To what, then, is the evil of human life, physical and moral, to be attributed as its cause?But when the universe is considered as the work of an all-benevolent and all-powerful Creator, a fresh element is added to the problem.The origin of suffering, according to Buddha, is "the thirst for being".This was also, among Greek philosophers, the view of Hegesias the Cyrenaic (called peisithánatos, the counsellor of death), who held life to be valueless, and pleasure, the only good, to be unattainable.The obligation to moral action in the natural order is, moreover, generally believed to depend on the motives supplied by religion; and it is at least doubtful whether it is possible for moral obligation to exist at all apart from a supernatural sanction.Metaphysical evil is the limitation by one another of various component parts of the natural world.If God is all-benevolent, why did He cause or permit suffering?If He is all-Powerful, He can be under no necessity of creating or permitting it; and on the other hand, if He is under any such necessity, He cannot be all-powerful.
Though the same cause may give pain to one, and pleasure to another, pain and pleasure, as sensations or ideas, cannot but be mutually exclusive.
No system of philosophy has ever succeeded in escaping from the obscurity in which the subject is involved; but it is not too much to say that the Christian solution offers, on the whole, fewer difficulties, and approaches more nearly to completeness than any other. Admitting that evil consists in a certain relation of man to his environment, or that it arises in the relation of the component parts of the totality of existence to one another, how comes it that though all are alike the results of a universal cosmic process, this universal agency is perpetually at war with itself, contradicting and thwarting its own efforts in the mutual hostility of its progeny?
Further, admitting that metaphysical evil in itself may be merely nature's method, involving nothing more than a continual redistribution of the material elements of the universe, human suffering and wrongdoing still and out as essentially opposed to the general scheme of natural development, and are scarcely to be reconciled in thought with any conception of unity or harmony in nature.
Evil, in a large sense, may be described as the sum of the opposition, which experience shows to exist in the universe, to the desires and needs of individuals ; whence arises, among humans beings at least, the sufferings in which life abounds.
Thus evil, from the point of view of human welfare, is what ought not to exist.