Leibniz and the Problem of Evil

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LEIBNIZ’S CONCEPTION OF THE PROBLEM OF EVIL BY OKOJIE E. PETER epo4escriva@yahoo.com MAY 2013 INTRODUCTION For many centuries, philosophers have been discussing evil, how it exists in the world, and how this relates to God. The discussion on evil and its relations to us is not an easy one though. It is commonly called the problem of evil. The problem of evil in contemporary philosophy is generally regarded as an argument for atheism. The atheist contends that God and evil are incompatible, and given that evil clearly exists, God cannot exist. The problem is generally used to disprove God’s existence by showing an inconsistency between an all-powerful, all-good, and all-knowing God; and the existence of evil. Philosophers over the centuries…show more content…
These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair. Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a hated burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.3 The Greek philosopher Epicurus is most likely the first recognized philosopher to ask how the existence of evil could be compatible with the nature of God (The Wrath of God 13).4 According to Epicurean philosophy, the notions of good and evil are identified with pleasure and pain respectively. The Epicurean claim is that only pleasure is good. Accordingly, this translates into “pursue pleasure (good) and avoid pain (evil).”5 David Hume in Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion says of Epicurus: “Epicurus’ old questions are yet unanswered. Is he (God) willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?”6 Even if Epicurus is regarded as the first to raise
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