GCSE Philosophy: Good and Evil

Notes on the good and evil topic in the christian philosophy section of the OCR Religious Studies GCSE

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  • Created by: Stephie98
  • Created on: 16-06-13 17:13

Good definitions

the giving of protection and care, evin if it does not benefit you, and ensuring happiness in everyone

  • virtuosity (ie. moral excellence)
  • what God approves of/intentions for humanity (ie. Jesus)
  • unselfish (ie. no want of reward/no personal gain)
  • gives something good (ie. makes the world a better place)
  • something which has forfilled its purpose ~ Aristotle
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Evil definitions

the deliberate intention to do something which will harm someone else either emotionally or physically

  • a force/power
  • physical pain/mental suffering
  • when something is done by a person or natural force causing harm or injury ~ Gerta Sajonova
  • Evil is all that that destroys and corrupts ~ Plato

brings wickedness/suffering

Moral Evil: evil caused by human actions

Natural Evil: the apparent malfunctioning of the natural world (eg. earthquakes)

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  • The fall: when man disobeyed God in the story of Adam and Eve, they brought hardship and suffering upon themselves. The fall from perfection with God to an imperfect world out of the presence of God. The fall from grace.
  • Original sin: the suffering, hardship and disobedience of God that Eve brought into the world when she gave into temptation, inherited by us. Human tendancy towards sin, however we do not bear original guilt. Humans are born with an absence of holiness and perfect love, and the ability to sin. (never refered to in the bible).
  • Free will: the freedom to choose, given to Adam and Eve by God in Genesis 3 (as they ate from the tree of knowledge). Cause of moral evil.
  • Redemption: when sins are fogiven of "made up for" (ie. Jesus' crucifiction - "the new Adam"; made up for the previous sins of all of mankind [aka. Adam and Eve]))
  • The Devil: the tempter
  • Atonement: Jesus' death on the cross formed a bridge between our imperfect world and the world of God. he made us at one with God.
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The Nature of God

  • forgiving
  • positive aspects of humanity
  • judge; just
  • father
  • leader
  • creator
  • pure
  • light
  • the power of good
  • awsome
  • omnipotent (all powerful)
  • transendent (out of the world/ompersonal)
  • imanent (in the world/personal)
  • omnipresent (everywhere)
  • omnibenevolent (all loving)
  • omniscient (all knowing)
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The Devil

  • Satan (accuser/opponent [Hebrew]) / Devil (accuser/opponent [Greek]) / Lucifer (bearer of light [angelic name])
  • Created (originally good)
  • Rebelled against God/wanted his power - power of evil (yet inferior to God)
  • Forced from heaven to hell
  • Traditional appearence comes from medievil time (middle ages)
  • Symbol: beast with horns and forked tail
  • Cause of immoral thoughts/actions
  • A real person/ personifictaion of evil/negative qualities of man-(symbolic)
  • will be defeated in the end
  • "and the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur...they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever"
  • In the bible:
    • only description = shape shifter
    • Oempted Eve in the Garden of Eden
    • Responsible for original sin
    • Tempted Jesus and Job; tested their faith
  • * Christian beliefs*
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Adam and Eve (Genesis 3)

  • Adam and Eve give into the temptation of the snake (aka. Satan) and betray God's trust; they eat from the tree of knowledge which God says they are not to eat from
  • "As soon as they had eaten it they were given understanding and realised that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and covered themselves"
  • God punishes them:
  • Adam: has to work the soil/everything is no longer provided for him
  • Eve: given pain in child birth
  • Both: banished from the garden of Eden
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The Temptation of Christ (Mathew 4)

  • 3 temptations:
    • to make bread from the rocks (food) ~ to relieve hunger and use his power
    • to jump off a temple ~ to test God and show his love
    • to have a kingdom, in exchange for the worshipping of Satan ~ to have power
  • Rejected the temptations:
    • following the bible "it is written: man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God".
    • following God's word
    • free of sin
  • Representation:
    • the internal struggle of man against temptation and for his religion
    • devil = mans thoughts
    • shows Jesus' power and devotion/love to God (sets an example for Christians - there id always a way to fight temptation and follow God, who will be waiting for you)
    • gives Christians hope that God will be there; God will not fail them "Then the devil left him and angels came and attended him".
  • We set temptation upon ourselves
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  • 3 possible explanations for Jobs suffering:
    • Suffering is a test
      • God is seeing if Job will desert him. He is rewarded when he doesn't turn to the devil.
    • Suffering is a punishment for sin
      • Job's friends encourage him to search his life for unconfessed sins and to repent them, however, Job protests that he has always been faithful and good. God rejects this idea and accuses Job's friends of being wrong-minded.
    • Suffering is a part of God's plan, which is beyond human understanding.

