The Deductive Argument from Evil
THE SO-CALLED PROBLEM OF EVIL can be posed in both an inductive and a deductive form. In his inductive argument from evil the atheologian 1 contends that the variety and profusion of evil found in our world, though not logically inconsistent with God's existence, make it improbable or unlikely that God exists. For example, Hume writes,
. . . [A]s [God's] goodness is not antecedently established, but must be inferred from the phenomena, there can be no grounds for such an inference, while there are so many ills in the universe, and while these ills might so easily have been remedied. . . . The bad appearances . . . may be compatible with such attributes as you suppose. But surely they can never prove these attributes. . . . However consistent the world may be . . . with the idea of such a Deity, it can never afford us an inference concerning his existence. The consistency is not absolutely denied, only the inference. 2
We shall consider this argument in the next chapter.
In his deductive argument from evil, the atheologian maintains that the existence of evil per se is logically inconsistent with the existence of a good, omnipotent, omniscient God. Flew writes, "The issue is whether to assert at the same time first that there is an infinitely good God, second that he is an all-powerful Creator, and third that there are evils in his universe, is to contradict yourself." 3 Flew affirms that it is.
Whereas in the inductive argument the amount, intensity, and variety of evils actually occurring in the world are