The Riddle of Epicurus
If God is willing to prevent evil, but is not able to
Then He is not omnipotent.
If He is able, but not willing
Then He is malevolent.
If He is both able and willing
Then whence cometh evil?
If He is neither able nor willing
Then why call Him God?
It goes down to whether either of us gets "it."
We are on two different sides of the chasm of understanding, and surely either of us believes our way is right. And, in either respect, it is a fair assumption, through logic of which you've presented, to assume such things. And on the other hand, we have that of our understanding where the light is seen through the apparent darkness in logic itself.
And in this chasm of understanding there is darkness. Either side, those who believe in God and those who see the belief in God to be of total waste, are understandably and unequivocally ambassadors of such beliefs.
How do we bridge this chasm of understanding? It is by understanding the definitions of those words of which are used in defense of either belief.
Let us approach the word "willing"...for it is in willing that we exist. Through the biological processes, from the innate beginnings from whence we came, we enter existence. And as for the fingerprints of Creation, from where and how it came to be, they are there if not apparent to the untrained eye. No matter the form of creation, we go to the heart of the matter, where and how did we come to be? From ooze? So be it. From dust? So be it, too.
We see not where we come from, but rather where we are. And where we are going. For it is in willing something that we enter it. We have the intellect, the logic and reason to work within this world and so to interact with its Creation.
But then enters the logical claim: "If He is willing to prevent evil then why does He not prevent it?" And in the temporary view of things, in the drop of existence of any particular molecule of matter then, yes, it appears quite illogical. But where does the matter go from here? To further destruction, dismay, or despair? Is there any more existence of evil in this world on this day than the start of existence throughout all of universal creation or, more specifically, since the beginning of sentient understanding and decision-making (otherwise know as "free will")? I dare to state that the answer is no.
The only difference in this world as it is now is the number of sentient beings from that first day and thus the complexity of Creation ("the system"). One could invariably assume that "in the beginning" there was to be a single existence of an evolutionary sort. We must start from some starting point of existence. And so in this there enters one independent outlook on the world outside the forces of Creation. And if there were to be a reason for existence to go on, in this outlook, is to continue life. The how's and why's of it are to be debated of course, but the logical boils down. Then enters conflict of those of understanding. How can then we say then He is "willing" to end that which he created, if by the same understand they may do as they wish in the short-term?
Are we to expect to be called then gods, too? We might have a hand in creation but this would be a mistake, as it is, we only have a part in everything. We, indeed, are very limited in consciousness. That is, we do indeed die in the physical sense. Invariably we will take part of this plan or make our own decisions in our limitedness of consciousness and thus enter the ability to err.
And then, I would venture an educated guess that one would call to mind that of suffering in this world, the likes of disaster, disease, and calamities of cosmic forces. "Ah," would one say, "I have the riddle's answer. He cannot exist for the existence of this ‘wrong.’" Yes, we see this in our eyes of today, the problems of climate or beast or pest. We would fall victim to so-called "acts of God." What can we say of affliction? Does it not make us stronger? Does it see the fullness of all existence? If we had the outlook of life of narcissism, then yes, we’d say surely God does not exist. One might say, "If He does not stop this pain from existing then He is not there." But how short-sighted is this! We see not around the bend. And if it were around the bend and no reward to which we are given for our actions, then that same person might say it is for naught. But how can it be for naught if there is even the smallest possibility for supposed gain for "positive actions." In this instance the narcissistic person might be placated by that of Pascal’s Wager. But again, there might be a rejection even of that smallest possibility for that type of person.
For the altruistic person, there might be only gain even in the sight of all evil, think about the case of those in Nazi Germany who stood up in defense of the intrinsic evil being done. What gain was it for them? So it is the susceptibility for "martyrdom" for an intense commitment for a cause. In this manipulation could be brought about negatively just as well as positively for the world of Creation. But then, one might ask again, "Why does He allow it to exist?"
Simply put, as it is in the sciences, for every action there is a reaction. If there is something to come after our existence here then how is it to be? A knee-jerk reaction? Does the river run backwards for no logical reason? No, it does not.
The solution to the Riddle is in the scope in which it is applied. We must not look to that of single moments but sweeping vistas of time, and in those sweeping vistas of time the positive nature of things will enter. It may not be positive in the shortest of terms, but in the longest of terms it is there. As there is anything to bring forth life, it will come. But therein lies the "leap of faith"...and the chasm of understanding.
There you are on one side and here I am on the other. The darkness between the two ledges is deep, but all is required is that "leap of faith," that jump of understanding that there is more than just what we see here and that there is a greater good. For there weren't there wouldn't be any all, just as there would be total darkness if there weren't even the shadow of a single flame burning.
For my brethren of belief and equitable treatment by those of no faith, I continue with the following two passages to remember in trust of God, in whom all good things come:
There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every thing under the heavens.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.
What advantage has the worker from his toil?
I have considered the task that God has appointed
for the sons of men to be busied about.
He has made everything appropriate to its time,
and has put the timeless into their hearts,
without man’s ever discovering,
from beginning to end, the work which God has done.
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
And from today's first reading...
Thus says the LORD:
You say, "The LORD's way is not fair!"
Hear now, house of Israel:
Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?
When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies,
it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.
But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed,
he does what is right and just,
he shall preserve his life;
since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed,
he shall surely live, he shall not die. - Ezekiel 3:25-28
Open your eyes. The existence is there and the ability to do good is within you. All you must do is choose and the world as you see it will never be the same again.
As a corollary, I remind that all must remember the following with charity of heart and mind, with charity of Faith and Reason:
Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up. If anyone supposes he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if one loves God, one is known by him. - 1 Corinthians 8:1b-3
Knowledge is dead if it is without love. Live with knowledge in love.