Christian Apologetics - Lesson 6

The Problem of Evil

If God is good and all powerful, then why does evil exist?

Ronald Nash
Christian Apologetics
Lesson 6
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The Problem of Evil

The Problem of Evil

Part 1

I.  Introduction - "Painful Preliminaries"


II.  Three Problems

A.  The Deductive Problem of Evil

1.  Argument: Logical contradiction in Christianity

2.  Response: Alvin Plantinga

3.  Faith & Reason, Chapter 13

B. The Inductive Problem of Evil

1.  Argument: Strong probability that God does not exist

2.  Faith & Reason, Chapter 14

C.  The Gratuitous Problem of Evil

1.  Definition: Evil that has no redeeming value.

2.  Examples

3.  Faith & Reason, Chapter 15


III.  Popular Presentation of the Problem of Evil

A.  Objectives

1.  Provide a good example of apologetics at work against the toughest intellectual challenge that the Christian faith has to face.

2.  Knock the problem of evil down to size. Reduce it to smaller, more manageable parts.

B.  Naturalists and the Problem of Goodness

C.  Problem exists because of the essential attributes of God.

1.  All powerful (Omnipotent)

2.  All knowing (Omniscient)

3.  All good (Omnibenevolent)

4.  Logical implications of beliefs

5.  The problem of evil must be reconciled with the attributes of God.

D.  Important Distinctions

1.  Theoretical Problem vs. Personal Problem

2.  Evil in General vs. Specific Instances

3.  Moral Evil vs. Natural Evil

All Lessons
  • Introduction to Apologetics.

  • Apologetics involves finding evidence and presenting arguments to defend the Christian faith.

  • Two prominent worldviews are Christian theism and naturalism.

  • The law of non-contradiction states that A cannot be B and non-B at the same time and in the same sense.

  • Explanations and responses to different worldviews.

  • If God is good and all powerful, then why does evil exist?

  • Discussion about how the existence of evil is consistent with God's character.

  • Your noetic structure, presuppositions and view of epistemology are important elements in the formation of your worldview.

  • Discussion of deductive presuppositionalism vs. inductive presuppositionalism.

  • Objections to inductive presuppositionalism.

  • Arguments for and against evidentialism.

  • Arguments for and against foundationalism.

  • Discussion of natural theology.

  • There are valid, sound and cogent arguments for the existence of God, but no coercive proofs.

  • Discussion of different arguments for God's existence.

  • One version of the cosmological argument for God's existence emphasizes God as first in time, another emphasizes God as first in importance.

  • A possible world is a way the real world could have been. Modal logic, propositions, state of affairs and eternal entities are some of the considerations when discussing a possible world.

  • Something is logically possible if its description does not include a logical contradiction. The existence of the laws of knowledge refute the system of naturalism.

  • Middle knowledge is a form of knowledge attributed to God by Molina.

  • Miracles are a dividing line and central to Christianity.

  • David Hume's rational arguments against miracles and responses to those arguments.

  • Two miracles central to Christianity are the incarnation and resurrection.

  • The question of whether or not Jesus is the only savior touches on pluralism, inclusivism and exclusivism.

  • Pluralism is the view that all religions have salvific value.

  • Inclusivism is the view that even though the work of Christ is the only means of salvation, it does not follow that explicit knowledge of Christ is necessary in order for a person to be saved.

  • Salvation is totally the work of God and all children who die in infancy are elect of God.

  • Discussion from a biblical perspective of God's character and attributes.

  • Open theists believe that God does not have a perfect knowledge of the future.

  • Divine omnipotence and divine omniscience are two attributes of God.

  • When contemplating life after death, remember, Jesus has been there and come back. Will you commit your life to him or reject him?

These lectures were given at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida during the fall of 2001.