The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
7 Points

The Problem of Evil can be refutted effectivley.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/16/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,338 times Debate No: 8669
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (12)
Votes (1)




Since I am pro, I will allow my opponent is establish what the problem of evil's definition is and how it challenges the belief in a God.

CON may go first.


I thank you for creating this open debate, and I hope we have a great debate. Theodicies are especially amusing, so I'll be glad to humor your attempt - I'm sure it'll turn out great for the both of us.

But before I begin, a piece of advice: define your terms. If I were to be particularly snarky today, I could easily twist the definition of God to easily make you concede this debate. However, this isn't my intentions when coming to this site, but you never know when others will ;) So that said, we need to be clear on what the "problem of evil" and "God" is.

I shall define God as being of the Abrahamic conception, since this is what the argument from evil primarily, if not only, targets. He is defined as having 4 "unlimited attributes", namely omnipotence (all-powerful), omniscience (all-knowing), omnipresent (everywhere at the same time), and omnibenevolent (all-good). Note that from here on out, when I use the word "God" it will directly refer to this definition.

The "problem of evil" can take several conceptions. I shall use the more common form, the evidential argument from evil. This means that my argument will take the form of showing that some fact about evil is evidence against the existence of God. So without further waiting, my arguments:

Argument from Evil - A simple syllogism

The argument of evil is a particularly old argument, and thus it has garnered a notorious amount of responses. In fact, these responses themselves have been bundled into a group called "theodicies", namely attempts at reconciling the existence of evil with the existence of God. I don't know what theodicy my opponent will use, and I can't hope to refute every one in existence due to character limits, so I will simply supply a syllogism of the argument of evil. I then invite my opponent to give his rebuttals, which in turn I can refute and thus get the debate on it's feet. So here it is:

Situation L = the situation of the amount of suffering and premature death experienced by humans in the world at the present time being significantly less than what it actually is at present. (In other words, if the actual amount, at present, is, say, a total of n units of suffering and premature death, then in situation L that amount would be, at present, significantly less than n units.)
Then AE, making reference to situation L, can be expressed as follows:
(A) If God were to exist, then he would possess all of the following four properties (among others):
(1) being able to bring about situation L, all things considered;
(2) wanting to bring about situation L, i.e., having it among his desires;
(3) not wanting anything else that conflicts with his desire to bring about situation L as strongly as it;
(4) being rational (which implies always acting in accord with his own highest purposes).

(B) If a being who has all four properties listed above were to exist, then situation L would have to obtain.
(C) But situation L does not obtain. The amount of suffering and unfairness in the world at the present time is not significantly less than what it actually is at present.
(D) Therefore [from (B) & (C)], there does not exist a being who has all four properties listed in premise (A).
(E) Hence [from (A) & (D)], God does not exist.


The syllogism I gave is copy-pasted from an article by the philosopher of religion Theodore Drange (you should go read his book concerning the argument from evil and nonbelief). The article will be linked to in my references, so you can check it out if you want to.

So there you go, the syllogism is wide open for attack. Take your best shot :D

Debate Round No. 1


I will start by making my own theodicy and then my opponent can fire at will...

There are two types of evil in this world.
(a) Evil humans inflict upon themselves (war, terrorism, crime)
(b) Evil humans do not inflict upon themselves (hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes)

This two types of evil can be answered with the same theodicy, this is how it goes:

God has provided the conditions necessary for character development and growth among his creatures. God's intent in creating the world was not to provide a paradise of heaven on earth. God wanted to provide an environment in which beings with moral and spiritual potential could develop and grow in the direction of completeness. But this requires that we be able to cultivate virtues that can't result from a trouble-free existence. Thus God had to allow trouble into the world. The purpose of this world is soul-making. And that is an enterprise that results from grappling with sin, suffering, and pain.

Four distinct factors are required for this theodicy.

