Philosophers have been arguing about a problem of evil for decades. The most common form of argument begins with the acknowledgment that suffering is caused by evil existence. God is assumed to be good, omnipotent and omnipresent, thus, if he exists why he lets his creations suffer by condoning evil to coexist alongside them. Theists believe in the existence of God. They are persuaded that God is supreme and He created the universe. That is why God is responsible for all creatures and the universe. In other words, God is responsible for everything that happens in the universe. Theists also believe that God loves everyone and everything he created. This makes God responsible for all his creation. As such, God is responsible for His creations’ sorrow, joy and everything else that happens to them. as well as his creation’ desires, beliefs and intentions. It means that he can control whatever his creations do, believe in and outcomes of their actions as well as thoughts, actions and their intensions. Therefore, everything that happens in the universe is seen perceived as something that God allows to happen. This is the genesis of the arguable evil problem. According to Mackie (2008), the problem of evil begins with trying to prove that God exists. If God is supposed to exist, then he is omnipotent and wholly admirable. Besides that, evil exists which leads to suffering (Mackie, 2008).
The problem of evil argument begins with trying to reconcile three premises that presuppose that God is righteous, omnipotent and He allows evil to coexist with His creations. Taking all these assumptions into consideration at once, does not make any sense. Assuming that God exists, His love for all his creations and his capability to control all his creation, evil should not exist. This is the most logical result when all the three presumptions are taken into account. Some philosophers have tried to argue that three presumptions cannot all be true at the same time. It is either God exists, but He is not capable of controlling or God has no control over what happens, thus, the existence of evil is out of his hands, or there is no evil. Therefore, there are those who believe that evil does not exist, which would account for the rational belief in God’s existence. Others assume that God has no control over his creations, therefore, accounting for the possibility of evil’s existence. The fact that His wholly altruistic nature is questioned means that God can let His creations suffer from the evil that exists. The evil problem has also been addressed from the evil perspective. Most of the medieval philosophers assumed that evil was an indication of goodness absence (Carter, 1991). This implies that God cannot be involved in allowing evil to exist, since it is lack of goodness. By merely simplifying evil to this form, medieval philosopher could account for the goodness and omnipotence of the Supreme Being and the existence of evil at the same time. However, such logical conclusions can be easily disapproved by stating that God is considered to be a controller of all that happens to His creation. In that case, God is responsible for what is present or lacking in His creations and absence of goodness becomes His responsibility. In other words, evil exists because God allows goodness to lack in his creations. Such dilemmas have confounded the evil problem for centuries without any possible solution any time soon.
Evil can be classified into several forms, which include moral evil, natural evil, imperfection or disbelief. Natural evils are those phenomena that humans have little or no control over what lead to a lot of suffering such as earthquakes, floods, wild fires or incurable diseases. Moral evils are those acts done by human beings that can cause suffering and harm to their fellow human beings and their environment. On the other hand, imperfection can be argued as a lack of goodness. Lack of belief becomes an evil from theists’ perspective. By merely denying the existence of God, theists presume this lack of faith to be evil. Accounting for all faiths or lack of faith, we can argue that evil can be divided into two forms. These forms are moral evil and natural evil. Moral evil exists as a direct result of the actions of the human race. On the other hand, natural evil is hard to connect its causes to any part of the creation. Indeed, we can argue that it is caused by the actions or lack of action by the Supreme Being. As such, natural evil can then be seen as God’s direct responsibility. From this perspective, logically arguing that God is not responsible for evil becomes difficult. However, from theists’ perspective evil is perceived as God’s way of helping his creations to reaffirm their faith. Suffering, therefore, becomes part of God’s plan to strengthen the human resolve and perseverance. God also sees it as punishment for evil that humans commit. Thus, God allows natural evil to occur in order to teach His creations that evil has its consequences. Therefore, by God letting evil exist and cause havoc to lives of His creations, He plans to affirm their faith in him. In addition, it helps to strengthen their resolve to be good. Theists, therefore, think that God has the ability to abolish evil, but lets its existence because it serves a purpose to Him. By allowing evil, God can keep His creations in check, at the same time He can teach the human race about faith. Evil exist because God allows it to and for the greater good to the human race and all his creations. Atheists, on the other hand, use this as a proof that contrary to what others may believe, God does not exist, and if he does, He does not care much about His creations. The argument is if God exists He should not let his creations suffer by allowing evil. Consequently, atheists agree about that. Thus, removing the valid reasons for anyone to belief in Him and belief that he cares about His creations and to them.
