Dialogue on the Problem of Evil - Paper Example

Published: 2022-12-26
Dialogue on the Problem of Evil - Paper Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Philosophy God
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1643 words
14 min read


The problem of evil entails a disquisition that disproves the existence of God according to the understanding of most traditional religions. Most religious faiths use characteristics like omnipotence, omnibenevolent, and omniscient to describe God. The problem of evil assumes that God is inexistent since if God existed, then the world would be without evil and suffering. The problem of evil argues against the existence of God, who is morally indifferent. Theodicy is the attempt to determine how God could permit bad things to happen. B.C. Johnson argues that a God who is perfectly moral does not exist as adequate explanations on why God allows the occurrence of bad things does not exist. Augustine, on the other hand, argues that evil does not exist, but it is the mere representation of the absence of good (Ilievski, 2). This dialogue intends to address the question of whether adequate theodicy regarding the problem of evil exists and draw some conclusions on the issue.

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Arguments made by Johnson and Augustine

Johnson: The problem of evil is founded on the assumption that God is inexistent, that if God existed, then the world would be filled with perfect goodness and that the world is essentially not entirely good. Why does God not prevent the occurrence of evil by intervening in situations where suffering or pain occur? God cannot be a being who is wholly good or who intends or wills the occurrence of greater good if He allows bad results to occur in a situation. As such, this is not the right thing to do.

Augustine: God does not intend for the occurrence of evil. The acts of humans cause evil as they fail to perceive God's divine plan fully. God intends to carve goodness out of evil and is perfectly reasonable and thus cannot be associated with the negative aspects of His creatures. Human beings were created as good creatures with free choices and can choose to avoid evil or embrace goodness. The occurrence of sin does not have to be unfortunate as it serves a redemptive purpose that links the fallen creatures with God (Peterson, 7). Evil or sin are the actions of humans that are not caused by God as He is a perfect deity. The absence of goodness in the world can be attributed to humans who act freely.

Johnson: Well, I do not look at it that way. God possesses the power to prevent the evil caused by humans through their actions. God can control all the elements in the world, which would result in a perfect world where only goodness exists. The causation of evil is attributable to God as He has the ultimate control over all the creatures. The existence of random occurrences in nature can be used as an indication of God's inexistence. The allocation of free will to humans allowing them to engage in evil does not indicate God's goodness as He seemingly enables the creatures to cause pain and suffering. God does not exist and is not entirely good. That point of my argument is proven by the actions of humans who possess the free will to harm others unnecessarily. A divine reason that explains natural disasters does not exist either.

Augustine: Johnson, unfortunately, I think you are myopic in this regard. God honors the autonomy and freedom of humans by not intervening to prevent the occurrence of moral evils. God does not diminish free will by intervening to prevent the occurrence of undesired events. A perfect and all-good God approves the phenomenon of evil. Sin is not intrinsically wrong as it merely indicates the absence of good in a particular situation and can inspire the achievement of a greater good. For instance, diseases do denote evil as they only illustrate the lack of good health (Maller, 3). All things have some good in them even though this good is not supreme or unchangeable.

Johnson: Augustine, your point of view does not answer my question. Why does God permit the existence of evil or the occurrence of events like suffering? For instance, the painful death of an infant can be used to illustrate the lack of goodness in God as He fails to prevent the suffering endured by the baby (Johnson, 12). Why does the baby have to suffer even though he/she is likely to go to heaven? If God existed, then the suffering would not occur since the death of a baby does not result in a good thing.

Augustine: God cannot be associated with evil as He is righteous. He does not intend for evil to exist in the world. God desires for goodness to occur in the world, and His creatures are obligated to act in ways that produce general welfare. The association of evil in the actions of man led to an estrangement with God as He disapproves sinful lifestyles. Notably, this argument denotes God's divine intention with His creatures. God could not have created evil as He created a good world and expects His creation to be as good.

Johnson: I believe that the world is not entirely good since unabated evil, pain, and suffering continue to proliferate. Why do humans have to endure excessive suffering in a world created by a perfect God of goodwill? God is supposedly all-knowing, always present, and intends for the world to be a good place where His creatures can reside with satisfaction. The meaning of God is strained by His inaction and excuses from transforming the world into a perfect place where the innocent people do not endure excessive suffering. Natural disasters should also not occur if God intends for the world to be good as they cause undue pain on all creatures, humans, and non-humans. History indicates several instances where God allowed the occurrence of evil, and thus having faith in God's goodness is not justified.

Augustine: The evil that exists in the world stems from the actions of human beings. Man causes evil when he deviates from the path of righteousness. As such, suffering that occurs in the world is a consequence of evil actions. Moreover, the world is not good in a perfect way. The acts of human beings can be harmful or righteous, depending on the judgments they make. God intends for everything in the world to happen the way it does, including evil. God permits and prevents evil according to His will and empowers human beings to do good or evil for divine purposes. God voluntarily elects not to apply His divine power but to secure the freedom of humans.

Critique of the arguments made by Johnson and Augustine

Student 1: Johnson's argument does not sufficiently indicate how the characters attributed to God are inaccurate if He permits excessive suffering to occur in the world. He uses examples of how God allows evil to happen throughout history to explain why believing in the goodness of God is not justified. He indicates that the allocation of free will on humans leads them to act against God and do evil, which contradicts with the actions that would be expected of a good God (Johnson, 46). The philosopher uses the occurrence of natural disasters and other unfortunate events in the world to conclude that God cannot be all good but does not indicate how these denote His inexistence.

Student 2: Augustine's argument on free will as an explanation for the problem of evil is inadequate. The evidence fails to indicate how God's goodness is negated by His failure to use His power and ability to limit human autonomy or freedom to prevent evil. The explanation of God as an extraordinary bystander who allows human free will to cause harm or evil does not indicate how such acts lead to good results. Good and evil are fundamentally distinct (Maller, 3) As such, the occurrence of evil cannot presumably lead to the goodness that God is associated with even though He gives human beings free will to make choices on how to act.

Student 3: Augustine alleges that evil or sin makes the world better as it links creatures with God as they seek redemption, and restoring the good that was lacking. The benefit associated with evil in his argument fails to put into consideration the results of the occurrence of evil (Horsfield, n.p). Evil acts like terror, murder, rape, and events that cause pain and suffering affect the real lives of victims. Such actions cannot be termed as the absence of good that can be restored through redemption.


The problem of evil argues on the existence of God and questions how good would be absent in a world created by God, who is not only perfect but is also omnipresent, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent. B.C. Johnson argues that if God existed, then pain and suffering would not occur as evil would not exist. Augustin disapproves of the claim that God does not exist because humans are affected by pain and suffering by indicating that these are the results of the humans who possess free will. The absence of good in the world is thus faulted on humans who choose to act in morally evil ways that attract the suffering endured. Augustine's position exonerates God from association with evil as He is perfectly good and created a good world where evil evolved as a result of the actions of His creatures.

Works Cited

Horsfield, John. The problem of good and evil. (2017).Retrieved November 5, 2019, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/316791482_The_problem_of_good_and_evilIlievski, Viktor. "Plato's Theodicy and the Platonic Cause of Evil." (2014). Print.

Johnson, B.C., " Why doesn't God intervene to prevent evil?" In L. P. Pojman, (Ed.) Philosophy-the Quest for Truth. New York: Oxford University Press, New York, 2006. Print.

Maller, Mark. At What Price Plantinga and Swinburne on The Problem of evil. (2019). Print.

Peterson, Michael L., ed. The problem of evil: Selected readings. University of Notre Dame Press, 2016.

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