The Epicurean Trilemma

The argument from suffering is a popular argument against God, even though it’s been addressed long ago. The argument goes something like this:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
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 first question to ask is, what is the theist’s responsibility with this argument? The sequence of the argument is as follows:

1) Initial Claim: God is all powerful and all loving.
2) Counter claim: Then evil would not exist.

In this situation the theist’s only responsibility is to show that there is at least one conceivable scenario where an all powerful, all loving God, could allow evil to exist. If the theist can show this, the counter-claim fails.

And, there IS one scenario that works: free will. An all-powerful, all-loving God that respects free will can allow evil to exist.

However, this response does not work in the particular situation humanity is in. The reason is that there is suffering even without choice, or suffering of the innocent. A suffering baby, for example, did not choose evil.

A modified free-will response however does work. An all powerful/loving God can allow evil to exist, temporarily, if this ensures that non-omniscient, free-willed beings will thereby be convinced never to choose evil again for the rest of eternity.

Whether the skeptic finds this response unsatisfactory is inconsequential. The onus is now on them to point out any logical flaw.

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