Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Three Problems of Evil by Peter S. Williams

In this talk given at Highfield Church Cardiff, Christian philosopher Peter S. Williams explores three problems of evil. He looks at the logical, evidential, and emotional issues surrounding the challenge of evil. Check out Peter's podcast here, blog here and other featured audio here.

Full MP3 Audio here. (45 min)



Ex N1hilo said...

This is a good summary of some of the popular responses that Christian apologists give to the problem of evil.

However, it is rather painful to hear man's propensity to do evil refered as "freedom." Jesus refered to it as "slavery." Paul refered to those who love their evil deads as "dead in trespasses and sin."

How would these arguments sound if we replaced each instance of the word "freedom" with the word "slavery?" Or spoke of "free will" as "slave will?" I think these arguments would sound far less convincing, if we dared to present sin as the Word of God presents it.

pds said...

Why would anyone define "free will" as "slave will"? They are two different categories. "Freedom" is the ability to choose, "Slavery" is a metaphor used to describe the bondage of sin.

Free will is necessary for moral responsibility and "Slavery" is the abuse of free will. Without free will, it becomes difficult to protect God's moral character. He becomes the sufficient reason for all actions, good and evil, which I find troubling.

mmcelhaney said...

For sure an unrepentant sinner is enslaved to sin. Are they free - really free to choose other wise? Choices are being made but not the option to please God - otherwise Jesus would not have to come and die.

Ex N1hilo said...


I don't see anything in the bible that says men have a free will, in the sense of a moral neutrality, from which they ever do choose to do anything that is pleasing to God. That is, apart from His regenerating and sanctifying grace.

Genesis 6:5 tells us, "The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."

Some people respond that this is speaking only of those who lived before the flood. But, honestly, can we say we are any better than they? I agree that slavery to sin is the abuse of free will, but it is the legacy of the fall, when man turned from the freedom of fellowship with God to his own way. And apart from regeneration and union with Christ, it is our state as sons of Adam.



Davitor said...

If there wasn’t evil, how would you know what was good? Good only makes sense in contrast to evil. In the same way, having makes no sense except in terms of and in relation to not having. Life makes no sense except in terms of death. The same is true of happiness and unhappiness, pleasure and pain, health and illness, clarity and confusion, here and not here, light and dark, empty and full, and all the other Black and White pairs of opposites. They are all defined in terms of each other. And, they all go together. You can’t have one without the other any more than you can have a one-headed coin. In each case, you wouldn’t know that the White side even existed if it weren’t for the Black side, in the same way that you don’t feel your stomach unless it feels bad, or you don’t experience your eyes unless there are spots in front of them. Until the opposite comes into play, everything is invisible, unimaginable. Now it’s certainly possible in any given moment to have more of one side of the equation than the other, but you’re never going to get rid of the side you don’t want. It’s impossible, in the same way you can’t have buying without selling, or up without down. Just try and make everything in your house “up.” You can’t, because up and down go together. And, where one side ends and the other begins is totally arbitrary. Where does up end and down begin? Where does good end and evil begin? In reality, they are one thing, and any division is conceptual, or of mind,not real. In Buddhism they describe this by saying that all opposites arise together. When come to this realization then there is no problem of evil.

pds said...

Ex N1hilo,

IMO Free will isn't complete freedom from our nature and characteristics, it is the ability to respond to God's grace or not. I do agree with you: there needs to be mention of regeneration and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to enable believers to make these choices, because we are helpless unless we are responding to grace.

6:5 is surely hyperbolic?

pds said...


How do you know this? Is it an internal realization or revelation from someone else?

Davitor said...


If you don't want a solution then please continue to dwell in your problem of evil.
That's how I know it's not someone else.

pds said...

How do you know that your solution is true?

Davitor said...

Just as I'm assured God will remind you tonight while you sleep.

pds said...

Well God didn't remind me last night! However, my conscience, and the through it the Holy Spirit, reminds me to fight against injustice. So we return to my original question: how do we know that your solution is true?

Davitor said...

Must I speak in parables for you to understand?

pds ! Was this injustice of any concern to you while you slept?

Now please, you must answer this question with all honesty in your heart, for if you don't we cannot continue.

For just as Pilot asked Yeshua my teacher "is that the truth "? I must remain silent ... for I do not take of fruit of this tree.

pds said...

What injustice? Jesus spoke clearly to those that followed him, and in parables to everyone else. Your really grasping at straws here.

I'll repeat my question again! How do we know that your solution is true? Surely there is some form of evidence we can look at and have a rational discussion.

Davitor said...

Peace be with you.

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