‘Is it just the case that God isn’t able to deal with evil?’
Eugene Borowitz, Jewish lecturer, theologian and historian has concluded that ‘Any God who could permit the Holocaust, who could remain silent during it, who could hide his face whilst it dragged on … was [and is] not worth believing in.’
But is this position justtified. For one, it raises questions about our understanding of what it means for God to be ‘perfectly good’ and ‘perfectly powerful’ because implicit in Borowitz’s statement are two things: either God wishes to take away evil and is unable to do so which means the Divine is not omnipotent OR God is able to do away with evil but unwilling – which means God is not really good after all.
This line of reasoning was also developed by the 18th century philosopher and historian David Hume, who outlined it this way by asking:
Is God willing to prevent evil but not able to? =>Then he is impotent.
Is God able but not willing? =>Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? =>Then where does evil come from?
It is this question about the origin of evil that has perplexed many people over the centuries. Yet the best explanation of how evil comes to exist independently of God and the world is advanced by Augustine of Hippo who we will consider next…