Sean Stevenson Philosophy 110 Extra Credit Paper On J.L.

Mackie’s Evil and Omnipotence The famous philosophical issue of evil existing within the theistic universe has puzzled many in the areas of free will, moral absolutes, and comparative relativity. Mackie, in Evil and Omnipotence tries to make a complete case as to why he sees a belief in an omnipotent God as irrational. Mackie points out that the usual cases that are made by theists are those that don’t truly do away with the problem of evil. Mackie also goes further by pointing out that there are many fallacious viewpoints which try to push the theist argument further. However, Mackie believes that these fallacies deny claims while making claims for the inherent omnipotence of God. Mackie makes plain and simple the issues of omnipotence known, showing that, while it is possible that a solution exists that reconciles God, free will, and good and evil, that many theistic claims do not truly escape the problem that consistently rears its ugly head: “How can an all-powerful God allow evil to exist in a universe that He/She/It controls?”

Firstly, Mackie takes the theistic arguments and splits them into solutions that are adequate to solving the solution of evil – those which would go by reason of limiting God’s omnipotence or denying God’s omnipotence all together. Mackie then rigorously attacks the fallacious solutions to evil – those which seem to deny the omnipotence of God, while in other arguments actually argue for the omnipotence which was denied before.

subject to paradox. and yet may strengthen its argument for omnipotence in other ways. . faulty logic. What I tend to notice about a large portion of the article takes issue with what omnipotence actually is. What are these great-making capabilities of God. or at least suggest that God’s powers are limited. 80). The problem is. Theists will then find the issue of evil prominent if they continue to assert God’s omnipotence. as shown in the fallacious solutions. if there are any. he sums up what makes the adequate superior to the fallacious solutions and assumptions. So Mackie then believes that the best solution would be to deny the omnipotence of God. including the limitations of omnipotence. based upon what has been properly defined as omnipotence. as well as a weakened postulation left to be reevaluated. according to Mackie. That is to say that these solutions probably are similar to those who deny omnipotence. These arguments may be quite similar to the fallacious solutions if they do not truly redefine omnipotence or deny or limit the powers of God in some consistent manner. that these solutions “are only almost adopted” (Abel. and that this definition works within their own philosophies. and do they have limits? Theists will not have an issue with evil if they find that God is not all-powerful.Within Mackie’s look of the adequate solutions to the problem of evil in a theistic universe. A large error within the argument of the theist would be the simplicity in which ascribing omnipotence (and other “great-making factors) to God creates a dubious argument. p.

According to the fallacious solutions section of Mackie’s article are the arguments used to refute the main claims of evil that fall in line with omnipotence. that “evil is due to human free will” (p 85). I’ll assume here that Mackie used these specific claims to show the faulty reasoning and structure of the omnipotence in relation to good and evil in a theistic universe. Mackie shows how an ambivalent definition of “omnipotence” can be an unrelenting torment of evil continuing to rear its ugly head. the universe is better off with a small amount of evil compared to none. With the first three arguments. Mackie states that the differing degrees of morality (first. and finally. while at the same time. Here. Simply by revealing the ambiguity of definition of good and evil on a moral scale. Mackie uses an ordered system of good and evil. Mackie attacks four specific claims that he finds fallacious: “good cannot exist without evil” (p. the one dealing with human free will causing evil is a very damaging one to the theists’ claims of God having omnipotence. If such an existence is possible. The last of the four claims. in which the next level of good is contradicted by that level’s evil equivalent. Mackie brings up the possibility of humans possessing free will. What evil and good are necessarily opposites or complimentary values? Can they be said to be equivalent? These are part of Mackie’s questions about the claims. In explaining his refutation to the third claim. second causes good and evil) can be said to fall into an infinite regress. 81). then why would there be a God . freely choosing actions that are good. evil is used to justify good. from simple pain and pleasure up to that of benevolence and cruelty.

86) takes the issue of evil to an area almost impossible to refute. if God is not omnipotent. including omnipotence: what good and evil actually are. then we have asserted that God is not omnipotent at all. If this is possible. in which he questions God’s omnipotence. . thereby existing as beings God truly cannot control? What Mackie calls the “paradox of omnipotence” (p. Mackie surely takes an ardent stance on theistic philosophies on the problems of evil. it can be questioned whether God has the ability to hinder His/Her/Its powers. or either redefine omnipotence in a way that will be noncontradictory and consistent with a position that would place God in a universe where the existence of evil is justified. they better be sure that they deny God’s omnipotence.that would create the possibility that human beings can freely choose evil over good. On the other hand. If any theist asserts that he can reconcile his/her philosophies with that of Mackie’s. then it means that God is not truly omnipotent. and throwing human free will into the equation. Mackie highly points to the issues that arise when talking about the nature of evil. The paradox states that if God is omnipotent.

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