Solutions to the Problem of Evil
Abandoning Traditional Theism
- Our religious beliefs refer to nothing in the world and so a belief in God refers to nothing empirically verifiable in the world around us.
- Instead, a belief in God is specific to the individual although commonly includes commitment to a moral way of life, a cultural tradition or a certain attitude.
- Evil is no longer a problem as God is not a real, existing being independent of the mind and so would not be able to intervene and prevent evil in the world.
- A.N.Whitehead and Charles Hartstone suggest God is not omnipotent.
- Whitehead describes God as 'the great companion - the fellow sufferer who understands'.
- God therefore is a part of his creation, developing and influencing it rather than determining it.
- As God loses his omnipotence, he no longer is able to eradicate evil.
God vs Devil
- Some religious sects propose that God is not the only powerful deity.
- For these, the Devil is the cause of evil in the world rather than God.
Theodicy - A solution that attempts to preserve theism as a religious system and justify God's actions to demonstrate why a perfect God would make a seemingly imperfect world.
- Augustine believed in a hierarchy of being:
- Angels - some with more grace than others
- Augustine also took the story of Genesis seriously - the sins of Adam and Eve were a catastrophe for mankind.
- In the beginning, God made everything perfect - Adam and Eve possessed perfect free-will.
- By failing to resist the temptation of the serpent in the Garden of Eden, they misused this perfect free-will.
- Augustine states that Adam and Eve's disobediance caused evil to enter the world.
- God did not cause the evil claims Augustine, instead it is the consequence of a lack of good or God's presence ('privatio boni').
- ILLUSTRATION: Blindness is not created, it is the consequence of a lack of sight.
- If Adam and Eve caused the evil, why are we punished for it?
- Augustine states that we inherit the trait of sin (we are all born sinful) - Doctrine of the Original Sin.
- Natural evil is caused by disruptive fallen angels.
- Augustine is pessimistic about human beings describing them as 'lumps of sin' however, he offers two reasons for optimism:
- God offers us forgiveness in Heaven if we accept the death of Jesus as being the reverse of the fall of man.
- Aesthetic argument - we stand too close to the world to see all of the good - if we had God's view we would see it is perfectly balanced.
- The theodicy stays close to the Bible preserving many key Christian doctrines and in doing so gains the support of many.
- OBJECTION: Augustine chooses to create his theodicy based off both literal and symbolic readings of Genesis to fit with what he argues - this creates some incosistency in his…