The claim that God is both kind and powerful derives from the assumption that God of Christians and the scriptures of the Judeo who are believed to be the supreme creator of all (living and not living) are both benevolent and all-powerful; this evolutionary progress is evidently the cause of misery on earth. After the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, 1 November, debates started concerning God’s goodness and omnipotence (a day dedicated to all saints). The earthquake killed 60,000 people; some of them were celebrating all day holy in the churches. Despite the quake, twelve meters high tsunami wave struck and swept thousands of people along the shores. After the earthquake and Tsunami, fire burnt down the little property that remained in Lisbon. Voltaire was the first philosopher who reacted on this event after viewing the horrific scenes of children and women lying dead. He asked himself several questions. Could this be the will of God? Why did He only choose Lisbon? Was Lisbon worse than Paris and London? God who is the Father of joy, kindness and the creator of all things, could He also be the author of such a catastrophe? (Zumbo and Maria 703-706). Similar questions can be asked in a situation where millions of creatures are being eaten alive, others are running for their lives losing young ones, and some are being devoured slowly from the inside by disease-causing parasites. Before the earthquake in Lisbon, philosophers such as Aquinas, Augustine, and the Greek philosophers had already started questioning the nature of God towards humans and the presence of evil. Later, nihilist philosophers such as Nietzsche and Camus took a more radical approach to explaining the presence of evil among men, contrary to the popular believe that God is benevolent and all-powerful .St. Thomas Aquinas defines benevolence as Secundum Analogiam, meaning _x0093_according to Analogy_x0094_ (Nelson 3). The definition of benevolence adopted by Aquinas fails because good is a contextually dependent expression. Thomas Aquinas further refers to evil as the absence of a positive result (Nelson 3). From the point of Aquinas, God’s benevolence has always been interpreted as God having to bring about good outcomes for anybody, whether _x0091_justified_x0092_ or not. This fact is not to demean God’s grace of forgiveness, but His right to bring about Justice in the state of Affairs. It is clear that the views of theistic believers point out that the process of creation must have intentionally empowered other animals with favourable traits of natural selection. This whole process of evolution is described as purpose driven.
Lee, Matthew, Margaret, and Stephen (467-474) perceive evolution to be a process through which God has made the best possible conditions that He will use to realize His will at the eschatological climax of His creation. Lee et al. (467-474) offers another perspective in the evolutionary theological theory, referred to as the Evolutionary Creationism. This ideology asserts that God created life in the universe, including man, through an ordained, sustained, and intelligent design that is reflected in the evolutionary process. After the emergence of Darwinism and the increased challenge of Naturalistic materialism, there has been an urgent need to approach the subject of theodicy from other angles.
Definition of Evil
Rubenstein (64-66) divides evil into two types, which are natural and moral. Natural evils are calamities caused by nature such as tsunami, earthquakes, and volcanoes among other disasters that humans cannot control. Moral evils are deeds that bring about suffering and are caused by choice of individuals to express their free will, sometimes they lead to pain and distress to others. Natural evil is not easy to explain and justify as compared to moral evil; natural evil seems to be traced directly from God. A significant example of natural evil was the 1755 Lisbon earthquake that claimed the lives of thousands of people. An instance of a moral evil was the Holocaust that included the murder of six million Jews in World War II orchestrated by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi fanatics.
