In this very brief paper, I want to share, almost informally, something I have been thinking about for some time. I have thought of a new approach to the problem of evil that I think important, and, naturally, the way in which I have always proposed to think of it. While I say ‘new’, this is definitely tentative as, for instance WLC holds the same thesis (see, especially, his Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (2003)). I am going to briefly state the problem, answer it, consider two ways out of my solution and show how both these options do not work.
Here is how it will work:
Problem: The co-existence of evil and God.
Answer: On the supposition that
(i) it is very likely that God exists i.e., natural theological arguments
one can infer that
(ii) God exists; that is, a being Who is omnipotent, omniscient and wholly good exists
and therefore one can ask the question
What is the probability that God has morally sufficient reasons for allowing evil given independent justification for the existence of a God with aforementioned perfect moral properties? I would like to think very, very high–this is enough to solve the “Problem”, in my view.
If it seems paradoxical that God exists simultaneously with evil, nothing follows asides bewilderment. But that is a psychological property of persons–logically there is nothing the matter here, or at least so it seems to me.
I suppose there are two ways out: Either (1) deny (i) or suggest that (2) any instance of evil devalues any natural theological arguments.
The problem with (1) is as follows:
i. (i) is very probable. (See, for instance, the (brief) list of natural theological arguments in Footnote 2 of my essay “Theistic Explanations of the Ontology of Consciousness” here: https://rashadrehmanca.wordpress.com/2016/01/22/theistic-explanations-of-the-ontology-of-consciousness/).
ii. Denying (i) here would be ad hoc.
The problem with (2) is as follows:
i. It is simply highly improbable that an instance of evil makes improbable natural theological arguments. Here is an example (both from WLC):
Kalam Cosmological Argument
- Whatever begins to exist has a cause
- The universe began to exist
- Therefore, the universe has a cause
“There is at least one instance of evil”
In the Kalam argument (1)-(3) is false. But surely this is mistaken?
Perhaps this is uncharitable and favoring an argument which does not establish God’s moral properties. Maybe it is the axiological argument that is problematic:
- If God exists, objective moral values and duties exist
- Objective moral values and duties exist
- Therefore, God exists
But surely “There is at least one instance of evil” does not falsify (1)-(3)? Maybe (1) is problematic, but then (2) becomes highly improbable (as WLC argues). The objector cannot deny (2) since there, then, would not be a problem of evil at all. So clearly (i) and (ii) do not work.
So, given God as an omnipotent, omniscient and wholly good being, the probability of Him having a morally sufficient reason is very, very high.
Here is the conclusion: Evil is a puzzle, not a problem, psychologically for human persons. (Even if it is a puzzle that causes a problem, it is still psychological). (This is no foreign thought to theists, either. Many theists (including myself) find it difficult to see and experience evil. But surely this does not make God’s existence or moral properties any different). WLC reminds us to reflect on the cross of Jesus, the One who suffered and died for our sake, when we suffer. Maybe Christian theism is the only way out of the puzzle of evil.