Difference Between “Moral Evil” and “Natural Evil”


The argument on existence of God takes place when people try to find out the existence of evil. Most people believe that there is a good almighty God who protects them form all evil. One question that arises in this scenario is why people continue to suffer yet God does not allow any evil. The argument is said to involve anger or emotions as opposed to reasoning because that is the moment they are faced with the challenge.

Different views over definition of evil

What is the meaning of evil? It is disputed that willful sinning such as murdering, committing adultery, stealing, abortion or fornication is immorality. This kind of sinning is thus considered as moral evil. Evil that is connected to physical conditions such as famine, illnesses, disasters or death is natural. According to religion, God would not allow evil because it was not supposed to exist. Religious people understand evil as lack of something that can be present. Going by this understanding, one would argue that a lie lacks a trait that was created by God known as truthfulness. This would indicate that evil is therefore imperfection of what God created. For instance according to the first book in the Bible (Genesis 1:26), God did not create sinners but people who will be sinners because of their personal differences in knowledge and the power of controlling their brains which was accorded to them. God’s created and gave people the power of freedom to choose between good or bad. Therefore God never created morally evil people.

What is the problem of evil?

There is a metaphysical definition of the term God as a supreme being whose fundamental nature would probably be identical to existence of nature. The other definition is existence of God as a supernatural being on the extreme end among other beings. This is an ultimate reality where there is no probable concept of supremacy that can truly apply. Another interpretation of God would be a close interpretation in line with religion. Believers acknowledge that in the end there is ultimate eternal life. With these definitions at hand, the problem of evil then arises. First is question over the objects which can be accepted as pure or evil. This brings in the dilemma over which rationale of thinking might be approved as an entity to believe on existence of eternal, pure and peaceful life in the end.

Naturally although still argumentative God is a powerful, moral and a knowledgeable being who can eliminate and prevent evil. The problem that evil creates is why such a supernatural being with the ability to deliver from the evil and knowledge of its existence does not eliminate it among humans. Why do humans exist among this very undesirable state of affairs where there exist a very powerful, knowledgeable and wonderful supernatural being, who does not deliver them from the evil?

This can be a puzzle to many but to some people it would be disputed as a situation of non-existing God. Focusing on prior state where God exists as powerful, knowing and good, we can say He is omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect. This interprets that he has knowledge about existence of evil or has power and desire to eliminate it. Considering the other state of affairs, the observation would be that, if God exists without power to eliminate evil, then He does not know it exists and therefore in reality, He does not exist. Considering both scenarios would cause contradiction. Believing in existence of a Supernatural God quickly gives rise to the occurrence of the problem of evil. This application quickly gives rise to arguments especially against existence of God.

The main problem evil brings is the argument on the existence of one who can eliminate it as opposed to one against evil. Also if one was to consider God in metaphysical terms as opposed to the character terms, then the state of power, knowledge and goodness would still arise and once again evil would bring about some possible arguments. Failure to connect these characteristics to metaphysical properties would definitely render the problems of evil as irrelevant but again no one would want to believe in such state of affairs. Every believer want to associate with a strong object of spiritual thoughts on which the fundamental believes and hopes would be fruitful in the end.

What is the difference between “Moral evil” and “Natural evil”?

There exist no quantifiable difference between the two types of evil but one major distinctive thought based on human knowledge and definition would be that natural evil is physical while moral evil is internally infested into the agent. Natural evils are evident, such as earthquakes or hurricanes because some tend to have quantifiable evidence. There might be scientific proof on existence of such evils such as the trembles on the earth’s surface. These evils seem to be forces beyond human control. While on the other hand the morality seem to violate some form of believe or law for instance murdering goes against quite a number of codes including the believers code of conduct and a state’s code or law.

The difference would easily confuse especially when people start to classify the types of evils that may exist with regards to differences among them. They are the religious differences, state’s laws differences and the ethically different view points among others. An example would be to consider homosexuality as an evil, some people might have been raised in family settings where the vice seem to be part of normal setting while others have a strong religious believes against it. To one person it is normal and natural and to the other it is an immoral act. If believers know that fire or heat was part of God’s creation, then would they blame Him when a fire disaster strikes and kills people or would the blame fall on those who failed to abide to the rules and regulations of ensuring safety, especially when the basis of the risk was fire hazardous situation?

Hick’s solution to both “Moral evil” and “Natural evil”

On his view on traditional religious believes Hick supported pluralism arguing that everyone can follow their personal belief to have an insight of truth over what to consider as real or not. There is no religion that is exclusively absolute. They are all based on different cultures. According to Hick “Faith is cognitive and interpretation of experience rather than reap of volition”. The presence of the occurrences that seem to be beyond human control and possibly ahead of earthly life existence can justify God Nature and existence of moral and natural evil.

The existence of omnipotent God implies that, He is in position to prevent evil; the objection to this would be that God has limited power and this would automatically contradict the Christian faith. According to Hick (1989), evil is a necessary possibility that supports human existence. It supports their decision making procedures and therefore reality of a wholly good person is impossible. Christians would say that God is perfectly good and He must want to prevent evil. To them evil is an illusion that contradicts well being.

As explained by Hick (1989), denial of evil would contradict the Biblical faith and raise queries concerning its origin. The Christian Science rejects the premise on existence of evil which therefore contradicts the biblical faith. Hick believes that human beings are responsible of some aspects of evil and therefore God is not omnipotent. He might have given humans some power to overcome evil and therefore some of the power is universal and not God’s. If one has power to do something wrong, then the blame would not be directed to God but to the person.

Hick opposes the view of evil being contradictory to good for instance if one considered temperature or sunlight, the contradiction to them is probably ‘cold’, which logically cannot be considered as evil. He interprets moral evil as an outcome that is related to a persons’ freewill to a decision or one’s reaction to a given situation such as poverty, oppression or injustice. On the other hand, natural evil is nature dependent and it involves very little human control for instance earthquakes, hurricanes, floods or droughts. When the two are co-related such as a situation where injustice leads to sickness, it would be very difficult to differentiate them.

In line with Hick’s solution on Moral as natural evil, his concern was that the occurrence of natural evil is necessary as a way of supporting the ethics of choice or catalyzing decision making process. It can also be a procedure for formation of a soul. Moral evil is as a result of obscurity of freewill. Therefore the world is a place where souls are molded. (Hick, 1989)

Unique problem of evil in Arthur C. Clarke’s short-story, “The Star”

Hick’s solution to existence of evil is evident in Arthur C. Clarke” short story “The star”. Catastrophes appear to occur beyond human control but people have the ability to reconstruct, research and record the events that lead to the occurrences and also learn their causes where possible. Humans must have the ability to control some natural occurrences and to research or record natural evil that may exist. (Hick, 1989)

Civilization naturally comes with some unique tragedies but man has some power over evil and that may be the reason why it is very hard for races to completely perish. The mercy of God provides some power to human beings who must utilize it for achievements. As Hick indicated on natural evil, Catastrophes make man react differently but this reaction is driven by emotions and anger as opposed to logic. The existence and power of God should not be questioned for justification. Truly the analysis of natural evil questions believes because it is beyond human act.


Hick, J., (1989), Philosophy of Religion 4th Ed. Upper Saddle Hill, N.J.: Prentice Hall

Lockman Foundation (1973). New Standard Bible Anaheim, CA: Foundation Press.