The Problem of Evil in Modern Theology

Philosophers and theologists discuss the existence of evil in the world for centuries, and it remains urgent in modern life. When people face major catastrophic events, they tend to ask why God let the severe conditions appear, and the argument of teaching humanity a lesson is not convincing enough. The evil in theology is described as an object or event contrary to God’s nature, therefore the existence of severe and ugly in the world doubts the Omni benevolence (Irwin). The problem is widely discussed in theodicy, the term created by German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz in the eighteen century.

The monotheistic religions interpret the nature of God as universal and existing everywhere at any time. Thus, there are three Omni-properties applied by theologians and philosophers: omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence, and the problem of evil can be analyzed through each of them (Gleeson). Omnipotence determines the power of God as the most significant and capable of conquering all. This property means that the will can not only make physical and abstract changes but solve issues and eliminate disasters, and the existence of evil in the world disputes the omnipotence (Irwin). Omniscience means that God knows about everything the events of the past, present, and future, and it is in his power to share the knowledge with humanity or keep them clueless, thus he is aware of the world’s evil (Gleeson). Omnipresence characterizes God’s presence as everywhere simultaneously, and there is no place in the universe without him (Gleeson). It means that he is not only familiar with the catastrophic events of the world, he witnesses each.

The concept of God’s Omni-nature raises the logical problem of evil as the characteristics described above can eliminate it, however, the disasters and suffering still exist. Theists provide different explanations to that paradox: God might have the morally sufficient reason to allow the evil, or he does not define its severity the same way people do (Irwin). The three Omni-properties can work together to abolish the perception of evil if humanity interprets it differently. Indeed, if God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, there must be a reason for suffering and unfairness, such as creating greater good by people in their attempts to fight against evil.

The response to evil’s logical problem is the defense of free will discussed by many theologists and philosophers. The general statement of that concept is that freedom of choice is part of God’s creation, and the consequences of people’s actions cannot be eliminated even by the supreme power. Leibniz, the author of theodicy, as a concept, argues that God is not the cause of everything in the universe, but only the creator (Irwin). Moreover, the philosopher’s will theodicy includes perceiving freedom of choice as an individual’s decision based on the intellect that picks the variant of best actions (Irwin). It turns out that evil’s appearance could once be the best solution applied by a person, and God does not play against the free will.

Leibniz discussed the statement against God’s existence related to the fact that if he created everything, it must be good, and the conditions people live in is not the best possible world. He argued that if people can imagine better events or replace evil with good, it does not mean that it is possible to create considering all outcomes and circumstances (Irwin). Moreover, Leibniz pointed out that the standards of goodness humanity apply might be different than God’s. He offers to evaluate the rate of good against the evil by the happiness of every creature instead of only the people’s (Irwin). Although pain and suffering continue to exist, it forces humanity to improve lives by creating better conditions and teaches them to be responsible for the choices they are free to make.

Works Cited

Gleeson, Andrew. “God and evil without theodicy.” The Problem of Evil: Eight Views in Dialogue, 2018, pp. 202-226. Web.

Irwin, Kristen. “Leibniz on The Problem of Evil, by P. Rateau.” The Leibniz Review, vol. 29, 2019, pp. 161-165. Web.