Problem of Evil overview

  • Created by: Berbtato
  • Created on: 09-05-17 08:56

Key Terms and introduction

Omnipotent - All powerful

Omniscient - All Knowing

Omnibenevolent - All good and loving

Theodicy - Attempt to justify God and Evil existing at the same time

Natural evil - Evil not caused by humans, e.g. tsunami/earthquakes

Moral evil - Evil done by deliberate misuse of human free will

Free will - Ability to make independent choices of real options

Epistemic distance - distance in knowledge and understanding

Evil in the world seems to be a problem, if god is such a powerful loving being how does he allowed evil to exist? This question is considered in 3 different theodicies.

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Logical and Evidential approaches

Evil is a consistent problem when considering God as being a totally loving being, one approach to this is taking a logical stand point. If God is all powerful and all loving and evil exists surely this is a problem. This formed the Inconsitent triad which stated all of the following cannot be true at the same time:

- God is perfectly Good

- God is all Powerful

- Evil and suffering exist

Logically you could use this to say there cannot be a God, or there cannot be Evil or at least a god that doesnt have the capabilities we assume it to have.

Another approach is from the evidential stand point. This uses our own suffering and stories of suffering as observations to assess the existence of a loving God. This also seems to suggest that if God is truely loving how does he allow evil to exist

Three philosophers attempted to prove Evil and God exist despite these 2 approaches, and produced a 'Theodicy' to try and prove it.

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Irenean Theodicy

This was developed my a early philosopher named Irenaeus. He lived in one of the earliest christian families when the religion was very new and had not yet established itself completely.

Ireneas did not attempt to prove evil simply did not exist like Augustine did (see next Card), instead he admited God allows it to continue arguing the case that without evil we would not appreciate goodness making it important in developing our moral selfs.

He also believed God gave us free will for a reason, without it we would be slaves and he wanted us to reach his 'likeness' through our own effeorts. By likeness Irenaeus meant the spiritual holiness of God, as in genesis we were made in his image but we were not made in his likeness, that is something we reach through our own moral development.

He believed we needed some evil in order to appreciate the good things in life, such as a warm sunny day or a good meal. His idea of moral development did not stop upon death however, he believed that death was infact required to finish our moral development before we could achieve the holyness of God.

His theodicy was further developed in the modern day by Hick but essentially retains a lot of the base ideas behind it.

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Augustine's Theodicy

Augustine believed that God simply could not make imperfection, instead suggesting evil was "Privatio Boni" or "The absence of Good" rather than an actual existing thing. Evil to him was not an entity but merely the nothingness in the place of good when there is no goodnesss.

He placed the balme on how evil entered the world on 2 particular events from the bible, which he records as if they were historical actual events. The fall of angels, where some angels got less grace and disobeyed God, and the Fall of man, where Adam and Eve defy God in the Garden of Eden.

It was because of the 'Fall of man' Ireneaus believed evil had entere both the natural world, causing earthquakes and other natural disasters, and evil or sin had permanently become a part of the human soul meaning we could never achieve understanding of God or his Holyness without his help. He believed that all humans now contain Sin because of the crime Adam and Eve committed with God being the only Holy being and evil only exists because of the lesser amount of Goodness in the world because of the Fall.

Many dont agree with Augustine however as his interpretations of Genesis claim them to be real and historical events and he is generally quite creative with his interpretations of them as well.

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Hick's "Soul-making" Theodicy

Hick is a much more modern philosophre who wanted to find a way to explain the existence of God despite evil to the modern mind. He built up on the Irenean theodicy and developed it further using the Poems of Keats. Combined he concluded that the world can be described as a 'vale of soul making' where our soul must get through a dark valley and develop morally in order to reach a point where we are worth of God.

Hick rejects the Augustinian approach and states evil is not a mistake by God it is a delibrete decision made to give us true free will to develop our love and understanding of God through choice rather than obligation. He calls the existing divide before we reach this point the Epistemic Distance

Hick believed also that God doesnt make himself totally invisible or totall clear for a reason, if we cannot be sure of his existence then it is truely a free choice to follow him or not. If he made his existence obvious and apparent we would not have the choice to believe in him or not.

The final point Hick makes as part of his Theodicy is that we continued on our journey to develop the soul after death, in which our soul continues to develop as it did in the 'vale of soul making' world untill we reach God's likeness eventually, meaning he believed everyone got to God in the end.

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