John Mackie:Evil And Omnipotence

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In the essay, "Evil and Omnipotence  John L. Mackie states the problem of evil, as a contradiction between the propositions "God is omnipotent; God is wholly good; and yet evil exists  (p.160). This contradiction is made apparent as Mackie explains that if any two of the propositions are held to be true, the third is always false. As all three propositions appear essential from a theistic perspective, it seems that God's omnipotence and complete goodness are being decisively argued against. In this paper, I hope to explore in more detail, Mackie's claim that a good omnipotent being cannot exist alongside evil.

Mackie opens his writing by stating a few rules. Mackie states that one must "be prepared to believe, not merely what cannot be proved, but what can be disproved from other beliefs that he also holds  (pg. 160). This is an important consideration from Mackie, which he uses to preface his following arguments. Mackie next outlines the

problem of evil and how it applies to the reader. "The problem of evil, in the

sense in which I shall be using the phrase, is a problem only for someone who

believes that there is a God who is both omnipotent and wholly good. And it is

a logical problem, the problem of clarifying and reconciling a number of

beliefs  (p. 160). Mackie uses this statement to let the reader know his

problem will only apply to those who believe in the existence of an all-good and

all-knowing God. Mackie states the problem of evil in what he calls its

˜simplest form.' "In its simplest form the problem is this: God is omnipotent;

God is wholly good; and yet evil exists. There seems to be some contradiction

between these three propositions, so that if any two of them were true the third

would be false (p.160). While further examining the topic, Mackie states that,... Continue Reading