Does the "problem of evil" show that an all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing god cannot exist?

Christian View

The Christian Perspective

The "problem of evil" generally goes something like this.


1. If God had all-power over our universe, he would have been able to prevent the wickedness of Adolf Hitler.

2. If God had all-knowledge of our universe, he would have known how to prevent the wickedness of Adolf Hitler.

3. If God were all-good, he would have wanted to prevent the wickedness of Adolf Hitler.

4. Adolf Hitler was wicked in our universe.

5. Therefore, God was either not able to prevent his wickedness, didn't know how to prevent his wickedness, or didn't want to prevent his wickedness.

6. Therefore, God either did not have all-power over our universe, he did not have all-knowledge of our universe, or he was not all-good.


The argument known as the "problem of evil," as phrased above, is a special pleading fallacy. The same logic ought to apply to all creators of universes that contain evil or wickedness, but it never does. No other universe creators are maligned for the existence of wickedness or evil in their created universes. Their power over the universe they created is never questioned. Their knowledge of the universe they created is never questioned. Their moral character is never questioned as a result of the evil in their created universe.

But God's is.

This makes the argument a special pleading fallacy, where the one particular circumstance is seen as an exception to the general rules without there being any justification for why it should be seen as an exception.

Let's look at some of the other creators of universes that I'm referring to and place them in the above argument to see how absurd the argument immediately becomes.


1. If C.S. Lewis had all-power over the Narnia universe, he would have been able to prevent the wickedness of the White Witch.

2. If C.S. Lewis had all-knowledge of the Narnia universe, he would have known how to prevent the wickedness of the White Witch.

3. If C.S. Lewis were all-good, he would have wanted to prevent the wickedness of the White Witch.

4. The White Witch was wicked in the Narnia universe.

5. Therefore, C.S. Lewis was either not able to prevent her wickedness, didn't know how to prevent her wickedness, or didn't want to prevent her wickedness.

6. Therefore, C.S. Lewis either did not have all-power over the Narnia universe, he did not have all-knowledge of the Narnia universe, or he was not all-good.


Or, another example...


1. If Mark Twain had all-power over Tom Sawyer's universe, he would have been able to prevent the wickedness of Injun Joe.

2. If Mark Twain had all-knowledge of Tom Sawyer's universe, he would have known how to prevent the wickedness of Injun Joe.

3. If Mark Twain were all-good, he would have wanted to prevent the wickedness of Injun Joe.

4. Injun Joe was wicked in Tom Sawyer's universe.

5. Therefore, Mark Twain was either not able to prevent his wickedness, didn't know how to prevent his wickedness, or didn't want to prevent his wickedness.

6. Therefore, Mark Twain either did not have all-power over Tom Sawyer's universe, he did not have all-knowledge of Tom Sawyer's universe, or he was not all-good.


No one in their right mind would argue that Mark Twain couldn't have stopped Injun Joe's wicked deeds because he wasn't powerful enough to do so. No one in their right mind would argue that Mark Twain didn't know how to stop Injun Joe's wicked deeds because he wasn't intelligent enough to do so. And finally, no one in their right mind would argue that Mark Twain is somehow less moral or less good because Injun Joe did wicked things.

The same is true for C.S. Lewis, along with with the creators of the Marvel universe, the D.C. universe, and the Star Wars universe.

So, if creators of universes aren't condemned for the evil events in the universes they create, why do people insist that the creator of our universe should be? The argument, it seems to me, is simply an illogical, special pleading fallacy.

My response here to the "problem of evil" is known as the Palpatine Theodicy.

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Atheist View

The Atheist Perspective

Yes. This is not to categorically rule out the existence of a god, however.

But the only way that an all-powerful all-good and all-knowing deity can exist, allow both intentional and unintentional suffering AND be logical would be to:

A) Concede that the idea of an all-powerful God is illogical.

B) Redefine suffering as good.

But this goes against Humanist principles for two reasons:

A) Humanism is about the use reason as a tool for gaining knowledge and understanding.

B) Humanism is about REDUCING suffering. One of the ways Humansists measure the morality of an action/decision is by considering the amount of suffering that action/decision is likely to inflict without any benefit or recourse for the victim: if an action or decision is likely to cause suffering and there is no recourse or resitution for the victim/s, then that action/decision is immoral.

So in brief, the only way a deity could satisfy the "3 omni's" argument is by either redefining good to incorporate suffering, or to be illogical.

And if a deity is neither rational nor good, it doesn't deserve a moment of your attention.

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