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On the Existence of Values

The logical problem of evil poses a problem to the main assumptions of biblical theism which are as follows: ‘(1) God exists; (2) God is a perfect being as can be seen in his omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence; (3) God and only God has the quality of aseity and (2) Evil exists’ (Adams 467).

These assumption, when separately combined, may lead to the following conclusions: (1) ‘An omnipotent being, a being whose power has no limitations, can do anything;’ (2) ‘An omniscient being, an all knowing being, knows all aspects of evil;’ (3) ‘An omnipresent being, a being who is not spatiotemporally limited and whose moral perfection is unlimited, would eliminate the existence of evil;’ (4) ‘A being with the quality of aseity would eliminate the existence of evil as this being is independent and unlimited by anything outside of itself;’ and (5)’To assume that a being who is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and characterized by aseity permits the existence of evil is logically impossible’ (Adams 467).

Within this context, the problem is thereby evident as the existence of evil does not logically coincide with the existence of a God that has the characteristics specified in biblical theology. In order to account for this problem, one may resort to the inclusion of an additional assumptions within the argument mentioned above. One may assume that the existence of evil within this world is in logical consonance with the greater goodness of God. This is in accordance to Leibniz’s ‘best of all possible worlds theodicy. ’ According to Leibniz’s theodicy, “an omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly good God would actualize the best” possible world (Adams 467).

If such is the case, one may thereby assume “that the desire to create the best possible world is a reason compossible with perfect goodness for God not to prevent or eliminate instances of evil” (Adams 467). The problem with the aforementioned view however is evident if one considers that by stating that the existence of evil is justifiable on higher grounds, that being the creation of a perfect world, Leibniz did not account for the existence of evil in itself as he merely avoided the problem itself. As Giovanni Scarafile succinctly states, “The irrational does not stop being such simply because it is preordained for a good and rational purpose” (424).

In order to place this into context, it is important to note that Leibniz did not account for the individual cases of evil as he merely focused on the connection of evil and the existence of an omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent God and this entity’s aim of creating a perfect world, a world which necessitates the existence of evil. In support of Leibniz’s claim, one may argue that a perfect world is a world which allows the existence of evil since it is a world which allows the existence of man’s free-will. The existence of free-will here negates the conception of a deterministic view of man’s existence. In other words, it allows man to conceive of himself as the one who decides his future based upon the decisions and actions that he has made in life. The existence of evil, in this sense, is necessary since it provides man with the possible avenues to choose from.

It allows man to decide whether he will choose ‘the good’ and hence receive eternal salvation or ‘the evil’ and hence receive eternal damnation. In line with this, one however may argue that it is illogical to conceive of a God, in line with the God of biblical theodicy, to allow man to be in possession of free-will since it defies the conception of an all-loving God since this God will allow his creations to experience eternal damnation. In opposition to this, one may however state that it is still possible to conceive of an all-loving God. This is evident if one considers that all the decisions and possibilities available to man, even if they lead to the initial occurrence of evil, leads to the good if they are conceived as a whole.

This however leads to a problem as it negates the concept of free-will as the capability to purely determine one’s future for one’s self since this leads to a conception of man as a being without free will due to his incapability of purely deciding for himself as the possibilities or choices for his decision have already been laid down for him. If such is the case, one may conclude that evil does not exist since all the initial evil actions of man are good if they are considered within the context of greater whole of these actions. Although this claim may provide an explanation for the existence of evil, the claim refutes the existence of free will.

In either case, both claims which involves stating that the existence of evil is justifiable as it allows the existence of a greater good, that being man’s free-will or the creation of a perfect world, seems problematic as they both merely avoid the problem of evil as they do not solve the illogical assumptions of biblical theodicy. Within this context, it seems that it is impossible to account for the existence of a God whose characteristics are in accordance to biblical theodicy. Before reaching a conclusion, it is important to note that the problem of evil sprung as a result of the assumption that God must have an ethical sense which he wishes us to follow. Given that God has an ethical sense which he wishes us to follow, one may claim that God has specific intentions which one considers as ‘the good’ as a result of his existence as a perfect being.

Cases of evil present us with instance wherein the will of God is disobeyed as evil is always understood as the negative instance of ‘the good. ’ In order to account for instances wherein the actions practiced in this world do not adhere for the will of God, I suppose it is possible to argue in accordance to the argument for the existence of free-will however instead of adhering to a conception of free will as man’s infinite capability to decide for himself, it is possible to conceive of a limited view of free will. This limited view of free will conceives of free will as man’s ability to make decisions for himself within the scope of all the possibilities which are available to him in this world.

By adhering to this view of limited free will, it is possible to account for the existence of God as it is possible to conceive of evil as an insignificant instance whose importance is outweighed by man’s capability to practice his will and his reason. The existence of actions that manifests values that contradict God’s values may thereby be accounted for the existence of man’s free will which is a greater good as opposed to the occurrences of the insignificant manifestations of values that contradict God’s values. Works Cited Adams, Marilyn. “Problem of Evil. ” Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Ed. Edward Craig. London: Routledge, 1998. Scarafile, Giovanni. “ ‘Paroles Entierement Destituees de Sens. ’ Pathic Reason in the Theodicee. ” Leibniz: What Kind of Rationalist? Ed. Marcelo Dascal. London: Springer, 2008.

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