Dostoyevsky confronted the evil problem dilemma in his book The Brothers Karamazov through ethical debates on morality, free will and faith in God. In debates about the existence of God, two brothers represent both ends of the argument philosophically debating the existence of God. Their debates stem from the human suffering they have faced caused by the existence of evil. Ivan is the atheist and his brother Alyosha is the novice monk. Both of them, have seen how evil brings suffering to the human race. The presence of evil and the untold havoc it brings to the human race can be argued to be the influential factor for their respective beliefs. Their debate takes place during the period of Russian struggle against modernization. Ivan tries to provoke his brother’s faith in God by questioning why God allows his creations to undergo so much senseless suffering. According to his point of view, God is a creation of man, fashioned to the human image, in contrast to the belief that man is created according to God’s image. To oppose his argument, Alyosha involves the Devil into play. He asks his brother if the Devil then is another creation in the humans’ mind, to which Ivan agrees and compares to God’s creation in the human mind. To Ivan, therefore, God exists only in Human mind and so does the Devil. Man has made God in his own image, contrary to the theist argument that God created human beings to look like him. His argument, therefore, disapproves the existence of God by contradicting the popular beliefs. Alyosha, on the other hand, believes in God’s existence despite all the suffering around them. He thinks that Suffering serves a purpose to God’s grand plans for the Human race. Argument ,stems from what Ivan believes is the evil killing of a child by a general. He cannot accept that a perfect God who controls his creations can allow such act to be committed against an innocent soul. Such death in his according to his point of view is evil, senseless and serves no purpose. Ivan tries to convince his brother that evil, which is mostly blamed on the devil, exists because God does not exist. According to him, if Devil is a creation of man, so is God. In other words, refusing to accept the existence of God he also denies the existence of Devil.
Dostoyevsky supports the existence of evil by arguing that God gave His creation free will. This free will gives the human race the freedom to make choices in their actions. Some of the choices are made because of harm and suffering which offer them while others are of divine origin. Dostoyevsky, therefore, states evil as a direct result of God’s creations’ having “free will”, which gives them choice. Freedom of choices, therefore, can be argued to be the leading cause of evils that the human race commits.
Thus, in case when an innocent child is brutally murdered by a soldier, one can argue that the general had a choice of not harming the child. The question is what is the purpose of the act in God’s plans. One argument that can explain this act would be for God to show to his creations the evil of war. In this case, we can argue that by showing us that the most innocent become the victim of warfare, God’s intention is to discourage warfare. This argument has considerable merit. Even today the horrors of wars are depicted in the eyes of innocent victims. People desist from wars because everyone is aware of innocent victims’ suffering with no influence over the war. This realization can be argued to be one of the reasons why diplomacy is preferred over war.
Secondly, doing such heinous acts, society is forced to intervene in order to end suffering for innocent. Therefore, evil actions make the human race to oppose atrocious acts in the process stopping evil. Such an argument gives credence to the assumption that God lets evil exist for greater good. Entire society can be drawn into stopping evil acts just because the innocent have been affected. In other words, killing an innocent child can provoke the moral outrage of the whole society and help bring to an end the evil regime. The death of such a child from the hands of a high-ranking soldier signals that such regime represents pains caused by people in power. Their true colors are shown to the wide human race. Thus, we can argue that God uses such a death to teach the human race of the existence of evil so that greater evils can be prevented.
Free will also gives human beings power to choose their way. In the absence of evil such choices would not be necessary. It means that evil exists so that people could have alternatives. The existence of choices or alternatives, accounts for the existence of freedom. Without evil, therefore, the human race would not have freedom. In other words, there would be only one way - the right way. This means that the diversity that helps bring different ideas and ways of doing things would not exist. The human race would not be able to develop.
Some of them are outrageous evil such as biological weapons and nuclear weapons among other, human inventions. However, alonside the evil invention, there are fantastic inventions that have alleviated human suffering. The possibilities of making such progress come from the ability to make choices. We can argue, therefore, that God allows evil to exist in order to give room for human race to develop. Simply without choices and alternatives, we would all be like robots. It means that the entire human race would have the same thoughts, having the same beliefs and doing the same things. God allows evil to exist to let the human race become more diverse and develop into better men. The catch here is that one has to choose the path he or she should take.
Dostoyevsky, therefore, creates for his readers through his book the never ending evil problem. In the arising debate between the two brothers Ivan and Alyosha, the question of God creating a world where He permits evil to flourish is revisited again. The solution to the evil problem, however, is not provided. One has to rationalize his or her own beliefs to come up with what they should believe in or not. In other words, with “free will” the human race has the freedom to choose their most suitable belief.
For centuries, the problem of evil has been debated endless without a universally agreeable solution. The evil problem has its genesis in the acknowledgment that suffering is caused by evil existence. God is assumed to be good, omnipotent and omnipresent, thus, if He exists why He lets his creations suffer by allowing evil to coexist alongside with them. Theists believe in existence of God. In addition, they believe that God is supreme and created the universe. Therefore, God is responsible for all creatures and the universe. In other words, God is responsible for every event in the universe. Theists also believe that God loves everything He created. This makes God to be responsible for all his creations. If, God is responsible for his creations’ sorrow, joy and everything else that happens to them., the question of God allowing evil to exist appears. As noted, the evil problem is not being solved anytime soon; however, we can argue that God’s plan allows evil to exist. One such way of looking at it can be supported by the argument that “free will” makes it necessary for evil to exist. Free will, on the other hand, what enables the human race to be diverse, enabling human to develop into better beings.