Edited, with an introduction, by Chad Meister and James K. Dew Jr., God and the Problem of Evil hosts a generous and informative conversation on one of the most pressing issues in the Christian life.
According to the classic position, associated especially with the Augustinian tradition, God permits evil and suffering as part of the grand narrative of divine providence to bring about the redemption of creation. Molinism modifies the classic view by adding God's middle knowledge to the picture, in which God has knowledge of what creatures would do in all possible worlds. Open theism rejects the determinism of the classic view in favor of an account of God as a risk-taker who does not know for sure what the future holds. Essential kenosis goes further in providing a comprehensive theodicy by arguing that God cannot control creatures and thus cannot unilaterally prevent evil. Skeptical theism rejects the attempt to provide a theodicy and instead argues that, if God exists, we should not expect to understand God's purposes.
If the Bible does provide a plausible explanation for how a good, omnipotent God can exist despite the presence of evil and suffering in the world, then what is my duty and responsibility towards this God?
The problem of evil is without a doubt one of the key intellectual obstacles that a Muslim or theist has to overcome in order to be convinced that God exists (or convince others for that matter). There are two versions of the problem of evil, the internal problem of evil and the external problem of evil.
The problem of evil claims that it is unbelievable, if an omnipotent and good God exists, that he would permit so much pain and suffering in the world. The famous philosopher David Hume in his ‘Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion’ aptly puts it,
Both the claim that the Christian answer to the problem of evil is "unsatisfying" relative to the alternative explanations and the claim that the actual existence of evil disproves the existence of the Christian God require us to examine what an atheist means when he calls something evil.
From this point of view, evil is a means to an end in as much as if it did not exist, there would be no means of spiritual development. However , with this view god is the author of evil and although it has a purpose it challenges the nature of god as being all good.
However, the existence of Evil leads to the questioning of the existence of an all loving and all good and powerful deity. The large amount of EVIL is particularly difficult to explain.
Augustine, God created man without sin and placed him in a paradise free of sin. The decline of man occurred as a result of his weakness in the face of temptation and his misuse of free will. This theory holds that the grace of God will save some of humanity, but at the same time, some of humanity will suffer eternal damnation. Hick refers to this Augustinian Theodicy as the “majority report.” However, Hick believes that the Irenean tradition is more plausible.
Related to this issue is a second use to which atheists put the problem of evil: namely, that the actual existence of evil disproves the existence of the Christian God.
For the Christians the idea of the Hebrew deity was not going to be acceptable to those whom they hoped to convert: those who had come under the influence of the Greek manner of thought, those other than the Hebrews. The Christians take the idea of the all perfect being , the source of all that is true, good and beautiful, from the Greeks and layer it over the idea of the single deity of the Hebrews and the history of that idea as presented in the Hebrew scriptures. The ideas about the qualities of the early Hebrew god when combined ideas about the Greek ideal deity have made for many problems.
Finally, unjust suffering may cause compassion, but it also breeds resentment. Madden and Hare argue that it is likely that the negative aspects of resentment would outweigh the positive ones of compassion.
If the Christian answer to the problem of evil is unsatisfying, then we are permitted to ask what the other potential answers to the problem of evil are.
"Evil is due to human freewill."Perhaps the most important proposed solution of the problem of evil is that evil is not to be ascribed to God at all, but to the independent actions of human beings, supposed to have been endowed by God with freedom of the will.