7 thoughts on “The Problem of Evil – for Atheists

  1. The PoE argument, presupposes objective good. Because it is impossible to define evil, without referencing a good, that is used to define the evil.
    Ask the atheist to give an example of evil, without inference to a good? They cannot.

    It’s like the problem of darkness. Darkness is the absence of an expected light. Without light, there is no awareness of darkness.
    Without good, there is no identification of evil.

    So if there is a PoE, where does the good come from?

    CS Lewis put it something along this way. If something is crooked, where is my reference to identify it as such, other than having to rely on acknowledgement of the existence of a straight line!
    If life is unfair, evil, there must be a fair, good.

  2. David

    I honestly don’t understand your argument but suspect it may hinge on your definition of evil. What exactly do you think it is, some kind of metaphysical force? I am not being an “angry, fundi atheist”, I simply don’t see that it is difficult to defend from an atheistic worldview.

    I would define evil as the actions of sentient beings that intentionally cause extreme detriment to the well-being of other sentient beings. I am quite happy to debate what sentient means in the context of non-human species but I think we are able to make that judgement for humans reasonably well.

    Therefore, natural disasters and disease clearly are not evil. Nevertheless, whilst some actions may bring about a short-term reduction in well-being but for an eventual gain, those of the Nazis at Auschwitz appear simple to define.

    The fact that there is no ultimate accountability or reckoning is not “hellish” as it took Christianity to invent that particular notion. Just because theism offers a happy ending, doesn’t make it any more likely to be true. The problem is not that naturalism offers no hope; it is that theism has provided humanity with a false one.

  3. Why is this a problem for a-theists?

    Evil is not in the mind of the doer of the act. Evil is a description, by the observer, of an action of a person or group. It is descriptive of an act that is deeply contrary to the wellbeing of an individual or a community. It therefore is resolvable by good influence and education.
    It is not, as religionists would have you believe, an extant force that is inflicted on unfortunate people (like Hitler, Mao, Mother Theresa, the etc) from time to time, presumably by some omnipotent divine miscreant.

    I’m routinely amused by the efforts of religionists and other dogma driven philosophers to overcomplicate very simple ideas such as this.

  4. David

    Both Ian and I have made exactly the same argument. We have both clearly stated that evils acts do exist and that they are physical actions. Your refutation is to a point of view neither of us hold and you have equally failed to respond to the basic question of how you define evil.

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