Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Tough Topic Tuesday: The Problem of Evil, Pt. 7

In the post we continue to consider the evidential problem of evil. For review, it is as follows:

Evidential Version: "It's Improbable that God could have Good Reasons for Permitting Suffering."

The evidential version differs from the logical version because the evidential version makes a more modest claim. The evidential version says that it is improbable that God exists when one considers all the apparent unnecessary suffering that occurs in the world.

We argued last week that when the full scope of the evidence is considered, we have stronger reasons to believe God exists.  In other words, the theist can admit that God's existence is improbable relative to the suffering in the world alone; however, that suffering is outweighed by the successful arguments for God's existence.

This becomes especially clear when one considers the moral argument.  We can all agree that much of the suffering in the world consists of evil acts committed by people against one another.  But, as William Lane Craig points out, if that is the case, we can argue the following:

1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
2. Evil exists.
3. Therefore, objective moral values exist (some things are evil!).
4. Therefore, God exists.1

At first glance, suffering appears to call God's existence into question; however, if one takes the time to think about the problem of evil more comprehensively, it can actually be argued that evil demonstrates God's existence!  As Craig explains:

"For apart from God, suffering is not really bad.  If the atheist believes that suffering is bad or ought not to be, then he's making moral judgments that are possible only if God exists."2

So, the evidential problem of evil fails to call God's existence into question because evil is actually evidence for the existence of God!3

Next week will be our final post on the evidential problem of evil and then we will finish up the series by addressing the emotional problem of evil and suffering.

Courage and Godspeed,

1. William Lane Craig, On Guard, p. 161.
2. Ibid., p. 162.
3. For more on how evil demonstrates God's existence, see here.

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