Many times we hear about the “argument from evil” as a knock-down argument for the non-existence of God. For those of you who are not familiar with the argument, I will explain it. It goes like this:
All good arguments depend on the precise, clear and unambiguous use of language. The argument from evil is no exception. It obviously demands an exacting definition of the word “evil.” Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous atheist, says the universe has “no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” If he is right and there is no evil, that might seem like a problem for an argument from, well, evil. But it is not. Dawkins means there is no objective transcendent morality. Stuff just happens for no reason and it is neither good nor evil in the sense of “conforming to an objective moral code” since there is no objective moral code. But that does not mean we cannot nevertheless employ the word “evil” in a way that is useful for our argument. We just have to define the word to mean “that which I do not subjectively prefer” or more loosely “icky stuff I don’t like.”
Now that we have the definitional issue out of the way, we can go on to the argument. It is a simple augment really. It amounts to the following syllogism that any child can understand:
Major Premise: If God exists, he would prevent evil (remember our definition “icky stuff I don’t like) from happening.
Minor Premise: Icky stuff I don’t like happens all the time.
Conclusion: Therefore, God does not exist.