Epicurus’ Problem of Evil

In the philosophy of religion, an ancient discipline, being found in the earliest known manuscripts concerning philosophy, the problem of evil is the question of how to reconcile the existence of evil with that of a deity who is, in either absolute or relative terms, omnipotent, having the quality of having unlimited power with the capacity to know everything and this even in a state of omniscience or ubiquity, the property of being present everywhere, and omnibenevolent (from Latin omni– meaning “all”, and benevolent, meaning “good”) (see theism).

All About Evil

All About Evil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lots of people have already spend lots of words and time to discussions about the existence in this world and the position of or no position of a deity in this matter.

We may have logic, reason or moral intuition, not derived from purported supernatural revelation or guidance (which is the source of religious ethics), seeing what happens in the world every day. Strangely enough as long as everything goes all right people do not need a god or say they do not believe in God. But as soon as something bad happens they all seem to blame that God Which they say does not exist.

They overlook the fact that through logic and reason, human beings are capable of deriving normative principles of behaviour.

For humanists it is clear that we do have a universal morality based on the commonality of human nature, and that knowledge of right and wrong is based on our best understanding of our individual and joint interests, rather than stemming from a transcendental or arbitrarily local source, therefore rejecting faith completely as a basis for action. When there is some wrong in the world this does not have to come from any supernatural power. No god or not the God has to be called responsible for the wrong-going in this world. Most humanists look for viable individual, social and political principles of conduct.

People who do not believe in God do not exclude our secular ethics, secular beliefs as a matter of influence on good and bad in our environment. Most thinkers are aware that lots of evil that comes over man comes over the human beings by their own fault.

Though lots of people do ask if there is a God willing to prevent evil, but not able? In case, they think, this god is not omnipotent. That is also what the Greek philosopher Epicurus thought. He wrote a riddle which turns out to be loaded with a couple of erroneous presuppositions.

He also questioned:

Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

The problem with a lot of thinkers is that they assume that God must do so in exactly the way we think he ought to, and if he doesn’t, we’re going to get all uppity and tell him that he doesn’t exist.

Portrait of Epicurus, founder of the Epicurean...

Portrait of Epicurus, founder of the Epicurean school. Roman copy after a lost Hellenistic original. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to Epicurus we do have a a mental perception of our nature which is usually ridiculous. Man having created gods who live eternal lives of contentment in the void of the universe and have no concern with men. There are no rewards or punishments after death; death is extinction, according to him. Dying might reasonably — though mistakenly, he feels — seem a cause for fear; to fear death itself, however, is absurd, since it brings nothing in its wake.

Because we are confronted with elements and with problems we can not cope with, we consider that God to be responsible that He has not given us enough power to avoid such problems and all that suffering it brings with it. We take such an attitude that we blame Him to be responsible for all the badness that comes over this earth. We consider Him responsible and point our finger at Him, finding that He ought to deal with evil. Funny thing is also that most people give the impression that they know just how He ought to do deal with it.

Epicurus continues:

If God exists, then God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect.
If God is omnipotent, then God has the power to eliminate all evil.
If God is omniscient, then God knows when evil exists.
If God is morally perfect, then God has the desire to eliminate all evil.
Evil exists.
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.
Therefore, God doesn’t exist.

Epicurus does seem to forget that The God can really eliminate all evil, but Epicurus does not question why He allows it to exist. He also in several of his texts gives the impression that God would not know that evil exists, but the Word of God, given to us with the Holy Scriptures let us know very well that God is conscious about the existing evil, but also how evil is in man.

When we look in the Bible, we can get a good impression of what evil is, how it came into being and why there is still evil in this world. All the answers are in the Scriptures. Evil is defined by God as being that which is opposite to him. The “Satan” is any adversary or any person working against the Divine Creator. In every person there is a satan, or a character of opposition or adversary, against the “I am” the own personality and against the “I Am Who I Am” the Divine Superior God in Whose image we are created.

Most people when they look at evil in this world want God to solve it because they have come aware that human is worthless in solving it all. They hope that God can deal with all the problems in this world, the evil the suffering, in such a way that will give them a problem-less world, with no bad things in it. But they themselves would not like to be changed. Because God offers them a world with less problems. He does give the world advice to avoid problems and suffering.But the world does not want to know.

Blaming God is all-right but listening to Him?

