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History desk: Earliest known statement of the problem of evil, as an argument for atheism

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In Lucretius (d. 50 BC), De Rerum Natura,Book V:

But knew I never what
The seeds primordial were, yet would I dare
This to affirm, even from deep judgments based
Upon the ways and conduct of the skies-
This to maintain by many a fact besides-
That in no wise the nature of all things
For us was fashioned by a power divine-
So great the faults it stands encumbered with.

And it’s still a big issue today, amazingly enough, in the discussion of design in nature.

3 Replies to “History desk: Earliest known statement of the problem of evil, as an argument for atheism

  1. 1
    Dunsinane says:

    Around the same time (45 BC) Cicero was making an argument from design

    Is he worthy to be called a man who attributes to chance, not to an intelligent cause, the constant motion of the heavens, the regular courses of the stars, the agreeable proportion and connection of all things, conducted with so much reason that our intellect itself is unable to estimate it rightly? When we see machines move artificially, as a sphere, a clock, or the like, do we doubt whether they are the productions of reason?

  2. 2
  3. 3
    tribune7 says:

    Without God there would be no “evil”. All the suffering, misery and torment that exist would be just part of nature i.e. simply natural.

    Who would there be to judge sodomy, rape, indifference, murder and torture?

    Who would there be to say cannibalism or sexually abusing children is wrong?

    I think Hell is a place in which God does not involve Himself, IOW it is without God. The suffering, misery and torment there is simply natural.

    The problem for the atheist is not to complain about “evil” but to explain “good.”

    It’s certainly not natural.

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