Leibniz and the problem of evil

The origin of evil, the virulence of evil, and the criterion of evil. A huge variety of ways to address these issues have been suggested by people from different walks of life.

Leibniz and the problem of evil

Consideration of any present-day introductory textbook of philosophy reveals that the problem of evil in contemporary philosophy is standardly regarded as an argument for atheism.

The atheist contends that God and evil are incompatible, and given that evil clearly exists, God cannot exist. Some philosophers, conceding that the claimed incompatibility in the foregoing argument is too strong, contend, nevertheless, that even if the existence of God and the existence of evil should prove to be compatible, the existence or duration, or amount, or pervasiveness of evil provides us at the very least with compelling circumstantial evidence that God does not exist.

In particular, it invites the theist to explain how a being that is omniscient, omnibenevolent, and omnipotent can allow evil to exist.

Leibniz and the problem of evil

Since these figures believed that the arguments of natural theology demonstrated the existence of God, the problem that evil presented for them was different from that engaged by present-day philosophers. These philosophers believed that God is the author of everything that exists, and given that evil is one of the things that exists, it might seem that God is therefore the author of evil.

Thus, God cannot be morally pure nor holy. First, God is regarded as the creative cause of everything in the cosmos. Everything that exists contingently is brought into existence by means of the creative activity of God. Second, it is held that God is the conserving cause of everything that exists.

Third, every action caused by a created being requires direct divine activity as concurrent cause. So every whack of a hammer, every strike of my fingertip on the keyboard, every tug of a magnet on a piece of iron, requires not only that the created being act, but also that the creator act concurrently with the created being in order to bring about the particular effect of the cause in question.

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In light of the intimate connections between God and the created world, the problem is not just that God created a world that happens to include evil, but that God seems to be causally and thus morally implicated in, for example, every particular act of murder, every earthquake, and every death caused by plague.

Consequently, responses to the holiness problem sought to explain not only how God could remain holy despite having created a world such as ours, but also how he could remain holy despite conserving the world in existence and causally cooperating with all the events that occur in it.

In light of the fact that Leibniz lived in between these two eras, eras in which evil was taken to present different problems for the monotheistic philosopher, we are immediately led to wonder what sort of problem he sought to address.

Leibniz expends a great deal of effort attempting to solve the holiness problem, but he also takes up something akin to the atheistic problem. It would be anachronistic, however, to claim that Leibniz was engaged with the atheistic problem, for in his time the existence of evil was taken to be an argument for an unorthodox form of theism rather than an argument for atheism.

The Socinians therefore held that God must not be omniscient, and that he must at the very least lack knowledge of future contingent events. More details on Socinianism can be found in Jolley, c. Atheists take this conclusion to prove that there is no God; the Socinians take it to show that God is not the sort of being that the traditional theist supposes him to be.

Although Leibniz is concerned about the underachiever problem, it is the Socinian, and not the atheistic, version of the problem that he engages. The winds of atheism had not reached the gale force proportions that they would in succeeding centuries.Biography Early life. Gottfried Leibniz was born on 1 July , toward the end of the Thirty Years' War, in Leipzig, Saxony, to Friedrich Leibniz and Catharina Schmuck.

Friedrich noted in his family journal: Juny am Sontag Ist mein Sohn Gottfried Wilhelm, post sextam vespertinam 1/4 uff 7 uhr abents zur welt gebohren, im Wassermann.

Theodicy: Essays on the Goodness of God the Freedom of Man and the Origin of Evil [Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Austin Farrer, E. M. Huggard] on leslutinsduphoenix.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.

The Theodicy tries to justify the apparent imperfections of the world by claiming that it is optimal among all possible worlds. It must be the best possible and most balanced world.

The claim that the actual world is the best of all possible worlds is the central argument in Leibniz's theodicy, or his attempt to solve the problem of evil Contents 1 Problem of evil. Gottfried Leibniz () On The Problem of Evil This is the Best of all Possible Worlds The Leibnizian Response to Eight Objections to Traditional Theism Objection 1 - Theism is false because the existence of evil demonstrates that God lacks either power, knowledge or goodness.

In a large sense, described as the sum of the opposition, which experience shows to exist in the universe, to the desires and needs of individuals; whence arises, among human beings at least, the sufferings in which life abounds.

Does "Goodness" exist? We find this a much more tractable problem than whether God exists. And identifying objective goodness or value will uncover the nature of some things often attributed to a God.

CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Evil