The Problem of Evil

Brian Davies

in Thomas Aquinas on God and Evil

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199790890
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199914418 | DOI:
The Problem of Evil

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This chapter begins by reviewing the arguments of the detractors and defenders of theism regarding the existence of God and evil. It then turns to Aquinas's argument for God's nonexistence in his Summa Theologiae. Aquinas writes: “It seems that there is no God. For if one of two contraries were infinite, the other would be completely destroyed. But by the word ‘God’ we understand a certain infinite good. So, if God existed, nobody would ever encounter evil. But we do encounter evil in the world. So, God does not exist” (ST 1a.2.3 [Davies and Leftow 2006: 24]). This argument, which purports to disprove God's existence, is one with which Aquinas disagrees. However, his referring to it shows him to be perfectly aware of the possibility of atheism based on the fact of evil. So Aquinas can be viewed as a participant in discussions of God and evil, yet his approach to the topic of God and evil is also vastly different from those of other authors.

Keywords: God; evil; theism; Thomas Aquinas; Summa Theologiae

Chapter.  3469 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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