The Existence Of God And The Problem Of Evil A Philosophical Evaluation

Project and Seminar Material for Philosophy

The Existence Of God And The Problem Of Evil A Philosophical Evaluation


This study focuses on st. Thomas Aquinas argument for the existence of God; a God who is purported to have created the universe and all it holds on one hand and our daily life experiences of the world on the other hand. Theists assert God to be most powerful, wholly good and all knowing. Our daily experience shows that there is evil everywhere: pain and suffering are undeniably real, cancer, natural disasters, war, poverty, racism, murder, animal cruelty and the list is almost endless. Traditionally, the problem of evil has been seen to arise from the apparent self- contradiction involved in asserting that God, who is omnipotent, wholly good creator exists, and that evil exists.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

The quest to offer a solution to the problem of existence of a supernatural deity who is omnipotent and omni-benevolent who allows evil to exist has been there for ages (McCloskey, 1974, 1). There are three intellectual needs which the belief in a supernatural deity may be thought to serve. It offers an explanation of the world’s existence and of its nature, an assurance that life is worth living an answer to the question how one ought to live and ultimate destiny of human being. But Mcloskey stresses that considering it logically it does not give an answer to the puzzle of a deity who is so powerful and totally good who allows greater quantity of evil to exist at the same time. Why would a greater quantity of evil make the existence of God less likely than a lesser quantity? Presumably any quantity of evil is a problem for the existence of an omnipotent and omni-benevolent deity. But contemporary objectors usually admit that an omnipotent and omni-benevolent being would have a morally sufficient reason to permit some evil or at least some apparent evil. That is to say, they might not be gratuitous. However, the greater the quantity of evil, the more likely it is that at least some of those evils are gratuitous, and hence, the less likely it is that the God of traditional theism exists (Rowe, 200, 120).

Thus, the evidential problem of evil which is the problem of determining whether and, if so, to what extent the existence of evil constitutes evidence against the existence of God. This is to say, a being perfect in power, knowledge and goodness does allow evil to exist at the same time. The evidential arguments from evil which attempt to show that, once we put aside any evidence there might be in support of the existence of God, it becomes highly unlikely, that the world was created and is governed by an omnipotent, omniscient, and wholly good being. As stressed by Rowe, that there are certain facts about evil that cannot be adequately explained on a theistic account of the world, theism is thus treated as a large-scale hypothesis, or explanatory theory which aims to make sense of some pertinent facts, and to the extent that it fails to do so it is disconfirmed (Rowe 2001, 125). It is therefore clear that the problem of God and the existence of evil is a philosophical problem.

Orthodox theism has attributed to God attributes that seem to contradict the reality we experience. In orthodox theism, God is believed to exist as ONE and they held an anthropomorphic picture of God who is PERFECT, a being who is greatest of all. St. Anselm argued that God is a being than which no greater can be conceived (Anselm, 117, 1979). This being enjoys a number of qualities which included; all powerful (Job. 42:2), which refers to God who is able to prompt any state of affair that must abide with rules of logic; that it must be logically possible in itself and at the same time be logically consistent with other essential characters of God.

Omnipresent God (Jer. 23: 23-24), who is wholly present in all space and time, is everywhere at the same time hence everything happens in His presence. Omni- benevolent (perfectly good) (1Jn 1:9, Jr. 12:1), is understood to be the author of moral principle; hence he is the center of all moral norms and acts in harmony with those norms. He always wishes the same good to be reflected in His creation. Omniscient God (all knowing) (Is. 40:28), has knowledge of the past, present, and the future, and everything that comes to be is pre-meditated by Him. Incorporeal (Jn 4:23-24), means that God is a disembodied agent, which means He is a spiritual being though he is able to affect the physical beings.

Aseity (Ps 90:1-4, Jn 5: 26), implies that from eternity to eternity God is unchangeable. This means that God possesses His own essence or existence. That his existence does not depend on any external reality, His existence is ontologically independent.

Creator and sustainer (Gn. 1-2), He is believed to be the creator and the sustainer of all that is seen and unseen. He gives everything that exists its power to exist, it follows that nothing can come into being without him willing it. And since power to be, comes from Him, it follows even the operational power is from Him (Pojman, 2008, 248). Thus the term God whose attributes are explained above is used to describe the Supreme Being held by theistic community of believers.

Evil on the other hand can be described in different ways; it has been associated with all that is destructive and negative. It has been iconed with wordings like unjust, bad, immoral, painful, and suffering. Some of its descriptions are as follows: evil is that which is harmful to the well being of a sentient being. It is unjust treatment, loss of opportunity, absence of a good doer.

