The Problem of Evil

Revision notes for the Problem of Evil (Religious Studies AS)

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  • Created by: Hannah
  • Created on: 16-04-12 11:39


The problem of evil :

  • it is an old and permanent problem
  • it is universal
  • not just academic, it is personal
  • we need to try to make some sense of it
  • some people don't think there is a convincing argument yet
  • some people think the problem of evil is more about us than about God
  • the name for any attempt to solve the problem of evil is a theodicy
  • evil is split into moral evil and physical/natural evil (and can be linked)
  • the inconsistant triad - if God is all good and all powerful, how is there evil?
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Augustine's theodicy

  • God is perfect and made a perfect world
  • wanted to express how wonderful God is
  • was a Christian - took the Bible literally
  • thought that evil was due to man's sin - Adam and Eve
  • said that moral evil is our fault, and physical evil the punishment
  • "All evil is either sin (M.E) or the punishment for sin (P.E)"
  • God is innocent from evil
  • At the end of time, we will be judged, and then will go to heaven or hell

Augustine's theodicy dominated until the 1800s

Augustine's theodicy, while strong, is probably wrong.

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Criticisms of Augustine - Friedrich Schleiermacher

  • how can a perfect world go wrong?
  • if the world goes wrong it is God's fault because he made it (and did a bad job!)
  • physical evil was in the world before moral evil (e.g. when the dinosaurs were around) - you can't punish someone for what they haven't done yet
  • there is no physical evidence of a perfect world
  • Hell - how can there be a permanent evil in the system?
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Irenaeus' theodicy

  • there is a 2 stage development of humans - intelligent animals --> children of God
  • to develop and grow we need challenge
  • it is a soul making world/character building world/moral gymnasium
  • we have to be at a distance from God (epistemic distance) or else we will be overwhelmed with his love and wouldn't have a chance to grow or develop.
  • if you fail in this life you always get to heaven - universal salvation
  • there is no hell

God is responsible for evil in the world, but he's not to blame.

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Criticisms of Irenaeus

  • is this world fair? It is not fair to design a world were bad things happen even if there is a good result.
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Extra notes

  • Augustine is very important but faces major philosophical difficulties
  • Irenaeus is very important but faces major theological difficulties.

Richard Swinburne - "Evil is the logically necesary condition for greater good" (taking Irenaeus' side)

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