Epicurus of Sámos (341-270 B.C.) was an ancient Greek philosopher. He founded in the late fourth century B.C. the Epicureanism School.
Epicurus was a polydeist in his day as he believed the Gods were neither friends nor foes; he taught that sensations of pleasure and pain are the measures of what is good and bad, and the absence of pain and fear leads to happiness (ataraxia). He recommended a state of satiation and tranquility surrounded by friends, as one of the main goal in life. Epicurus explicitly warned against the exceeding of Hedonism.
One of his followers roughly 2000 years later, Jeremy Bentham, said that:
- "Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain, and pleasure."
Epicurus is also an important figure in the development of the scientific method. He insisted that nothing should be accepted except that which has been sufficiently tested through direct observation and logical deduction.
He dismissed the notion of an omnipotent and benevolent God by stating:
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 why does evil exist? Is He neither able nor willing? Then why call Him God?
|Is God Willing to Prevent Evil?||Is God Able To Prevent Evil?||Epicurus's Response||Fallacy in Epicurus's Response|
|No||Yes||God is therefore not benevolent.||Evil results from free will, which God allows while still being benevolent. Eternal justice rectifies temporary injustice.|
|Yes||No||God is therefore not omnipotent.||God does not always intervene, but is omnipotent.|
|No||No||Then why call him God?||This point is not fallacious.|
|Yes||Yes||If he is good and omnipotent, then why is there evil?||Free will requires the existence of temporary, rectifiable evil.|