New York Minute

We’re using the “Handbook of Apologetics” by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli to go over the arguments for the existence of God.  

Today, we will be covering the above subject in relation to the existence of God. Dr. Kreeft teaches logic in two major universities, so his arguments tend to be clear, concise and very helpful.

Let us now back up and begin again with our problem on a logical level. How shall we most powerfully formulate the problem of evil as an argument against the existence of God?

1. Aquinas, in the Summa, comes the closest to capturing the intuitive, preargumentative point of the problem of evil in a logical formulation:

If one of two contraries is infinite, the other is completely destroyed.

But “God” means infinite goodness.

If, therefore, God existed, there would be no evil discoverable in the world.

But there is evil.

Therefore God does not exist. (Summa Theologiae I, 2, 3, obj. I)

2. A slightly more “unpacked” version is the following dilemma, first formulated, we believe, by Augustine:

If God is all-good, he would will all good and no evil.

And if God were all-powerful, he would accomplish everything he wills.

But evil exists as well as good.

Therefore either God is not all-powerful, or not all-good, or both.

3. C. S. Lewis uses a more anthropomorphic, psychological version of this dilemma in formulating The Problem of Pain:

If God is all-good, he wants his creatures to be happy.

And if he is all-powerful, he can do whatever he wants.

But the creatures are not happy.

Therefore God lacks either goodness or power or both.

4. Finally, we may set up the problem in such a way as to clarify and classify the different possible solutions, in this way:

There seems to be a logical contradiction built in to affirming all four of the following propositions:

(1) God exists.

(2) God is all-good.

(3) God is all-powerful.

(4) Evil exists.

Affirm any three and you must deny the fourth, it seems.

If God exists, wills all-good, and is powerful enough to get everything he wills, then there would be no evil.

If God exists and wills only good, but evil exists, then God does not get what he wills. Thus he is not all-powerful.

If God exists and is all-powerful and evil exists too, then God wills evil to exist. Thus he is not all-good.

Finally, if “God” means “a being who is both all-good and all-powerful,” and nevertheless evil exists, then such a God does not exist.

Share This: