The Problem Of Evil Essay
The fifth section then focuses upon attempted total refutations, while the sixth is concerned with defenses, and the seventh with some traditional theodicies.
The possibility of more modest variants on defenses and theodicies, based on the idea of global properties, is then considered in section eight.
Alternatively, rather than being formulated as a deductive argument for the very strong claim that it is logically impossible for both God and evil to exist, (or for God and certain types, or instances, or a certain amount of evil to exist), the argument from evil can instead be formulated as an evidential (or inductive/probabilistic) argument for the more modest claim that there are evils that actually exist in the world that make it unlikely—or perhaps very unlikely—that God exists.
The choice between incompatibility formulations and evidential formulations is discussed below, in section 2.
Finally, even a moderately good human being, given the power to do so, would eliminate those evils.
Why, then, do such undesirable states of affairs exist, if there is a being who is very powerful, very knowledgeable, and very good?
First, it can be formulated as a purely deductive argument that attempts to show that there are certain facts about the evil in the world that are logically incompatible with the existence of God.
But when (5) is conjoined with the reductio assumption that God exists, it then follows via modus ponens from (6) that either God doesn’t have the power to eliminate all evil, or doesn’t know when evil exists, or doesn’t have the desire to eliminate all evil.
Thus we have a contradiction, and so premises (1) through (6) do validly imply (7).
But when that is the case, it would seem that God thereby ceases to be a being who is either an appropriate object of religious attitudes, or a ground for believing that fundamental human hopes are not in vain.
The argument from evil focuses upon the fact that the world appears to contain states of affairs that are bad, or undesirable, or that should have been prevented by any being that could have done so, and it asks how the existence of such states of affairs is to be squared with the existence of God.