Beginning, End, and Middle

In order to offer a case for the inductive problem of evil, we need to study the beginning of evil, as well as the end of evil, in order to live in the middle of evil. Or, in other words, we need to see how evil originated in the past and how it will be defeated in the future, in order to suffer victoriously in the present. If we were just considering an argument against an all-powerful and all-loving God, then evil might be good evidence. However, if we include all of the Christian doctrines about the fall, the cross, and the restoration of the world, we find that the Christian God becomes far more probable. Christian philosopher Richard Swinburne writes, “While evil may provide a good inductive argument against the existence of God (bare theism); it does not provide a good inductive argument against Christian theism (theism plus the central Christian doctrines incorporated in creeds).”[1]

To illustrate this, consider if you were trying to calculate the probability that Joe –a random college student –was a beer drinker. Well, given the fact that 90% of college students drink beer, you’d probably say that this was a 90% chance. However, what if I told you that Joe was currently enrolled at Brigham Young University, where 90% of the students do not drink alcohol? This background information would greatly change these percentages. In the same way, while an all-powerful and all-loving God might be unlikely in the presence of evil and suffering, these percentages change, when we consider several of the major doctrines of Christianity.

Let’s begin at the beginning…

[1] Swinburne, Richard. The Existence of God. 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon, 2004. 265.