The problem of evil

Augustine and Ireneaus' theodicy

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Problem of evil
Can the existence of evil in the world be reconciled with the existence of a God who is
unlimited in both goodness and power? What is the origin of evil and where does it
come from? Why does God allow evil to continue?
Natural evil is the malfunctioning of the natural world, volcanoes, and earthquakes
Moral evil is the result of wrong human actions such as murder. The problem of evil faces
people who believe that God has omnipotence, omnibenevolence and omniscience. Evil
produces suffering which appears to be unjust
If God is omnipotent, he can do anything, he could create a world that is perfect and devoid
of evil
If God is omniscient then he knows everything in the universe and knows when evil is about
to occur
If God is omnibenevolent then he would wish to stop evil from occurring and prevent
The inconsistent triad was put forward by Hume and suggests that all three statements
cannot be true: God is all-powerful, God is all-loving, evil exists. Evil does exist so God
can only possess one of these attributes so this is not the same God of classical theism.
1) if God is perfectly loving, God must wish to abolish all evil;
And if God is all-powerful, God must be able to abolish all evil.
But evil still exists; therefore God cannot be omnipotent and perfectly loving.
Augustine argues that the universe is good and it is the creation of a good God for a good
purpose, Genesis describes the creation of the world by God as being good
Augustine said there were higher and lower goods but everything was good in its own way
Augustine called evil the privation of good and said that it was not a substance, merely the
going wrong of something good
Augustine said that God did not create evil but it came about when angels and humans
turned their back on the higher good (God) and settled for lesser goods as they had
freewill and they ceased to be what they were created to be
This caused the fall and the biblical narrative of Adam and Eve highlights the disobedience of
humanity and its consequences
This disrupted the delicate balance of the world and the state of perfection was ruined
Augustine believed that the sin of Adam was passed onto all humans and this is original sin
and is seminally present
Augustine says God is right not to intervene with suffering as people who obey him will have
an eternal life and those who reject him will have eternal torment, he also said that
rather than giving everyone their rightful punishment in hell, he sent Jesus down to die
for our sins so those who accept God can have eternal life
Augustine's theodicy is criticised as evil coming from nothing in a perfect world is
contradictory and God must have created the universe exactly as he wanted it to be if he
was all powerful, angels and humans would only use their freewill to do good and there
would be no evil
Another criticism is that if the world had no knowledge of good and evil and was perfect,
how could there be freedom to obey or disobey God? If humans chose to disobey God,

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God takes the risk of humans
rejecting his love and cannot blame them if they do
Augustine's theodicy contradicts science as evolution suggests the world has developed
from chaos whereas Augustine says it is the other way round, suffering is essential to
survival for instance food chains; this cannot be called "evil".…read more


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