THE EXISTENCE OF GOD AND THE PROBLEM OF EVIL A PHILOSOPHICAL EVALUATIO…
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The problem of the existence of God is as old as Man. it is a major issue that man either consciously or unconsciously raises in his mind. Philosophers are very concerned with this problem. The problem of the existence of God has almost become a part of every being and one who his beliefs will tagged an atheist which today connotes a black sheep of the family.
Man shares quite a number of characteristic with other living thing but the fact is that man still stands clear that he is very unique. Man has been endowed with certain qualities which other beings cannot boast of which is his rationality, that is the ability to reason, unlike plants and lower animals who, just respond to external stimulation involuntarily man is capable of deciding consciously which stimuli he ought to respond to and which he is to regard.
In the area of religion people are so firm in their minds that they assume that as with other matters of knowledge like technology, custom and ethics, that there must be away to prove the existence and nature of God. Other believe that it is in some ways unnecessary and even evil to seek rational justification for the existence of God, which they think should be accepted without any attempt to proof its existence.
They rationality of man has automatically made him responsible for whatever action after conscious evaluation of the fact that behind every action preformed by man, there is a motivating principle.1 It is equally important to know and understand the meaning and purposes of all that exist, despite the serious mystery in which things are strictly bound up. Philosopher can never be satisfied with anything less than good reason for % adopting a belief or any phenomenon at all.2 In matters of religion and in every other area, philosopher search for answers that can be justified by sound arguments.
The fact that everything in nature has got some meaning and can be understood to constitute certain meaning towards the realization of certain ends, and having equally grasped it to the extent that all other things as well as the lower forms of life are meant and designed for human purposes and convinces, the word it becomes some what comprehend the meaning purpose and the end for which human existence is meant.
God’s existence cannot be proved merely, by considering the word “GOD” as in the onto logical argument. God’s existence cannot be proved just by examining the concept what it is about nature that makes it manifest that it requires God as its original cause. Humans existence has been seen by some pessimist like a walking shadow full of found and fury signifying nothing.3 That is human existence count for nothing but emptiness and meaning lessness.
To other philosophers like St. Augustine, everything is created to fulfill a purpose. St. Augustine assertion is that God is a God of purpose who cannot create anything without a purpose. This is the greatest tragedy in life, it’s not death according to his believe but life without a reason, so nit dangerous to be alive and not know why one was given life.4 Since deepest and ultimate craving of the human existence is the search for a sense of significance and relevance to life, thus fundamental questions such as Who I am? Why am I here for, what am I here about? And so forth has continued to puzzle the minds of the deep-thinking men in philosophy. The fact meaning that God’s existence can only be proved by his part and purpose in nature as seen as in Thomas Aquinas argument for the existence of God.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
The purpose of this essay is to critically examine the argument for the existence of God in relation to the problem of evil. We shall also take a cursory look at st. Thomas Aguinas argument for the existence of God. In order to debunk the logical, evidential, skeptics and the theoretical determinism approach to the problem of evil.
The thesis of this essay is that the realities of evil call into question the phenomenal attributes of God as omnipotent, omniscience, and omnibenevolent. But beyond this our thesis affirm that all that exists did not just come into being but it is caused by some offer thing than itself.
Whatever caused the universe is and all mat exists is greater than the universe and all that exists itself. God is the only being greater than the universe, therefore God caused the universe and God exist.
Our method shall be historical, explanatory and analytical method.
SCOPE AND LIMITATION
The scope of this essay is restricted to the proofs on the existence of God and the existence of evil. With particular reference to Thomas Aquinas argument for the existence of God we shall critically and thoroughly examine the problem of evil in its various expressions.
In writing this essay we shall make use of relevant academic material (texts books, journal s articles) from the following universities: The library of Olabisi Onabanjo University.
University of Ibadan main library
The central library, Babcock University Ilisan Remo.
The central library, University of Lagos.
Information from worldwide website and some other educational centre.
Jeremy Bentham, An Introduction to the Principle of Moral and legislation (London Claredon press 1977) p. 45.
Dale Jacquette, Philosophical Entrees (Columbus: MCGraw Hill 2001) p. 379.
Akinyemi Onigbinde, What is Philosophy? (Ibadan: fronthine resource 1999) p. 2-7.
