Flashcards in The Problem of Evil Deck (21)
• There is evil and suffering in the world
• There is an omnibenevolent God
• There is an omnipotent God
o They cannot all be true at the same time
o If God were good, he would wish to make his creatures perfectly happy and if God were almighty, he would able to do what he wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore, God lacks either goodness, or power, or both
o ‘The believer must have, in a cool moment, a solution to the problem of evil. If he does not, his faith is not rational…’
natural and moral evil
Natural evil – evil caused by natural disasters, disease and illness e.g. floods
o Evolutionary evil – whole evolutionary process seems to be full of waste, pain and loss. E.g. Ichneumonidae, lay eggs inside caterpillars, eaten from inside out for larvae to pupate
o ‘I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars’ - Darwin
Moral evil – evil directly precipitated by human beings e.g. war, bullying
logical problem of evil and scholar
• Theists make 2 affirmations:
o An omnipotent, omniscient, perfect good God exists
o Evil exists in the world
• This seems wholly incoherent, seem logically inconsistent with each other
• J. L. Mackie, ‘here it can be shown, not that religious beliefs lack rational support, but that they are positively irrational, that the several parts of the essential theological doctrine are inconsistent with one another’
logical contradiction - inconsistent triad
response to logical problem of evil: free will defence
• Claims to be truly free, God would have needed to create us with the possibility to sin; the wrong exercise of freedom is the source of moral evil. more valuable to be free when acting than not to be free, renders morality obsolete.
• Doesn’t prove that an omnibenevolent God exists, just that it is possible.
- we are significantly free when we can perform a morally significant action
- it is only genuinely moral action when freely done. to be morally good, it must be freely performed
o But, given the level of suffering in the world, this seems highly improbable (evidential problem of evil)
response to free will defence: evidential problem of evil
Response to Free Will Defence: Evidential Problem of Evil
• Given the amount of evil and suffering in the world and given theism’s claim of an omnipotent wholly good God, it is highly improbable that such a God exists.
based on probability and inference that god is unlikely to exist
evidential problem of evil - william rowe
o Many instances of intense suffering which an omnipotent, omniscient being could have prevented without losing some greater good or permitted some evil equally bad or worse.
o An omnipotent, omnibenevolent God would prevent the occurrence of any intense suffering it could, unless it would cause the loss of a greater good or permitted some evil equally bad or worse.
o There does not exist an omnipotent, omniscient wholly good being.
• Theists argue against Rowe, claiming no suffering is meaningless; it all has an explanation or goal.
• Rowe responds to this saying whilst some suffering has meaning, much does not e.g. fawn dying in forest fire, meaningless suffering.
religious responses to evil category
augustine response to evil - before and after fall
o History of Manichaeism, converted to Xianity after having conversion moment, Bible verse from Romans ‘spoke’ to him.
o Before the Fall
• Genesis 1:26 Imago dei
• Union with God
• Body and mind in line with will
• Adam had 2 states: original and potential state
• Harmonious relationship between Adam and Eve
o Fall and Original Sin
• Genesis 3: Fall represents sin of all mankind
• Through original sin we all inherit Adam’s sin, part of the ‘Massa damnata’
• Fall = literal story
• Chose sin freely
• Epistemic distance between God and humanity created
augustine - privatio boni
• Since humans fell from grace, they moved further away from God
• If God is source of all life and goodness, to fall away from God is to fall away from goodness
• Therefore, evil is an absence of good, just like cold is an absence of heat and darkness is an absence of light.
• Evil/light/warmth are not positive forces, but just the absence of something
augustine - problems
• It does not explain natural evil
• Can criticise Augustine’s taking of the Fall as literal, evolution appears to tell us that humans evolved from simplistic animals to become more complex, not that they fell from being intelligent.
• Evil does not seem like a privation of good, it does very much seem like a ‘positive force’.
- scheleirmacher: fall goes against creation of a perfect world
hick theodicy: similarity to irenaeus
• World is not perfect, but contains the potential for perfection
• Humans can contribute to God’s creative work by making positive responses to evil and suffering
• Freely choose to become closer/more distant with God
• The world is evaluated not in its perfection but in so far as it provides the right conditions for ‘soul-making’
• If God made everything perfect, then humans could not grow. (Counter-factual hypothesis)
o Maintains that humans were created spiritually and morally immature, in order to develop and flourish, we must face suffering and challenge.
o Calls this the ‘vale of soul-making’.
