In his book The Problem of Evil and the Problem of God, D.Z. Phillips argues that the problem of evil, as traditionally conceived by philosophers, critics, and apologists of religion, is dependent upon conceptually and grammatically incoherent notions of God’s omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence; and that Christian apologists such as Alvin Plantinga, Stephen Davis, and others, while attempting to answer the problem, fail to recognize these conceptual mistakes and ultimately attempt to devise theodicies and defenses that strip away the complexities and puzzles of life that are an inherent part of what it means to be human.
In this paper, I will briefly highlight a few of the key points in Phillips’s argument and then compare those to theodicies put forth by Latter-day Saint thinkers such as David Paulsen, Blake Ostler, Truman Madsen, and Eugene England. Utilizing Phillips’s analysis of the problem of evil, I argue that from a Mormon theological perspective, the logical problem of evil is also a result of confused attributes being forced onto our conceptions of God, and that at the heart of the problem is not a question of the logical compatibility of the existence of God as defined by the traditional attributes, but is instead one of the primal existential questions of human life: “why this suffering?”—a question that afflicts both theist and atheist alike. However, because both Christian and LDS theodicists maintain the traditional attributes of God (or variations of them) premised in the problem of evil, the theodicies they propose do further damage by proposing a foreign world and life where all suffering and evils are ultimately explainable .