In this research paper, an attempt is made in reviewing the philosophical quandary regarding the existence of evil and, if indeed, the existence of evil makes God to exist and if such a God can be deemed to be perfect. The validity of the existence of God and an individual’s knowledge of God is one of the epistemological issues that come up and thus, this paper will focus on the Western centric view, which cannot be limited to Leibniz, Descartes and Aquinas.
According to Spinoza’s view regarding God, the traditional characteristics of God are, “…when statements such that God is eternal, God is one, and immutable re said of God…in consideration of all his attributes. Outside the theological and academic circles, an individual may think that the definition given by Spinoza is a little bit cumbersome. According to Pecorino, it is viewed that “…the deity or God of the Christian, Jews and Islamic faithful came to possess the following features that are associated with it: Eternal Being, Supreme Being, Beneficent Being, All Perfect, Omnipotent, All powerful, All Loving, All Just, All Merciful e.t.c. (Cottingham, et al, 1989).
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The world over, the problem of evil has been termed to critically undermine the traditional characteristics of God. It is in this view that this paper seeks to deeply analyze the problem of evil and how it has accordingly undermined the traditionally features or characteristics of God. Evil refers to the violation or an intention in violating some kind of moral code and as a result, it is termed to be the dualistic opposite of “the good”.
Under normal circumstances, evil is commonly linked with deliberate and conscious discrimination, wrongdoing, which is designed with the aim of harming other individuals, humiliating other people with a view of diminishing their dignity and social wellbeing, indiscriminate violence and acts of unnecessary destructiveness. A philosophical question has arose as to whether morality is relative or absolute and thus eventually led to questions regarding the nature of evil with views being categorized into four camps, which are opposed like for instance amoralism, moral absolutism, moral universalism and moral relativism (Shein, 2009).
The traditional characteristics of God refers to attributes, which describe who God is, and this among others includes holy, eternal, all omnipotent or powerful, faithfulness, omniscient, impartial or infinite. In most Traditional African Religions, God is observed as being everything and thus possess all attributes or characteristics, like being both evil and god, stingy and generous e.t.c. It is with this view in mind, that God is broken up into several distinct spirits so as people may pray and worship to different energies or attributes/characteristics of God (King, 2002).
The major guiding terminology in this research paper will be Pecorino’s attributes, which offer more simplistic approach to God’s attributes. In his meditations, Descartes takes great care and attention in order to deconstruct of man and thus, one could come to the conclusion supporting the existence of God and in supporting an unflagging support. God’s existence and the theology of God, according to Descartes’ approach, may be attributed to the perceived notions, which can eventually be supported by Descartes letter in supporting the meditation writings. Support for Descartes inclination is offered through “…the vital importance of the glory and cause of God and…to speak freely concerning my own achievements…” Descartes, thus directly speaks towards his enduring belief in God, whose attributes are spelled out in Pecorino’s summation.
The third meditation accepts Descartes acceptance of God’s attributes, e.g. … I understand that I am a thing that is incomplete and dependant on another one and which aspires towards better and greater things…not just potentially or indefinitely. In Descartes writings, it can be indicated that the inability of humans in using of God provided faculties in a correct way is a clear indicator that indeed humanity and not God is imperfect and thus enabling the God of Descartes to continue in the fulfillment of the requirements, named above as outlined by Pecorino including the capacity or ability of not being evil.
As an informative and brief description of Leibniz’s theory, the existence of God is reflected in Leibniz’s theory, which asserts that “...Since God is all-knowing, all powerful, and all good, then, certainly, there is nothing what can prevent God from the creation of the best world. It is the goodness of God that further obliges God in creating the best World. Thus, the actual or real world is the best world (Murray). According to the contention by Leibniz, the world, as it is, is perfect, because God is perfect and because he created it. Any further questioning is eliminated through a reflection of Descartes’ approach of the establishment of a beginning through which everything is adjudicated. One of the points that are irrefutable lies in both Leibniz’s acceptance of a potentially perfect world and in Descartes establishment of the existing thinking man.
During his time, another Christian Church devotee, who was like Descartes and lesser in degree to Leibniz, was Thomas Aquinas, whose pursuit regarding the answer of the dilemma of the existence of God and the evil’s presence compelled the devotee to ponder. He furthered writings on the presence of evil and it is in King’s review of Aquinas and the evil’s problem that Aquinas Approach is offered in relatively straight forward view. Appeals to reason, tradition and scripture are allegedly supported through Aquinas’ presentation of the opponents’ view, which however, do not buy into it and furnish readers with a response.
In Aquinas argument, he asserts that indeed, it is true that God created everything, but evil is never or not a thing. Aquinas doesn’t suggest that evil is real, but instead he argues that evil is not a substance, since it does not exist in itself, but as an inhering good substance. According to him, there could be no evil without a good substance. Aquinas, therefore, denies that evil is unto itself and it must exist due to reaction to a good and that just like in Leibniz’s existence of a “perfect world and in Descartes “I” exists, good does exist the same way (King). Aquinas privation theory, according to King, speaks concerning the existence of real things and a representation of King’s support on Aquinas is reflected in “…God is the creator of everything, Evil is not a thing, but instead a privation, and thus, God is not necessarily the creator of evil (King, 62). Aquinas support of his privation theory is once more explained as something which exists in itself.
In summation, Descartes, Leibniz and Aquinas themes recur in the existence of that, which is unknown. This is reflected in Descartes ability in holding himself as a thinking individual, in Aquinas case that the existence of good are irrefutable points through which their belief in God and absence of evil inherent in the exposure of God and through Leibniz’s case of a perfect world. The evil’s problems set forth the practical and philosophical challenge in understanding how a powerful and good God, if at all he exists, could allow his creatures to act the way they do. More importantly, the evil’s problem reveals the relevance of providing a sufficient foundation for the discovery of purpose and meaning in the presence of massive pain and tribulation (Murray, 2011).