• Uses 2 Corinthians 3:18, ‘we all, with unveiled faces beholding the glory of the lord are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another’
• ‘A world of soul making is one in which our choices are genuine, so human goodness is genuine and not ‘the goodness of robots’
o Some values are developed only through situations of suffering e.g. compassion and bravery. If these were imposed on humans without cost, then they would be meaningless.
supporters of hick theodicy
• Simone Weil speaks of experiencing God most powerfully in suffering. Speaks of experience of Christ whereby she ‘only felt in the midst of my suffering the presence of a love’
• Consequentialist view – God allowing suffering is justified because the benefits are worth it (Swinburne, Leibniz etc.)
• God’s omnipotence must be confined to what is logically possible.
• Could argue that evil is logically necessary for the existence of good.
• So, God has created the best possible world, which incorporates true freedom.
• We need evil to have complete freedom where our choices have impacts, develop virtues such as mercy etc. that could not be developed if there was only good in the world.
problems with hick theodicy
• Universal salvation relies on eschatological verification
• There’s too much meaningless suffering, too much pain to justify a God – echoed by Ivan and Aloyosha’s dialogue in the Brothers Karamazov.
• People don’t suffer equally – does this mean some need more ‘soul-making’?
• Why should God take such a horrible route to salvation if everyone will eventually be saved? Shouldn’t he just have made us spiritually mature to start with?
• Some people are made worse by their suffering e.g. abusers have often been abused in past
• Some people who are genuinely evil and perhaps deserve suffering, appear to get none. Seems to go against Hick’s idea of indiscriminate suffering.
• Animal and evolutionary suffering offer no contribution to soul making.
• Universal salvation discredits the value of JC’s sacrifice.
- Philips, cannot justify evil because it might lead to good
hindu and buddhist ideas on evil and suffering
neither claim there is an omnibenevolent god
B = no God
H = God has evil characteristics
suffering is inevitable part of world of samsara, endless cycle of life and death
believe in karma, natural law of nature
evil and suffering could be results of action in previous life
Islamic ideas on suffering
Allah's ultimate purpose is good, omnipotent
suffering is God's purpose, should bear with courage and faith. allah is merciful, don't always get punishment you deserve
when people die, allah will be judged
hick - indiscriminate suffering etc
o Indiscriminate suffering: visited upon the good and the wicked with no obvious preference. The randomness of suffering is necessary to provide opportunities for moral growth in others.
o Deems belief in life after death essential, believer in universal salvation.
o In the end, humans will grow and flourish because of the vale of soul making they inhabit, more valuable than if God made humanity perfect from the start.
o In order for humans to be truly free, they must have liberty of indifference.
o Augustinian theodicies rely too much on the pre-scientific mentality of Adam and Eve; they also fail to explain natural evil, which Hick does
responses to logical problem of evil: James Martin, reasons for suffering
o Natural Law
♣ If we are to grow as moral personalities, we must grow in a world that is orderly. Otherwise there would be anarchy and progress would become impossible
♣ If God were to constantly intervene ‘man’s life would be a nightmare, not merely because it would be unpleasant but because it could have no moral meaning’
o Human choice
♣ Unless man has free choice, he is reduced to a mere puppet. If God were to compel men to choose what is good and wise, it would take away man’s free will.
responses to logical problem of evil: James Martin, hope of JC salvation
• JC asserts that God loves us through suffering
• Death of JC confirms God’s love, knowledge that God was with him in his suffering has made a tremendous difference
• JC knew suffering, real pain. Agony of mind as well as physical pain, suggested in his plea, ‘my God, my God, why hast thee forsaken me?
supporters of free will defence: James Martin
♣ freedom involves the risk of error. E.g. football has laws to make it as good a game as possible. Accidents happen, but men still view it as a good game. The possibility of hurt belong to the very nature of the game. If we eliminated the risk completely, it would be a different and inferior game.
♣ Allows mistakes because he loves us e.g. I have the power to prevent his walking on his own and since I love him, I don’t want him to fall over and hurt himself. But since I love him, I also want him to learn to walk. I must permit him to walk on his own with the knowledge that he might hurt himself, but this is part of my love for him.