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HomeHeadlineExploring the Divine Puzzle: God, Evil, and the Test of Faith

Exploring the Divine Puzzle: God, Evil, and the Test of Faith

I read the comments under my first article published last week. I thank everyone who wrote, read, and contributed to those comments. I thought about this; I’ll also publish this article and maybe take a week’s break from the series I said would continue as 3-4 articles, sharing my thoughts about the comments in a written article. Now, I continue where I left off.

Last time I wrote: It is possible to evaluate the explanations provided for the problem of evil, both philosophically and theologically, in four separate categories:

  1. Severing the relationship between God and existence.
  2. Using it as evidence of God’s non-existence.
  3. Resolving it in harmony with God’s attribute of perfection.
  4. Bringing different approaches to the explanation of God’s attributes.

Let’s briefly consider each one:

1- Severing the relationship between God and existence

According to ancient Greek philosophers like Epicurus, who lived between 341-270 BC, and his group of philosophers, this world was not created by God, nor is there any need for it. Therefore, there is no point in discussing the relationship between God and evil.

2- Using it as evidence of God’s non-existence

According to the Scottish philosopher David Hume, who lived from May 7, 1711, to August 25, 1776, God is absolutely good and omnipotent. Therefore, evil should not exist. However, prevailing doctrine and the realities we experience undeniably affirm the existence of evil, even though God is good. This suggests that God does not have the power to eradicate evil. If you say ‘God is absolutely powerful’ and cannot deny the existence of evil, you must conclude that God is not an absolutely good being who wills evil.

3- Resolving it in harmony with God’s attribute of perfection

According to thoughts voiced by philosophers such as Plato, St. Augustine, and Islamic philosophers like Avicenna and Al-Ghazali, absolute evil does not exist. The actions of the best are also good. He intends good even from things that outwardly appear evil. Because the existence of evil does not mean the absence of good.

God explicitly states in holy scriptures that He does not will evil. This shows that evil is not intended. Moreover, it does not mean “He could have done better!” The best is this. There are wisdoms hidden in the existence of evil that we do not know. Consider the existence of fire. We can use fire to warm ourselves in a stove, or to start a malicious fire. A person whose house is burned down either by malicious intent or by accident cannot say “Fire is evil.” Fire is inherently good; it is the purpose of the user that makes it evil.

Here, the question “Why does God not intervene with people who use fire for evil purposes?” might be asked. If that were the case, then the existence of free will, this world as a testing ground, and heaven and hell would lose their meaning. From this perspective, it is not incorrect to say that the existence of evil is necessary for humans to truly be free. Otherwise, humans would become robots, like angels, only capable of doing good as programmed.

4- Bringing different approaches to the explanation of God’s attributes

This fourth point generally originates from theologians discussing freedom, action, and will, as analyzed from the second point inspired by David Hume. According to this theory, God is absolutely powerful and has will, but He has limited His power in favor of human freedom. He does not force humans to do anything to the extent that it would interfere with their freedom. Indeed, this non-coercion is the fundamental basis of the freedom granted to humans.

I will continue…

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Dr. Ahmet Kurucan is a an author and scholar focusing on Islamic Studies and Law.

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