As indicated in the above paragraph evil is described as pain and suffering. For the sake of clarity let me make a distinction between pain and suffering. Pain is a physical state, which is realized when the sensation is felt when a sentient being is subjected to physical torture. For example, if you put your hand on a naked flame you will be burnt and experience pain. Suffering on the other hand is a mental state that is realized when a sentient wishes that his or her situation would be better or otherwise. Pain and suffering can also be categorized as psychological or emotional. As stressed by Rowe that intense human and animal suffering occurs on a daily basis; it is in great plenitude in our world, and is a clear case of evil. He argued that there exist instances of intense suffering which an omnipotent, omniscient being could have averted without thereby losing some greater good, or permitting some evil equally bad or worse (Rowe, 1979, 335).

It becomes a problem because in our daily lives, evil seems to triumph over good. The easiest solution to the puzzle is to deny one proposition; that is, either God of theologians does not exist or evil does not exist. The latter denial is self defeating since no one can doubt its existence, but paradoxically theologians are not ready to drop their belief and they hold the two propositions true. It is on this backdrop that we pose the question; is the existence of God and the existence of evil compatible?

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The problem of the existence of God is as old as Man. it is a major issue that man either consciously or unconsciously raises in his mind. Philosophers are very concerned with this problem. The problem of the existence of God has almost become a part of every being and one who his beliefs will tagged an atheist which today connotes a black sheep of the family.

Man shares quite a number of characteristic with other living thing but the fact is that man still stands clear that he is very unique. Man has been endowed with certain qualities which other beings cannot boast of which is his rationality, that is the ability to reason, unlike plants and lower animals who, just respond to external stimulation involuntarily man is capable of deciding consciously which stimuli he ought to respond to and which he is to regard.
In the area of religion people are so firm in their minds that theyassume that as with other matters of knowledge like technology, custom and ethics, that there must be away to prove the existence and nature of God. Other believe that it is in some ways unnecessary and even evil to seek rational justification for the existence of God, which they think should be accepted without any attempt to proof its existence.

They rationality of man has automatically made him responsible for whatever action after conscious evaluation of the fact that behind every action preformed by man, there is a motivating principle.1It is equally important to know and understand the meaning and purposes of all that exist, despite the serious mystery in which things are strictly bound up. Philosopher can never be satisfied with anything less than good reason for% adopting a belief or any phenomenon at all.2In matters of religion and in every other area, philosopher search for answers that can be justified by sound arguments.

The fact that everything in nature has got some meaning and can be understood to constitute certain meaning towards the realization of certain ends, and having equally grasped it to the extent that all other things as well as the lower forms of life are meant and designed for human purposes and convinces, the word it becomes some what comprehend the meaning purpose and the end for which human existence is meant.

God’s existence cannot be proved merely, by considering the word “GOD” as in the onto logical argument. God’s existence cannot be proved just by examining the concept what it is about nature that makes it manifest that it requires God as its original cause. Humans existence has been seen by some pessimist like a walking shadow full of found and fury signifyingnothing.3That is human existence count for nothing but emptiness and meaning lessness.
To other philosophers like St. Augustine, everything is created to fulfill a purpose. St. Augustine assertion is that God is a God of purpose who cannot create anything without a purpose. This is the greatest tragedy in life, it’s not death according to his believe but life without a reason, so nit dangerous to be alive and not know why one was given life.4 Since deepest and ultimate craving of the human existence is the search for a sense of significance and relevance to life, thus fundamental questions such as Who I am? Why am I here for, what am I here about? And so forth has continued to puzzle the minds of the deep-thinking men in philosophy. The fact meaning that God’s existence can only be proved by his part and purpose in nature as seen as in Thomas Aquinas argument for the existence of God.

1.3 Aim of the Study

The purpose of this essay is to critically examine the argument for the existence of God in relation to the problem of evil. We shall also take a cursory look at st. Thomas Aquinas argument for the existence of God. In order to debunk the logical, evidential, skeptics and the theoretical determinism approach to the problem of evil.

1.4 Significance of the Study

The thesis of this essay is that the realities of evil call into question the phenomenal attributes of God as omnipotent, omniscience, and omnibenevolent. But beyond this our thesis affirms that all that exists did not just come into being but it is caused by some offer thing than itself.

Whatever caused the universe is and all mat exists is greater than the universe and all that exists itself. God is the only being greater than the universe, therefore God caused the universe and God exist.

1.5 Research Methodology

Our method shall be historical, explanatory and analytical method.

1.6 Scope and Limitation

The scope of this essay is restricted to the proofs on the existence of God and the existence of evil. With particular reference to Thomas Aquinas argument for the existence of God we shall critically and thoroughly examine the problem of evil in its various expressions.

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