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Summary in 400 words or less:
The problem of evil usually refers to the issue of how an all-good, all-powerful and all-knowing God could exist given the evil in this world. The logical/incompatibility version says that it’s logically impossible for God and evil to coexist, but most philosophers have dismissed this because one just needs to point out a possible reason for God to permit evil. The evidential version says that given the great amount and kinds of suffering which seems pointless, it is improbable that God exists. The emotional reason is regarding those we struggle with God due to personal suffering in their lives.
Some distinctions: A defense merely gives possibilities for evil, while a full-fledged theodicy aims to justify God by giving God’s actual reasons. Moral evils are evils done by free moral agents, while natural evils are evils such as natural disasters.
Here are some defenses/theodicies:
(1) Free Will
God could have wanted to give us (and angels) significant moral free will which entails the possibility of us choosing evil.
Human persons were not made in a completed state but were created to undergo spiritual growth to ultimately be in communion with God. Some evils and sufferings may seem pointless in bringing happiness on earth but may help in moral transformation and bringing one to communion with God.
(3) Skeptical Theism
God has morally sufficient reasons to accomplish some greater good that we do not know of or cannot completely comprehend.
(4) No best possible world
God has to allow some evil. Whatever evil He allows, there will always be an evil which we find too great and think should not be permitted. If God removes that evil which we consider too great, then it will result in another evil which we consider too great. Hence whatever world God created, there would be evils in which we think God should not have permitted.
(5) Considering the total evidence for God
This view concedes that God’s existence may be improbable given seemingly pointless evil, but not against the total evidence for God. In fact, the ontological argument if true, it is an argument that shows such a being must exist necessarily, even in worlds with evil.
Our temporal suffering will be addressed and corrected in eternity. God has already done something (the Cross), is doing something (providentially keeping the world from too much evil and sending the Church to help correct the world), and will do something (ultimately punish sin in Hell)
(7) Felix Cupa Theodicy
God’s incarnation and atonement (an infinite good) can only be actualised in a world where free creatures sin.
Scripture for YouVersion:
Three questions (1 fill-in-the-blank, 1 multiple choice, and one discussion question):
References for further reading:
Plantinga, Alvin. God, Freedom, and Evil. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977.
Dougherty, Trent. Skeptical Theism: New Essays. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
Murray, Michael J. Nature Red in Tooth and Claw: Theism and the Problem of Animal Suffering. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
Hick, John. Evil and the God of Love. New York: Harper & Row, 1966.
Snyder, Daniel. The Evidential Argument from Evil. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.
McBrayer, Justin P. The Blackwell Companion to the Problem of Evil. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014.
Rea, Michael. Evil and the Hiddenness of God.
We may split this up into other documents:
Intellectual (Logical, Evidential) | Emotional
Free Will Defense
Collaborators: Frederick Choo, Shandon Guthrie, Marcia Montenegro, Bill Dyer
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