The Problem with The Problem of Evil May 27, 2007Posted by Joe in atheism.
The problem is evil is the staple of any atheist presenting an argument against almost any flavor of theism. I believe that on its own it is quite weak and ineffective. Those atheists should really drop it.
The basic argument goes like this: If god is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving then why would he allow evil deeds to cause suffering to people. Often made in reference to a recent tragedy, like say the Virgina Tech shooting. An atheist might ask, “Why would a loving god allow that to happen?” Since he did he is either not all-knowing, not all-powerful, or not all-loving.
There are way too many easy answers to this for the theist. The most common being the free will argument. God respects the free will of his creations. He doesn’t want a bunch of robots running around doing his will, but a bunch of volunteers instead. I believe that easily resolves the issue.
The much more useful argument that the atheist could make is the problem of the natural disaster. Natural disasters cause pain, suffering, death and loss to many people every year. They ruin families, destroy cities, and are the source of much human suffering. Why would an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving god allow that to happen again and again and again? This version cannot be answered by the free will argument. An earthquake has no will, free or otherwise.
I have heard some theist responses to this. Death from a religious perspective doesn’t seem all that bad. A quick trip to paradise. But what of those children that lose their parents, people who are permanently injured, or people who suffer of thirst and starvation for days and suffer until they die as a result of disaster?
How can one reconcile a loving god with this seemingly useless suffering?