That would probably be the tooth fair argument: you have just as much evidence to believe in god as you do in the tooth fairy, or the flying spaghetti monster, or pink elephants on the other side of the moon, or whatever other theoretical entity is fashionable these days. ? Not the most popular (at least among atheist)? Probably the most famous argument against god's existence.? The argument If god exists, there is an all powerful, all knowing, perfectly good being1. A perfectly good being prevents evil whenever it can, if it knows about it2. An all knowing being would always know of such evils3. ? if god exists he prevents all the evil he can. 4. An all powerful being can prevent any evil5. ? if god exists, there is no evil6. There is evil (or at least bad stuff)7. ? God does not exist8. Some bad replies ? Anything denying any part of the 1st point, since any other definition of god leaves serious questions as to whether or not we should worship him/it ? Rejecting 7, since, if you have moral views or believe in a heaven or hell, you have to believe in some form of at least bad stuff ? Attacking 5 for two reasons: 1. omnipotent means can do anything, and 2. there's lots of things that we humans (who are less powerful than god) know about and can prevent but don't. It seems weird to say that god can't prevent it. ? Rejecting 2 by arguing that god isn't doing the evil so he's not responsible. But that seems to conflict with our general morality; if we can prevent a great evil easily and at no cost to ourselves people seem to get upset when we fail to do so. And we aren't perfectly good Some better replies ? Any belief that the evil exists now for a greater good in the future. ? That doesn?t automatically rule it out as a response, but it does raise some issues. ? Sounds plausible, but there's some question of why an all powerful being would be unable to get to the good without the evil, and why an all perfect being would allow it. ? We can also go for the cop out of just saying god has a plan, then sticking our fingers in our ears and going lalalalalaicanthearyouimnotlistening (or saying god has a plan and us humans can't even hope to comprehend it so we shouldn't bother questioning him). I guess that's logically valid, but unless you're taking it as true on complete faith (which you might well be if you're religious), its easy to wonder why you think that. The argument goes from a logical problem to a plausibility problem. ? To incorporate this view 2 can be revised to add "unless allowing the evil is necessary for a greater good". We also have to revise 6 to be "if god exists there is no unnecessary evil", and to make the argument make sense still 7 must become "there is unnecessary evil". ? The "god has a plan" or "greater good" styled arguments ? This is a pretty good argument. There are still some objections (is god able to anything in the world without interfering? Can't he provide the necessary evidence for all people to make the right decisions?), but its a good response. ? Free will arguments - that god has given humans free will (for whatever reason), and to prevent evil would be to interfere with free will. The Problem of Evil Thursday, April 16, 2009 9:27 AM Philosophy 101 Page 1
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