Epicureanism afforded a role to gods, they were not thought to be involved in the universe in any way, and it rejected outright the idea of an afterlife. That last bit made it not so loved by many people who loved to have something to look forward to after they had to endure this life full of misery.

English: Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, d...

Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, depicted in the Nuremberg Chronicle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The disdain with which Epicureanism was treated has led to it being misconceived to this day. Epicureanism is still thought of as a commitment to sensual pleasure, to fast living. Though Epicurus did conceive of pleasure as the highest good, his conception of pleasure was far from hedonistic: all that Epicurus sought was a peaceful life free from discomfort and distress. Though for many religious people it seemed so wrong to enjoy life. They all forgot that this is also something God would love His people, to have joy of this world and to live nicely. But for God the nice living does not come undeserved or without any action of man himself. We all have to grow up, have to learn, have to think about matters, have to make decisions, have to act and to react, and by the actions we do take we shall have to bear the consequences of our actions.

Many do think if God is omnipotent He would not allow evil to be, but why not?

There have been many attempts to defend God‘s goodness in view of the existence of evil. They are common to monotheistic religions based on the Abrahamic tradition, namely Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as these all suffer from the problem of evil.

In short, the problem of evil occurs when specific attributes are ascribed to God:

David Hume argued:

“Why is there any misery at all in the world? Not by chance surely. From some cause then. Is it from the intention of the Deity? But he is perfectly benevolent. Is it contrary to his intention? But he is almighty. Nothing can shake the solidity of this reasoning, so short, so clear, so decisive; except we assert, that these subjects exceed all human capacity”

We would not say that “Free will is assumed to be a greater good than the evil that it causes”, but with free will or free choice human beings have most in their hands. We also would not say that free will is needed by God to serve some purpose. It is a free gift from God, which can be used by people like they want. But they also can leave it for what it is, and God cannot be called responsible for that.

It is true God could have created humans such that they would always freely choose the good. This He did not do and therefore many call Him ultimately responsible and blameworthy for any evil act which humans perform. This gives the indication that they preferred the God having created human beings who only would follow His Will and only could do what He wanted.

Humans must be free to commit actions which would qualify as “evil” as well as “good” in our argument, in order to have free will. When they only would be made to have restriction, only doing the Will of God, they would be like robots or machines not able to think and act for themselves. Those who want God having to have created beings which only could do good, should wonder if such a being uberhaut has any free will or free choice to do something. In this case, all humans born without this capability, possess no free will. Should then all human beings all be the same? Because what is going to determine that one person is going to do this or an other job, having an advantage of strength, size, or skill. This are factors now determined by the choices being made by that person. The development of a human being depends on how he or she wants to use his or her free will. Are then the potentially smaller, weaker, or less skilled persons than victims? Would a difference in capability also not be part of evil or part of the good?

In case all would do the same job and would be totally the same that would place God in a worse light than now. This would put God in the position of denying free will to someone regardless of God’s position on an action, whether God intervenes, or not.

People limiting God by not allowing Him to let nature develop and have what we call natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes, do not want to see the necessity of certain developments in nature, or they would not want nature to evolve. Natural disasters are not to be defined as evil. The fact that they occur, and that God does not prevent them or the deaths and suffering they cause, people should question if those people were living at areas provided by God to live. Often people do want to take parts from nature to house themselves, whilst they were provided for the animals or as natural buffer. A lot of people just think they are master of nature and can decide where they may live and where animals may not live. Now lots of people do not take enough account of nature and ignore the laws of nature. By not showing any respect for nature and its laws they do have to bear the consequences of their bad behaviour against the universe.

God is not unaware of people’s suffering, but He has given them on their demand, what too many do forget, the right to decide for themselves what they want to do, which way to go and how to behave. He is not therefore not omniscient; or He is therefore not unable to do anything, and therefore not omnipotent. Some may find it not right that He does not want to intervene. Because He is unwilling to intervene they do find Him not omnibenevolent. The latter word being primarily used as a technical term within academic literature on the philosophy of religion, mainly in context of the problem of evil and theodical responses to such. Although even in said contexts the phrases “perfect goodness” or “moral perfection” are often preferred because of the difficulties in defining what exactly constitutes ‘infinite benevolence’.

For many God not showing directly infinitely compassion makes Him not worthy to be called a Omnibenevolent Deity. But is it not like any parent who has his children doing things and when something did something wrong and therefore got himself or herself in problems tells them that if they did not want to listen had to learn from what happened to them because they were not willing to listen to what the father said beforehand.

