The Epicurean riddle

My son Thomas was talking to me recently about an issue he has with people believing in the Christian God. Good thinking, Tom!

Tom’s issue is a well known problem in the Philosophy of Religion called the Problem of Evil. There is a very old statement of this problem from the philosopher Epicurus, from around 300 B.C. I’ve included that for you below. There’s a very good Wikipedia page on this problem at

The Epicurean riddle

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?


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