Evaluating Hick

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Hick's Strengths

Explains Moral Evil
Moral evil is neccessary due to humans being created in a morally immature state. As we have free will we are able to misuse it and act in harmful ways as well in virtuous ways as well. 

Explains Natural Evil 
We need natural evil to be able to grow into the likeness of God, without natural evil there would be no challenges for this to happen. Swinburne argues that it has to be seen as being so bad so we don't live in a 'toy world' where we don't develop into God's likeness. 

A more Scientifically Plausible Theory
Fits into more modern day knowledge as Hick doesn't have a literal interpreation of Genesis, he argues that the long painful process of evolution is what was needed to develop into the image of God. Now that we are in this image and are morally and spiritually aware we can grow and develop into the the likeness. 



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Hick's Strengths

Hick's theodicy seems coherent
If freely developed intrinisc good is most valuable then it can explain other features of the world:

  • creation would have to have been imperfect to allow development
  • God would have to had maintained an epistemic distance to allow our free will to develop 
  • Natural evil is unpleasant but also necessary 

Intrinsic goodness does seem to be most valuable
Many agree that values that are earned are more valuable than those that are just given to us for no cost. Peter Vardy agrees with this and the Kierkaard's story of the King and the Maiden supports this conclusion.

Logical sense to have evil in order to develop 
Make sense that we cannot know good without knowing evil, as if we wish to grow positively we must have that option and an experience of evil in the world. 

Hick's theodicy is in line with mainstream Christian beliefs
Hick based his theodicy on Irenaeus who was a traditional early Christian thinker. Also his idea of the universal salvation emphasises God's benevolence. 

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Hick's Critiques

Excessive evil is a problem 
D.Z. Phillips has argued that the utilitarian justification of events such as the Holocaust don't seem convinving. Many have also argued that Hick's theodicy justifies an excessive amount of evil and don't believe this suffering is really justified. 

Suffering is portrayed in a positive light
D.Z. Phillips argues that God allowing suffering on a massive scale for our own good can't be right. Suffering can't be an expression of love, meaning Hick's God can not be benevolent as he allows suffering. 

Soul-making through evolution seems wasteful
Griffin argues that the process of evolution as the first stage of development into the image of God is wasteful, as it is millions of years full of destructive, pain-filled natural selection. Griffin also argues that Hick's counter-factual hypothesis would not allow us to develop it is a false dilemma. As it could be possible to have a world that challenges us to develop but at the same time isn't filled with suffering like ours.  

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Hick's Critiques

Universalism seems Unjust
Can be argued that everyone reaching heaven is unfair, means those who have done extreme immoral actions such as Hitler will be in heaven. 

Universalism is un-Christian
Stephen T. Davis argues that Hick's theodicy contradicts scripture in the Old and New Testament about heaven and hell. Hick isn't in line with traditional Christian beliefs as the Bible states that not all will go to heaven some will have an eternal separation from God. 

God is immoral?
According to Hick those who suffer are suffering for the benefit of others. Using Rowe's example of Sue, it seems that Sue suffered and died so that others could grow and develop. It is as if God's using others as tools to 'develop' the rest of humanity, using people as a means to an end. 

The role of Jesus
Hick's theodicy diminshes the role of Jesus, as the Christian veiw of atonement means that Jesus' death washed away all the sins of humanity allowing people to be saved. However if Hick is correct in saying that everyone is saved eventually, then he is reducing Jesus as being a role-model for more God-like behaviour. 

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