Belief in a God’s omnibenevolence is an essential foundation in traditional Christianity; this can be seen in Scriptures such as Psalms 18:30:

“(18:31) “as for god, his way is perfect, the word of ADONAI has been tested by fire; he shields all who take refuge in him.” (Psalms 18:30 CJB)

According to the Bible Jehovah, the Elohim is The Rock Whose work is perfect, for all His ways are justice. (Deuteronomy 32:4) Too many people are forgetting that This God of faithfulness and without iniquity is Just and right, having a perfect law which restores the soul. The people should remember they are nothing without God and that His testimony is sure, making wise the simple.

“(19:8) the torah of ADONAI is perfect, restoring the inner person. the instruction of ADONAI is sure, making wise the thoughtless.” (Psalms 19:7 CJB)

Jehovah is righteous in all His ways, and gracious in all His works (Psalms 145:17). It is not because we do not understand why certain things happen in nature, earthquakes, flows of water, etc. that they do not have the right purpose or are meant for the better, because we do not see straight ahead the good results.

Too many people do believe their way of thinking is the best. Often they consider others their idea less good than their own. And most people consider it impossible that there could be a Supreme Being which nobody can see or feel, would be even better and more knowledgeable than they. For them it is difficult to accept that great and marvellous would the works of that One God, the Almighty and that His ways would be righteous and true (Revelation 15:3 )

Many ancient authorities read nations:

“who would not fear you, king of the nations? for it is your due! —since among all the wise of the nations and among all their royalty, there is no one like you.” (Jeremiah 10:7 CJB)

This understanding is evident in the following statement by the First Vatican Council

The Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church believes and acknowledges that there is one true and living God, Creator and Lord of Heaven and earth, almighty, eternal, immeasurable, incomprehensible, infinite in will, understanding and every perfection. Since He is one, singular, completely simple and unchangeable spiritual substance, He must be declared to be in reality and in essence, distinct from the world, supremely happy in Himself and from Himself, and inexpressibly loftier than anything besides Himself which either exists or can be imagined. {“First Vatican Council”. dailycatholic.org. Retrieved 2008-05-02.}

Notice how also the Catholic Church agrees that The God of gods “is one, singular”, but also an “unchangeable spiritual substance”. According to the Bible God is a Spirit, Who was, is and ever shall be the same. so He did not became one moment a man who could be seen and be tempted, because God can not be seen and can not be tempted. God His divine qualities are consistent.It is only those who want to believe in the human doctrine of the trinity who can see inconsistency, which would be normal because God and Jesus are two totally different characters.

God contains within himself the cause of himself. Being self-sufficient, having within Himself the sufficient reason for His own existence, He also has given others, His creation, the ability to be and to have cause for existence. It is not that God would be without emotion or is “impassible”, because in the Bible lots of times is given an indication how God feels and is given an idea of His emotions.

All things came into being through Him, and without Him not one thing came into being. The aorist tense implies that everything that exists (other than God) came into being at some time in the past. This verse carries the weighty metaphysical implication that there are no eternal entities apart from God, eternal either in the sense of existing atemporally or of existing sempiternally. Rather everything that exists, with the exception of God Himself, is the product of temporal becoming.

We also should come to understand that everything is as such also temporarily. The badness we see now can turn out something good in the future. And in the end we do know that God shall provide the best for every creature, man, animal, plant, in His Kingdom.

Human beings should know that there is nothing God needs from us and that there is nothing we can do to improve on God. God is sufficient unto Himself. Human Beings should know that the “end purpose of all things” is God. God loves mankind but like any father who loves his children it does not have to mean he does not allow bad things to come over them. Lots of people do not seem to notice how He His caring for those who suffer, His desire to be in communion with us. The “grand object” of Scripture is God’s saving purpose worked out in human history.

We should come to understand that every journey is a process, from beginning to end, by which we have choices and can have faith in some things some ones and/or in Some One, whereby the energy in the beginning can be matter and be the product of Faith. When there is faith in the One God matters can become clear, and than we can understand cause of pain and how we can live wit it.

All those who are willing to find the one, and Only True God, by seeking Him, shall find assurance, even when they do suffer, that God shall be prepared to listen to them and to be near to them. When you seek, the One and Only True God, with an honest, open heart, and with humility, you shall be able to come to understand lots of things. God wants to enter your life. He shall give you insight.

