The Problem of Evil

Peter van Inwagen

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780195331356
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 The Problem of Evil

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There are many ways to understand the phrase “the problem of evil.” This article conceives this phrase as a label for a certain purely intellectual problem—as opposed to an emotional, spiritual, pastoral, or theological problem (and as opposed to a good many other possible categories of problem as well). The fact that there is much evil in the world (that is to say, the fact that many bad things happen) can be the basis for an argument for the nonexistence of God (that is, of an omnipotent and morally perfect God). But this article takes these qualifications to be redundant: It takes the phrases “a less than omnipotent God” and “a God who sometimes does wrong” to be self-contradictory, like “a round square” or “a perfectly transparent object that casts a shadow.”) Here is a simple formulation of this argument: If God existed, he would be all-powerful and morally perfect. An all-powerful and morally perfect being would not allow evil to exist.

Keywords: the problem of evil; God's existence; all-powerful; morally perfect; omnipotent; emotional problem

Article.  15702 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Religion ; Moral Philosophy

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