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Theodicy

November 12, 2013

theodicyDistinction between moral evil and natural/physical evil

evil = that which is contrary to God’s will physical pain, mental suffering, moral wickedness – last causes the others

moral – caused by human action, natural caused by bacteria, nature &c.

Moral evil caused by people – but lots caused by ignorance and folly as well

Jesus corrected idea that blind man born so because of sin

Much of it is just random

Best of all possible worlds

Augustine– result of fall

Green consciousness now means we realise how we’re linked to natural world

People don’t believe in devil any more

Swinburne: If no death, limit to harm we. can do

Ultimate sacrifice of oneself not possible

Limited life span concentrates attention on how to spend time

No births – so no free hand for younger generation

Death limits the amount of suffering one person can inflict on another

Need to have laws so we can learn consequences

Suffering produces courage

Pain and pleasure both part of spectrum

Can’t have one without other

Limits to suffering too extreme

earthquakes unpredictable – could be more stable

Torture possible without people passing out

Swinburne’s God making world and giving us a D-I-Y kit – is remote

Christian heaven has no death so possible for a perfect world not to have death

Plato – world made by evil demiurge

Ireneus rejects idea that God created world out of existing matter – that would mean there was something which didn’t owe its existence to God

Implies God doing best he can with shoddy materials

Liberation theologians take most seriously, and argue political solution to, oppression

Job – disagrees with traditional idea that we suffer as retribution

also disagrees with idea that God must have his reasons

Kierkegaard says choice between reason (which would reject God) and faith

Kant makes reason supreme and most philosophy follows that

Christianity has paradoxes though – Jesus is both God and man

Can despair – like Ivan in Brothers Karamazov or Camus Or can trust, like Job

What is problem of evil?

if God is loving, must wish to abolish It; If all powerful he can, yet evil exists so God can’t be both omnipotent and all-loving

Epicurus formulated it In C3 BCE

Augustine wrote about it

theos – God dike – righteous

Arguments for and against theodicies

some say evil is illusory

but Judaism & Christianity based upon realism in bible and reflect good and evil show it to be dark and crushing

Augustine response hinges on fall from original righteousness

majority view in Xn history

evil is negative, privative

Universe is good

So evil not from God

is a going wrong of what Is inherently good

blind = lack of proper eye functioning

some angels rebelled

tempted humans to rebel

natural order went awry

Thus ‘All evil Is either sin or punishment for sin.’

Judgement at end

Those who freely rejected salvation will be eternally tormented

So evil cancelled out

Clears God of responsibility

Augustine – evil is a privation e.g. sickness is privation of health

God created out of nothing, not out of God

God foresaw fall and planned its redemption through Christ

Augustine calls evil privatio boni

Answer to Manichaean dualism

Aquinas follows Aristotle

in any pair of contraries one is always negative,

e.g. dark is absence of light, poverty of wealth, evil of good

Not all absences are evil – only if what is absent is what something should have if it is true to its nature

e.g. a rock without eyes is not evil; a bird without wings is

Evil is anything which departs from its being, i.e. not fully what it ought to be

All beings other than God are contingent = might not have been Only God is perfectly good – we fall short so evil is necessary consequence of creation

Nothing is wholly evil, not even devil

God paints on large canvas dark bits

OK in whole picture Not created directly but incidentally Not moral evil, though

Persuasive from theocentric perspective but not acceptable to child with throat cancer

There is more evil than is necessary

Evolution – so differences not due to different natures of species

assumes all striving for perfection

not clear that there is a single human nature

what it means for God to be good depends on his own nature But if he loves us shouldn’t he give some weight to our point of view?

Schleiermacher – a perfect creation going wrong is self-contradictory

It amounts to self-creation of evil out of nothing

fallen angels must have received less grace

Buck stops with God

Evidence of evolution that we evolved out of primitive, not fell from higher beginning Natural disasters existed long before human beings

Hell eternally serves no constructive purpose Evil would be built into the eternal structure of the universe

Someone boiling with envy, anger, lust, cannot be described as lacking anything

But it does make them LESS then they could be as people

Irenaeus – gradual creation of a perfected humanity through life in an imperfect world

If created perfect, not allowed to make mistakes, can’t be sons or daughters

Humans created In 2 stages: bought into existence = image, being transformed = likeness of God

freedom is valuable so not created perfect first time

tension between selfishness from our survival instinct and the calls for self- transcendence

natural disasters unexplained – but a world of hedonism wouldn’t create the conditions of struggle which perfects and transforms us

a world without pain would mean we have no free will and would require continual adjustments, no opportunity to develop courage, helpfulness

Irenean – what is point of atonement?

