The anti-theistic argument from Evil

The anti-theistic argument
from Evil
The Deductive argument from evil
If there is a God, then this God would
prevent Evil
But there is Evil
Therefore there is no God.
The argument has an a priori
assumption—that it follows from the nature
of God that God would want to prevent evil
and that God would be able to prevent
The argument has an empirical premise—
there is Evil
A problem with the Deductive
The Deductive argument claims that Evil is
incompatible with the existence of God.
But this is not necessarily the case. If
something very good is necessarily
connected with something evil, God might
have to create the evil, in order to create
the good.
What would such a great good be?
Free will
By saying human beings (at least) have
free will, we mean that some of the
choices and decisions human beings
make are not determined (by natural
causality, God, or anything else). They are
“up to us,” not up to God or nature.
Such free will seems to involve the
possibility of evil (since nothing us from
making evil choices)
The Free will defense
It is good that God create free creatures
If God creates free creatures, God must
also creates the possibility of evil
The existence of free creatures is a good
that outweighs the evil that comes from
free choices
Therefore God is justified creating a world
with evil in it and evil is not incompatible
with the existence of God.
The inductive argument from evil
The failure of the deductive argument
forces us to focus on the question of
gratuitous evil
Gratuitous evil is evil that is not required
for any greater good. It is pointless.
Another argument from evil
If God exists, God would not allow for
gratuitous evil
There is gratuitous evil
Therefore God does not exist
This argument requires that we support
the claim that some evils are not
themselves required for some greater
Kinds of Evil
Physical evil (suffering)
Mental evil (depression, grief)
State evil ( hatred, envy, ugliness)
Moral evil (actions leading to evil
consequences, actions that are bad in
themselves if there are any (e.g. lying).
The universe appears to be full of many
evils of these kinds
Swinburne: these evils are not
really gratuitous
The possibility of evil actions is a prerequisite for free will
Evil actions must have real consequences if
people are to have real responsibility
What of natural evil?
Natural evil is evil that is not the result of
free choices
Natural disasters, disease, the suffering of
humans and other animals due to natural
Swinburne’s response
An imperfect world is better than a perfect
world because it allows for creatures to
improve through their free actions. It gives
creatures “the privledge of making their
own universe.”
Soul making
God could create a world with morally perfect
people, but it is better that we be created
imperfectly. This allows us to grow and develop
our own character through our free choices.
Natural evils provide an enviroment in which
character development can occur
(a world in which everything is fine would not
provide much opportunity for courage or
compassion, for example)
Gratuitous evil again
Do these general arguments show that all
examples of evil are not gratuitous.
Consider these two examples
A child is raped and killed by her father
A fawn dies a slow painful death as a
result of being caught in a fire
Evils such as these are not at all rare—are
they all necessary for some greater good?