The statement in question is often used by atheists to refute the notion of God being concerned over man's fate and being able to overcome evil. If you're not familiar with it, here's how it goes:
Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not
want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does
not want to, he is wicked. If God can abolish evil, and God really
wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?
Often, the paradox is given an additional line "Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God"
Without fail, every atheist that has presented this to me thinks they said something brilliant and this can't be refuted. To be honest, I see several problems with this so-called paradox.
1. It has never been called the Epicurean Trilemma.
It's either been called the Epicurean paradox or the riddle of Epicurus. A moot point, perhaps, but it is better to call things by their proper names.
2. Epicurus didn't write it.
That's right: there's no evidence to suggest Epicurus ever wrote it. The form people are familiar with, depending on who you believe, was either put together by David Hume or maybe Carneades. No one knows which but saying Epicurus put it together is yet another atheist urban legend, much like saying communism could work or saying the early Christians were never martyred. (And yes, there is a book out there arguing this).
3. The additional line I just mentioned is not a part of it and never has been.
In this case, it doesn't matter who you think came up with it: neither version has the "why call him God" part. That appears to be a later addition, but it also appears that whoever put it there didn't bother to check the original sources.
4. The so-called riddle itself is a false dilemma.
A false dilemma is a type of informal fallacy that involves a situation in which limited alternatives are considered, when in fact there is at least one additional option.
Consider what the paradox says in the very first sentence: either God cannot abolish evil or God chooses not to. That's it. It only considers two options; it doesn't consider (for sake of argument) that maybe God is allowing evil or perhaps there's a reason why the evil is there in the first place. I bring this up only because Hume himself (a philosopher atheists love to quote) admitted to the possibility:
"His wisdom is infinite: He is never mistaken in choosing the means to
any end: But the course of nature tends not to human or animal felicity:
Therefore it is not established for that purpose. Through the whole
compass of human knowledge, there are no inferences more certain and
infallible than these. In what respect, then, do his benevolence and
mercy resemble the benevolence and mercy of men?"
5. It doesn't define what evil is.
If you're going to call something evil, okay, but you need to establish on what basis something is evil.
6. It ignores free will.
Last I checked, man is free to commit evil or good. That is not to say they always make the better choice but this does say at least the choice is there. The paradox doesn't address that.
7. The whole wicked and impotent part is just an opinion, not an objective fact.
Those parts are nothing more than a slight-of-hand that add nothing themselves and suffer from their own logical inconsistencies.
8. It places the problem of evil on God rather than man.
Going back to point 6, man in the end is responsible for how he treats other people. I don't see how God could even come close to blame in light of this.
9. There is no way to take this paradox seriously.
In light of all these points, a Christian should not be threatened by this writing at all since the atheist is just picking at straws on this.
In fact, I have a much better paradox:
Are atheists really bright or are they ignorant? If they are bright, why do they make so many mistakes? Do they not care about learning? Then they are not bright. If they do care about learning, why make the same mistakes over and over? Are they ignorant? If so, why not just admit it?
Because atheists are idiots.