Anti- theodicies are arguments that react against the classical solutions to the problem of evil in the world (Turner 125-137). To explain the issues involved in the various categories of evil, it would be best to borrow from the writings of John Roth. The Jewish reaction to the Holocaust informed the writings of Roth. Professor Roth takes an anti-theodicy approach to explain the evil that puts God on trial. John Roth echoes more sentiments from Wiesel, who was a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust. Just like Moses, Wiesel also acknowledges God_x0092_s sovereignty, but again argues against God for the sake of his fellow Jews (Roth 407-420). Roth used Hegel_x0092_s definition of history as the slaughter bench where people_x0092_s happiness, intelligence of states and the intrinsic worth of beings have been forfeited. Roth says that if this is the case God cannot be naturally good, he further questions how viable God’s decisions are. Roth challenges the usual defence of God and explains that God is good and only allows evil to tempt the faith of men. Roth (407-420) adds that if it is true that God is benevolent and can prevent any moment in history such as the Lisbon earthquake in 1755, but He chooses not to do it instead, then he is guilty of the various crimes from offenses of gross negligence to murder. According to Roth (407-420), if God has given us the freedom to choose between moral and immoral, then there is either too much or too little freedom. This freedom is little because of the presence of natural evils like HIV and cancer that have taken away the lives of millions of people; yet, with just a bit more knowledge we could have a remedy. This freedom is also too much because it gives room for moral evil, that is deeply entrenched among humans that one person could orchestrate the death of six million individuals in the Holocaust. The way forward for anti-theodicy is to desire and acknowledge the love of God, while people should also continue to question Him and not allow Him to remain silent with the loss He has instigated (Rubenstein 64-66). Reginald (327-348), writes that Fyodor Dostoyevsky discusses the problem of suffering citing examples of various crimes committed against children, including government mercenaries shooting infants for fun in front of their parents. Dostoyevsky_x0092_s philosophy states that if such sufferings of children and other people are necessary payment for the truth, then the truth is not worth that price. Besides, to achieve harmony, too much price is asked, and it is beyond the means of humanity to pay so much to attain it. If God is all-powerful, why could He not just help the innocent child?
Anti-Theodicy (Friedrich Nietzsche)
Friedrich Nietzsche is another philosopher who believed in anti-theodicy; he is known for his famous phrase _x0093_God is dead_x0094_ (Nietzsche 36-47). Nietzsche (36-47) posits that men should not blame God for any evil or praise Him for any good because God is dead and humans killed Him long time ago. Nietzsche stated that a new supreme person would emerge to replace God. As per the description that is given by Nietzsche, this supreme human being would be like a German Messiah (Nietzsche 36-47). Nietzsche categorically affirmed that there is nothing like right or wrong/evil in this world. Instead, there are only two underlying principles _x0096_ power and weakness. If you are powerful, then one has the right to do whatever he pleases, and when you are weak, then you have no option but to relent to the actions of the strong, whether right or wrong. Weak people always complain of evil, and therefore they came up with religion to justify this complain and try to make the strong submissive for the sake of existence. The powerful, on the other hand, never complain about good or evil, they ought to do what is necessary to survive instead (Corriero, Emilio, and Vanessa 286-302).
According to Nietzsche (36-47), before God died, he made two greatest mistakes that have led to evil in the contemporary world. Firstly, God created animals and then made men look after the animals. Secondly, God created a woman, and women are the perennial cause of every evil on earth. Therefore, these two blunders made by God have made men suffer and justify the presence of evil in the land (Corriero et al. 286-302).
The works of Albert Camus and Friedrich Nietzsche have a lot in common, especially when it comes to assessing morality among men. Camus echoes Nietzsche_x0092_s arguments on morality when he starts by interrogating God as a moral example. Just as Nietzsche, Camus begins his case from a humanistic point of view. Camus (57-87) points out that God is an imaginary being made by man, an abstract name that is used to justify what is moral and immoral. When people submit to holiness, they expose God to moral judgment then, they eliminate Him in their own heart. After removing God from one’s heart, what remains as the foundations of morality? Since God is repudiated in the presence of Justice, can the concept of justice exist without the thoughts of God? For man to exist, he must act. Camus (57-87) defines evil as a reaction to both scepticism that nothing is true while everything is also allowed. Camus further acknowledges that there are both natural and moral evils. However, he brings out a concept that no other philosopher of that time discussed, and that is a combination between both natural and moral evils. For example, during the plague in Europe, people were being separated from each other to prevent the disease from spreading; this segregation was a moral sin. Further, the Plague itself is a natural evil; this plague leads to death, which Camus describes as the greatest evil of all. As per the definition that is given by Camus (57-87), the greatest and most powerful evil is death because it separates people forever and it is final as nothing can be done once someone dies. Therefore, the greatest evil man can commit is murder. Camus (57-87) believes that people realised the world when they turned rebellious and worked together in solitary to demand veneration and certain freedoms. If individuals did not realize this awareness, a conceivable approach for them to socialize with each other and come up with solidarity could not be possible; thus, there would be no evil. Since man objects and demands for these freedoms for all rather than just themselves as particular individuals, when anything comes across to hinder everyone from attaining these freedoms, man resorts to evil.