Job’s suffering part of a test, outcome is that it Is sufficient to experience God

good does not always come out of evil – often the opposite

is after-life worth all this turmoil? requires that ALL humans share heavenly life

theology – God is not all-powerful

God limits himself and lures us towards him

God limited by the laws of the nature he created

creation resulted from a primal struggle with chaos so divine purpose only imperfectly written into our nature

evil is when something does not live up to the divine intention

price of being more aware than animals is the moral and spiritual anguishes we go through

Process – Hick and Swinburne

avoids problems which follow omnipotence

so God doesn’t have to be justified

summons us to be on God’s side

it is elitist – majority of people live in hunger and fear – not their fault – for one marvellous person, thousands wasted

God may be fellow-sufferer but he seems content for majority to endure

not the New Testament God who values all impartially

no guarantee that good will come out in the end

D. Z. Phillips accuses Swinburne of a cockeyed optimism which assumes that in every situation of suffering something good can be found Not only does evil lead sometimes to more evil, but good can lead to evil too

Dualism says good and evil are 2 eternal substances locked in conflict

Plantinga – best possible world

Evaluate effective of free will defence

Free will defence – we are responsible for our own decisions

so can choose wrong things

if God creates free persons, evil is a consequence

to say God shouldn’t have created free people is to say he shouldn’t have created people at all

some argue that God could be capable of creating people who freely choose to be good

modified free-will defence -if ‘free actions’ mean – not compelled from the outside but acting from inside our personality God made our nature but is not predestining

every act of behaviour God creates sons and daughters, not puppets

Humans made to love God – highest good – a higher good than pleasure

Love can’t be forced, must be freely chosen

If we can choose to be good, can choose opposite

We’re free to alleviate pain

Mackie – if one person could always do right (Xns say Jesus did so) then should be possible that everyone could

God timeless – so doesn’t decide – so no range of possible universes If God not timeless but everlasting, wouldn’t know how things would turn out So humans can make free choices in a future which is open.

Animal suffering justified by:

  • they don’t feel pain
  • no sense of past or future
  • occurs mostly when they are removed from their natural environment
  • do not have a moral nature to develop so it’s useless
  • fallen natural order has led to perverting of animal life
  • they serve the soul-making process by contributing to epistemic distance between
  • humans and God

afterlife – reincarnation or resurrection balances it out

Voltaire – Lisbon earthquake – did God pick out the inhabitants who deserved it?

D. Z. Phillips – child with cancer ~ bad enough if no purpose but if It HAS a purpose, worse God using us as a means to an end

H. McCabe – evil Inflicted on one species is by another species perfecting Itself

If God Is the maker and sustainer of creatures then no reason to think he is either good or bad

Kant – why do evil men prosper while good men suffer?

Moral law has to be satisfied – so an after-life

If God created the devil, then God Is responsible for evil

Hick – life like a train journey – some bits more uncomfortable than others but can’t judge until journey completed

Job – God totally beyond what we can understand.

His ways are not our ways.

What does it mean to say God knows the future? Is this compatible with free will?

Process – God interacts with humans who have free will

limits his power to give us freedom

each occasion is a momentary event charged with creativity – each new moment in life of universe is a new creation

God offers best possibility to each occasion as it is created

God directly involved in the risk of creation

God could have refrained from creating a particular moment If he could see it was going to be painful

If take Genesis 3 – Adam & Eve ~ then God is not timeless He did not know outcome, was surprised and disappointed by their actions and punished them, but also planned to rescue world through Jesus

If God timeless, made a world where certain consequences would follow. The consequences followed without his directly causing them.

Davies – God set up the universe and its laws but not tinkering with every detail

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From → Doctrine, Philosophy

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