The presence of evil in a world said to be created by a “Being” who
is not only omnipotent, omniscience and perfectly good is problematic.
It is a problem that has perturbed man for ages and coupled with various
natural disaster still make the concept problematic one. How can there
be a loving God, all-powerful and all-knowing God and still face the
problem of evil, if really he is perfectly good and created everything
then where does evil originated from?
Atheist or agnostics base their case on the lack of evidence for God
existence, however atheist have at least one very powerful positive
argument for their position that there cannot be a living, all-loving,
all-powerful God because there is so much evil and suffering in the
world. Atheist raise questions like this: If you were a parent wouldn’t
you do everything in your power to prevent your children from needless
suffering? Many innocent children suffer from painful diseases, with
this kind of problem how can we affirm for a loving and all-powerful God
in the world.
In this study, we are going to look through the lenses of philosopher
who talk about the problem of evil and God’s existence. Our main focus
on this work is theism and the problem of evil which will be dwell on
chapter four of this work. Before going to the main work, we will first
look at the problem which is evil, the different types of evil and
different explanation (philosophical and religious explanation) of evil.
We will talk more on chapter four that deal with the problem Theism and the problem of Evil.
According to Augustine, evil is not a being, it is a result of
privation of good, so it was not and cannot be created, evil cannot
exist on it’s own. John Hick on his analysis gave some point why there
is evil in the world. On his Greater Good Defence: God himself could not
achieve certain result without allowing us to struggle against evil and
to endure suffering some evil are necessary in achieving certain good
end. The good that is achieved outweighs the evil and the same or a
greater amount of good could not have been attained by any means that
did not involve the presence of those evils.
The idea of God and the problem of evil is one of the most
controversial themes in philosophy. Various arguments have been advanced
down the ages by philosophers and theologians on this very problem of
Evil and God and there has been no definite answer to this problem. The
theist gave reasons why evil persist in the world created by a loving
God, who they also believed that he is omnipotent, omniscience and
all-merciful. There seems to be conflict between the theist and atheist
on this very problem of God and Evil. The atheist used this as a fertile
ground to prove that there is no God as claimed by the theist.
John Hick on “Gender Good Defence” is of the view that when God
initially created humanity, there was still some work to be done in
making us a completed product. However, this remaining work could not be
accomplished by God alone, we have to contribute to the process. Using
the Greater Good Defence, Hick argues that even God himself could not
achieve certain results without allowing us to struggle against evil and
to endure suffering.
Furthermore, the first chapter will concentrate on the statement of
the problem, theism and the problem of evil. A method of research,
purpose and the significant of this work will be discussed.
The second chapter will dwell on the meaning of theism, the idea of
God and the various argument for the existence of God (prove of God’s
The third chapter will be on the concept of evil as the problem, the
meaning of evil and the different philosophical explanation of evil and
finally the different types of evil in the world.
Chapter four will dwell on the problem (Theism and the problem of
evil). We will first look and examine evil as the problem and different
ways of explanation given by theist concerning this very problem of evil
Finally, chapter five will be the summary of this work, reflecting
what has been infer from chapter four then evaluate and conclude the
1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The existence of God and the problem of evil has been a problem for
long that men have searched for the reason why evil persist in a world
claimed to be created by God who is omnipotent, omniscience and
all-merciful. Man has tried to find out the causes of evil, why man
created by God involved in bad action or why man carry out bad action on
their fellow man and why there is so much evil in the world especially
Theist are faced with the problem of evil and this lead to their
search of what is evil and causes of it, if it is a thing and also what
and who is responsible for evil in the world. Different theists have
given different views of evil. The Manicheans claimed to have the answer
to the problem of evil, according to them, there are two ultimate
principles and all sources of all things namely, Ormued (The Principle
of Good) and Ahriman (The Principle of Evil). The Ahriman is the source
of evil, darkness and all material things.
Men soul came from Ormuzd (the principle of good) while the body from
Ahriman. These two ultimate principle according to them, are eternal
and in perpetual conflict with each other and this conflict is reflected
in the things that come from them.
Hence light and darkness, spirit and matter, good and evil are also
in perpetual conflict. Christian theologians believe that evil is the
wrath of God meted out on disobedient children. Augustine hold that evil
is the negation or a privation of being. Evil is not a thing according
to Augustine and therefore was not and cannot be created. Everything
that is created is good and everything that is substance is good, but
evil the origin of which I was trying find out is not a substance and
was not created, therefore the question or the problem of evil should
not arise because it does not make sense to ask about what is not a
thing (substance). Evil cannot exist on it’s own but Good can exist on
1.2 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this work is to bring out the work of different theist
and their different explanation on the problem of evil and the
existence of God and most importantly on how they tried to find solution
or answers to this very problem of evil and existence of God.
Before showing why evil persist in this world created by God who is
omnipotent, omniscience and all-loving (which is the major aim of this
work), if it is a thing or not, then if it is a thing, who created it?
What causes it?
Why evil persist in this world created by God who is omnipotent,
omniscience and all-loving. And also a critical study of different
theist who try to solve or who gave their explanation and meaning to the
very problem (Theism and the problem of evil) at hand.
1.3 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
The importance of this study is to show why evil exist in the world
created by God who is all-loving, omnipotent and omniscience. The
important of this work is to bring out the different explanation of the
very problem at hand, the different meaning of evil and different ways
theist try in solving the problem. Most atheists or agnostics based
their case on the lack of evidence for God’s existence, they argue that
we cannot claimed to have a loving God, all-powerful and all-merciful
and still allow evil in the world, why a loving-God will allow suffering
in this world.
