The problem of evil is perhaps the greatest of all challenges to religious belief. The world in which we live contains many defects. Moral evils are abundant; we frequently inflict suffering upon one another. Natural evil is also all around us; even before we face the problems caused by other human beings, life is quite hard enough.
If there really were a God, would he not have prevented these evils from arising? Do not the defects of the world prove that it is not the product of a divine creator? How are we to reconcile what we know of the world with what we know of God? These questions are many of ones that people ask themselves. The problem of evil has been reconsidered, and reformulated, many times since. Many philosophers stated the problem is this:(1) If God exists then he is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good.(2) If there were an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good God, then evil would not exist.(3) Evil does exist. Therefore: (4) God does not exist.
The problem of evil focuses on a very specific understanding of God’s nature. The god whose existence is called into question by the problem of evil is omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and perfectly good. If a theist is willing to deny that God possesses any of these attributes, then he may be able to evade the problem. Some theists do indeed think along these lines.
The people question God’s omnipotence. God must, of course, be seen as very powerful. He need not, however, be seen as able to do absolutely anything. God’s power is limited, for example, by the laws of logic; God cannot make square circles. God’s power is also limited by his own moral nature; God cannot sin. It may be that God’s power, though great, is insufficient to prevent evil, at least without still greater loss.
Divine omniscience, too, is open to doubt. An open theism denies that God knows the future. The common complaint that God ought to have foreseen the evil that would come into the world, and...