Most of us already know what theism is, but I will repeat it here for clarity. Theism is a set of beliefs in a supreme being that created the world, is active p.t. and has some interest in humans. This is usually contrasted with deism, which is a set of beliefs that a supreme being created the world but is no longer active in it and often does not concern itself with the problems of humanity.
The supreme being is often characterized as being omnipotent and omniscient.
It is often not stated in the definition of theism, that this supreme being is good, so I take it that it is not an essential part of the definition of theism. By evil theism I mean the set of beliefs in an evil supreme being. Good theism is, of course, the belief in a good theistic being. In this paper I will present a case for justified belief in some varieties of evil theism.
It is clear from the various inconsistency arguments against traditional theism that omnipotent and omniscient beings are logically impossible, and even more so for the being that is also all-good or good because of the problem of evil. It is interesting to note that an omnipotent, omniscient and all-evil is subject to the reverse argument: The argument from good. It goes, somewhat paradoxically, that the existence of good is proof that evil theism of that sort is false.
In this paper I will assume that there are no sound objections to this argument, but note that the Augustian defense is especially interesting for evil theism. It claims that, not evil, but good is the absence of evil and not an object or “genuine” property.
So, given the above the evil theistic being I have in mind is neither omnipotent nor omniscient. It’s not necessarily all-evil either. I also note that it is possible that there are multiple evil beings, thus evil polytheism. Omnipotence also seems problematic with multiple omnipotent beings, so there is another reason to avoid omnipotence.
Essential to evil theism is, of course, that the being is evil. But what does evil mean? I understand evil to mean the lack of caring for humans and, stronger, the hate against humans. Good is not defined in any particular way in this paper.
Prior to presenting the arguments I will note which types of argumentation I will employ. I do not intend to use strictly deductive or even inductive arguments, but apply evil theism as an explanation i.e. a theory. This is what is usually called abductive reasoning or inference to the best explanation.
I want to make the case that evil theism better explains certain facts than relevant alternatives. This is usually interpreted to mean that the probably of some facts given evil theism is higher than given the relevant alternatives. This is written as P(f|et) > P(f|ra). P means “the probability of that”, f is the facts, et is evil theism and ra is relevant alternative. It’s not possible to actually compute the probabilities, because the factors are indeterminate, but this is not a problem for reasoning.
Now, I will present the evidence. This list of evidence is not exhausting.
The existence of famine is much more probable given evil theism than non-theism. Given non-theism there is no particular reason for why famine should exist. There is a natural cause of famine, evolution. This is because evolution works by natural selection in which beings fight for the available resources. Food is one such resource. Given evolution, famine is probable. The thing is now to realize that non-theism has no relevance to famine and thus the factor of non-theism is 1, which equals no change. The evolution factor is larger than 1 and thus increases the probability of famine. Evil theism also predicts famine, because the evil being(s) want humans to suffer, and famine causes great suffering. Evolution is consistent with both non-theism and evil theism, but the conjunction of evil theism and evolution is a much better explanation than evolution alone and evolution and non-theism (they have the same value). Famine seems not to favor evil polytheism or monotheism.
Similar to the above reasoning, one could argue with egoism. Egoism also causes a lot of suffering, and causes famine. An evil being would want egoism to exist. Egoism is also probable given evolution but even more so given evolution and evil theism. Again, it seems to be the case that this fact does not favor evil polytheism or monotheism.
The unfriendliness of space
A human cannot live very long in outer space1. Indeed, life in general (excluding certain microbiological lifeforms) do not survive very well in space. This unfriendliness of space is better explained by evil-theism and evolution than evolution and non-theism. Evolution does not favor beings that can survive in space, assuming that it gives no survival value. Evolution does favor that life evolves to fit to the conditions on Earth, but does not explain why the difference in conditions between the Earth and outer space are so great. Evil theism explains this because that the evil beings know that humans want to travel to outer space, so when they cannot, they become unhappy, which is what the evil beings want. Again, we conclude like the above that evil theism in conjunction with evolution (or science in general) better explains the facts than evolution and non-theism.
Above I have outlined the reasoning used to justify evil theism as an explanation. Similar argumentation could be made with viruses, parasites, bacteria, natural disasters etc. The list goes on!
Objections and answers
In this section I want to outline some objections to evil theism and some possible answers to them.
Objection 1 – it could be worse
The objection goes like this: Conceded, things are quite evil, but things could be much worse. This seems improbable with evil theism. There are many possible answers. E.g. maybe there are multiple evil beings competing to harm humans, maybe the evil beings are not strong enough, maybe the evil beings are not evil enough and maybe the evil beings have some sort of quota which they need to fill, but once it is filled, there need not be any more suffering. The first answer clearly favors evil polytheism. It might be objected that the amount of humans have increased over time and more have come to suffer. To this, the evil polytheist could respond that maybe there has also been an increase in the amount of evil beings, and these require a higher amount of humans to fulfill their needs.
Objection 2 – the theory has poor predictive abilities
The objection goes like this: The theory has poor predictive abilities like Newtonian physics and therefore it is a bad explanation. The answer is simple. Yes, it does have poor predictive power, but that does not imply that it is a bad theory. There is a propositional difficulty with predicting things when the complexity of the situation increases. Evil theism sets out to explain very complex data and thus is not very precise in its predictions. However, this is also true of evolution which is a very credible theory. Also, I’d like to make a few predictions with evil theism:
Given evil polytheism and the breeding hypothesis, then we should expect to see more suffering in the world. Probably with the addition of an increased amount of humans.
I have explained what evil theism is. I have explained the methodology of the arguments I employ for evil theism. I conclude that I have demonstrated that evil theism does have explanatory power which is better than non-theism. I have showed this using real world examples. I have given possible answers to two objections to evil theism. I conclude, that evil theism is a reasonable position to take, may it be evil polytheism or monotheism, though the data seems to slightly support polytheism better.