Thomas Howard Evil Vs Omnipotent Essay

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Evil and Omnipotence

In “Evil and Omnipotence” by the philosopher J.L. Mackie, he presents the juxtaposition of Evil and the existence of God in a compelling manner. He tries to explain that it logically impossible for all the following premises to be true.
1. God is omnipotent (all powerful)
2. God is wholly good
3. Evil exists
The problem of evil existing is a deductive premise, which Mackie uses in an attempt to prove that God does not exist. He also makes a couple of presumptions to back up his argument a bit more. First he assumes that an absolute good thing will inherently destroy evil to the best of its ability and second, he assumes that omnipotence has not restrictions or limits. With these “extra premises” we can come to the conclusion that an omnipotent God who is also wholly good would negate all evil because it is within his power and will. After establishing these points Mackie goes on to confront what he calls fallacious objections to this argument.

The first proposed solution to Mackie’s argument of evil is that good and evil cannot exist without each other. They are different sides of the same coin. If we did not experience evil we would have nothing to compare good with and it would lose its meaning. Mackie says that this is not true. “He explains that good and evil cannot be logical opposites.” (Speaks) This limits God’s omnipotence. This fallacious solution basically says that God does not have the power to make impossible thing happen.

The second fallacious solution that is often presented is that a universe with some evil is better than one without any. The main idea here is that certain kinds of evil are necessary for specific types of good; ex. without pain it would be impossible to have emotions and feelings such as sympathy. This solution is slightly different to the prior, but Mackie still believes it to be fallacious. This argument basically requires different levels of good and constant levels of evil to be true. The importance of the good is enough to justify all of the constant evils. Mackie does not believe that there are any goods that meet the standards of these parameters.

The third common solution is that many of the evil things in the world are not created by the hands of God but by man himself. So the first thing that comes to mind is how can this be a solution when God created free will in the first place? The possible reply to that question could be something like:
1. Free will is such a good thing, that it would be worse to not have free will than the evils that accompany it.
2. It is impossible for God to create a someone that has free will, yet also never does anything evil

Mackie responds to this proposed solution with the following.

“If God has made men such that in their free choices they sometimes prefer what is good and sometimes what is evil, why could he not have made men such that they always freely choose the good? If there is no logical impossibility in a man’s freely choosing the good on one, or several occasions, there cannot be a logical impossibility in his freely choosing the good on every occasion. God was not, then, faced with a choice between making innocent automata and making beings who, in acting freely, would sometimes go wrong: there was open to him the obviously better possibility of making beings who would act freely but always go right. Clearly, his failure to avail himself of this possibility is inconsistent with his being both omnipotent and wholly good.
If it is replied that this objection is absurd, that the making of some wrong choices is logically necessary for freedom, it would seem that ‘freedom’ must here mean complete randomness or indeterminacy ...But then ...how can it be the most important good? (Mackie pg.212) Mackie states that God should have made a free being that instead of choosing wrong things it would always make the right choices. Mackie describes the current free will as completely random and…