The Problem of Evil: The Evidential Argument.
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The Problem of Evil: The Evidential Argument.

Previously, I examined thelogical problem of evil and God’s existence and showed that it doesn’t undercut the existence of God. However there is another argument against God on the basis of the existence of evil; it is called the evidential problem of evil. While the logical version seeks to show that God’s existence is logically impossible given the existence of evil, the evidential version seeks to prove God’s existence is highly improbable, given the existence of evil. This is a more modest claim since the skeptic has moved from absolute terms (impossible) to the realm of probability (improbable). Therefore, the argument is framed slightly different: While it is not logically impossible for God and evil to co-exist, given the amount of evil seen in the world, it is highly improbable that God exists.

Because this argument deals with probabilities there are a few things the audience should understand: 1) When dealing with probabilities, accurate probabilities ought to be given with the full scope of the evidence at hand. 2) probabilities are relative to the background information. For instance, say that Dustin is a high school student and 75 percent of high school students play sports. Given such information, it is highly probable that Dustin plays sports. However, let us change the background information and suppose that 75 percent of high school students do not play sports. Given new information, in all probability, Dustin does not play sports. But what if 75 percent of students at Dustin’s high school play sports, and of that 75 percent, 95 percent play basketball? It is safe to say that in all probably, Dustin not only plays sports in high school, but also plays basketball. Therefore, as the background information changes, so does the probability change as well.

The atheist’s claim is that God’s existence is improbable; but improbable relative to what background information? Is the claim solely based on the existence of evil in the world? If it is the only basis for God’s non-existence, then it is clear to see why the skeptic would draw such a conclusion.[1] In his book, Stealing from God: Why atheists need God to make their case, Frank Turek notes that while considering the evidence for God the atheist and the theist must take into account 1)beginning of the universe; 2) fine-tuning of the universe; 3) consistent laws of nature; 4)existence of reason; 5) laws of logic and mathematics; 6)the information stored in the genetic code; 7) mind and consciousness; 8) free will; 9) Old Testament prophecy and 10) the life and resurrection of Jesus. Once considered, the atheist and the theist must weigh these factors against the existence of evil. [2]

While each piece of evidence must be thoroughly examined, the background information regarding God’s existence has a wider scope than just the existence of suffering. The rest of the evidence offsets whatever doubts arise about God’s existence due to evil in the world. Taken in isolation, the problem of evil does make God’s existence seem improbable. Yet, when considering all the evidence the scales tip in favor of theism.[3] Therefore, on the basis of all the evidence considered, God’s existence, even in light of the existence of evil, is overwhelmingly more probable than not. Thus, the evidential argument should be rejected and God’s existence accepted.


[1] William Lane Craig, On Guard: Defending You Faith with Reason and Precision. (Colorado Springs, CO: David Cook, 2010),, 161.

[2] Frank Turek, Stealing from God: Why atheist need God to make their case. (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2014), 140.

[3] James Porter Moreland, and William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsityPress, 2003). 542.

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