If God is Omnipotent, Omniscient and Benevolent – Then Why Is There Evil? (AKA the Problem of Evil Dilemma)

While there may be many different propositions as to why God exists, there are also a fair amount of propositions that attempt to disprove the existence of God. One of the most famous propositions in the “Problem of Evil” dilemma. Basically, God is often described as a being who is omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing/all seeing), and benevolent (compassionate). Despite this, the world is filled with evil, vice and suffering. The “Problem of Evil” states that if God really is omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent, then there should not be any evil or suffering in the world. In other words, if God is benevolent, then he would not allow suffering to occur to other humans. If God was omniscient, then he would be aware of all the suffering and would therefore know who was suffering and why. And if God is omnipotent, then he would be able to eradicate suffering. But since suffering and evil continue to exist, some philosophers claim that this is proof there is no God. For if God does exist, and if he allows suffering in the world, then he would be neither benevolent, omniscient or omnipotent. And if God does not have one (or any) of these qualities, then that being is not a “God”.

So, this argument technically states that there is no God because suffering and evil are qualities that would not be present in a world with a benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent God. And if God does not exist, that would mean that the design argument is false, and that scientific phenomena and the natural laws of physics were created from a non-intelligent mechanism.

Personally, I agree with the non-theistic philosophers who state that God could not exist because there is suffering in the world. If God is omniscient, benevolent and omnipotent, that would mean that suffering and evil would be nonexistent. There are some counterarguments to the “Problem of Evil” claim, such as the one that God allows suffering because it helps us become better people and it teaches us to be morally virtuous. In other words, this claim states that “in a paradise without pains, harms, injuries, needs, suffering, dangers, or difficulties, ethical concepts would be meaningless and people could not develop into virtuous beings” (Velasquez 266). However, in my opinion, if God is omnipotent, why doesn’t he just create a human species that can be morally virtuous without having to experience suffering? According to the designer argument, God created everything for a specific purpose. So why can’t God create a human species that is programmed to be morally virtuous and good natured? Why does God have to create humans as ‘imperfect’? If God can do anything, then surely he can create a perfect world where human beings are morally upright and righteous without having to experience pain and suffering. A watch, for example, never goes through intense feelings of pain and misery, yet it still works. Why couldn’t this same concept be applied to humans when “God” created us?

There is also the argument from Saint Augustine which states that evil occurs because God is perfect, and anything that is not God is therefore imperfect, and this is why humans must suffer – because we are imperfect. But in all honesty, again I must ask why did God create us as “imperfect?” If God created a “perfect” human, then, according to Saint Augustine, the human would be just like “God”. But how is this a bad thing? If God is benevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent, why wouldn’t he want to create other beings just like him? Why would he make us “imperfect” on purpose?

Saint Augustine also claims that evil is a result of human actions (or our imperfection), and that “evil [is] an aspect of the world that a good and benevolent God did not produce and could not prevent” (Velasquez 264). But if God cannot prevent evil then he is not omnipotent. Or if God ignores evil, then he not benevolent. And if God is not aware of all the evil in the world, then he is not omniscient. In other words, Saint Augustine attempts to put all the blame on humans while simultaneously excusing their creator, “God”, from any responsibility.

So, in my own personal opinion, the fact that humans are flawed and that there is suffering in our world is proof that there is no benevolent, omniscient and omnipotent being. And since these three qualities are essentially what makes a “God”, it would therefore seem a logical conclusion to presume that God does not exist, and that there is no intelligent design behind our universe. However, while I remain rather firm in my belief, I will admit that possibly (and this is just speculation), there is a God who is merely above human classifications. Words such as omniscient, omnipotent and benevolent are, for the most part, just abstract words of the human language, and therefore it’s possible that “God” does not fit these descriptions because “God” is technically supposed to be above the material world, or in other words, above the world of abstract human language. Perhaps, God does exist and he did design our universe, but this God does not fall into the ‘omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent’ categories simply because these categories are human creations and therefore only applicable to human beings (which God technically is not). Again, I do not believe this, but it is an interesting devil’s advocate topic that I felt should be brought up.