Are evil and suffering real or a state of Mind?
The first question to ask is what is the nature of sinfulness? Is evil tangible and actual or is it divine or something in the human cognizance that appears only factual to us? Chomsky, Noam, and New (148) acknowledge the works of Mrs. Baker Eddy, who is the founder of Christian Science, in trying to answer these concerns. Chomsky et al. (148), writes that Mrs. Eddy argues that evil is indeed a delusion with no substantial basis, and the only reality in the world is death, sickness, and sin. She provides an example of a boil and defines it as a mere exhibition through soreness and inflammation, a conviction in pain, and this belief is referred to as a boil. Psychological professionals have for a long time pointed out that there is an actual connection between cerebral events and physical sickness. For example, an individual can suffer from ulcers because of the stress or a skin condition as an outcome of deep-seated guilt. However, this is not the same as implying that ulcers are not objectively real (Krause et al.1503-1519).
Reginald (327-348) points out that Augustine embraced the definition made by Aristotle that everything existing has its opposite; darkness is the lack of light, paucity is the lack of wealth, and evil is the scarcity of morality. According to Latin, goodness is a completion, usually referred to as Habitus, while evil is lack (Privatio), and as a result, there is no substance but the perversion of the will turned aside from God. There can be no evil where there is no good because nothing evil exists by itself but only as an entity of an actual good (Reginald 327-348). Johnson, Morris, and Adam (227-231) interject this argument and ask whether anything we call evil is the deprivation of the good. For example, in the bodies of ten people suffering from leprosy that Jesus healed, the sickness and wounds in their bodies were nothing but just the privation of health. When Jesus healed the lepers, the evil in their bodies never retreated to another person; instead, they seized to exist. The second example is the case of blindness that is defined as the lack of sight. What if a blind person is not cured through either scientific intervention or divine intervention? Does this remove God’s account of evil? Alternatively, does it mean that God has the capability of treating some people (like the lepers), while He lacks the power to heal some? God actively participates in good acts but not in evil ones because in the case of the blind person He is withholding his goodness. However, in the event of the ten leapers He performed it through His sovereign will and mercies. These traits show that God is autonomous and works on his own will and not by expectations of men (Krause et al. 1503-1519).
St. Augustine_x0092_s Argumentative Theodicy
The arguments of Augustine are grounded on the explanation of the Bible which states that God made an ideal realm and left it to Adam and Eve who were created in the image and likeness of God (Kuwornu-Adjaottor 114-120). This means that humans had both the physical and spiritual nature of God. Adam and Eve both lived in coherence with one another, with God and with the nature given to them by God. God gave them the free will of choosing what to do. Instead, they opted to defy God, and as a product, the three conjoint relationships (they are men-to-men, men to God, and men to the environment relationships) were damaged (Kuwornu-Adjaottor 114-120). Augustine had faith in the certainty of the story not as a myth but as a factual event that once existed. It precisely echoes the joint involvement that man is accountable for the misery in the world since they chose to disobey God. Brooks (33-41) states that this led to dissonance within humanity, animals, and the environment. This notion, however, does not explain the fact that natural disasters and animal distress occurred before man existed. Augustine reacts to this concept by stating that the previous purge of angels was led by Satan who was given the world to rule. Lucifer deliberately slanted nature in a revenge God. This insurgency made animals to devour each other as well as distressing the environment to cause natural calamities (Kuwornu-Adjaottor 114-120).
Several people have criticized the arguments of St. Augustine. The main critique of this argument was Friedrich Schleiermacher (73), who pointed out that the first beings were angels and humans, whose free nature had no defect and lacked nothing. These traits would not make any being sin, even if they have the free will to do so, while they are in the manifestation of God relishing everything in joy. Another questionable fact is the existence of Lucifer. To justify this point, Cahn (23-28) notes that one does not have to verify that the evil spirits exist. It only requires one to have the faith for it to be factual. The Bible depicts the world as a realm controlled by evil powers to a point where Satan who is dwelling on earth tempts Jesus who is the true Son of God. By attributing all evil to Lucifer and human nature, God might be absolved from the blame of evil existing in the world; however, this notion is not yet clear. If God is omnipotent, then both Satan and people are beneath his authority; and therefore, God must admit the ultimate blame. Further, if God has restricted His invincibility by allowing angels and humans to practice free will, then there is no surety that moral will ever conquest over evil (Cahn 23-28).
