A brief introduction to the Problem of Evil

In this period of research regarding different Christian apologetics topics I would like to address in the proximate future articles the “problem of evil” by presenting the works of two philosophers: Alvin Plantinga and Peter van Inwagen.
In particular, I will be drawing insights from Plantinga’s book “God, Freedom and Evil” and Peter van Inwagen’s book ” The problem of Evil”.

But, before starting all of this I will here offer a brief introduction to the issue for the non-acquainted reader.

The “problem of evil” can be studied as an argument which pertains natural atheology (“God, Freedom and Evil” p.2-3) . That means that such argument is employed to show that God cannot or that God probably does not exist.
Such argument can be divided into two sub-arguments. We can, in fact, distinguish between the logical and probabilistic problem of evil.

The logical problem of evil pretends to affirm that there is a contradiction between affirming that a good and all-powerful God exists and that evil exists. Hume in his “Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion”, pt. X, pp. 88 says: “Is he [God] willing to permit evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?”.

The classical theistic response is that the atheological argument in its logical form represents a false dichotomy. In fact, God could be omnipotent (hence able to stop evil) and perfectly good (hence not wanting evil) and still have reasons to permit such evil.
The non-theist response is that even if the theist answer theoretically resolves the strictly “logical” problem of evil, it does not resolve the probabilistic one. The non-theist contention is that it remains very improbable that a good God would have sufficient reasons to permit the evil we see in this world.

Amedeo Da Pra

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