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Philosophical Analysis of Mackie’s “Evil and Omnipotence” Essay

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Updated: Mar 16th, 2020

Note and Outline

  1. In his arguments, Mackie finds it hard to come to terms with theologians’ views regarding the existence of evil and God’s omnipotence.
  2. His arguments focus on three main facts and how they are related to theological beliefs: good, evil, and God’s omnipotence.
  3. He holds the view that since good triumphs over evil, it is difficult to explain why the two moral ideas exist together.
  4. Therefore, he asserts that good, evil, and God’s omnipotence are principles which are not connected in any way.
  5. Consequently, Mackie challenges general meanings commonly associated with the three ideals and how they are used to advance the view that God exists.

Mackie’s Argument

Mackie insists that since theologians believe that an omnipotent, caring God exists, then evil should not exist. In his arguments, he emphasizes that since God is described to have power over everything that exists; he would not sit by and watch as evil deeds happen in different places. These two propositions are used by religious people to advance moral arguments that justify the importance of believing in a mysterious higher power.

However, Mackie asserts these two views are inconsistent because an all-knowing, benevolent God cannot exist in a world where suffering and evil is common.

He maintains that since people in different places in the world experience suffering, then this shows that there is enough evidence that evil exists. In the same vein, he argues that this puts into doubt the assertion that an omnipotent, benevolent God exists. Consequently, he concludes that evil exists, but God does not.

The first possible solution he explores holds that; good and evil are complementary principles which exist side by side. He argues that this assumption lacks merit because it limits people from experiencing what they believe to be good deeds from an all-powerful God. As a result, this assumption betrays the original theological position because it makes it difficult to measure God’s goodness in different situations.

On the other hand, the second solution argues that; evil is an important means which enables good deeds to happen. He adds that this argument does not have any basis because it contradicts the common principle used by theologians to describe God as an all-powerful and benevolent deity.

Therefore, this limits God’s capabilities because it shows that he lacks supernatural powers that are associated with his omnipotence. As a result, this shows that he conforms to moral guidelines which normal human beings are expected to follow. Consequently, this does not answer questions about why evil exists because it shows that God is unable to use his power to stop human suffering.

In my own opinion, I do not think Mackie is right. Human beings use their judgment to compare extreme situations, and this allows them to make a choice that is beneficial to their interests. In most instances, they are likely to go for a choice that will guarantee comfort, happiness, or other tangible rewards.

Therefore, his argument that good and evil cannot exist side by side does not hold any weight. Also, Mackie’s arguments focus only on extreme applications of the two principles in different situations. However, he fails to mention that in some instances, good deeds may be interpreted as evil deeds depending on the context in which these two principles are applied.

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"Philosophical Analysis of Mackie’s "Evil and Omnipotence"." IvyPanda, 16 Mar. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/philosophical-analysis-of-mackies-evil-and-omnipotence/.

1. IvyPanda. "Philosophical Analysis of Mackie’s "Evil and Omnipotence"." March 16, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/philosophical-analysis-of-mackies-evil-and-omnipotence/.


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IvyPanda. "Philosophical Analysis of Mackie’s "Evil and Omnipotence"." March 16, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/philosophical-analysis-of-mackies-evil-and-omnipotence/.

References

IvyPanda. 2020. "Philosophical Analysis of Mackie’s "Evil and Omnipotence"." March 16, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/philosophical-analysis-of-mackies-evil-and-omnipotence/.

References

IvyPanda. (2020) 'Philosophical Analysis of Mackie’s "Evil and Omnipotence"'. 16 March.

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