William Shakespeare, Macbeth (U.S.A: Destiny image 1992) p. 110.
Joseph Omoregbe, knowing Philosophy (Lagos: Joja Educational publisher 1990) p.16.
1.1 PHILOSOPHY AND ITS QUEST FOR KNOWLEDGE
Philosophy was created from man’s quest for knowledge.lt is a reasoned pursuit of fundamental truths, a quest for understanding, and a study of principles of conduct. Philosophy seeks to establish standard of evidence, to provide rational methods of resolving conflicts, and to create techniques for evaluating ideas and arguments. It gives one the ability to see the world from the perspective of other inch the perspective of other inch vandals (Plato, Aristotle, Thales, Anaximander, Socrates ect) and other groups and cultures. It enhances our ability to perceive the relationships among the various fields of study, and it deepens one’s sense of the meaning and varieties of human experience philosophy is an endless search for knowledge.
Philosophy is the only discipline that pursues question in every dimension of human life, and its technique apply to problem in any field of study or endeavor. Other disciplines like religion, psychology, sociology, law, machine, education and other fields of study hold philosophy very important.
Philosophy is the mother of all disciplines, it is very unique unlike other field. It has no universally acceptable definition, it is a unique berth in its methods, nature and its application.
However, the knowledge of man’s existence is not as tasking as that of God but yet, its serves as the topmost miracles in the world. This factual injunction is supported in one of completion’s statement that miracles in the world are many and that there is no greater miracles than man1. The search for the true nature of man has generated a lot of philosophical discussion, conflicting views and hypothesis.
1.2 CONCEPTIONS OF GOD
Xenophanes was the Greek pre-Socratic philosopher who woke the metaphysicians and Theologian from their dogmatic slumber, when he criticize the anthropomorphism of God, even since then, there has been an attempt to understand the nature of God.
Various religions thinkers have held that God is different from finite beings that he must be considered essentially a mystery beyond the power of human conception, the philosopher to the God of thoughts.
In Judaism, Christianity and Islam God is conceived primarily in term of transcendence, personality Hebrew Scriptures, in which God is presented as creator. In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth1. This God is anthropomorphic. He has finite intelligent and has epistemic unit this is made manifest in his regret over the creation of man.
This God is tribalistic as secure in his astounding support for the Jewish race above any other reace. View of malinky keener. He writes:
The Hebrew understands of God is frankly authromorphics. He promised and threatened. He could be angry and Attributes were righteousness, justice, mercy truth and Faithfulness. He binds himself by covenant to his people And thus limit himself3
Suffice to note that the idea of God in the New Testament and that of the Old Testament varies. They are not exact synonyms. The God of the New Testament popularly called the Christian God is a universal God and all loving God that is essentially omniscience. In as much as this idea is subject to different interpretation, this God is cast in the form of trinity of God the son, God the father and God the Holy Spirit. Christians teach that God is almighty and is in dominion over all that is in heaven and earth, righteous in judgment over good and evil beyond time and space and change, but over all they teach that “God is love”4 . He is love personified. The creation of the world out of nothing and the creation of the human race were expression of that love and so was the coming of Christ5. This God is a miracle working God. He is invisible or incorporeal.
In Islam, God is seen as one, prefect, uncreated, eternal, omnipotent and creator of the most gracious, the most merciful, the only owner and the only ruling judge of the day of recompense6 monotheistic religions, the charge has often been made that the Christian notion of trinity in particular is at variance with the oneness of God in monotheism. God is seen as the cause and creator of everything, he knows everything and foreseen everything. He is an embouchement of justice. In the words of Gerald Hawting “this God is one, there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of God”7
In the African Traditional religion especially in the Yoruba socio-cultural Millie, the idea of God is different. God (olodumare) is more akin to the Old Testament. Yahweh in his requirement of honesty and uprightness. God is the creator, He creates both good and the evil. He is the most powerful being. His ways are in comprehensible. J.S MBITI assert the Yoruba consider God to be judge over all. J.A.I BEWAJI says this about Olodumare:
There is no doubt that God is the most powerful being Being and he has all the supernatural attribute one can Consider but the Yoruba does not think such a being Cannot do evil or cause evil. It is part of the attribute Of the supreme being to be able to utilize all things.8
In a similar vein E.B Idowu Maintains that:
He is the most powerful being the creator, the wise impartial judge who exercises inexorable control over the universe.
