St Augustine devised his Biblical based theory as soul making and said that evil and suffering don't disprove the existence of an all loving God because:
- God created a World that was perfectly good
- The Bible supports this 'God saw all that he made and it was very good'
- Evil is a privation of good
- Evil didnt come from God and is right not to intervene. It came from the decisions made by beings to whom God had given free will (angels and humans) and as a result, they had chosen to turn away from God
- This is known in the story of Adam and Eve.
Augustine believed that God's good creation was ruined by human sin and that evil and suffering are the punishment that humans bought upon themselves, Christians refer to this as the Original sin
- As a result, an all loving God sent his son, Jesus, to die so that those who believed could be saved
Criticisms of Augustine theodicy
German theologer Schleiermacher said Augustine was wrong because
- If God had created a perfectly good world then it could never go wrong
- if humans were able to choose evil then evil must have existed in the first place
- God is unjust for allowing humans to be punished for Adam's sin
St Ireneaus offered a different solution to the problem of evil. Soul making
- He claimed God deliberately created an imperfect world so that humans could, through trial and adversity, develop into perfect beings through 2 stages.
- God created humans with the intention of allowing them to develop
- God could not have simply created perfect human beings because this would not have given them the chance to choose to be imperfect
- So God had to give humans free will
- This means God gave humans the right to freely choose either good or evil.
- Therefore God had to permit evil and suffering to occur
- Allows humans to develop good qualities
John Hick agreed and said God had to allow humans to develop for themselves
- God had to create humans at an epimistic distance from himself so that God would not be so close that humans would be overwhelmed by him and have no choice but to believe
- by keeping distance God allows humans to choose freely
- Evil and suffering allow humans to develop positive qualitites such as love
- If God constantly interfered, then humans could not develop-- Counter factual Hypothesis
Criticisms of the Irenaean Theodicy
Number of criticisms against Irenaean
- suffering does not always result in positive human development e.g. depression
- suffering can produce nothing but misery
- Theologian D. Z. Phillips argued that love can never be expressed by allowing suffering to happen
What is the problem?
The problem of evil is that how does an omnibenelovent God allow suffering to exist in the world?
God is described as all loving and therefore should wish to end all evil and suffering. He would not want his own creation to suffer, this is sometimes called the inconsistent triad. The inconsistent triad explains that God is omnipotent and omnibenelovent however evil exists. This was developed by Mackie.
There are 4 types of evil Natural, moral, physical and metaphysical.
Strengths to Augustinian
- Biblically based- appeals to conservative christians and their beliefs in the creation and the story of Adam and Eve
- Augustines argument has been supported by modern thinkers
- seems clear the evil and suffering is caused by humans choosing to act in the wrong ways concluding God is not responsible
Strengths to Irenaean
- Theory is evolutionary based compared to augustinian which is dependent on the conservative biblical view of humanity
- Values freewill as the means by which man develops morally and spiritually and therefore God is not to blame for mans evil choices
- Evil is teleological as the purpose is to facilitate growth