Philosophy of Religion

Chapter  6. The Problem of Evil

Section 3. The Nature of Evil

"Evil" has a wider range of definitions than that for which human or supernatural agents are responsible. 

There are two main types of evil:

  1. Moral evil - This covers the willful acts of human beings (such as murder, rape, etc.)
  2. Natural evil - This refers to natural disasters (such as famines, floods, etc.)

Of these two types, we may further divide both of them into the following two classes:

  1. Physical evil - This means bodily pain or mental anguish (fear, illness, grief, war, etc.)
  2. Metaphysical evil - This refers to such things as imperfection and chance (criminals going unpunished, deformities, etc.)

The problem itself arises because of certain qualities which religious believers grant to God, and the consequences of these given certain observations about the world.

To illustrate these consider three qualities that most religious believers would not want to deny tothe deity, the single deity and Supreme Being, the God: absolute goodness (omnibenevolence), absolute power (omnipotence) and absolute knowledge (omniscience). Now, add to this the observation that there is evil in the world. Setting aside for the moment the question of how a good God could create a world with evil in it, ask yourself why such a deity does not do something to help combat such evil. Many theologians and philosophers over the centuries have asked this question and we will now look at some of the answers they have given.

According to the history of this issue and contemporary concerns it is moral evil that is the crux of the problem more than natural evil. Natural evil may be conceived of as simply part of nature and not evil at all. However, there are those who think that it may be possible to accept that God accepts moral evil and such evil may have a purpose or explanation consist with the existence of a supreme being but that there could be no good reason for God to have natural evil in the Universe.

There is therefore the argument against the existence of God based on Natural Evil.


1) If God exists, then there exists a being who is omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly good.
2) If there existed a being who were omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly good, then there would be no natural evil.
3) But there is natural evil.

Conclusion) God does not exist.
READ: the Argument against The Existence of God based on Natural Evil

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Copyright Philip A. Pecorino 2001. All Rights reserved.

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