J.A.I. Bewaji is also of the opinion that:
The source of evil are God devised and help to maintain High moral standard the Christian God is ever merciful, Slow to anger but quick to forgive. In fact, he does not Desire the death of the sinners but that he repent and Be saved. Whereas the Yoruba Olodumare is morally Upright God who metes out justice here on earth and not necessarily in the hereafter where we are not sure anybody will witness and learn from it10.
The Nicholas and Cusha see God as an amalgam of good and evil. Process theologian like whitehead conceived and the world as sharing the same process and being dependent on each other for growth and development. God is also considered as dipolar, having one aspect of his being which is dependent of his world and another, which is completely immersed into the world process and suffers with it. A process of theology as implied he explains the exercise of evil and suffering by extending to every level of creation the freedom to respond or failure to respond to the persuasive law of God.
The conception of God from the process philosophy selves two major problems being faced by the Christian philosophers. These problems are; how can an immaterial being or spiritual be the source of matter? To this, the process philosophy explained by trying to remove the duality between God and matter, an integral part of the divine being. The second solution which the concept of God by the process philosophy solved is that of the problem of evil. To this school of thought, God just means that he is not the creator of evil.
Sigmund Freud conceive God as a product of illusion. God is an illusion devised to plug the 100pholes of security left by maturity above parental care. These various conceptions show that God is subject to different interpretation.
1.3 ARGUMENTS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.
Immanuel cant maintained that the existence of God cannot at all be demonstrated, yet neither can his existence be disproved. To kant, God was considered to be an objective issue, one that is irrefutably a matter of interpretation. He says that the idea of God grounds moral beliefs, therefore we can make the practical assumption that God exists to ensure the connection between virtue and happiness.
Frederick Nietzsche rejected belief in God as weak and unreliable. Philosophers like Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud tried to explain the personal motives of believes and their origins, pointing out that this is not enough to prove the existence of God. We have different argument for the existence of God propounded by different philosopher’s right from the time of Aristotle to Spinoza, and from one philosophical age to the other.
We also have the theistic concept of God. The theists see God to be unlimited with regard to knowledge that is omniscience. Power, he is regarded to be omnipotent, and omnipresent. God is also regarded to be sexless but he is been traditionally referred to with the masculine pronoun.
Augustine, Dunscotus, St. Thomas Aquinas sought to find more concrete and solid evidences for the existence of God. To Plato, God is transcendence; that is the highest and most perfect being, and on who uses eternal forms or archetypes, to fashion a universe that is eternal and uncreated. Different philosophers right from the early philosophic thoughts to the modern have tried in a lot of ways to give rational proofs to God’s existence. They have tried to explain god’s nature in the scheme of things. We shall discuss the following argument to prove the existence of God
1. cosmological Argument
2. Argument from Design
3. Ontological Argument
1.Cosmological Argument: This argument is usually associated with Thomas Aquinas, he argues that the things which we see around us now are the products of a series of previous causes. Thus, there must be some first cause which was not itself caused by anything else. And that first uncaused caused by God. It could be referred to as the causal argument or first causes. The argument in its simplest from states that:
All that exists is caused by something other than Itself, and the universe exists. So the universe is caused by something other than itself, whatever caused the universe is greater than the universe So God caused the universe11.
There are also the experiential argument, in which people widen personal religions experiences of God argue in support of his existence we have argument by reason and moral MgvffiaerA.
2.Argument from Design: This argument states that animals, plants and planets show clear signs of being designed for specific ends, therefore there must have been a designer. The argument from designer can also be called the theological argument for the existence of God. Proponents claim that the design or order found in the universe provides evidence for the existence of an intelligent designer usually identified as God.
William parley here compared the complexity of living things to the inferior complexity of a watch that we know to be designed by an intelligent being. Just as a watch could not exist without a watchmaker. Parley argued that living things could not exist without an intelligent designer.
