The Problem of Evil

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  • The Problem of Evil
    • Natural Evil
      • caused by natural disasters e.g. earthquakes
    • Moral Evil
      • caused by the abuse of human free will, e.g. Hitler's actions
    • People argue that because of the amount of evil and suffering in the world it challenges the existence of God - Why would God allow this?
    • = a problem for religious believers, because they understand God to have all these qualities. One would expect that a perfect God create a perfect world. The perfect God has made people who cause havoc
    • This is not a problem for the atheist, as they do not believe in God. Evils existence = evidence against God
    • Inconsistent triad = Mackie
    • Augustine says " either God cannot abolish evil, or He will not; If he cannot then He is not all powerful; if He will not then He is not all good"
    • Why the existence of Evil challenges the belief of God:
      • 1. If God is all powerful why doesn't he prevent evil?
        • Forwarded by Mackie - called the logical problem, because religious believers must try to justify their belief n God, while evil still happens
        • 2. The amount of evil appears to challenges the goodness of God
          • A small amount of suffering is good for you e.g. when a child learns fire is dangerous by suffering the harm of a minor burn, but how can you justify great acts of suffering and evil? Like Hitler's genocide of the Jews.
            • How can free will be worth the price of innocent people suffering and how can anyone believe in the all good God when such suffering occurs?
          • What logical solutions are possible?
            • The statement thst God is a good/ loving being could be wrong. The evidence could be used to show that God exists but is evil
              • If God doesn't exist anyway that would take away good and omnipotence and solve the triad
                • It's possible that evil doesn't exist and we are just misguided in interpreting events as evil
            • Hume's solution
              • Only two of the parts of the inconsistent triad can exist at ine time. If you try out the combinations it affects the Christian understanding of God
                • As a result, he didn't think that the theistic God of the Christians existed
    • Augustine's Soul deciding Theodicy
      • Based on Genesis 1-3, Augustine's theodicy argues that God created the world and it was perfect, without any evil or suffering. Genesis 1:31 God saw all that he had made and saw that it was very good.
      • Augustine defined evil as the privation of goodness, just as blindness is a privation of sight
      • Since evil doesn't exist on its own, just like blindness is not an entity in itself, God could not have created it. So God is not responsible
      • Instead, evil comes from free will possessed by the fallen angels and humans, who turned their back on God
      • As a result the state of perfection was ruined by sin
      • Natural Evil: Occurred because of the loss of order in nature due to the first sin which broke natural order, defined by Augustine as the consequence of sin
      • Moral Evil: Derived from human free will and disobedience
      • Augustine reasoned that all humans are worthy of the punishment of evil and suffering because we are seminally present in the loins of Adam.
      • God has the right to intervene and put a stop to evil and suffering, since is is just God and we are worthy of punishment
      • Jesus was given by God to us so we can recover from the fall to salvation
      • Strengths
        • The idea that evil can arise when people exercise free will fits with our experience with life
        • It is a traditional Christian interpretation of the bible, it shows that bad people go to hell for their crimes. Unlike Irenaeus who implies that everyone goes to heaven eventually
      • Weaknesses
        • Concept of evil being a privation and not part of God's creation is illogical.
        • Because evil is a privation of good, it seems that evil pops out of nowhere
        • If the world was meant to be perfect then how could Adam and Eve find out about evil? Did their understanding of evil come from God? So maybe he is responsible
        • Hell appears to be part of the universe. This means God  must have already anticipated that the world would go wrong- and have accepted it
          • Counter Criticism: If God accepted the wrongs then he wouldn't have created Hell., rather he would have sent everyone to paradise because God accepting something must mean it is good as all God's decisions are good. So there being a Hell showsa that he doesn't accept the evils. Maybe man is the cause of getting himself to Hell
    • Irenaeus soul making Theodicy
      • Like Augustine, Irenaeus argued that evil is the consequence of human abuse of free will and disobedience
      • However, unlike Augustine, Irenaeus believed that God was partly responsible for evil and suffering
      • Irenaeus argued that God created the world imperfectly so that every imperfect being could develop into a child of God, in God's perfect likeness
      • For Irenaeus, God could not have created humans in perfect likeness of himself because attaining the likeness of God requires the willing co-operation of humans
      • God thus had to give humans free will in order for them to be able to willingly co-operate
      • Since freedom requires the ability to choose good over evil, God had to permit evil and suffering to occur
      • Natural Evil : Has the divine purpose to develop qualities such as compassion through the soul- making process. When others see people affected by disasters this can also make human kind compassionate= furthers their soul making
      • Moral evil: Derived from human free will and disobedience
      • Irenaeus concluded that eventually evil and suffering will be overcome and humans will develop into a perfect likeness of God, and everyone will have eternal life in heaven
      • Strengths
        • it avoids the problem of Augustine's random appearance of evil
        • It does not rely on Genesis and the story of the Fall
        • Allows for the modern concept of evolution, that mankind progresses through suffering and adapting
        • Values free will (as opposed to redemption through Jesus Christ) as the means by which man develops morally and spirtually
      • Weaknesses
        • suggests that God's creative work was imperfect
        • Irenaeus' universalism seems unfair and contradicts holy texts, making moral behaviour pointless
        • We can accept perhaps that some evil and suffering are necessary for God's purpose but it is so much suffering necessary
    • Rowe= the evidential problem of evil
      • 1. There exist instances of intense suffering which an omnipotent, omniscient being could have prevented wothout thereby loosing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse
        • 1. probably, there are pointless evils
        • 2.An omniscient, wholly good being would prevent the occurrence of any intense suffering it could, unless it could not do so without thereby loosing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse
          • 2. if God exists there an no pointless evils
          • 3.Therefore there does not exist an omnipotent, omniscient wholly good being
            • 3. therefore probably God does not exist
    • Animal suffering
      • Pain is necessary event for any living thing to learn how best to survive within the natural order
        • The suffering caused as part of natural selection benefits the species as a whole in terms of evolution
          • The suffering of animals is an additional punishment to humankind because of humanity's actions
            • Animal suffering allows human beings to practice compassion and develop positive spiritual qualities
              • Animals are being punished for being seminally present in the snake during the fall in Genesis 3
    • innocent suffering
      • When individuals do something wrong, they can expect to be punished, and suffer as a result if their wrong doing is discovered
    • Immense suffering
      • suffering that affects everyone not just one individual
    • Leibniz
      • best possible world for us to live in - the existence of evil and suffering allows humanity to respond in positive ways to the suffering of others, to develop qualities such as charity, courage and dignity
    • Book of Job
      • illustrates that innocent suffering may seem unjust now but we need to understand that humanity's view of the universe is narrow and limited and that even the suffering of innocents has its place in God's ultimate plan for his creation
    • Epistemic distance
      • It was important for God to allow humans to make free choices. Otherwise we'd be like robots obeying God. God wants humans ti be genuinely loving, that is why he gave us free will. If God intervened then humans wouldnt develop. This is called epistemic distance
    • John Hick
      • 1. The idea of Adam , Eve and the Fall is a myth. It is unlikely that it is literally true and hence a fall from grace in the garden of Eden probably did not happen
        • 2. The idea that devils cause natural disasters such as earthquakes is rejected as unbelievable

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