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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptic > 24.2 > Is the Reality of Evil Good Evidence Against the Christian God?

Is the Reality of Evil Good Evidence Against the Christian God?

Notes from a Debate on the Problem of Evil

On Saturday, February 23, 2019, I participated in a “moderated conversation” at the Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES) in Charlotte, North Carolina, with the philosopher Dr. Brian Huffling. (You can watch it here: https://bit.ly/2H8RfAU) The stated mission of SES is to “train men and women, based on the inerrant and infallible written Word of God, for the evangelization of the world and defense of the historic Christian faith.” As outlined in their mission statement, their primary epistemology— their core way of knowing—is that “we believe sensible reality (i.e., general revelation) is the first truth man comes to know via his intellect. This knowledge is then combined with, and provides the tools for properly understanding, authoritative special revelation given by God (i.e., the Bible).”

With this distinctive difference in thinking between religion and science it was not long before both of us realized that we were talking at cross purposes, inasmuch as Dr. Huffling was making philosophical arguments for why the problem of evil was a solvable one for the Christian religion, whereas I was presenting empirical evidence for why I think the problem of evil is an insoluble one for Christians. Here I would like to present my notes for the debate, which readers might find useful in their own debates and personal conversations with Christians. I made similar comments in a 2013 debate on the problem of evil at Pepperdine University (sponsored by the Veritas Forum) with Dr. John Lennox, which you can watch here: https://bit.ly/2tJyhZI

Let’s start with the problem of evil itself, as outlined in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (https://stanford.io/2g6WFQF):

1. If God exists, then God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect.

2. If God is omnipotent, then God has the power to eliminate all evil.

3. If God is omniscient, then God knows when evil exists.

4. If God is morally perfect, then God has the desire to eliminate all evil.

5. Evil exists.

6. If evil exists and God exists, then either God doesn’t have the power to eliminate all evil, or doesn’t know when evil exists, or doesn’t have the desire to eliminate all evil.

7. Therefore, God doesn’t exist. In brief, the following three conditions are incompatible:

1. God is Omnipotent (all powerful)

2. God is Omnibenevolent (all good)

3. Evil Exists

That is:

1. If God is all powerful, can He not prevent evil from existing?

2. If God is all good, should He not prevent evil from existing?

3. If evil exists, then either God is not all powerful or not all good.

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About Skeptic

THE EXISTENCE OF EVIL AND GOD COLUMNS The SkepDoc: Laser Therapy: Hope or Hype and Hokum?, by Harriet Hall, M.D. • The Gadfly: The Sisyphean Challenges of Skepticism or, Start by Disbelieving, by Carol Tavris ARTICLES Pterosaur Thunderbird: The Origin of a Fake Native American Legend with an Anti- Evolution Agenda • Conversations with My Dead Mother: Why We See Signs and Omens in Everyday Events • Is Cousin Marriage Dangerous? • Therapeutic Touch Redux Twenty Years After the “Emily Event”: Energy Therapies Live on Through Bad Science • What Can Science Learn from Religion? Steven Pinker on Religious Beliefs and Rituals • Becoming Fantastic: Why People Embellish Already Accomplished Lives with Incredible Tales of UFOs and Other Phenomena • 1984 in 2019: The New Privacy Threat from China’s Social Credit Surveillance System SPECIAL DEBATE SECTION Michael Shermer v. Brian Huffling: Is the Reality of Evil Good Evidence Against the Christian God? REVIEW Graham Hancock’s “America Before: The Key to Earth’s Lost Civilization” reviewed by Jason Colavito JUNIOR SKEPTIC The Colossal Case of the Cardiff Giant: One of America’s Greatest Hoaxes