Since watches are the products of intelligent design, and living things are like watches in having complicated me chansons which serve a purpose, living things are probably the products of intelligent design as well.12
3.Ontological Argument: This argument is called an ontological argument because it points to the existence of God through the type of being. The perfect being conceivable, and anything that is the greatest or most perfect being is something that exists (otherwise it would lack something and fail to be the greatest or most perfect thing conceived ) so God exists because of the notion that God is a perfect being, that he is all knowing, all powerful, and all good. This argument states that everyone except the fool believes in his mind that there is a being greater and prefect, which is God. Therefore, for man to have been able to conceive the idea of a being greater than it, point to the fact that God exists in reality.
And certainly that man which nothing greater Than Can be conceived cannot exist merely in The understanding. For instance it exist merely In the understanding, then it can be conceived To exist in reality which is greater.13
St. Anselm was the proponent of this theory, he argues that for something to have been conceive in our understanding affirms existence in reality
1.4 ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.
Different philosophers at one point or the other have objected to various argument for the existence of God. These argument are given in form of an objection to the various arguments in support of God existence. The school thought or philosophers that argued against the existence of God can be regarded as atheist. We shall explain this from the perspective of pains and evil in the world.
1.PAIN: In the words of Frederic Nietzsche “God is dead”. Nietzsche’s state went here does not mean that God once existed and now is dead. He made this statement in order to make it clear or to stamp on the minds of the religions that with the presence of pain natural disasters, disharmony and anarchy present in the universe shows that there is nothing as the existence of God. Nietzsche’s maintains that:
All people with an ounce of intelligence would hove perceive that there is no Intelligent plan to the universe or rational Order unit: they would now understand Happen one way and not another and that the harmony and order we imagine to exists in the universe is merely pasted by the human mind.14
The argument proposes that because God allows pain, disease and natural disaster to exist he cannot be all powerful and also loving and good in the human sense of these words. Nietzsche sees religions people as pathetic governed by the view inculcated by religion, science and philosophy, a view that make s them feeble losers. They view the world as national law governed place and they stick to this slave mentality or morality that praises the man who serve his follows with meekness and self-sacrifice. He proposed an morality which is based on the development of a hard kind of human being. Such a being will accept life in all its face is, including pain and thus being will made living an art.
Blase Pascal comments that disharmony and pain in the universe is a major pointer to the non-existence of a divine being:
I would remain peacefully in faith. But seeing Too much to deny and too little to be sure, I am in a state to be pitied: wherefore J have a Hundred times wished that if God maintains Nature, he should testify to him unequivocally.15
The argument from injustices all state that God is partial in the allocation of destines if he ever did. The argument from multiplicity states that from the on conflicting reports of various religions about God, affirms that the only one or even none can be right about God.
Sigmund Freud is of the opinion that religion or belief in God is an exercise in mass decision and serves mainly to keep people in a state of psychological infantilism. Because of the pain and challenges in life. Man created in his mind the figure of an exalted father, who reassures like our own father did that all will soon come to an end. The fact remains that if he is as powerful as professed things ought to have been solved by now. Freud concludes that human beings would be happier if they retained a modicum of reality in the thinking and cultivated their own gardens.
Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy vol.1. (New York: image books 1960) p. 102.
The Holy Bible Genesis Chapter Ivsl
Malinky Kerner, God in Philosophical Analysis (New Delhi: Alhied publishes 1990) p. 54-57.
The Holy Bible, John chapter 3 vsl 6.
Ibid, John Chapter 3 vsl 4.
The Noble Quran, Surat Alfatihah Chapter Ivsl -5.
Gerald Hawting, Islam (London: Oxford university press 2002) p. 15
J.A.I.Bewaji, African Religions and Philosophy (London: Heinemann 1969) p. 36-38.
E.B.Idowu, Olodumare, God in Yoruba Belief (London: Longman 1962) p. 76.
J.A.I.Bewaji Ibid p.344.
Akinyemi Onigbinde, What is Philosophy? (Ibandan: front line Resource Limited 1999) p.49.
Dale Jacquette, Philosophical Entrees (Columbus: Mc Graw Hill 2001) p. 385-397.
Brooke Noel and Kenneth Bruder, Philosophy: The Power of Ideas (Columbus: Mc Graw Hill 2001) p. 342.
Brooke Noel and Kenneth Bruder, Philosophy: The Power of Ideas (Columbus: Me Graw Hill 2001) p. 363.
Dale Jacguette, Philosophical Entrees (Columbus: Mc Graw Hill 2001) p. 427