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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: 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:

Let’s start with the problem of evil itself, as outlined in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (

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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