The Problem of Evil

  • Renée Jeffery


Despite being conceived in secular terms in much contemporary thought, the “problem of evil” has traditionally been a theological one concerned with the question of how to reconcile the existence of suffering, and hence evil, in the world, with the characterization of the Judeo-Christian God as benevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent. Formally articulated by Epicurus (341–270 BCE) and originally quoted in the work of Lactantius (c. 260–340 CE), the “problem of evil” is traditionally presented as follows:

God either wishes to take away evils, and is unable; or He is able, and is unwilling; or He is neither willing nor able, or He is both willing and able. If He is willing and is unable,He is feeble, which is not in accordance with the character of God; if He is able and willing, He is envious, which is equally at variance with God; if He is neither willing nor able, He is both envious and feeble and, therefore not God; if He is both willing and able, which alone is suitable to God, from what source then are evils? Or why does He not remove them?2


International Relation Christian Faith Moral Evil Natural Evil John Hick 
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© Renée Jeffery 2008

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  • Renée Jeffery

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