0.1 Mackie argues that the problem of evil proves that either no god exists, or at least that the god of Orthodox Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, does not exist. His argument is roughly the same version of the problem of evil that we’ve been considering.
0.2 Mackie thinks that one can avoid the conclusion that God does not exist only if one admits that either God is not omnipotent (i.e., not all-powerful), or that God is not perfectly good.0.3 However, he thinks that hardly anyone will be willing to take this route. For doing so leaves one with a conception of a god that isn’t worthy of worship, and therefore not religiously significant.
0.4 After his brief discussion of his version of the problem of evil, he considers most of the main responses to the problem of evil, and concludes that none of them work.
1. First Response and Mackie's Reply
1.1 Response: Good can’t exist without evil; evil is a necessary counterpart to good.
1.2 Mackie’s reply:
1.2.1 this seems ridiculous: clearly, goodness can exist without evil.
1.2.2 but even if it can’t, this response only works if there is just enough evil, and not one bit more, for goodness to exist. But there only needs to be a tiny amount of evil for this to be so. But there is a lot more evil than is required for goodness to exist.
2. Second Response and Mackie's Reply:
2.1 Response: The existence of evil is the only possible way to get certain important goods.
2.2 Mackie’s reply:
2.2.1unless it’s logically impossible for god to get these goods without evil, it follows that god isn’t omnipotent.
2.2.2 But it certainly seems possible to get any important good without the existence of evil.
3. Third Response and Mackie's Reply
3.1 Response: On balance, the universe is better with some evil in it than it would’ve been without it.
3.1.1 two interpretations of this response:
184.108.40.206 the “aesthetic analogy” interpretation:
220.127.116.11 notice that some bits of a painting or song are sometimes ugly by themselves.
18.104.22.168 however, they contribute to the beauty of the painting or song when placed within them.
Now the history of the world is like a painting or song, in the sense that certain things in it appear – or maybe even are – evil in themselves.
22.214.171.124 however, these things contribute to the beauty and goodness of the history of the universe when placed within them.
3.1.2 the “progress” interpretation:
126.96.36.199 a world in which evil exists, but is steadily overcome and defeated through moral progress, is superior to any world in which evil never exists, and only goodness exists.
188.8.131.52 examples of goods that can only be gotten if evil exists: “sympathy, benevolence, heroism, and the gradually successful struggle of doctors and reformers to overcome these evils.” (p. 268)
3.2 Mackie’s reply:
3.2.1 this response only works for evils like pain and disease – not for other sorts of evil.
3.2.2 true, pain and disease may well be necessary for goods such as, e.g., patience, sympathy, courage, etc.
3.2.3 ut there are many evils that aren’t required in order to get these important goods (e.g., cowardice, wickedness, etc.).
3.2.4 But if so, then this reply is useless as an answer to these sorts of evils.
4: Fourth Response and Mackie's Reply
4.1 Response: Evil is due to a misuse of human freedom.
4.1.1 free will is a great good: it is better for god to create a world with free creatures than a world full of creatures that aren’t free, but obey god and do what is right out of necessity
this is so even if these free creatures frequently misuse their free will and do much evil
4.1.2 and when free creatures do evil, it isn’t god’s fault; rather, only the free creatures who commit the evil are to blame
4.2 Mackie’s response:
4.2.1 if it’s possible for people to freely choose to do what is right on one occasion, then it’s possible for them to freely choose to do what is right on every occasion.
4.2.2 so why didn’t god make this possibility a reality – i.e., why didn’t god create a world with just people who freely do only what is good?
4.2.3 to say that he can’t is to say that there is a possible state of affairs that god can’t bring about.
4.2.4 but of course this is equivalent to saying that god is not omnipotent!
4.2.5 so, this answer to the problem of evil only works if you admit that god isn’t omnipotent, and thus reject all Orthodox conceptions of god.