What kind of problem is the Problem of Evil for a non-believer? Word Count: 2,430
Believer or non-believer, we all appear to suffer from the problem of evil. Perhaps in the highly economically and technologically developed countries we live in now we are faced, on a day to day basis, with far less evil, than those 90 years ago on their way to fight in WW1. But there is always a presence of evil. Although it may not be first degree, we see it in the news on a daily basis. Natural, Moral and Metaphysical evil will affect all of us in our lifetime, whether it be a natural disaster, violence or are eventual death, these three different types of evils will be discussed in further detail later in the essay. The problem of evil only seems to affect believers, because it questions the existence of God. Atheists do not believe in God so the problem of evil should not be a concern. The purpose of this essay is to discover if there really is a problem of evil for atheists and what kind of problem that is. Firstly this essay will look at trying to describe evil from both a believers and non-believers point of view, then it will look at believers and how the problem of evil for them may be less of a problem than for the non-believer. Then the essay will look at how a non-believer without the guidance of laws commanded by a higher power, can have a sensible moral compass and lastly the essay will explore whether or not we can even know what evil is, making the problem of evil insignificant for the non-believer.
What Is Evil For A Non-Believer?
Firstly the definition of a non-believer is someone who denies the existence of God, they will also be referred to as atheists. It is very hard to deny that evil exists when there is so much in our world. If a non-believer lives in a godless world, how do they explain evil? The answer for many is it’s a human problem. Hobbes believed that humans were in essence selfish creatures who would do anything to better their own position.i Left to themselves, he thought people would “act on their evil impulses.”ii According to Hobbes, people therefore should not be trusted to make decisions on their own. Hobbes theory on evil impulses brings to light an important question. Does religion stop us being left to ourselves and does it suppress our evil impulses? This will be discussed later in the essay. But at the same time, while Hobbes says that we are selfish, because we are selfish we also carry out kind acts for others, so that we appear to do good in front of others. Evil for many is a human construction, evil is present in the world because at heart we our selfish, self-preserving creatures. John Cassian in his eight principle faults states greed as the root evil, as human beings we find it very difficult to say enough is enough, and we always compare ourselves with others.iii Greed is where most wars stem from, the acquisition of more land, the belief that your religion is right among all others, the knowledge that someone has more than you. The root of all evil is from us, from our ability to feel greed. An example of how evil is a human construction is that it changes. One example is slavery, which is recognized by most today as an evil act. Slavery in America lasted for the better part of 300 years, but nobody questioned it during this time. Instead of asking the question, should slavery be abolished, many asked how should slaves be kept, with no regard for their well-being. Even “Thomas Jefferson who proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that all men are equal,” owned slaves.iv Today we all see what is wrong with slavery, but who is to say that what we see as to be right in our modern age, may be deemed an evil act in 150 years time? Our perception of evil is ever changing and the difference between what is evil and what is not can very fine. Evil is subjective, what may be evil for one person, may just be a way of life for another. We created the definition of evil and so therefore...
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