With the global Coronavirus pandemic (more specifically, COVID-19), it raises the prospect of god and evil.
The problem of evil is one of the oldest and most persistent in all religious debate.
Epicurus is credited with the first formulation of this problem at around 300 BCE with his Epicurean Paradox or Trilema:
- Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
- Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
- Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
An omni-benevolent god would want to prevent something like coronavirus.
An omniscient god would know every way in which coronavirus could be prevented.
An omnipotent god would have the power to prevent coronavirus from coming into existence in the first place.
Therefore, a god who knows every way in which coronavirus can be prevented, who is able to prevent it from coming into existence, and who wants to do so would prevent the existence of coronavirus.
And yet, coronavirus exists, and by acknowledging this fact, we refute the existence of said god.
The most common religious attempt to defend against this problem is to claim that evils like coronavirus is caused by humans, not by god, and that humans were granted free will by god because he wanted them to choose good over evil of their own accord.
The problem with this defense is that if god granted humans free will, knowing full well (by means of his timeless omniscience) that this would produce things like coronavirus, then it cannot be said that god didn’t knowingly create coronavirus. He just deliberately created it through humans, knowing in advance what would happen. This escapes neither god’s plan nor his deliberate, knowledgeable doing. It would be like a novelist blaming the characters he himself created for supposedly breaking away from what he wanted them to do.
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