  • Job's wealth, health and family are restored after God proclaims the third edea.

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Irenaeus' (soul-making) Theodicy (130-202)

  • Suffering and evil exist (and are permitted to by God).
  • They bring a "greater good".
  • Evil is the consequence of human free will and disobedience, however God was partly responsible.
  • God created the world imperfect so that imperfect beings could develop through the soul-making process in "children of God" in his perfect likeness.
  • Attaining the likeness of God requires the willing co-operation of humans.
  • Natural evil: has the devine purpose to develop qualities such as compassion through the soul-making process. You need desaster to develop as a person/to be more like God.
  • Moral evil: is derived from human free will and disobedience.
  • Evil will eventually be overcome and everyone will have eternal life in heaven. The end justifies the means. This justifies tempory evil.
  • If God intervened in order to help one person, it would have a negative effect for another.
  • "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" - man was first made in God's image, and it won't be till later that they develop into his likeness aswell.
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The Augstinian (soul-deciding) Theodicy (354-430)

  • God created a perfect world "God saw all that he had made and saw that it was very good"  - the world has fallen short of perfection.
  • Evil is not a seperate force opposing God; the "privation" (lack) of goodness/deprivation.
    • There is no such thing as evil ans a noun for that would have to have been created by God It is only evil acts which causepain and suffering in the world.
  • Evil originated from free will (possessed by humans AND anels).
  • The fall began with the fall of the angels (the devil is a fallen angel - has free will).
  • Natural Evil: punishment for Adam and Eve's original sin "penal consequence of sin".
  • Moral Evil: derived from human free will and disobedience.
  • ALL humans are worthy of punishment "seminally present in the loins of Adam" (descendents of Adam); God is just.
  • Goodness is perfection after which we may strive.

The omnibenevolent and just God seeks to allow redemption for humans through Christ. His death, suffering, and resurrection brings salvation to believers

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CS Lewis Theodicy (1898-1963)

  • How can a God who is loving and omnipotent allow evil and suffering?
  • The answer depends on our definitions of "good" and "omnipotent". If there is only one meaning for these then the problem is unsovable.
  • God can do whatever he wants except that that is intrinsically impossible (eg. he cant make a square circle); even an omnipotent God can not create a society of free human beings without "free will"; if humans are not free to commit acts of evil and atrocity, then they are not really free at all".
  • If God intervened with humans misuse of free will, then there would be no meaning to the universe - nothing important would depend on mans choices.
  • God's love is not mere kindness "kindness doesn't care whether its object becomes good or bad".

Because God loves us, he will not rest until we are wholly lovable; suffering is evidence of God's goodness.

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Reasons for Behaving Morally

  • To feel God about yourself (not purely Christian)
  • Judgement (in heaven)
  • To please God
  • To maintain God's perfect world
  • To remain in God's likeness (obtain his goodness)
  • Ethical monotheists - God is the source of all goodness & is concerned about our behaviour
  • Belief in a reward in heaven
  • The Bible:
      • 10 commandements
      • prophets (eg. Isaiah): warned of punishment if man angered God by hurting others
      • Jesus' words and actions - jhe is the son of God,therefore an example to everyone
      • The great commandment: "love your neighbour as much as you love yourself"
      • The golden rule: "treat others as you would treat yourself"
      • The parables (eg. the good samaritan/the prodigal son)
      • The sermon on the mount - a collection of Jesus' teachings
  • Reward after death
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Sources of Moral Authority

  • The Bible
  • Christian leaders
  • Family/friends
  • Conscience
  • Law
  • Media
  • Other people's examples
  • Past experience
  • Prayer
    • S: sorry
    • T: thanks
    • O: others
    • P: please


* Christian only beliefs

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