"If God exists I hope he has a good excuse"- [1]

Jerry Coyne[2]

Evolution, science, and mere observation tell us that the evidence is strongly against the existence of an omnipotent, loving, and omniscient God. Indeed, the evidence is far more consistent with the notion—a notion that few theists hold—that God is either apathetic, malicious, or a weenie.

The Problem of Evil is a strong argument against the concept of God accepted by some Christians, Jews and Muslims sometimes known as the omnimax god. This is an argument against the classical definition of god.


Problem Of Evil Debate Godless vs B3

Problem Of Evil Debate


The Problem of Evil takes the following form:

  1. A God that is all powerful would be able to prevent evil and suffering.
  2. A God that is all knowing would know that evil and suffering happen.
  3. A God that is all loving wouldn't want evil and suffering to happen and would take needed action to stop it.
  4. Evil and suffering happen.

Since evil and/or suffering happen, these statements are contradictory. An all powerful, all knowing and all loving god cannot exist while suffering continues.

Likewise, if more than one god exists, the gods collectively are ignorant of suffering or are unwilling or unable to prevent it. (See Polytheism).

If any god exists polytheism can seem more reasonable than monotheism.

  1. There is too much evil in the world and so it is not reasonable to conclude that there is one good god.
  2. Conversely, there is too much good in the world and so it is not reasonable to conclude that there is just one evil supernatural entity.


There are many versions of the problem of evil. The most widely known and cited is the Epicurean paradox:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?

Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

Epicurus (Greek philosopher, 341-270 BCE)

Common criticisms[]

The branch of theology devoted to solving the Problem of evil is known as Theidiocy Theodicy and is extremely problematic.[3]

What is "Evil?"[]

One common criticism is that the Problem of Evil cannot be proposed by an atheist because the atheist either lacks a clear definition for "evil" or does not believe in good and evil. Most atheists have a concept of good and evil, see Humanist morality, in any case the argument is valid if suffering is referred to instead of evil, that has a clear definition. However, this criticism fails because the Problem of Evil works within the context of the theist's worldview, not the atheist's. So long as the theist admits that evil exists, the argument holds.

God allows evil for a "greater purpose"[]

Another criticism is that God allows evil for some "greater" purpose or greater good. However, unless the critic is openly admitting that God is not all-loving, this criticism fails. An omnibenevolent (all-loving) god would not willfully allow any sort of evil if he could stop it, else he would not be all-loving. Further any omnipotent god could achieve any greater good without inflicting suffering.

Free will[]

Some critics of the Problem of Evil argue that God gave us free will, which changes the dynamics of the proposed problem of evil all-together. The argument is that a truly loving god would not interfere with our free will, even if it meant allowing evil in the world. However, this criticism fails, because if God is also all-powerful and all-knowing, he would be able to allow us to have free will while simultaneously being able to do away with evil. Further, if God allows one evil to allow for a different good, he is not all-loving. Any amount of evil, no matter how small or for what good purpose, is still evil and contradicts God being all-loving.


A further criticism of the free-will defence imagines a human being using it to justify his failure to intervene to prevent a crime from being committed. If one of us were able to prevent a brutal murder, but instead allowed it to take place, then we could not justify our inaction using the free-will defence. If we were to say that although we could have prevented the murder, we thought it best to protect the free-will of the murderer by allowing him to carry out his plan, then we would be judged to have made a moral error. Why, if this argument would be unacceptable coming from a human being, should we think it any more acceptable coming from God?

Furthermore if there is a God who cares so much about free will why does that God allow terrible events like Jonestown to happen? Those persuaded or pressured to take poison in Jonestown didn't have free will.


The tragedy of Jonestown, and what happened that day in November 1978, is well documented, and does not need to be recounted here. But it remains difficult for most people to get their minds around the idea that so many people could be persuaded to kill themselves simply because Jim Jones commanded them to do so. The appeal of the brainwashing theory is that it bridges the gap between common sense (that rational individuals would have refused to comply) and what actually happened (almost everyone drank the poison and died).

Evil and suffering are illusory[]

A few theists believe this as do Buddhists, as anyone who has ever suffered knows any such illusion is extremely vivid.

The God of the Bible[]

  • Matthew 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? [1] The Bible paradoxically also recognises that agents should be judged by the result of their actions. The bad things in the world are like thorns or thistles. They show that any god has limited power or has limited knowlege or has at best limited love.
  • The God of the Bible can be seen as evil, since the bible contains examples of divine genocide, such as:

But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the LORD thy God hath given thee. 20:15 Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations. 20:16 But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: (20:16-17) "Thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth ... as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee." ( Kill the old men and women, the sick and the dying, the blind and the lame, pregnant mothers, nursing mothers, infants, toddlers, and babies. ) 20:17 But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee: 20:18 That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 20:14-18)

A human being who caused genocide or ordered it on this scale would be condemned by Courts of Law. Such a criminal would face death or life imprisonment depending on the country. Christians, Jews and Muslims see their cruel God as perfectly righteous. Fortunately there is no reason to believe such a god exists.

Implications of the Bible[]

He (God) actually created evil. That would make him at least as evil as all the despots, dictators, rapists, murderers and torturers that have ever existed combined. Then you neglect the fact that IF God knows every outcome of every second of existence, then he knew that after the flood, people would multiply and be even more heinous than they had ever been. Then, He had to sacrifice himself to himself to satisfy some blood debt that he specified as payment for people's sins. To me, if there was an omnipotent god, then he could have just zapped sin out and forgiven everyone without the -making the young virgin pregnant-cloning himself-preaching to a tiny slice of the world and then having the Romans (not the Jews) kill him so that everybody who believed the whole weird fairy tale could be forgiven. [2]

According to Christianity, Judaism and Islam God created the world which he/she knew in advance would become evil. Therefore, God indirectly caused all the evil in the world.


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