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The purpose of this essay will be to evaluate the logical problem of evil and free-will defense. The aspects that will be focused on in the essay will be the logical problem of evil where the concept of God and the key attributes that are in conflict with the existence of evil will be discussed.
The free-will defense as a response to the logical problem of evil will also be covered in the essay as well as how the free-will response demonstrates the existence of evil to be logically inconsistent with the existence of God. Objections to the free-will defense as a logical solution to evil will also be presented in the discussion.
Logical Problem of Evil
The problem of evil according to Inwagen (188) is defined as the label for an intellectual problem that is contrary to emotional, spiritual, psychological and theological problems. The prevalence of evil in the world or the logical problem of evil can easily be used to form a basis for an argument that is against the existence of God or any other omnipotent being.
The logical problem of evil states that if God really existed he would be an all powerful and morally perfect being who would not allow any evil or immorality to exist in the world. But since there is a lot of evil in the world, God does not exist and this basically forms a basis for the logical problem of evil. According to the logical problem of evil, the continued existence of evil since the beginning of time is a prelude to the fact that God is non-existent (Inwagen 188).
The response to the logical problem of evil is the existence of a morally perfect and omnipotent being that has the relevant knowledge of evil and how to deal with it. God is an omnipotent being who is pure, good and morally perfect and can be able to deal with evil. The concept of God is basically made up of Him being an omnipotent being, His knowledge of evil and His moral perfection.
God is seen to be a morally perfect and omnipotent being meaning that he can do anything as long as it is not an intrinsic impossibility. Because omnipotence and moral perfection are the non-negotiable components of God, the implications of this is that if the universe was made by an all powerful being and that being was less than omnipotent then the atheists would be right in assuming that God did not exist.
A morally perfect being would not allow evil to exist in the world and him being omnipotent would mean that he has the power to control the existence of evil. The implication of this statement is that such a being is either false or is wholly ignorant to the occurrence of evil (Inwagen 192).
One of the key attributes that is in conflict with evil is moral scorn which according to Inwagen (191) is the safest kind of evil because it is easily taken for granted by most people. Scorn which is generally a form of moral insensitivity is a type of evil that is committed against a person’s emotional and spiritual feelings. It is meant to belittle the actions, opinions or comments that individuals make towards something of common interest.
Moral scorn conflicts with general scorn because it can be used against individuals who disagree with others by demonstrating self-righteous acts or moral posturing. Moral scorn is meant to belittle the actions or opinions of other people without necessarily being backed by evil feelings such as malice or hatred. Moral scorn deflects an argument from employing any forms of evil to one that employs self-righteousness or moral posturing meaning that it eliminates the occurrence of any form of evil completely (Inwagen 191).
The free-will defense is the only response to the logical problem of evil because of the existence of rational, self-aware and good human beings who have a free choice or free will to take part in evil or good. The free-will defense explains the presence of God to be that of an omnipotent being who grants human beings with the power of free choice and free will.
Free-will is a great good created by God to outweigh the existence of evil in the world and it is therefore seen as a defense to the logical problem of evil. The simplistic form of free-will points to the fact that evil exists in the world and the existence of God as a morally upright being. If evil did not exist in the world, there would be no need for human beings to decide whether they will engage in evil or good meaning that the free-will defense is meaningless (Inwagen 198).
Because God created human beings to be rational when it came to choosing between good and evil, he would not be in existence if people lacked the free-will defense when choosing between right and wrong. Free-will means that a person is morally responsible for the choices they have made bearing in mind that they had the choice to do otherwise.
Free-will provides human beings with an option to choose what they think is right regardless of whether or not they think it is evil or good. The choice of free will therefore points to the existence of evil in the world and since free-will is a moral choice derived from morally right and rational human beings, it points to the existence of God as an omnipotent being (196).
The free-will defense addresses the logical problem of evil because it offers human beings with an alternative to committing evil. Free-will provides people with a chance to be morally responsible for their actions though they had the chance to do otherwise. The simplistic form of the free-will defense can at best be used to deal with the existence of some forms of evil as opposed to a vast amount of evil that originates from the acts of human beings.
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Objection to Free-will Defense
An objection to the free-will defense is that it fails to address the logical problem of evil because free will and determinism are compatible concepts that co-exist in the world.
This means that God as the omnipotent being could create a world where human beings were free to commit evil but also do good. This seems to be a surprising argument to make but it has a strong basis based on philosophers such as David Hume and Thomas Hobbes who held the belief that free will and determinism were perfectly compatible concepts that could coexist in a world full of both evil and good.
These philosophers argued that free-will meant being free to do what one wants to do while determinism involved making the right choice based on what a person wanted to do. If free will and determinism were compatible therefore, an omnipotent being could create a human being who had a free choice to choose between evil and good (Inwagen 199).
A person’s free will is therefore what one wants to do with regards to the above analysis meaning that a free will is an unimpeded will. A creator who would want to offer people with a free choice would only need to arrange matters so as to achieve the intended desire in human beings.
This means that if a human being had a desire to commit act x instead of y, they would be able to achieve that desire because they have the option of x and y implanted in them. If every human being with a free will always did what they felt was right there would be an abuse of free will and evil would not exist in the world through the human abuse of free-will. This means that the free-will defense is not a suitable response to the logical problem of evil based on this objection.
Inwagen, Peter. The problem of evil. New York: Oxford University Press