The Problem of Evil Essay


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Josh Bovill 12DA 26/03/09
Philosophy Essay.
(a) Explain how Irenaeus accounts for the existence of both moral and natural
evil. [25]
Irenaeus accounts for the existence of both moral evil and natural evil. Moral evil is the
phrase used by philosophers to refer to evil events or acts that are caused by human
beings choosing freely to do the action in question. In philosophical terms you would say
that an agent caused the act freely. For example, if you stab some one. That is a moral
evil if you choose freely to do it. However, if a lion attacks you and wounds you with its
claws, your experience is bad or evil, but the lion's action was not a moral one, because
the lion does not think rationally like a human being. Natural evil refers to events that
have bad or evil consequences when experienced by human beings. For example, if a
hurricane strikes a city it can cause flooding, devastation, destruction of houses and loss
of life. The people in the devastated area experience a natural evil. However, few
people today would want to blame an evil spirit for causing the hurricane. Instead,
people would understand that the hurricane is just a result of the way in which nature
works. If a hurricane struck an area uninhabited by human beings, it would not be a
natural evil for human beings and would probably receive little or no news coverage.
Most philosophers today would argue that natural evils are caused by the way the
natural world works.
The story of the Garden of Eden and the fall is taken literally by Irenaeus. This is the
situation where humans and angels stray from God. The serpent (devil) is to blame. If
God didn't save humanity then the serpent would have triumphed over God. Punishment
is appropriate for people to learn E.g. Adam and Eve going astray, not having enough
wisdom to know what is right. (similar to children). They didn't deliberately stray away
from God. God cursed the ground and punished man with labour and Women with
childbirth. God gave punishments so they learn from their consequences without
suffering people would not come to know God. God judges all and those who reject
him and follow the ways of the devil will be punished. Prophets point out the right path
to God. Jesus' incarnation unites humans with God. Jesus `saviour of mankind'. Jesus,
the new Adam obeys God, undoing Adam's sin.
Irenaeus stated humans are made in an imperfect state to `grow' into the likeness of
God. We are born in the image of God with the ability of rationale, unlike animals.
He doesn't think natural disasters come from the devil. God created the world with
natural disasters because without pain, pleasure cannot be experienced.
God gave us free will to decide whether we become good or bad (heaven or hell).
(b) `The greatest strength of Irenaeus' explanation of evil is that it points to a
loving.' Discuss. [10]
Irenaeus' theory points to a loving God. The theory states that God created the world
for mankind and that Natural disasters are part of the world, so that we can experience
pain and in turn experience pleasure. He says humans have free will and the ability to
rationalise unlike animals this means that we are to learn from our experiences, good or
bad. The problem of evil if seen in this light is not a problem at all it should be embraced
as a learning tool and a way of choosing the `right' path. Irenaeus tells us we are born in

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Josh Bovill 12DA 26/03/09
the likeness of God and develop into the image of God throughout our lives therefore
life is like a journey. Irenaeus however also doesn't claim the problem of evil comes
from the Devil. Instead he says that it is just the way the world works and it is a way
people `learn. Irenaeus sees the world as a means to an end (afterlife heaven and hell).…read more


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