Why Does God Let People Suffer? David Hume 1711-1776
A God World vs. This World • “Is the World, considered in general, and as it appears to us in this life, different from what a Man or such a limited being would, beforehand, expect from a very powerful, wise, and benevolent Deity?”
Thought Experiment • What kind of world would you expect from an all-powerful, all-knowing, and morally perfect being. • Would that world be anything like this world? • What could or should be different?
Evil • Should we expect less evil in the world? • Should we expect less quantity of evil? • Should we expect less horrendous evils?
Evil • Evil for our purposes is anything that causes suffering of any kind to any kind of being. • Moral Evil: is suffering cause by intelligent agents who are motivated by selfishness or malicious ends. • Natural Evil: is suffering caused by natural events that have no intentions (e.g., diseases, earthquakes, floods, etc.)
Evil and God • Theodicy: are theories that try to show that God and evil are compatible. • Theists do not believe that God creates or produces evils, but they do believe that there is evil in the world. • God might have very good reasons for allowing evil to occur.
Why Would God Allow Evil? • Free will theodicy: God might allow moral evil because God wants to give human beings freedom of the will so that they can be moral agents. • Being moral agents and deciding to be good is a Greater Good; it is the greatest thing a person can achieve. • In order to create such beings it was logically necessary that God create humans free so that they can choose to do good or evil.
Other (Mysterious) Reasons • There might be other reasons, reasons we can never know about, that God has for allowing evil. • Therefore, the existence of evil and the existence of God are logically combatable and consistent. • Hume agrees with this argument!
Hume’s Argument • “… however consistent the World may be, allowing certain Suppositions and Conjectures, with the idea of such a Deity, it can never afford us an Inference concerning his Existence. The Consistence is not absolutely denied only the inference.”
Hume’s Argument • The main point is that Hume does not argue that, given the evil in the world, God does not exists, but rather that, given the evil in the world, we cannot infer from the world that Go exist. • Moreover, it is more likely that God does not exist.
First Cause of the Universe 4 Hypotheses • Endowed with perfect goodness. • Endowed with perfect malice. • Endowed with both malice and goodness. • Endowed with neither good nor malice.
This World & 4 Cases of Evil • The design of animal creation concerning pains and pleasures. • Conducting the world by general laws (secret springs of the Universe). • The great Frugality, with which all powers and Faculties are distributed to every particular Being. • Inaccurate workmanship of all the springs and principles of the great Machine of Nature.
Conclusion 1 • The state of the universe, with its evil and pain and suffering could never lead us to believe that it was created by a morally perfect being.
Hume • “Look around this universe. What an immense profusion of beings, animated and organized, sensible and active! You admire this prodigious variety and fecundity. But inspect a little more narrowly these living Existences, the only beings worth regarding. How hostile and destructive to each other! How insufficient all of them for their own happiness! How contemptible or odious to the spectator! The whole presents nothing but the idea of a blind nature, impregnated by a great vivifying principle, and pouring forth from lap, without discernment or parental care, her maimed and abortive Children.”!
Conclusion 2 • Of the 4 mutually exclusive hypotheses the most probably, given the state of evil in the universe is the 4ththat the first cause is endowed with neither good nor malice.