Exploring the Problem of Evil (Pt. 2) – Why Does God Allow Evil to Exist?

Though I could point to Job and say, “God has His reasons,” this is my attempt to show logically how God does not contradict Himself in allowing evil. The previous post dealt with how a believe in a good God and evil do not contradict each other. This one will attempt to show how God can allow for evil without contradicting His nature.

We are then left with (7) in this topic, the latter part of (7), pondering what His good reason happens to be. Drawing off my response to (6), we can come up with (8):

(8) God, being good, will allow evil E to occur iff (if and only if) E will bring about good G

Of course, there is an underlying assumption under this, which we can pull from my explanation of (6) and say

(8’) Given that some evil E contains an outweighing good G it is not logically possible for God to eliminate E without likewise eliminating G, by proxy eliminating Himself.

My justification for the last part of (8’) is that if God is good any elimination of good is an elimination of Himself. My definition of goodness isn’t pantheistic, but instead that when we see a good action, we know that somewhere down the line God is behind that good action. Therefore, to eliminate the good action or prevent its actualization, God would have to prevent His own nature from intervening within the world.

Regardless, we see from both (8) and (8’) that God will allow E if He knows that it will produce G and that G will, at some point, outweigh E.

So we’re left with pondering about the cause of evil. Some would propose

(9) God authored evil – caused it – even in a simplest form in order to bring His plan about

On the surface, this might make sense, but is it necessarily true? For one, can both (9) and (2) coexist without contradicting each other? If God is wholly good, can He likewise cause evil?

I would submit that (9) and (2) are a necessary contradiction if we accept Augustine’s definition of evil, that is, “Evil is not a substance, but instead is the absence of a substance, namely Good.” If (2) is true and (2′) is likewise true, then (9) cannot also be true. God would have to cause the absence of Himself – though He can allow the absence of Himself, He cannot likewise be the cause of that absence.

If a Being B causes an absence A of event e with e being caused by B, then A forms a necessary contradiction between B and e. B would both be causing e and A to simultaneously occur, the problem is that e exists and A is the absence of e. B would, therefore, be causing both the existence and non-existence, or presence and non-presence of e, which violates the law of non-contradiction.

Thus, (9) is a contradiction to the syllogistic grouping if (2) and (2′) are both true. I am not necessarily arguing for the truth of (2) and (2′), but merely trying to show the logic of how both a good God and evil can exist in the same world. In light of this, (10) does not fit with the syllogism provided (likewise, given the above analysis, if one wanted to accept that (9) were true, one would have to do away with at least (2), changing the entire nature of the syllogism).

On a more theological note, (9) doesn’t work with the syllogism above and since it could be argued that syllogism A (composed of {(1), (2)(2′), (3), (4c), (5), (7)}) is Scripturally based, (10) would likewise seem to be a contradiction of Scripture as well.

We are still left wondering what caused the absence of good. This is where free will does come into play. If we accept (7) and (8)(8’) then we can come to

(10) A free agent must be allowed to cause evil

The agent must be allowed to have significantly free will, capable of making a significant moral action. In light of this, God’s creation of Lucifer and humanity, knowing they would fall, does not violate (1) or (2)(2’). Following the logic, we come to see that (10) is done in order to allow for (7), that because God has a plan and a good reason for allowing evil, we can allow for (10) without worry. So long as (8)(8’) is true, allowing (10) doesn’t negate God.

For a more detailed explanation of (10), please read my essay The Metaphysical Necessity of Evil.


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