Arguments from Father Irenaeus
Hick, John, and Hebblethwaite (501-510) championed this theodicy built on the writings of Father Irenaeus. The ideology contends with the present evolutionary principle. According to Father Irenaeus, when Man was created in the Garden of Eden, he did not initially exist in coherence within himself, with God and nature. Instead, he was developing from animal survival into a phase where he could be conscious of God. God also desired for humankind to come into a relationship with Him, and humankind was to choose this decision freely. For this free will to take place, God_x0092_s existence could not be dominant over man, so that man could be in a position of choosing or rejecting God. There had to be an epistemic distance between man and God. Johnson, Adam, and Morris (363-369) explain this situation by giving an illustration of a Master who has fallen in love with his servant. The master does not want to command the obedience or intimidate the servant but wants her to love him for himself. The master therefore must disguise himself. God did the same, and so He had to set the gap between Himself and us. God could have chosen to create man with a pre-installed virtue instead of making it essential to gain them through a long struggle if He wanted total obedience.
Irenaeus posited that man would have only matured into an intellectual, spiritual and moral being if they were exposed to a surrounding characterized by danger, challenges and a possibility of evil to occur. In such an environment, natural calamities and moral evil must strike man indiscriminately without any biases. Otherwise, if every crime committed by man was punished, and every virtue rewarded, then people could have acted morally for God to reward him and it could have been challenging man to act morally for the sake of doing good deeds (Reginald 327-348).
Critics have responded to this thought by saying that evil can only be tolerated if a better good can originate from it (Hick et al. 501-510). Hick et al. (501-510) does not agree with the notion of Dostoyevsky, that the too high prices are being asked for humankind to attain harmony. Dostoyevsky (457) further imagines a scene in heaven when the mother, whose child was tortured or killed just for the fun of it, forgives the soldier who murdered the child. She has no right to forgive the suffering of her tortured child, and she should not even dare to forgive the crime even if the child decided to forgive the soldier. Hick et al. (501-510) points out that Dostoyevsky is thinking of a meeting when the soldier who tortured the child is still the same cruel person. Hick instead portrays an ideal situation when the soldier remembers how he treated the child, he feels ashamed and sorry, and despairs for forgiveness. In a broader sense, the sorry soldier will not be the same person, for he will have changed in character into a decent person who cannot commit such injustices. Then at such times, forgiveness could be right.
Irenaeus points out that if God is all-powerful, He could have made the free intelligent men in a snap of a finger (Reginald 327-348). Is the world a training ground to perfection? The millions of infants that die young have hardly had a chance to start this _x0091_training’ of God’s racetrack. Then why are these virtues only so valuable when man learns and acquires them? Would they not be equally important if they were built in human nature?
The free will argument
The free will argument dictates that men were created with free will and that it is through the presence of this free will that evil exists and suffering is the product of this scourge. The free will argument points out that the contemporary world has the necessary rational environment that people can freely choose between doing what is wrong and what is right; it also gives room for one to freely respond to God_x0092_s unconditional love and live by the spiritual principles or choose to live otherwise (Balogun 185). For such a situation to be possible there must be an uninterrupted future that God does not entirely determine the responses from humans. Another necessary condition is the existence of unpredictability, which means that suffering cannot be averted and it should be a part of this unpredictability instead. From this suffering, some higher morals such as compassion, empathy, and generosity among others might come about. Compassion for the people affected from various sufferings such as sickness, famine, and other calamities. According to the free will argument, suffering does not only occur to make life miserable but also helps man to develop higher morals (Meister 60-78). Reginald (327-348) points that an independent person who is free from any bondage can choose to either resist or give in to temptations. If a person decides to give in to temptations, then he risks bringing harm not only to himself but also to the whole society. God can decide to either stop him from these sinful actions or let him face the consequences and learn from these results. If God intervenes, He would be exercising moral freedom and more favourable environment for a perfect man. That particular person would like God_x0092_s actions for preventing him from sinning and averting the possible dire consequence. In this respect, God would be taking the role of a good parent, who when dealing with small children will use threats and punishment, but with older teenagers he will intervene less often acknowledging that too much interference would prevent moral development.
