A Response to Atheism: The Problem of Evil

3. The Problem of Evil

Of all reasons to be an atheist, the Problem of Evil tends to be the most appealing. As a final proof against the existence of God, the Problem of Evil, when at its best, can only eliminate the manifestation of God that claims that He is all-good and all-powerful. God could potentially be a malevolent being, but, as Epicurus concludes, if God is neither able nor willing to eliminate evil, then why call such a being God?

Rosch emphasizes the obvious suffering that takes place all-around the world through natural disasters and corrupted governments. Here, though, are two different issues; the first is merely a problem of suffering and the second can accurately be called an aspect of the Problem of Evil.

With regard to suffering, specifically suffering which results from an uncontrollable disaster, applying a degree of morality to suffering tends to be a bit of a misnomer. Humans, with our great capacity for empathy, often associate pain with the result of some bad or evil decision, but several types of pain exist within the human body. Certain kinds serve as a warning that something is wrong, like touching a hot plate. Other kinds of pain, such as exercise, simply exist as a part of the process of building strength and endurance. Now, the resulting effects of a natural disaster need not be placed into the first example of pain, and the numerous deaths wrought by hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis absolutely dwarfs the second example.

Nevertheless, when dealing with the idea, there needs to be an account for the fact that ascent out of suffering tends to do something to bolster the human spirit. That such a possibility for recovery exists tells an immense story. Within disaster, we are able to find the capacity for redemption. While it proves nothing about God (as a humanist, Rosch would claim that it merely highlights the human quality of perseverance), overlooking the potential positive effect of suffering is a gross miscalculation. While the ends may not justify the means, that there can be any positive result from suffering speaks volumes.

Understanding the idea of suffering now isolates the Problem of Evil. Rosch mentions poor children who go hungry. In his explanation why the Problem of Evil exists, Rosch discredits the human will’s capacity for evil. Actions such as rape, murder, and theft can rightly be called evil, but that these actions exist need not discredit God. Here, the responsibility can be tied to human free will. In such cases, whom do we hold accountable for crime?

Even in the context of entire groups of people who daily face hunger and poverty, we can point out that there are entire groups of people who have plenty and yet do nothing to help those in need. This concept of evil, again, leads into Rosch’s next point.


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