The Traditional Problem of Evil: Suffering and Evil Actions
This chapter discusses the traditional problem of evil: suffering and human wickedness. Central to most contemporary explanations of the existence of moral evil is the idea that God permits evils so that humans will have the opportunity to develop in morally and religiously appropriate ways; John Hick calls this process of character development 'soul-making'. The chapter focuses on the combination of natural evil and the free-will defense as the contemporary traditional Christian theist's explanation of evil. The guilty bystander objection is based on the assumption that God is a witness to all that occurs and that God has the power to act in the world at any time and to prevent any particular event or action. Hasker's argument has been formulated in terms of gratuitous moral evil, but he points out that a similar argument could be made in relation to gratuitous natural evil.