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The problem of evil claims that it is unbelievable, if an omnipotent and good God exists, that he would permit so much pain and suffering in the world. The famous philosopher David Hume in his ‘Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion’ aptly puts it, “Epicurus’s old questions are yet unanswered. Is he 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?”
The problem of evil is without a doubt one of the key intellectual obstacles that a Muslim or theist has to overcome in order to be convinced that God exists (or convince others for that matter). There are two versions of the problem of evil, the internal problem of evil and the external problem of evil.
The internal problem of evil is presented as an argument whose premises the Muslim is committed to due to his belief in Islam. The external problem of evil is presented as an argument whose premises the Muslim is not committed to but can have good reasons to believe the premises to be true.
The Internal Problem of Evil
The internal problem of evil presents its premises as follows:
1. A good God that is omnipotent exist
2. Evil exists
3. Therefore a good God that is omnipotent doesn’t exist
H. J. McCloskey in his article ‘God and Evil’ summarises the problem well, “Evil is a problem for the theist in that a contradiction is involved in the fact of evil, on the one hand, and the belief in the omnipotence and perfection of God on the other.”
Responding to the Internal Problem of Evil
The first point that needs to be made is that statements (1) and (2) are not logically inconsistent as there is no apparent contradiction. For the atheist to jump to the conclusion that a good God that is omnipotent doesn’t exist is an unwarranted, unless he has assumed, in the words of Philosopher William Craig, “some hidden premises”.
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