Philosophy 3 – Thinking about God and evil

Definition: ● 'serious unjustified harm on sentient beings' (Kekes) ● 'all of life's minuses' (Adams) Types of evil: ● Natural – (Ganssle) required for regularity of cause and effect ● Moral – (Arendt) 'banality of evil' Responses to evil: ● (Ganssle) Philosophical/theological ● (Ganssle) Existential ● (AJC) combines the two – feelingful Which raises the question/problem of evil: ● Mackie (quoted in Ganssle) ○ God is all good, all powerful and all knowing ○ A powerful God could remove all evil ○ A good God would remove all evil ○ Yet, evil exists ● Problem could be denied: ○ Radicalise God's freedom (Descartes) – God can do things which are illogical to us ○ Redefine God's attributes – God can't make square circles, God can't know future evil acts (Swinburne). Therefore God isn't responsible. ○ Abandon God's attributes ■ God not all powerful – finite godism ■ God has reserved power – process theology (Hartshorne) So God acts persuasively not coercively ■ Evil is used by God to produce higher goods (Pittenger) Theodicy ● Term invented by Leibniz from θεος and δικη Classic theodicies ● Augustine ○ Context: Against Manicheism – dualist good and evil, all physical things are bad ○ Early position: ■ God created a good world ■ Evil is the privation of good, the removal of good from something ● ie an out-of-stepness, a disorder from God's intended purposes ■ neoPlatonic view ■ evil is in the cosmos ○ Later position: ■ Loves gone wrong, disordered ■ Evil is within human beings individually ■ More biblical anthropology ○ Critique of Augustine ■ Arrival problem: how to well-created beings go bad?

Development: How does a once-perfect creation theory fit with theory of evolution? ■ Survival: How does eternal hell resolve the problem, if evil will continue to exist? ● Irenaeus ○ Context: against Gnostics – all physical things bad ○ All things will be perfected in Christ ■ Creation was good, new creation will be great. ■ Human creation was in the 'image of God' maturing to the 'likeness of God'. ■ ie never perfect before ■ Incarnation is the preview of perfected creatureliness ○ Soul making ■ God uses evil to train his children in righteousness ■ Freewill enables us to distinguish good from bad ● Moral evil is the result of bad choices ● Natural evil is the result of bad angels/spiritual beings ○ Exercise of free will ■ 'Man is endowed with the faculty of distinguishing good and evil' ○ Critique ■ Notion of perfection ● Hellenistic ideas of perfection equated it with the good, so good creation must have been a perfect one. ■ Cost of free-will ● Is suffering worth it, to learn good and evil? Biblical considerations for the problem of evil ● Serpent, war in heaven, angelic insurrection, Origin of the devil ● Powers and principalities ● Protest of puzzlement – Ps 13.1 – 'How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? ...' ● No simple solution - Job, disciples in John 9 – 'Who sinned, this man or his parents?'

God created the world as good with the potential for evil Christological alleviation ● The cross in salvation history ○ Offers hope in the trustworthiness of God ○ Jesus engages with the evil of this world and destroys it with his own body ● Eschatological resolution ○ 'I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.' (Rom 8.18) ○ Future hope, that despair will end ● Strange logic of trust ○ Suffering that enables

Conclusion The philosophical answer doesn't help us in the end. We need to get through, then hope. ie don't short-circuit the lament!

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