Stephen Law has recently published an article in Religious Studies showing how many of the arguments used in theodicy (meaning, in attempts to prove that there is a good God, despite the existence of evil) could equally well be employed to prove that there is an evil God. Listen to Law explain and defend the view here or read his derivations here and here. Manicstreetpreacher nicely sums up Law’s arguments:
In defence of the Evil God hypothesis, we can use reverse versions of the theodicies that Christians use to defend the Good God hypothesis:
- Free will. Evil God gave us free will, so we sometimes choose to do good, even though Evil God hates it. And free will also allows us to be morally responsible for evil acts, which Evil God loves. He could have made us into puppets that only do evil, but then he would not have the pleasure of seeing us choose evil. To maximise evil, Evil God designed us so that we can perform evil acts from our own will.
- Character-destroying. Why does Evil God create some beautiful things? For contrast. To make the ugly things look uglier. Why does Evil God make some of us unusually healthy and wealthy? To make the suffering of the sick and poor even greater. Why does Evil God let us have children that love us unconditionally? So that we will worry endlessly about them.
- First order goods allow second order evils. Some evils require certain goods to exist. For example, jealousy could not exist without there being someone who has something good for you to be jealous about. Evil God had to give some of us good things so that the rest of us could feel jealousy.
- Mystery. Evil God has a plan for how all the apparent goods in the world will ultimately lead to maximal evil, but Evil God is so far beyond our reasoning ability that we cannot understand his plan.
The Conversational Atheist and I made similar arguments last summer. Law beat both of us to the idea in 2007 on his blog, here and here, and on the spectacular philosophy radio show Philosophy Bites even further back.