problem of evil has troubled many people. But tell me, what do you mean when you say something is “evil”? Are you referring to an objective standard of evil, or is it merely a subjective preference?
Michael: Well, I believe there are things that are objectively evil, like torture, genocide, or child abuse. These things are wrong, regardless of personal or cultural opinions.
Jackson: Interesting. If there is objective evil, there must be a standard against which things are judged as evil. What would you say is the grounding for this objective standard of evil?
Michael: I suppose it would have to be something beyond human opinion, but I’m not sure we need to bring God into it. Perhaps reason or human nature can provide the grounding.
Jackson: I see where you’re coming from, but reason and human nature are contingent and variable. What’s reasonable or natural for one person or society might not be for another. If evil is truly objective, wouldn’t we need a transcendent, unchanging standard?
Michael: Maybe, but I’m still not convinced that requires God. Can’t we have objective standards without invoking the divine?
Jackson: It’s challenging, Michael. Without a transcendent moral lawgiver, we’re left with either arbitrary human conventions or subjective personal feelings. The very argument you’re making about the problem of evil presupposes an objective truth about what is evil. If God is the grounding for that objective morality, then your argument becomes self-defeating.
Michael: How so?
Jackson: If God is the grounding for objective evil, then by arguing that certain things are objectively evil, you are implicitly relying on God’s existence. Yet your argument aims to disprove God’s existence. It’s a paradox.
Michael: Hmm, I hadn’t thought of it that way. But what about the Euthyphro Dilemma? Does God command things because they are good, or are they good because God commands them?
Jackson: Good question! A way around the Euthyphro Dilemma is to say that God’s commands are not arbitrary but flow from His essentially good nature. Thus, goodness isn’t external to God nor arbitrarily decreed by Him, but rather it is an expression of His eternal nature.
Michael: I’ll have to think more about that. It’s a compelling perspective, Jackson.
Jackson: It’s always good to ponder these profound questions, Michael. I’m here whenever you want to discuss them further!
Conclusion: A Philosophical Exploration of the Problem of Evil
The conversation between Michael and Jackson uncovers layers of complexity in dealing with the problem of evil. Let’s dissect their discussion further to extract key insights:
- Objective Morality Requires a Transcendent Standard: Michael’s initial argument presupposes an objective standard of evil. As Jackson points out, this standard requires a grounding beyond mere human opinion, reason, or nature.
- The Paradox of Denying God While Affirming Objective Evil: Jackson illustrates a paradox in Michael’s argument: by affirming objective evil while arguing against God’s existence, Michael’s position becomes self-defeating. The argument against God relies on a standard that, according to Jackson’s perspective, only God can provide.
- Navigating the Euthyphro Dilemma: Michael’s mention of the Euthyphro Dilemma presents another challenge. However, Jackson offers a resolution by explaining that God’s commands flow from His essentially good nature, not external standards or arbitrary decrees.
- God’s Nature as the Ground of Goodness: By understanding God’s nature as essentially good, we can perceive how objective moral standards find their grounding in the divine. This perspective also allows us to reconcile the existence of an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God with the reality of evil.
The conversation serves as a guide, offering both believers and skeptics insights into one of the most compelling objections against the existence of God. It reveals that grappling with the problem of evil requires not only an intellectual engagement with philosophical concepts but also a deep understanding of the nature of God Himself.