On another forum, with an equal number of athiests and Christians, we’ve gotten into a debate about the problem of evil. It’s a question I have struggled with in the past, but I think there is a clear answer that reveals a whole lot about Christianity, as well. However, I am not sure if it is valid, of if all the points are on the money. Could you guys look it over for holes and allow me to refine my understanding and my argument?
[quote=A Philosopher] The Problem of Evil
An omnibenevolent omnipotent omniscient God exists. (Assumption)
An omnipotent being could bring about any situation desired. (By 1)
An omnibenevolent being would not desire a situation with evil. (By 1)
An omniscient being could forsee evil existing in a situation. (By 1)
Evil does not exist. (By 1, 2, 3, 4)
Evil exists. (Assumption)
Contradiction by 5 & 6
This is my favorite Athiestic arguement to answer. It’s also the only one that holds any water, in my eyes. It’s taken me months to come up with a sufficient answer, I will admit.
It starts with this: God is omnipotent, yes, but he is not capable of contradiction. He won’t ever cause something to exist and not exist at the exact same moment. He won’t say one thing and then break his word. He won’t say “Human Souls will not cease to exist” and then break his word and cause one to cease to exist. God’s word is reality. (Now do some of you see why Christians believe in the second person of the Trinity, God’s word?) So that’s premise number one, that God is incapable of contradictions.
Okay, so now let’s try and analyze this idea of “free will.” Free will means that God allows an soul to be capable of any thought or action not limited by his ability (i.e., I have free will but am not able to destroy the universe. A baby has free will but does not have the intellect to make free choices. However, killing a baby IS within my sphere of power, and I could kill a baby if I wanted to, as some have). Free will includes the possibility of evil. If souls that have free will are allowed to live forever, then they must, eventually, commit some evil action or thought (i.e., “sin”), right? So how does God reconcile this contradiction. He can’t “omnipotize” his way through it, if premise one is true. How does God answer the problem of evil?
The answer lies in this world. God has forseen sin and evil and has used it to gain eventual sinlessness in the future, forever. Look at Adam and Eve: they lacked original sin and they still chose to sin; why? It’s because they had no knowledge of sin, they didn’t know what sin would really lead to. Now, we know. And it is because we not only know but have experienced it first hand that we will never sin again, in Heaven, ever.
Like a sword coming out of the furance for the last time, so will we be when we get to heaven: beautiful, pure, and strong, as we were meant to be. But we would not be so without the testing fires of a lifetime on this earth. Without the furnace, we would be burnt iron: broken, weak, and unfinished.
So, to break it down into a logical proof: 1) God cannot perform contradictions
2) “Free will” includes the ability to sin
3) God wants us to have free will and not sin (a contradiction by 1 & 2)
4) God solves this contradiction by letting us experience and commit evil and sin first hand - thus giving us the ability we need to never sin again.