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A Maltheist is someone who believes that a God or gods exist, and that they are evil, malicious, incompetent, or otherwise causing the suffering of humanity. Other examples include:

  • Gnostics are semi-Maltheistic, as they believe the material world was created by an imperfect, evil sub-god named Ialdabaoth.
  • The Church of the SubGenius often has a strong maltheistic streak to its deities.
  • Satan is arguably a polytheistic belief that is also maltheist.
  • The fictional writings of Howard Phillips Lovecraft were maltheistic, in that the godlike alien beings he depicted were, at best, indifferent to humanity--and drawing their attention could be catastrophic.


Christian God

Main Article: The scriptural God is unworthy of worship

A maltheist God is an obvious solution to the problem of evil, although this is dogmatically unacceptable to most Christians and Muslims. Nietzsche claimed this conclusion was his first philosophical exercise:

"because of this, my curiosity as well as my suspicions had to pause early on at the question about where our good and evil really originated. In fact, already as a thirteen-year-old lad, my mind was occupying itself with the problem of the origin of evil. At an age when one has “half childish play, half God in one’s heart,” I devoted my first childish literary trifle, my first written philosophical exercise, to this problem—and so far as my “solution” to it at that time is concerned, well, I gave that honour to God, as is reasonable, and made him the father of evil."

Friedrich Nietzsche [1]

Fred Phelps and other similar Christians believe that God creates some people foreknowing that they will be damned and creates such people because he wants to damn them. God is also perfectly good because good is by definition what God wants. This is not maltheism in strict logics but when words are used in the human sense it comes close to maltheism.

The problem of good

It is fairly easy to flip the problem of evil around: if we postulate that God is all-evil, the problem of evil becomes the problem of good: why would an infinitely evil god allow good to exist? [2]

Many or all of the arguments against the problem of evil can easily be turned around to argue against the problem of good:

  • People do good deeds because God gave us free will, which in turn allows us to torment each other in ways that mere automata couldn't.
  • Natural beauty, such as sunsets or the majesty of a starry sky, exists so that we may more deeply appreciate the ugliness around us.
  • Mystery: while some instances of good may remain unexplained, who can claim to understand the mind of an infinitely evil god?

If the existence of evil in the universe that also includes a lot of good does not point to an infinitely evil god, then it follows that the existence of good in a universe that also includes a lot of evil does not point to the existence of an infinitely good god.


  1. Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals, Preface, aph. 3
  2. Stephen Law, The God of Eth — the problem of good

See also

Adapted from RationalWiki

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