The problem of evil: A philosophical problem
St Thomas raised a major philosophical and religious problem: How can both exist God and Evil ? Indeed, God’s ominipotence seem to be incompatible with the existence of evil. Why should this be ?
It seems undeniable that evil exists in the world, where evil includes both naturals evil and moral evil. Natural evil is the evil found in the natural world that is not caused by human beings: diseases, injuries or natural disasters such as eathquakes and hurricanes. Moral evil is evil produced by human beings: wars, murders, rapes, assaults. Both naturals annd morals evil cause a great deal of physical pain and mental suffering. So why God allow natural and moral evil ? If God exists, he surely loves human beings. And if he is omnipotent, God should be able to do this by abolishing all natural and moral evils from the world.
One the following statements must be false:
– Evil exists in the world (1)
– God is omnipotent (2)
– God is omnibenevolent (3)
Solutions to the problem of Evil:
The simpliest way to solve the problem of evil is to deny God’s ominipotence or omnibenevolence, or to deny that God exists in the first place. But doing this amounts to accepting atheism.
(1)The most implausible solution to the problem is to deny that evil exists. To say that no evil exists may seem strange to those who have endured a great deal of pain. Some thinkers, as Mary Baker Eddy, think that evil os only an illusion of the mortal or human mind and that in reality there is not such thing as evil. But nothing seems more real than pain when you are experiencing it.
The most popular solution, defended by Leibniz or Descartes or St Thomas is often called the freewill solution. Moral evil is the result of the free will of humans. Humans freely choose to do evil things, but it is not God’s fault. God made humans free, and in order to be genuine, this freedom must allow humans the choice of acting wrongly.
This solution solve the evil moral problem, but not the natural evil problem. St Augustine endorsed that Satan was responsible of natural evil : “All evil is either sin or the punishment for sin”.
St Thomas has another approach : Evil exists because without it, humans would not have the chance to develop virtues such as courage and fortitude.