(a) There must be free-willed beings. Moral character cannot be stamped on a person from outside; it must be freely cultivated.
(b) There must be an environment in which these beings can exercise their freedom in morally significant ways. That means there must be real moral choices. And there be stable natural laws as the backdrop and stage for moral decision making. A world in which the laws of nature changed all the time would not be context in which rational decisions could be made about how to act. How would you help a thirsty man man if the glass of water you give him could burst into flames? Or How could you feed a starving child if the sandwich you give her could turn into a snake or stone? Stability provides for moral decision making and moral action. But in a stable world, wrong choices can have bad results.
(c) There must be challenges to the characters of the free beings who have been created. In a morally frictionless universe, no one would grow. We grow through conflict and difficultly. So problems must exist.
(d) There must be opportunities for these free beings to respond virtuously as well as viciously to their challenges. The suffering in the world can't thus all be utterly overwhelming. And we can't be led by the hand, metaphysically speaking. We need elbow room for making mistakes as well as for doing good.

I look forward to your rebuttals.


My opponent's argument is summed up as this: God would only allow as much evil or suffering as is absolutely necessary in order to achieve greater goods, which in this case would be to allow for positive/moral character to build.

While seemingly convincing, it has one major flaw: the existence of gratuitous evil. Quite simply, gratuitous evil is incompatible with the existence of God who is all-loving, because gratuitous evil is evil that is not necessary for greater goods. Therefore, my main objective is to simply show that gratuitous probably exists. To prove this point, I will simply list a few examples:

Examples of gratuitous evil

1. What is the purpose of an animal dying and no human knows about it? A common example is of a deer who burns to death in the middle of the forest without any human knowing about it. This means that no one can possibly gain moral or positive benefit from the suffering of a sentient being. Why would god allow such disasters to happen?

2. In places across the world, it's very common for very young children to die of starvation due to famine. Their death was tragic, as was their life. Now the question dawns - what purpose was the suffering and death the children suffered worth? Sure, perhaps it could serve a greater purpose for those who hear about it, but what about the children themselves? What possible benefits can they reap from a lifelong of suffering and an early death? Nothing - it's gratuitous evil due to the workings of nature.


Simply put, gratuitous evil is contradictory to the existence of God (as he is defined). As long as it causes unnecessary suffering for one party, it is gratuitous and thus evidence that the problem of evil is effective.
Debate Round No. 2


Republican95 forfeited this round.


No response to my argument means by default I win. VOTE CON.
Debate Round No. 3
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by wjmelements 8 years ago
"2). DDO shouldn't have an indefinite response time, otherwise a debate could feasibly be never finished if someone doesn't answer"


And this could've been such a great debate, too.
Posted by TheSkeptic 8 years ago
I'm sorry to hear that, I wished for a response as well. However, do realize that DDO isn't at fault for two reasons:

1). You were the instigator and you should've known how long someone is allowed to respond since you could've changed it during the creation process.

2). DDO shouldn't have an indefinite response time, otherwise a debate could feasibly be never finished if someone doesn't answer.
Posted by Republican95 8 years ago
This isn't fair...I was out of town this weekend and couldn't respond in time. DDO should have an "indefinite" option when it comes to response times. I might be reinstating this debate later, so I can finish it up.
Posted by TheSkeptic 8 years ago
"Y'know, humans created evil. Evil was God's punishment. Read Genesis."

Which is another funny incident in itself. Punish the son for the sins of the father? Yup, definitely sounds fair to me...
Posted by Republican95 8 years ago
Yes, its a debate about whether God is evil or not.
Posted by EmyG 8 years ago
So basically, correct me if I'm wrong, it's a debate on whether or not God is evil?
Y'know, humans created evil. Evil was God's punishment. Read Genesis.
Posted by Republican95 8 years ago
Like the problem that if God exists he is evil because God created everything and since there is evil than God must of created evil and since our actions define what we are than God is evil...
Posted by wjmelements 8 years ago
Like the Problem Of Suffering?
Posted by asiansarentnerdy 8 years ago
Oh, I thought Pro established their case first.
Posted by Republican95 8 years ago
You may use variations of the problem of evil...
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by TheSkeptic 8 years ago
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Total points awarded:07