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The Argument Against the Existence of God - Essay Example

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J.L Mackie's, "Evil and Omnipotence" is an argument against the existence of an omnipotent and wholly good God on the basis of the problem of evil. According to theological doctrine, God is omnibenevolent but this belief is rendered inconsistent by the presence of evil in the world and the theologian can subscribe to it only by divorcing himself from reason…
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The Argument Against the Existence of God
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Download file to see previous pages The theologian embraces three propositions - God is omnipotent, God is good and evil exists. Mackie's brilliant argument for the problem of evil has shown that the first two propositions cannot be true while the third exists. He has made use of two additional premises to drive the point home. He calls these "quasi-logical rules connecting the terms 'good', 'evil', and 'omnipotent'" (Mackie 78). These additional propositions state that good is in a state of opposition with evil and seeks to eliminate it and that omnipotence is without limits. Therefore Mackie's argument and the problem of evil has decimated the very core of theistic belief by claiming that "the several parts of the essential theological doctrine are inconsistent with one another, so that the theologian can maintain his position as a whole only by a much more extreme rejection of reason" (Mackie 77). Thus his argument calls for a complete reconstruction of the theological doctrine as we know it.
At the onset Mackie outlines certain adequate solutions to the problem of evil that is also consistent with the essential theistic propositions or which rejects one or more of the propositions. He makes it clear that only those who believe that God is omnipotent and wholly good are confounded by this problem. ...
Mackie then turns his attention to four solutions that he calls fallacious because they overtly adhere to the integral theological propositions while inadvertently or covertly rejecting one or more of them while attempting to tackle the problem of evil. The first of these fallacious solutions is that it is not possible for good to exist without evil. Mackie asserts that this solution does explain away the presence of evil but a whole series of problems crop up consequently. For instance it questions God's omnipotence because it implies that God cannot create one without the other and is invariably bound by the rules of logic. Further this solution undermines God's goodness as it appears that God is not opposed to evil if it is deemed necessary. Besides, the existing evil is far in excess of the amount needed to serve as a mere counterpart to good.
Some people claim that evil is necessary as a means to good. This view according to Mackie contradicts the theist's view of God's omnipotence as it suggests that God's power is subject to the law of cause and effect. Therefore this argument as seen by Mackie does not hold much water as it severely detracts from God's omnipotence.
The third solution to the problem of evil is that the world with its attendant evil is a better place than one without. By way of explanation Mackie classifies good and evil into levels. He calls pain and other forms of physical discomfiture first order evils whereas pleasure constitutes first order good. First order evil is necessary to bring out second order goods like benevolence, courage, fortitude and the like which far outweighs first order evils. But Mackie states that this argument falls apart as it does not take into ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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