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Moral Evil


Submitted By sloc713
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What exactly is the “problem of evil”? What is the difference between so-called “moral evil” and so-called “natural evil”? How does John Hick, in his essay “Problem of Evil”, set about solving the problem of both “moral evil” and “natural evil”? Do you think that either, or perhaps both, of Hick’s solutions is really able to solve what appears to be an unique problem of evil which the astrophysicist priest has to deal with in Arthur C. Clarke’s story, “The Star”?

In John Hick’s essay, Problem of Evil, and Arthur Clark’s short story, The Star, the reader is lead to think about the evils that are prominent in this world, and the reality of God in association and contrast with that evil. The writings are deeply philosophical and require the reader to think beyond surface level thought. This paper will discuss the problem of evil and moral evil versus natural evil, as described in John Hick’s essay, and the solutions that he presents and their ability to solve the problem that Clarke outlines in The Star.

Problem of Evil
The “problem of evil” that will be discussed in this paper refers to a common debate in the philosophical world of thought. Hick presents the problem in very basic terms:
The problem of Evil has traditionally been posed in the form of a dilemma: if God is perfectly loving, He must wish to abolish evil; and if He is all-powerful, He must be able to abolish evil. But evil exists; therefore God cannot be both omnipotent and perfectly loving. (Thought Probes, 65)
The way Hick describes the problem of evil is a simple as possible: if God is all loving and powerful, then He would not want evil in the world and must have the ability to remove it from human nature. The conclusion of this argument assumes that the former premises are true, and therefore assumes that the traditional form of God is not possible- that being a God who is omnipotent, omniscient and all loving. The text references to the types of evils play a large part in the problem that has defined evil.

Moral Evil
In the text, Hick refers to the variance between “moral” evil and “natural” evil. As he discusses moral evil, he speaks of it in relation to human freedom and responsibility. It involves the ability that a human being possesses in being “free to act wrongly as well as to act rightly” (TP, 65). In saying this, Hick is presenting the idea that human beings have the capability to think and act in accordance with their own thoughts and nature. He is also stating that it is the responsibility of acting right or wrong is the choice of any single being. Hick goes on to emphasize how sin and humans are interconnected quite deeply. He says, “The possibility of sin is inseparable from the creation of a finite being, and to say that God should not have created beings who have the capacity to sin, is to say that He should not have created people” (TP, 65). Hick recognizes that it is irrational to suggest that finite beings should not have been created because of the possibility of evil that accompanies them. Each being has the capacity to sin and that in and of itself is not reason enough to permit the thought that beings are disposable or needless. [Add transition sentence]

Natural Evil
In comparison, when Hick discusses “natural” evil, he in speaking in a much broader sense. Natural evil refers to natural occurrences in the world- occurrences that are not dependent on human interaction. Hick believes natural evil as necessary for this world:
… [Our present world] must operate according to general and dependable laws; and it must involve real dangers, difficulties, problems, obstacles, and possibilities of pain, failure, sorrow, frustration, and defeat. If it did not contain the particular trials and perils which- subtracting man’s own very considerable contribution- our world contains, it would have to contain others instead. (TP, 69)
This type of evil described in relation to natural evil is in reference to events that are not in control of finite beings. These are events that are necessary in this world because there is no life without difficulty. If these problems were absent, other problems would take their places, which could be a moral evil to a greater degree.

The Star:
- “The tragedy was unique. It was one thing for a race to fail and die, as nations and cultures have done on Earth. But to be destroyed so completely in the full flower of its achievement, leaving no survivors- how could that be reconciled with the mercy of God?” (The Star, 63)
- “God has no need to justify His actions to man. He who built the universe can destroy it when He chooses. It is arrogance- it is perilously near blasphemy- for us to say what He may or may not do.” (The Star, 63)


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