Evil and suffering

  • Created by: AnnabelH
  • Created on: 05-01-16 11:31

Inconsistent triad

If God is all knowing then he is aware of the existance of evil and suffering and should know how to stop it. If god was all loving then he would want to put a stop to it, but yet evil still exists.An inconsistent triad is a group of three statements, of which the truth of any two would make the third necessarily false.

Hume believed that there were only three possibilities: (The epicurean problem) 

  • 1) God is not ominpotent 
  • 2) God is not omnibenlovent
  • 3) God does not exist

Hume concluded that God does not exist as he would be able to stop suffering or he would simply be a malicious God; not the God of classicla theism. 

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Augustines theodicy

 Augustine believes that all evil is either sin or a punishment for a sin.  

  • Adam and eve werte the first humans and they commited a sin. 
  • We are therefore punished for this as we were seminally present in the loins of Adam.
  • God does not have to intervene with evil as it is as a result of our own actions and are therefore worthy of punishment. 
  • God created a perfect world free of evil yet humans disobeyed this

Natural Evil: Occurred because of the loss of order in nature, defined by Augustine as the 'penal consequences of sin'

Moral Evil: Derived from human free will and disobedience

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Criticisms of Augustine

Logical error - Schleiermache argues that it is logical contradiction to argue that God created a perfect world that went wrong as this implies that evil created itself out of nothing. The world was either not perfect or created wrong - if so God is to blame not humans. 

Moral error - Hell appears to be part of the universal design, this would suggest that God anticipated evil to happen. 

Scientific error -  It is solely based on genisise and the fall, these have no scientific evidence and are no longer considered to be accurate, which therefore may mean his theodicy is not.  The idea that we were solemly in the loins of adam is also biologically incorrect. 

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Iranaeus' theodicy

Iranaeus believes that evil is intended by God in order for us to devleop as human beings to ajust to the likeness of God.We are all made in Gods image but are not yet perfect we need to adapt through choosing right over wrong in order to gain the acceptance of God.

Nature of Evil:

  • Genuine free wil requires a choice, so for free will to truly exist, so must the choice between good and evil
  • Therefore evil is actually instrumental to humans attaining God's likeness

Source of Evil:

  • All humans were created at an epistemic distance (distance of knowledge) from God
  • This is because if we were fully aware of God observing us all the time then we would choose good because he wants us to, not because we want to.
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Iranaeus' theodicy

Role of Evil:

  • God created humans in his image
  • However we must develop into his likeness
  • Evil is essential to this as there are obstacles for us to overcome to achieve God's likeness, also we must choose goodness to be like God
  • The World is a 'vale of soul-making'

Suffering and evil are... 

  • Useful means of knowledge - pain makes us help others
  • Character builiding - We are individual and not programmed
  • Predicatbale environment - Natural laws
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Criticisms of Iranaeus

  • Everyone goes to heaven - He argued everyone goes to heaven, this would appear unjust as evil would go unpunished. And the idea of morality becomes pointless. 
  • Innocent suffer - is the magnitude of suffering that mnany innocnet suffer really necessary for soul making?
  • Continuation - Allowing evil to continue can never be a sign of love no matter what.
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Augustine strenghts

  • Not Gods plan - Evil is not originally part of God's creative work, so evil isn't God's fault 
  • Freewill - It Stresses the value of free will as the best choice God could have made for mankind 
  • Humans responisble - God is therfore not responsible for man's evil choices- humans are!
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Iranaeus stengths


  • Values free will as it means man develops morally and spiritually. Swinburne- best possible choice to create  a world that includes suffering as this means that humans can meaningfully contribute through their free will responces.
  • Avoids Augustine's spontaneous apperance of evil- as Irenaeus says it was part of a plan
  • Allows for the modern concept of evolution - as it isn't based on 'The Fall'
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Religious arguments


  • God has given us freewill to choose between right and wrong. He has given us guidance how we should live our lives through the ten commandments, but it is upto us as to whether we follow it or not.
  • Adam and Eve chose to diobey God.
  • As well as a power of good there is als the power of evil - satan tempted Job to disobey God.
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