“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
― Albert Einstein

According to the Judeo-Christian tradition, God was all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful, but that created a contradiction in the idea of deity when including the problem of evil. If God was aware of the suffering and wished to remove it, but was unable to do so, he would have the ability and desire to alleviate suffering but be unaware of it, was aware of the suffering, and could stop it. But if he did not desire to alleviate the agony that would mean that God was not omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent? In that case, based on the coherent theory of truth, everything that followed the first idea, in our case God, would not exist, therefore, Evil would not exist either. To prove the existence of God, one of the attributes would need to be proved false, as not all of them could be true at the same time, hence God would not exist either. To support the idea of a supreme being, the second premise needed arguments, and philosophers were looking for them. Western religions were considering two types of evil: moral and natural. For moral evil, it was considered that humans were morally responsible and had free will, and for natural evil, the events occurred due to natural causes such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and natural diseases.  

The problem of evil was the grouping of a set of ideas.  

– God was all good – God did nothing wrong, everything about him was good  

– God was all-knowing- God knew everything 

– God was all-powerful- God could do anything at anytime 

– Evil existed- Evil was present regardless of God being all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful 

Many people believed that the problem of evil could be solved only if the existence of God was denied if the attributes of the deity were changed or if the concept of evil was not bad at all. There were four possible responses to the problem: atheism, post-modern ideas, the idea of evil, and free-will defense.

Atheism states there is not evidence of a deity, therefore there is no problem with evil in the relationship with God. Kenn Ammi declares “Imagine considering the problem of evil and (illogically) concluding that God does not exist—what happens next? Well, you look around the world again and notice that evil still exists and now you do not even have God to blame. Rejecting God does nothing about evil. Thus, atheism does nothing about evil.” This statement would not solve the problem of evil but would make it even worse, arguing that this for no reason, and it was no purpose of meaning.

Post-modern ideas – “Process theology does not deny that God is in some respects eternal (will never die), immutable (in the sense that God is unchangingly good), and impassible (in the sense that God’s eternal aspect is unaffected by actuality), but it contradicts the classical view by insisting that God is in some respects temporal, mutable, and passible.” In other words, God can only influence the exercise of this universal free will via opportunities, God cannot cause anything to happen. God incorporates but is not identical to the universe, and the divine possesses the power of persuasion rather than force. Reality is made up of serially ordered events that are experienced in nature, rather than tangible objects that remain throughout time. The events that occur in the cosmos through time have an impact on God. To be complete, God must be both strong yet leave other beings with some ability to reject his influence. 

Idea of Evil – Evil, in a general sense, is defined by what it is not—the opposite or absence of good. Humans believed in a supreme deity and would not want to associate the idea of evil with God; therefore, they were looking for arguments and explanations about this topic. Problems with a basic belief stimulate critical thinking and the urge to employ reason to justify the belief system. To explain and defend essential ideas in the Christian past, Augustine and Aquinas moved beyond the traditions of religion and into philosophical reasoning and a reliance on reason. There were two forms of evil considered: moral and natural. For moral evil, it was assumed that humans are morally responsible and had free will, but for natural evil, occurrences happened because of natural causes such as storms, tornadoes, earthquakes, and natural illnesses.

Free-will defense – Alvin Plantinga states that “A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely perform better than evil actions) is more valuable than a world containing no free creatures.”Evil is the outcome of human mistake, which arises from free will and the potential to do evil, as we would be robots if we did not have free choice. God prefers the free world and intervening means taking our free will away. Evil is, therefore, an unfortunate thing, but God does not condemn or ignore for not interfering. The deity is not responsible for evil, but individuals are since they have and use free will to choose evil. The deity is meant to be all flawless and all good at the same time, all-knowing and all-powerful. The deity is putting humans to the test by offering them free choice to see if they would utilize it for good or evil. Those who choose the good will be rewarded, while those who choose the bad will be punished. 

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist; a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain.”
― Ursula K. LeGuin

The idea of a world where there is a God that is all-knowing, all-present, and all-good and it is also evil, it is known as theodicy. Theodicy is the attempt to explain how it possible to have God and evil in the same world. This was a difficult attempt to do by Christians, as they could not agree with Hebrew’s religious beliefs where they believe that God is not perfect and not all-powerful, so it got some of the Greek beliefs and mixed the ideas together to create a perfect world, but it only led to more questions. To support the idea of the greatest deity and to find a justification for the evil, philosopher Augustine stated that God is not responsible for our actions, as we are born with free will, and it is our choice what path to take in life. Another philosopher Irenaeus came with the idea that the existence of evil, is part of a bigger plan of God, as is impossible to choose the good if you have nothing to compare with, and that is why also created evil. But in his idea, evil is not a bad thing but is the useful part necessary in our spiritual development. However, his idea had also flaws and other philosophers like John Hick and Richard Swinburne agreed with this statement, but others like the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky in The Brothers Karamazov criticize these ideas. 