The most importance of the study is the explanation by theist why
evil persist in the world. Some theist claimed that evil exist because
of what is known as Greater Good Defence, it explains that some evil are
necessary in achieving certain good end. The good that is achieved
out-weighs the evil and the same or a greater amount of good could not
have been attained by any means that did not involved the presence of
1.4 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of this work is such that it would further strengthen on
the fact that evil is opposed to good, which is the integrity or
perfection of being. The problem of evil is sometimes abstracted to
designate the ill affecting subject. The existence of evil in the world
would all times be the greater of all the problems which the mind
encounter when it reflects on God and its relation to the world.
The problem of evil does not disprove the existence of God, evil
exist, yes, according to some theist, evil exist but because man misuse
his free will, according to Telhard De Chardin a Jesuit intellectual,
consider the universe as an imperfect mechanism that is undergoing
constant changes in terms of development, the universe we inhabit has
not yet attain it’s perfect goal which it is gradually moving towards.
According to him, the world is still in process of formation, therefore a
world or the process of evolution is a world, which suffers labour and
sins at every degree of evolution we find evil always and everywhere.
As would be expected of a research work of this nature, much of the
information for this study shall be gathered from the primary sources
such as book and other library materials. This work will be centred on a
philosophical exposition of theism and the problem of evil.
This work will be done by analyzing the concept of theism, and the
various arguments for the existence of God. And generally proceeds by
looking at the concept of evil, the various kind of evil.
In comparism to the nature of evil, different philosophers have taken
different views of the problems of evil and our evaluation of this work
will be value of the entire work that is theism and the view of evil.
1.6 LITERATURE REVIEW
Some material used in this study will be summarized as follow:
Greater Good Defence: John Hick: The Philosophical Journey New York Mc Graw-Hill 2003.
Greater Good Defence: The view that when God initially created
humanity there was still some work to be done in making us a complete
product. However, this remaining work could not be accomplished by God
alone, we have to contribute to the process using the Greater Good
Defence that argues that even God himself could not achieve certain
result without allowing us to struggle against evil and to endure
St. Augustine, The Confessions Chicago: William Peston, Britannica Great Book; 1944.
Augustine was born in August, in Northern Africa, the son of a pagan
father and a Christian mother by name, Monica; after receiving a good
education in Tahie Rhetoric, Augustine a young man a dissipated habit at
that time taught in cartage and Rome.
He was baptized at the age of 37 in 387 A.D. and died as a Bishop of Hippo. Before his conversion, he lived a very bad life.
However, Augustine’s confession was centred on the problem of evil
for him, he still has difficulty in thinking of God as a spiritual being
and also could not find a clear explanation without complication of the
cause of evil. Evil the origin of which he was trying to find is not a
substance, because if it were a substance, it would be good. For either
it would be an incorruptible substance of the supreme order of goodness,
or it would be corruptible unless it was good. From this nothing can be
completely or absolutely be evil since evil is a privation of being and
no being can be completely deprived of being in all aspect and still
To Augustine, all that God have made is good, and there are no
substance whatsoever that were not made by God. And because God did not
make them all equal, each single thing is good and collectively they are
very good, for God made the whole creation very good. In finding an
explanation of the problem of evil with the Platonist books Augustine
realized that evil is a perversion of the will not. A substance as the
Manicheans claimed that God was a substance that could suffer evil.
Readings in Religion and Philosophy Teradia Press, Benin City 2006
TALHARD DE CHARDIN
A Jesulf intellectual approached the problem of evil from
evolutionary perspective as an evolution St. Jesulf philosopher.
Tellhard de Chardin considers the universe as an imperfect mechanism
that is undergoing constant changes in terms of development. The
universe we inhabit has not yet attain it’s perfect goal which it is
gradually moving towards. As a result of this, constant changes and
gradual development, once in a while there is disorderliness,
catastrophy and cataclysm. For him, the world is still in process of
evolution is a world:
which suffers, which labours which sins ………………. Statistically, at
every degree of evolution, we find evil always and everywhere forming
and reforming implacably in and around us……….The many failures have
there been far one success? How many for one solitary saint?
Formally Tellhard de Chardin expose, the world would remain
imperfect, while evil triumphs until the world gets to the omega point,
which is the targeted goal of the creator.
In St. Anselm’s Prologian II M. Charlesorth (ed), Oxford 1965.
This even the fool is convinced that something that which nothing
greater can be conceived is in the understanding, since when he hears
this, he understood at and whatever is understood is the understanding.
And certainly that then which a greater cannot be convinced cannot be in
the understanding alone, it can be conceived to exist in reality also,
which is greater. Thus, if that than which a greater can be conceived.
But surely this cannot be. This without doubt something that which a
greater cannot be conceived exist both in the understanding and in
- Joseph Omeregbe A Simplified History of Western
Philosophy (Lagos: Joja Educational Research and Published Ltd. 1994)
- Joseph Omoregbe Knowing Philosophy 2003). Pg 19.
- Prof E.O. Oyelade Readings in Religion and Philosophy (Benin Teredia Publications 2006) pg. 231.
- Joseph Omoregbe Metaphysics (Lagos: Joja Educational Research and Published Ltd.1999) pg 46.
- St. Augustine The City of God (Chicago: William Beston,
Edited Robert R.M Huschings, Britannica Great Books 1952). Pg 132
- R.H. Kushner, When Bad Thing Happens to Good People (New York: Avion Books 1981) pg 12.
- S. John, Philosophy of Religion (London; Collier Macmillan Ltd. 1958) pg. 137.
- St. Augustine on Free Choice of Will Trianna S. Benjamin and
L. H. Hackstaff (Indiana Pohs Library of Liberal Arts 1964) pp. 83, 84.
- John Hicks The Philosophical Journey New York McGraw-Hill 2003. pg. 359.
- Platiga. 220
- Platiga 221