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The problem of evil
Terms in this set (64)
who first identified the problem of evil and in what format?
- epicurus, and the logical problem of evil
- inconsistent triad between: god is omniscient, god is omnipotent, evil exists
how did this problem of evil get changed and why?
- this got changed from being about god's omnipotence and omniscience to being about his omnibenevolence as well
- this is because in classical philosophy, god was seen to be not all-loving, however in classical theism he gained this quality
what is a quote from augustine summarising the problem of evil?
'Either God cannot abolish evil, or he will not; if he cannot then he is not all powerful; if he will not then he is not all good' Confessions
what is the evidential problem of evil?
- there is evidence of extreme gratuitous suffering in this world
- amount of suffering causes us to question the goodness of god
how did william rowe summarise the problem of evil?
'gratuitous and pointless evil is evidence that a theistic god does not exist at all'
what defence did iraneus use through imago dei?
- we are already in the image of god but we have to develop a likeness by our free will
what was iraneus' theodicy? (4)
- evil exists to allow us to develop freely- good is relative and needs bad to be valued- free will allows us to be imago dei and make decisions that bring us closer to god- giving all humans immediate goodness would make decisions meaningless
what metaphor did origen make to back up the theodicy of iraneus?
- compared the earth to a schoolroom or a hospital, a place of learning/healing
how would kant support iraneus' theodicy?
- free will was one of the postulates of his ethical theory, saying that without it our decisions would be completely meaningless
what is a quote from iraneus about the potential perfection of humans?
'it is possible for god himself to have made perfect from the first, but man could not receive this, as yet an infant'
how did john hick adapt the soul-making theodicy?
- used the example of how you cannot have a hill without a valley
- earth = 'a place of soul making'
- god is omniscient but purposefully makes himself ignorant to our decisions to ensure free will
- we couldn't develop real virtues without pain
what example did soren kierkegaard use to support the soul-making theodicy?
- example of a peasant girl and a king- king wants her to love him but cannot do this by force, must allow feelings to naturally develop for them to be true
- god must do the same, allow us to organically create a relationship of love for him
what comparison does augustine make to present evil as a privation of good?
what is a quote from augustine about contrast theory?
'we enjoy and value the good more when we compare it to the evil'
- compares it to a wound, doesn't really exist as its just a 'defect in the fleshy substance'
- in the same way evils 'are nothing but privations... of good'
how do anselm's ideas support augustine's?
- god = 'that than which nothing greater can be thought'
- perfect god must have created perfect world
- supported augustine's theodicy
what is a quote from augustine about contrast theory?
'we enjoy and value the good more when we compare it to the evil'
what are the 4 key elements of augustine's theory?
1) privation of good
2) free will defence
3) the principle of plenitude
4) the aesthetic theme
what is meant by 1) privation of good?
- evil doesn't exist, its only the absence of good in the same way that a wound is an absence of healthy flesh
- as god can only create things that don't exist, he therefore did not create evil
what are some flaws of 1) privation of good?
- patronising- undermines and downplays the reality of suffering
- semantic tricks, 'absence of good' doesn't change what evil is
what is meant by 2) free will defence?
- evil isn't made by god, it is the consequences of the bad choices that we make with our free will
- as a result of the Fall we were condemned to corruption forever
what are some flaws of 2) free will defence?
- story of Job - good people still suffer- doesn't account for natural evil
- can we really have free will if god is omniscient and omnipotent?
what is meant by 3) principle of plenitude?
- need the whole spectrum of good -> bad to experience them all properly
- earth also needs to be bad to appreciate heaven, humans need to be bad to appreciate angels
what are some flaws of 3) principle of plenitude?
- disproportionate evil
- ward: dysteleological evil, unmerited evil that serves no purpose
what is meant by 4) aesthetic theme? (+ quote from augustine)
- coined by john hick
- humans only see a small part of the universe, from god's external perspective it is wholly good
- we have anthropocentric view, from theocentric perspective everything is in line with his plan and thus good
- 'the parts may be imperfect but the whole is perfect' augustine
how would aquinas support the idea of an aesthetic theme and how would dawkins challenge this?
