I see this fallacy everywhere, from anti-Christians to Socialists/Communists. It goes like this: "if God exists, then why did He make all this Evil?" Another example: "the baker, by baking bread and keeping it for himself, creates breadlessness."

The argument is that by keeping something from someone, you create the absence of that something for that someone. The argument fails since the absence of that something already existed prior to the creation of that something. Absolute universal breadlessness turned into mere common breadlessness.

  • It's a fallacy only so far as you assume a certain aspect of God. Christians, for example, won't assume this aspect, and so itbwould create a simple paradox that need to be resolved, as Elliot answers. Dec 13, 2018 at 17:14
  • As a matter of identifying the fallacious kind of reasoning, but without addressing the subject of your question, I suppose this would be a good question by itself that deserves a direct answer: "What is the fallacy of saying P causes ~Q if P causes Q?" Dec 13, 2018 at 17:19
  • 1
    @Hierarchist you might want to express the fallacious reasoning further: who says "evil" is truly "bad" in the eyes of God? Or: who says God created "evil"? The point is, assuming the capacity of our understanding of God's intentions. Dec 13, 2018 at 17:38
  • There is a big difference between the God and the baker examples. Interpreting evil as privation (absence), while popular in early Christianity, is not the majority position today. It is that evil does need to be actively created, but that it is done by creatures through their free will, not by God. Also, producers of goods by withholding products from the market can create artificial shortages, like "breadlessness". I do not think this is meant in the high minded sense you are using, and in the practical sense it is not necessarily a fallacy. In certain circumstances it is even illegal.
    – Conifold
    Dec 13, 2018 at 20:48
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    This is not a fallacy. It is known as the Problem of Evil. Proposed resolution to the Problem of Evil is called a Theodicy. Dec 14, 2018 at 6:40

6 Answers 6


It's not a fallacy, it's a paradox that must be addressed by pro-Christians, anti-Socialists/anti-Communists, etc that goes by the common name, "The Problem of Evil".

Have the theists adequately addressed "The Problem of Evil"? That's for you to decide. But it's not a fallacy.


Your question is fallacious. It is a straw-man question, in which you focus on one version of the way the Problem of Evil is posed. This particular phrasing, in which Good and Evil are treated as real Platonic Forms, assumes an ontology that many people do not agree with. While the majority accept objective morality, and objective morality is most amenable to treating abstract objects as real, the Forms concept behind classical Platonism is not how almost anyone thinks of abstract entities anymore.

Whether Good/evil is a monopole, or bi-pole spectrum is widely debated, and your assumption that it is monopole, and that this is a known fact, is not valid. This is a fallacy if you did it deliberately, the fallacy of deliberate misrepresentation.

Additionally, you use argument by false analogy. Argument by analogy is never valid, there are analogies that support all 5 sides of every question, so the existence of analogies is never support for a claim. Argument by false analogy becomes a fallacy when one's analogy is explicitly not compliant with significant relevant features of the original question, and the differences between the analogy and the original question were selected to avoid satisfying the original issue.

Here are the three deliberate exceptions you introduce into your false analogy: 1) Your Baker has not created the universe, nor set the conditions for its operation, hence does not own explicit responsibility for all states of affairs. The universe is a found object for the Baker, it is not a found object for any creator God, and any creator God owns responsibility for every aspect of it. 2) The Baker is resource limited -- one cannot bake an infinite amount of food. Reshaping the circumstances of the entire universe is beyond the Baker's capability, hence outside her moral responsibility. 3) The Baker is not asserted to be omnibenevolent, hence DESIRING to cure the breadlessness of the found object of the universe is not intrinsic to a Baker, while it is asserted for an omnibenevolent God. Most rationalizations from theists I have seen for the Problem of Evil involve abandoning Omni benevolence for their God, and your Baker is clearly not omnibenevolent, and you seem to be OK with that.

So -- there is no fallacy in what you cited, but instead it is a poor phrasing of the Problem of Evil, in which mostly rejected assumptions are embedded. There are however, multiple fallacies in your question.


The question you are asking about "goodness" of the Creator versus the existence of evil has traditionally been put in perspective with a key feature of the Creation: that it contains living beings endowed with freedom. To reduce that argumentation to its essence, freedom of choice, which allows an individual to select any behavior, is taking precedence over moral concepts of "good" or "bad". To put it crudely, Creation is considered to have been an experiment in freedom of choice, rather than goodness.

In that light, the fact that God is good but allows evil would not be considered as a paradox, but a balance of interests in favor of freedom. You may find a discussion of divine freedom on this page.

Note that this is the approach of the biblical religions: that because God is good, He is being exclusively good.

There is another approach: quite a few religious traditions consider that the infinite and omnipotent character of Supreme Being implies that He embodies all qualities in an absolute way -- meaning in particular that he embodies both good and evil, by transcending them (this is particularly obvious in the figure of the Indian God Shiva).

In that view, good and evil are two opposed principles, which find their solution in the Divinity. Hence there is is no paradox, but only an apparent conflict between two dynamic principles, which will resolve as one ascends in wisdom.


The argument is called the 'Epicurian' argument and goes like this: If god is all powerful then he can prevent child Leukemia and Ebola. If he doesn't then he is not kind, and is undeserving of our worship. Take your pick. Is god not god (not all powerful) or is he an asshat sadist? It's not a test or a fallacy, it's a logical argument. Hand wringing about human evil being attributable to free will does not explain why the people of Pompeii were glued to their toilets by a volcano.

  • Have comments here been moderated?
    – Richard
    Dec 14, 2018 at 20:22
  • Yes, due to sock puppet trolling.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Dec 15, 2018 at 7:49

Let's follow your argument through.

You're equating Evil with the absence of something. Let's call that something Good.

So your point is that God made Good but chooses not to share that Goodness with his creations. Therefore His creations can be Evil because He chose not to prevent it.

As such, you are correct. There is no issue with the juxtaposition, in this scenario, of Evil and God's existence. There is, of course, an issue here with God's benevolence i.e. He's clearly more selfish than benevolent.

Also, if our natural state (the absence of added Goodness) is Evil and we're created in God's image then that's very close to implying that God's natural state is Evil.

Other than that I think your formulation is fine.


It is controversial as to whether the problem of evil refutes the notion of a Supreme Being.

Views vary and range on this, but the vast majority of academic philosophers are atheists, or at least lean in favor of atheism.

The problem of evil is indeed a very real and serious problem that many attempt to grapple with. It thus presents a serious problem for theism.

The problem of evil is typically not labelled as a fallacy given its status in canon philosophy.

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