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?


David Hume first posed these questions, in reference to an Epicurus citation (which may have been wrongly attributed to him in the first place), and it has become
known as the Riddle of Epicurus. It is just as true today as in the
times of Epicurus and in some might claim that today's world examples
this argument against god even more so.


The evils of today stand out against our everyday society like black on white, and yet (and perhaps as a result) faith continues to grow. At least the hateful and
intolerant parts of it seem to. Against the backdrop of our day to day
lives, evil exists on a level that many can't comprehend. On a level
that riddles the mind with its ferociousness and tenacity for inflicting
suffering on those who oppose it.


So how do we reconcile the concept of an all loving god, with the presence of vile and disgusting evils that should be far below his ability to stop?

Maybe it seem less convincing in David Hume's words, so lets break these words down ourselves.

Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to.

If this is true, then he is either evil, impotent, or non-existent.

There is no other answer.

Many theists will claim that he is trying to teach us life lessons with the worlds evil, or that evil is OUR creation, but if it is a life lesson
then he falls well below any moral standard that has ever been set by
any culture in history. NO one would allow genocides, infanticide,
genital mutilations, and senseless murder just to teach us a lesson.

What about the claim that evil is OUR creation made possible by the gift of free will? That still doesn't explain why he would create us with that
ability. He knew what we would do in the world that he created from the
moment he thought of creating us, but he did it anyway. So if he
created us knowing that we would be this way, and did it anyway, then he
did it purposefully. Making him evil once more.


This leaves only the last part...

If God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?

Oh Epicurus.....


good question

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Comment by J Burgoyne on April 14, 2010 at 4:35pm
I agree Ally, I agree. Very straightforward actually.
Comment by Ally on April 14, 2010 at 2:27pm
I don't see this as a riddle meaning: an emigma or conundrum requiring much thought, (as a noun)
but perhaps as the verb sense - explaining something. The first time I read this it was the perfect concise explanation of why God is a joke, a figment of our imaginations!
Nothing enigmatic about that.

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