- aquinas: we are inferior to god and not a part of the planning process, thus makes sense we don't understand the greater scheme
- Dawkins would disagree
what would matthew's say about augustine's theodicy?
- 'Augustine's account essentially denies the reality of evil... and Augustinian's insensible to the tragic realities of injustice and suffering'
how might huw parri owen support this idea of matthew's?
- he argued that the free will defence is not satisfactory, as it is purely theoretical and not practical in reducing the suffering of individuals
how would schleiermacher respond to augustine's theodicy?
- that if god created a perfect world then evil must have been created from nothing
- this is a logical impossibility
- either god created the world imperfect or god enabled it to go wrong
how did schleiermacher himself respond to the problem of evil?
- determined that god, being perfect, must have made the world flawless
- therefore this world must be the best one possible
how would augustine respond to schleiermacher's criticism? how could we argue against this?
- that he's not factoring in that humans created evil by their own free will
- we could argue that god had already created the apple before eve chose to eat it, it was already there
what would anthony flew argue in opposition to augustine's theodicy?
- that we can be free and always choose good options- human nature is created by god, could make us all good and then give us free will
- this would still be us acting according to our nature, called it 'Liberty of Spontanaeity'
how would alvin plantinga respond and who did he believe was responsible for the evils of the world?
- he argued that making us always act well would in fact be denying us of our free will
- he also said that satan and the mischevious angels that he led away out of heaven are the cause of natural evil, just as augustine said
which biblical account does iraneus' theodicy go against?
-in the bible it states that humans were created perfectly, and by god, meaning that his theodicy contradicts the creation story of genesis
what does d.z. phillips criticise about iraneus' theodicy and how could we disagree with this?
- d.z. phillips would say that it is never right to harm someone with the intention of helping them
- many would argue this is exactly what goes on during surgery
what did Karl Barth say about a stomach problem that he was suffering from?
'this monstrosity does not belong to God's good creation, but rather has come as a result of the Fall'
how did john hick summarise the inconsistencies of christian belief?
-he summarised the problem of evil as having two, directly contrasting, beliefs about god and the nature of the world;
a) god is an all-powerful, wholly good and all-knowing creator of the universe
b) evil exists in the world
what did J.L. Mackie write in his work 'The Miracle of Theism' about the problem of evil?
'We can concede that the problem of evil does not, after all, show that the central doctrines of theism are logically inconsistent with one another'
what did William P. Alston say about the success of the problem of evil?
'The logical argument is bankrupt'
what did Karl Barth argue about the state of the universe after god's creation?
'God makes no mistakes'
what did j.s.mill say about the evidential problem of evil?
'the order of things in this life is often an example of injustice, not justice' - Nature and Utility of Religion
what did john hick argue about belief in the fall which creates an issue with the augustinian theodicy?
- hick refers to this as a 'pre-scientific' view
- now that we know more about science, not only do the events that supposedly took place seem unlikely, but also we find it difficult to believe that we could be seminally present in adam
why did swinburne argue that free will is so important for humans?
- because it allows us to develop a sense of morality that without freedom we would be unable to create
- this carries the risk of us using our free will to do horrible things
- however, without the free will we would be unable to prove ourselves worthy of heaven or hell
- all contained in his work 'The Existence of God'
how does swinburne argue that god controls the amount of suffering that one person can have or inflict on another? (+quote)
- he argues that death is the proper limit on how much we can suffer
- this is evidence of god's omnibenevolence: it shows how we are unable to endure pain for eternity
- 'A natural death... is a boundary to the power of an agent against another agent'
how might someone contend with the theodicy of swinburne?
they might argue that his theory only explains moral evil, and cannot explain natural evil, which causes most of the unmerited suffering in the world
what did whitehead argue about god in the problem of evil?
- process theologian, who believed that all of the evil that god inflicts on the world he consequently also suffers
- called god 'the great companion - the fellow sufferer who understands'
what does process thought believe about creation which changes the way that process theologians view evil?
- most believe that god did not create the world ex-nihilo, but out of pre-existing matter
- this is why there are so many flaws in the world
- god created the process of evolution, knowing that eventually man would be capable of committing great evils- however he knew in his perfect omniscience that all would turn out perfectly in the end
how does process thought understand god's omnipotence?