Hick argues in his theodicy that without free will, everyone would be reduced to a “pet animal” in a cage. Hick claims that God had to give humans the power to commit evil because else they would not be able to participate in “soul-making,” which leads people closer to God. Plantinga, on the other hand, claims that neither argument is true and that even if God is omnipotent, He cannot simply call into existence “any possible world He pleased.” In a world where everything is good, and evil does not exist, would not be possible to be free. It is important in these circumstances for humans to have free will and to able to decide what actions to take, but he also affirms that would be necessary for humans to commit at least one moral evil act. “Due to the fact that humans are free to make choices based upon experiences, whether or not humans perform good, or evil is ultimately up to the human, not God. “

To absorb God of any responsibility of the evil or for the quilt of not interfering to stop it, the idea of free will, is helping people to still believe that God is the most powerful and good, but also to explain the existence of evil. For this statement, it is affirmed that humans are not perfect being, and they have flaws, and like anything that is still in the trial have errors. Because it is not perfect, can also do wrong, and to choose between right and incorrect, the existence of evil is necessary. If a person would not be left to choose and to use their free will, that would be like a robot that is programmed to do things not based on his abilities but would get directions from someone else. In a perfect world created by God, humans were created not as robots, but as free agents that can take decisions, discern between good and evil, and evolve to achieve a personal statement as the greatest being. For someone to accomplish this status of the higher achievement, their ascension had to be made by themselves, without any external intervention. Therefore, a human that has a choice to take and a decision to make between two different things, have also the free will to choose one of them, does not need someone external to take this decision in their name. In this case, is it not necessary for God to interfere or to take responsibility for someone else decision. In conclusion, in a world where there is evil, but also free will, God remains the supreme being that is all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful.  

“Stupidity is the same as evil if you judge by the results.”
― Margaret Atwood

In his essay “Evil and Soul-Making,” John Hick supported the idea presented by Augustine, and especially Irenaeus, and he uses as an argument the fact that humans were created without sin, in a perfect world, but with temptations and free will. However, humans were not created perfect, and complete, even though the physical for was made after the image of God, the soul would have to be earned for someone to be able to achieve goodness and personal worth. Because of these aspects of humans and their imperfections, at the beginning of the world, Adam and Eve disobey the laws of God and they fall into temptation and the sin is still carried by all humans. Also, Hick stated that the relationship between God and humans is like the one of parent/child. “First there is the actual conception and birth of the child, which can be compared to the physical creation of man.  The second step for a parent is to teach the child the difference between wrong and right and between good and bad.” God is seen as a parent that can give us the direction in life, but also the criticism and punishment. A human was not created as the perfect being and would need improvement to achieve the state of perfection, would need to be thought the difference between good and bad. It is like drawing a circle but not closing completely, and even it is obvious that is a circle, hence it is not complete. God created the most part of us, giving a body that is working like an impressive mechanism but left a little bit of that circle open so we can get it filled up with “moral integrity, unselfishness, compassion, courage, humor, reverence for the truth, and perhaps above all the capacity for love.” These challenges that we are left to achieve are only going to help us in the end to gain strength and the “moral effort”.  

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”
― Blaise Pascal

To begin, Edward Madden and Peter H. Hare list three assumptions that are typically used in attempts to address the Issue of Evil. The assumptions “all or nothing,” “it might be worse,” and “slippery slope” are among them. According to Madden and Hare, John Hick successfully utilizes all three false ideas in his argument of free will. Madden and Hare stated in their criticism of Hicks’s argument that God could have other options than giving humans only two options to choose from. He compares God with the headmaster of a school where the students would not have to fear the teachers and the to-do things just to not get punished, but to desire to do so. They wish to achieve greater results based on their interest, not because it would be consequences if they will not obey the laws. Also, Madden and Hare affirmed that even though the students are not following any rules, is not certain that the path to follow would be a great choice when are left to be responsible for themselves. However, to avoid showing himself to not “spoon-feeding” and leave the decision in their hands, it is not assured that would lead to a growing and evolutionary state. 

However, Madden and Hare suggests that only because virtue may evolve from evil, this argument only proves that evil would be far worse if it did not. In essence, the argument rejects the need of evil. It only goes to demonstrate that things could be a lot worse and that there could be no positive outcome. Madden and Hare, on the other hand, argue that this argument ignores the fact that it might be worse just as simple as it could be better. 

According to Madden and Hare, God may diminish evil to the degree where it is just enough to justify it to an end of soul creation, and it is not necessary for so much evil in the world.  

“No evil dooms us hopelessly except the evil we love, and desire to continue in, and make no effort to escape from.”
― George Eliot

Pain and suffering may, of course, present a challenge for the believer; but the problem is not that his beliefs are logically or probabilistically incompatible. The theist may encounter a religious dilemma in evil where he may find it difficult to hold what he considers to be the appropriate attitude toward God. When confronted with great emotional pain or tragedy, humans can act rebellious against God, or even abandon faith entirely. Alvin Plantinga states that “The existence of God is neither precluded nor rendered improbable by the existence of evil. Of course, suffering and misfortune may nonetheless constitute a problem for the theist; but the problem is not that his beliefs are logically or probabilistically incompatible. The theist may find a religious problem in evil; in the presence of his own suffering or that of someone near to him, he may find it difficult to maintain what he takes to be the proper attitude towards God. Faced with great personal suffering or misfortune, he may be tempted to rebel against God, to shake his fist in God’s face, or even to give up belief in God altogether. But this is a problem of a different dimension. Such a problem calls, not for philosophical enlightenment, but for pastoral care. The Free Will Defense, however, shows that the existence of God is compatible, both logically and probabilistically, with the existence of evil; thus it solves the main philosophical problem of evil.” 

People, according to Leibniz, cannot possibly know how changing some events in this world can make it any better than it is or has been. As a result, individuals are unable to maintain the claim that this world is not as beautiful as it could be, if not the best of all possible worlds. Humans do not have an infinite number of perspectives and knowledge—perspectives—to God’s decision that this world is not the best imaginable. If people had such comprehension, they would see how everything that is and has been contributing to the formation of the best possible world that might exist, and so whatever bad happened is in some way necessary for the creation of the most magnificent universe. 

“Remember that all through history, there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they seem invincible. But in the end, they always fall. Always.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

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