Many may say

“Where is God when a child cries from hunger, fear, loneliness?”
“Where is God when a young mother dies of breast cancer?”
“Where is God when we cry out in the night?” {Where Is God?}

People may not forget that always God is here waiting for us to reach out, to invite Him into our lives. He has given us the world to live in and to develop. He has given us the taks to name the animals and the plants, but he did not ask us to destroy His creation by our selfishness and by polluting “our Earth”. God is love. God does not hate. God does not kill. God does not make war, God has never given any man the authority to kill another man in his name.  That is man again, doing the evil that men do for their own evil reasons.
God is waiting for us “in our hearts, if only we would call.”

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Preceding articles:

  1. Does God stands behind all evil on earth
  2. Is God behind all suffering here on earth
  3. I Can’t Believe That … (2) God would allow children to suffer
  4. Why God permits evil
  5. Evil Never Ceases
  6. Pain, sanctification and salvation
  7. From Despair to Victory

+++
Additional reading:

  1. Epicurus and the problem of evil
  2. Satan the evil within
  3. It is a free will choice
  4. National Natural Disaster and Bible Prophecy
  5. Tragic coach crash in the Swiss Alps
  6. Facing disaster fatigue
  7. Profitable disasters
  8. Reacting to Disasters
  9. From pain to purpose
  10. Bad things no punishment from God
  11. Doubting the reality, genuineness and effectiveness of God’s love
  12. We are ourselves responsible
  13. I said God it hurts
  14. Dealing with worries in our lives
  15. I Only hope we find God again before it is too late !
  16. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #5 Prayer #1 Listening Sovereign Maker
  17. Faith Over Fear
  18. Faith because of the questions
  19. Trust God to shelter, safety and security
  20. God is my refuge and my fortress in Him I will trust

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  • What Role Did Psychology Play? (psychologytoday.com)
  • Happiness (todayssigns.wordpress.com)
    Not understanding that has to be the main reason for why criticism of hedonism involves pursuit of pleasure as an end in itself. Any student of Epicurus knows that happiness results as a byproduct of pleasurable activities. Any student properly schooled in American history knows that “the pursuit of happiness was included in the basic philosophy upon which America was founded. Think of this the next time someone tells you America was founded as a Christian nation. We are a nation of hedonists very ignorant of how to apply that fact.
  • Letter: Whose ‘right’ should we follow? (norwichbulletin.com)

    Whose right and wrong? That of the American Atheists Inc.? Mine? How about ISIS? If you throw away the “whims of some bronze age mythological figure,” whose whims rule the day?

    As for leaving religion in the history books, isn’t that what we’ve done as least as far as the schools go? How’s that working?

  • What is Morality? (seesharppress.wordpress.com) > What is Morality?
    The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry defines morality as “Morality is the distinction between right and wrong. It is the determination of what should be done and what should not be done. Morals deal with behaviours as well as motives. There is a great deal of discussion on what is the source of morals and whether or not they are objective. Biblically, morals are derived from God’s character and revealed to us through the Scriptures”
  • Above the Gray: How We Approach Ethics As An Organization (prsay.prsa.org)
    As a Society, we represent the very largest and smallest of enterprises worldwide. Issues such as transparency, privacy and personal identity are now far more challenging, thereby increasing our responsibility as public relations professionals. Transparency is part of the larger conversation around ethics, which frames it with other such conventions as truth, accuracy, fairness and a responsibility to the public. While it’s tempting to think of ethics as the domain of philosophers debating theoretical concepts, the reality is that we all face ethical decisions every day, and they are almost never black and white.
  • Is SEO Immoral? (moz.com)
    By learning and manipulating the system to accomplish its goal, SEO makes it more likely that you will come upon a target that is irrelevant.
  • Epicurus’ Problem of Evil (keskyisnotbusy.wordpress.com)
  • Jesus Was Tortured And Killed, Today Most Christians Are Highly Supportive Of Torture (blacklistednews.com)
    Let’s get this straight, Jesus who was interrogated, tortured and then killed has modern followers who actually support government sanctioned torture. If they are Christians and are familiar with his history then they would know what happened and reject such savage methods. Today so-called terrorists are picked up on the street and hurt severely without even being put before a judge and jury. These people are the antithesis of Jesus and have nothing in common with him.
  • ▶ Nullification The Rightful Remedy – YouTube (chasvoice.blogspot.com)
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