- they do not believe that god is perfect powerful, however also do not see god as powerless
- rather he has persuasive powers over creation but cannot coerce or force anything
how did griffin argue that this slightly limited god was worth worshipping still?
- he argued that this god was more worthy of worship, because he cannot be accused of being unjust or malevolent
- god's lack of omnipotence is made up for by his supreme omnibenevolence
what did peter hare argue was a flaw in the idea of god as having 'persuasive' powers over his creation?
in 'Evil and Persuasive Power' he argued that God's limited power must be incredibly limited considering the great amount of evil in the world caused by the immorality of humans
what is the buddhist response to the problem of evil?
- buddhists would argue that 'evil' does not exist, but suffering does
- suffering is a result of the three poisons, craving aggression and ignorance which create these feelings of pain
what is a quote from j.l. mackie about why the problem of evil presents a problem for religious believers?
'The theologian, it seems, at once must and cannot consistently adhere to all three'
1. god is omnipotent
2. god is wholly good
3. some evil exists
what did mackie argue was the only way to resolve the logical problem of evil?
- he argued that the only way that it could be resolved was by removing or altering one of the premises
- this would either change the nature of god or deny the reality of evil
how would flew's falsification principle be used in the discussion of the problem of evil?
- flew would argue that religious belief should not be taken seriously, as religious believers do not allow their beliefs to be 'falsified'
- this means that god 'dies the death of a thousand qualifications' - theists continually redefine god until teh concept is meaningless
why might some argue that the evidential problem of evil provides a stronger challenge than the logical problem of evil?
- many would argue that the evidential problem is more current, as most people can experience the immense pain of suffering
- logical problem is too abstract- natural evil is more shocking than moral evil
- careful redefinition of the premises in the logical problem can allow it to be 'solved', yet in the evidential problem this is not as possible
why might some argue that the logical problem of evil provides a stronger challenge to religious belief than the evidential problem of evil?
- the logical version of the argument shows how god is not only unlikely to exist but also how his characteristics are different
- provides more concrete proof than the evidential argument, which is based on emotions
- some people have not experienced the extreme suffering that proponents of the problem of evil mention: these are rare instances.
what did moses maimonides argue about the problem of evil?
- he argued that we should not use positive language to describe god as this will lead to a loss of faith and a reduction of his infinite nature
- we don't know what the terms 'omnipotent' and 'omnibenevolent' mean to god, so we cannot pretend to grapple with his nature
how did brian hebblethwaite argue that natural and moral evils are the same?
- he argued that moral evil is from the human mind which is part of a natural organism.
- effects of moral evil are experienced by human beings through their senses, natural faculties
- moral evils and their conception are natural evils
what did leibniz argue about whether god is capable of removing evil from creation?
he argued that god cannot remove evil
1. because we cannot understand how removing evil would impact creation
2. because we do not know what 'good' and 'bad' are to god
what did calvin argue about the problem of evil?
- he conceded that god was responsible for evil and suffering, but maintained that god cannot be indicted for it
- sin is the result of the fall of man and we are corrupted by it- only the grace of god can provide moral guidance
what did mary baker eddy argue about the problem of evil?
- she argued that evil is a kind of illusion
- sickness and death would disappear if we understood them as nothingness in contrast to the allness of god
what did fyodor dostoevsky argue about god in his book brothers karamazov?
- he argued that if god knew that suffering would take place on earth, he was morally obliged to not go through for it
- in the story, the brother returns his ticket to heaven as he says the price of it is too great
what did henri blocher argue about hick's theory?
- universalism contradicts the free will which is so central to hick's theory
- humans cannot choose to reject god, which means hick has to accept some degree of determinism
what did anders nygren argue about how humans should respond to evils?
- he argued that mortals shouldn't be attempting to justify god
- we should be like job and accept that some things are beyond us
- god's will is beyond human understanding
what is a quote from genesis 1.31 that proves augustine's theory, that the world was perfect from the start, true?
'God saw all that he had made, and it was very good'
what work did augustine write to write about the privation of good?
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