problem of evil

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The problem of reconciling the imperfect world with the goodness of God. The problem has two forms. One is whether it is consistent to hold that an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfect creator could have made a world in which pain and evil form a prominent part of life, and possibly of life after death (see hell). This is purely a logical question, and frequently if callously answered by citing the supposed extra goodness that a tincture of evil makes possible (see also free will defence). The second and more robust version of the problem is whether, even if such saving hypotheses restore consistency to the theistic position, it could ever be reasonable to take the imperfect creation as itself a sign of divine, i.e. perfect, workmanship. The second argument is deployed by Hume especially effectively against the argument to design, in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion: ‘Here’, says Philo, the sceptic, ‘I triumph.’

Subjects: Philosophy — Religion.

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