<ontology, ethics> bad things sometimes happen. Whether they are taken to flow from the operation of the world ("natural evil"), to result from deliberate human cruelty ("moral evil"), or simply to correlate poorly with what seems to be deserved ("non-karmic evil"), such events give rise to basic questions about whether or not life is fair. The presence of evil in the world poses a special difficulty for traditional theists, as both Epicurus and Hume pointed out. Since an omniscient god must be aware of evil, an omnipotent god could prevent evil, and a benevolent god would not tolerate evil, it should follow that there is no evil. Yet there is evil, from which atheists conclude that there is no omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent god. The most common theistic defense against the problem, propounded (in different forms) by both Augustine and Leibniz, is to deny the reality of evil by claiming that apparent cases of evil are merely parts of a larger whole that embodies greater good. More recently, some have questioned whether the traditional notions of omnipotence and omniscience are coherent. Recommended Reading: The Problem of Evil: A Reader, ed. by Mark Larrimore (Blackwell, 2000); The Problem of Evil, ed. by Marilyn McCord Adams and Robert M. Adams (Clarendon, 1991); and Richard Swinburne, Providence and the Problem of Evil (Oxford, 1998).
[A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names]
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