The Problem of Evil

[Written June 2020]

The world is falling apart. The ones who swore to protect us have turned their guns in our direction, leaving us alienated from ourselves. This makes me think of evil and why it exists. Let’s consider two dimensions of evil—logical and evidential. 

The Logical Problem of Evil

Why does evil exist at all? If there is some divine omnipotent, omnipresent, omnibenevolent Being in the universe, would He, She, or They not have made sure there was no evil in it? It is omnibenevolent, meaning perfectly good, meaning does no harm to anyone or anything. This leads to a contradiction when we consider why evil exists at all because our belief in an omnibenevolent God is inconsistent with our knowledge, usually first-hand, of evil. This has led to various rebuttals by religious folk to justify the world’s evil.

Some say God’s evil is a test. It is a necessary part of our world as a means for God to find those who truly belong in Heaven. Ones who resist temptation, vice, and sin at every turn will surely be more heaven-worthy than those who do not. 

Others say evil follows necessarily from the fact that humans have free will. God cannot make a universe without evil unless he takes away our free will. Since we are better off with free will, God chose to give it to us, despite the fact that we would perform evil acts.

This is all well and good, perhaps, but the second facet of evil—the evidential problem—cannot be explained away as easily.

The Evidential Problem of Evil

Why is there so much evil? It’s one thing to admit the existence of evil plain and simple; it’s another to consider the amount of evil that exists. For the sake of explanation, natural evil—tornadoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, pandemics, disease—can be excluded from consideration. Even after taking out such multifarious evils, there’s a lot left. Human trafficking, extreme poverty, homelessness, racism, etc., etc., etc. Having free will is not enough to justify such evil. Unlike the logical problem of evil, the evidential one is much harder to explain. 

Think of weeds. There are weeds and flowers growing wherever there’s grass. Flowers are better than weeds, but it’s clear that there are more weeds than flowers. The fact that there are both weeds and flowers might show some relationship between them. Nonetheless, the existence of a few flowers does not explain why there are so many weeds. Look at your lawns, backyards, parks… where are all the flowers? Chances are the grass you see most often is covered with weeds. Why is this? Aside from a biological explanation, is there an proper reason for the sheer amount of weeds suffocating our precious pastures? 

The answer to that question is largely up to you. So think about it. Why is our world covered with weeds? What can you do about it?

Evil sucks, which is an understatement. More often than not, I sink into a state of mind where evil has its place necessarily in the universe. That is, “The world has to be this way because there’s no other option.” Other times I tell myself, “Go with the flow.” But how am I supposed to go with the flow when the water supply runs dry and my friends are dying? 

Maybe there’s no right answer. While evil might never be justified, sameness for sameness’s sake sucks. Change is good. Change is necessary. Change. 

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