The nature of evil and suffering
Extent of evil and suffering is why it's difficult to belive in god.
Natural evil: Apparent malfunctioning of the natural world, produces diseases, earthquakes, volcanoes ect.
Moral evil: Result of a human action that was morally wrong, like murder, cruelty and war.
Evil produces suffering. The innocent seem to suffer most.
Does evil exist?
- There is no evil: harmonious unity that is good, evil is a mere illusion in our minds. Not something god has deliberately created. Simply the absense of good. Doesn't explain why a loving god would allow humanity to suffer from an illusion.
- There is no God: Atheists - Evil is conincing evidence that god does not exist. A loving god would not have created a universe so full of evil and suffering.
- Our view of evil is disorted: Hindu and Buddhism - Evil is brought about by human greed and selfishness. Suffering is not from god, nor is God responsible for it (karma)
- The reality of God: Monothiestic religions - no suggestion that evil is an illusion of the human mind. Evil is seen as utterly bad and entirely real.
The challenge of evil
Evil presents the ultimate challenge to belief in the existence of god. Problem that cannot be solved: even if evil ceased to exist there would still be the question of why so much evil has already happened. No religious justification for evil: it's unacceptable.
If god is all knowing and perfectly loving he must want to abolish all evil and suffering, if he is all-powerful then he must be able to abolish all evil and suffering.
Four distinctive problems:
- A theological problem, which challenges the nature of god.
- A philosophical problem, which requires the believer to accept conflicting claims.
- A diverse problem, that evil comes in many forms that demand different explanations.
- A challenging problem, that the existence of evil and suffering is an objective reality.
The Augustinian heodicy
Aquinas argued that god allows evil to exist as part of the greater plan of love.
Thodicies are arguments that suggest god is right to allow the existence of evil and suffering, they are necessary and essential.
Argued that the universe is good, that is the creationof a god for a good purpose.
There were higher and lower goods, in huge number and variety. Consequently augustine called evil a privitation of good.
- He believed that evil did not come from god , nor did exist in it's own right.
- Augustine believed that god is right not to intervene to put a stop to suffering, because the punishnent is justice for human sin and god is just a god. at the end of time, those who followed god would have eternal and those who rejected god would fuffer eternal torment,
- If god were simply just, then everyone would recieve their rightful punishment in hell.
- Clears god of any responsibility for the existence of evil.
- It was a logical contradiction to say that a perfectly created world had gone wrong.
- If god really is a being of absolute power, then he must have created the universe exactly the way he wanted it to be.
- Humans had the freedom (given to them by god) to reject him. god has to take the risk that humans will not reject his love but cannot blame them for it if they do.
- Augustine's view that the world was made perfect and damaged by humans, is contrary to the theory of evolution, seems unlikely that humans were once perfect but not anymore.
- Suffering is essential to survival: things must die in order that others might eat and live.
- It is reasonable to argue that natural evil is the way earth demonstrates it's own god-given freedom.
- Evil is a very real entity in the form of satan, the existence of hell as an eternal place of punishment seems to contradict the existence of an all loving god.
Solving the problem: Irenean Theodicy
- Ireanus argued that the world was the way it was because god had a plan and a purpose to provide humanity with the opportunities to develop the qualities to become perfect. he reffered to humanity as the children of god.
- God could not have created humans in complete perfection.god had to give them freewill.
- Evil has a valuble part to play in god's plans for humanity. freewill requires the possibility of chosing god instead of evil, and therefore god has to allow evil and suffering to occur.
- God allows humans to chose freely. the world has to be imperfect because if it were a paradice in which there were not evil and suffering, humans would not be free to choose because only good could actually happen.
IS this the best possible world?
- Supporters of the irenaean theodicy argue that this world is the best of all possible worlds because it offers an environment in which humans are able to develop the finest characteristics of life.
- Allows room for the theory of evolution and avoids some of the problems assosiated with augustian theodicy.
- If we need an afterlife to achieve perfection, would it not have been easier for god to give us longer earthly lives?
- Challenges of the world do not always result in genuine human development, and often seem to produce nothing but great misery and suffering.
- Irenaean theodicy attempts to justify natural evil with the view that suffering is, in some sence, a good thing, and without suffering humans cannot develop good qualities.
- Many apparently evil people are mentally disturbed and cannot be held totally responsible for their actions.
- Evil seems to be a random occurrence and many people feel that there is, no apparent reason why some people suffer and others do not, especially regarding suffering of children.
- God could not have made a world in which the cure for cancer was prayer, to have done so would be able to take away from humans the opportunity to be involved in discovering the cure for themselves.