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Problem Of Evil Mackie Analysis Essay

The Problem of Evil One of the most interesting topic we cover in class has to be the idea of Evil and God. Commonly referred to as the Problem of evil, J. L. Mackie, an Australian Philosopher, from the University of Sydney simplifies The problem of Evil with this line, “God is omnipotent; God is wholly good; and yet evil exists”. I found this topic very mind boggling, as I have never once questioned the power of the omnipotent and all good God. For anyone that believes that Gods is all powerful and good The problem of evil, really makes a convincing and contradicting point.

In order to truly understand the problem of evil Mackie argues three illogical solutions; 1) There is no good without evil. 2) Without evil, God cannot exist. 3) Free will is the cause of evil. In this paper, I will describe and oppose Mackie’s argument for the problem of evil. Before addressing the arguments, it is best to understand the difference between good and evil. What makes our actions good? What makes them evil? When we are presented with these questions, we resort to our morals and religious believes to determine what we find good and what we find evil.

But what makes this even more unthinkable is being able to tell that the actions we find good are actually good. For most people religion plays a vital role in their lives, meaning that something’s that appear to be good may seem bad in different religions. How we are brought up in this world really defines who we are and sets our beliefs and morals. But what if what we are raised to believe in is actually wrong? There is no way of actually knowing (The ultimate question). This ties in with the circular argument in Socrates “Euthyphro”. In his dialogue with Euthyphro, Socrates brings up the idea of pious and impious.

He addresses two points; 1) “Pious is… what is dear to the gods” (Socrates, 19). In other words, Piety is what gods love. 2) Things that are pious because the gods love them. Although, he is not referring to the same God, this falls in the same context. If we ask ourselves what makes our actions good? Many people have different answers but at the end Socrates shows that our actions can be defined both ways and in the end it will be hard to differentiate whether, our actions are good because God finds it good or because it is what God would do.

These types of question is commonly referred to as a Circular argument, an argument that will always lead back to the start. However, all actions are either good or evil and the fact that “God is omnipotent… God is wholly good” (Mackie) and evil exists is irrational. God cannot exist if one believes that God is good, omnipotent, and evil exists. The only way that Mackie sees fit to explain this is by denying “that God is omnipotent or all good, or we can deny that there is any evil in the world” (Speaks).

This first illogical solution that Mackie argues is “Good cannot exist without evil” (Mackie). One of the big issues with this is that Mackie believes that this statement would take away form God’s power because this proves that “God cannot create good without… evil” (Mackie), thus proving that is not all omnipotent. Similar to this argument Mackie also mentions “Evil is necessary as a means to good” (Mackie). These two are similar in that they both prove that God is restricted by his laws and cannot be truly omnipotent if these arguments hold true.

As a counter argument I believe that Mackie is wrong in that evil should be seen as its own essence. One big idea is that evil could have existed before God and good could have been Gods way to counterpart evil. And as for Mackie’s argument about God not being able to create good without evil, although a bit contradicting to my previous statement, God could have possibly created evil as a way for humans to understand good, because without the counterpart to good (evil), we would assume that all things are good. All as way to “solve the problem of evil” (Mackie).

The second illogical solution “The universe is better with some evil in it than it could be if there were no evil” (Mackie). Mackie believes that through some evil there exist good. One important point that relates to this argument is that without vices we cannot have virtues. For example, how can one be courageous without the existence of cowardly or envious without gratuitous. To make sense of this argument Mackie uses two parts; “first order good… (and)… evil” (Mackie) and “second order good… (and)… evil” (Mackie).

Mackie describes first order evil as “physical evil… ain and misery” (Mackie) and first order good as “pleasure and happiness” (Mackie). He describes second order good as “sympathy with suffering, heroism in facing danger, and the gradual decrease of first order evil” (Mackie), in other words second order good is the counterpart to first order evil. He argues that some evils should not exist, “in order to make possible the virtues” and that “God is not… benevolent or sympathetic” (Mackie) as his goal is to “not minimize evil… but, only promote good” (Mackie). He believes that God should have eliminated second order evil.

In my opinion there has to always be an evil that counterparts any good. Lastly, the final illogical solution “Evil is due to human freewill” (Mackie). In this argument Mackie believes “that God has made men so free that he cannot control their wills” (Mackie) that if humans pose free will then God can not be omnipotent in that he cannot control the humans. However, I believe that there was a purpose to God giving humans free will, as it all ties in together. Our God given free will is the reason that we have the human choices of good and evil.

Without free will we wouldn’t know the difference between good and evil. If anything God could have purposefully gave us free will as part of his bigger plan. Mackie makes great arguments that make believable points, however he fails to realize that the biggest problems in finding the solution to the problem of evil is that God is complex and greater than our minds can conceive. The fact that God is all knowing only proves to us that we can’t question his methods because there might be a purpose to all his doings. We might not understand his plan but the end always justifies the means.

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