Mackie's Argument Analysis

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When one examines religion, one often finds a glaring contradiction between the existence an all knowing, all powerful, all loving God, and evil. This is known as the problem of evil, and it has perplexed theists and atheists for centuries. One 20th century philosopher, J.L Mackie, used a formulation of the problem of evil in an attempt to disprove the existence of God. Over the course of his career, he sought to prove that God could not exist alongside evil. While Mackie’s argument is valid, it is not sound. Mackie’s formulation fails to disprove the existence of God, because Mackie does not consider God’s motives to act, or not to act. Mackie begins his argument, first, by stating that philosophy is able to altogether disprove the existence …show more content…
However, while Mackie’s argument is valid, it is not sound. Ultimately, it fails in proving that God does not exist. The primary fault with Mackie’s argument lies in premise 5, which states that “An omniscient, perfectly good, and omnipotent God must eliminate all evil.” The fault lies within the word must. Why must God eliminate all evil? Mackie, in this argument, fails to consider the motives behind God’s actions. God, being a rational being, may or may not have reasons for acting in a particular manner, and therefore, may have reasons not to eliminate evil. It is fully possible that God has reasons not to act. If the word “must” is changed to the word “want”, the premises before premise 5 are still satisfied, and God’s existence is not disproven. Premise 5 then becomes, “An omniscient, perfectly good, and omnipotent God wants to eliminate all evil.” This premise allows for the existence of a being which satisfies the conditions given in premise 1, “there is a being who is omniscient, perfectly good, and omnipotent,” and also satisfies premise 7, “There is Evil.” God may want to remove evil from this world, but for reasons that humanity is unaware of, does not. To understand this, one might consider the actions of a parent. Parents often find themselves in situations in which their intervention would spare their child of evil or some badness, however, intervention does not always occur. Why? If they had the opportunity to save their child from harm, and presumably wanted to save their child from harm, why didn't they?

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