Can this argument be used to justify why God allows free will to bring death to people? Turner (125-137) argues that death is indeed good and brings about an end to mortal suffering. It would be also unendurable for an influential person to have uncontrolled environment to harm other people. Besides, people_x0092_s actions have more meaning when there is limited time to live. If God created man to be immortal in a sinful world, man could do more harm to other people for over hundred years knowing that he still has a lot of time to change and ask for God_x0092_s forgiveness. Lastly, death acts as the ultimate sacrifice because the world without sacrifices would create endurance in the face of disaster impossible since there would be rescue at the end of the day and no one would lose their lives. In response to the notion that God is gracious and forgiving and would always forgive man from his sins, Steinberger (31-37) criticizes that it would be morally disadvantageous to give unlimited chances. Meister (60-78) adds that an act of temptation with many possibilities of forgiveness is not a temptation at all because if there is always another chance then there is no risk and there would be an overriding justification to do wrong.
Critics have responded by asking that if God cannot allow men to sin and restrained him from sinning continuously, then why does He allow other people to commit heinous crimes? An example is Adolf Hitler who consistently killed Jews. DeCanio (196-208) argues that killing six million people and harming other millions could not be considered as unlimited chance to sin for one person. Turner (125-137) replies that the less God allows men to cause large-scale disasters and horrors the fewer responsibilities and freedom He gives them.
Greek Mythology of Evil and Goodness
Ancient Greece did not believe in one god and had several gods, each representing an important part of life and having a realm to rule. According to the Greeks, none of their God was good or evil; all of them were good and only acted evil when they were angered. The mightiest of the gods was Zeus, who ruled the Olympus (the description given by Plato on Olympus, is more similar to the Christian concept of heaven and paradise). Zeus was the God of the sky, law, order, justice, lightning, and thunder. Therefore, if lightning struck someone, it was for the reason he or she had wronged Zeus (Horkheimer, Max, and Theodore 61-66).
Poseidon was the brother of Zeus and the ruler of the sea, earthquake and tidal waves. To travel safely over the seas, one had to appease Poseidon (Horkheimer et al. 61-66). In the case of Lisbon earthquake, if it were to be interpreted in Greek methodology, then Poseidon could have been blamed for it.
The Greek mythology depicts Hades as cruel, fierce and stern, though according to Carabine (78-99), Hades is not evil, he is just. Hades is known to be the God of death and mainly feeds on the tears, death, and sorrows of humans. Hades lives in the underground, and since most minerals are mined underground, Greeks believed that they belonged to Hades. Carabine (78-99) described Hades as a generous god. Hades rules the underworld and if not impressed can cause various calamities, such as sickness, among major disasters that claim the lives of humankind. Therefore, according to the Greeks, various gods that rule the realm and failure to appease one of them can lead to calamities among men. Greeks believe that humans are the source of evil through their deed that angers the gods (Horkheimer et al. 61-66).
Is it possible for God to give Man his due free will and prevent Evil?
DeCanio (196-208) states that if indeed God is all-powerful, then He would have made man in a utopian world where man would naturally choose to do good and not evil because God Himself desires morality from man. There is a possibility that man can always choose the right decision and avert disaster; therefore, God being supreme could have created man who could act freely but always stay moral and upright. Hick et al. (501-510) adds to this debate by giving an example of a hypnotized student who might go the library and pick a book. The action of picking a book is free because it comes out directly from the student, but again it is not free since the idea arose from the opinions of the hypnotist. For God to ensure that man can always act free and moral, He would have made a pre-selected response among men themselves, between man and the environment, and between man and Him. By programming people in such a manner He would have ensured that from the perspective of man, man thinks that he is free and makes independent decisions; yet, from the point of God, these decisions would not be free but instead pre-determined. This way sin and evil would not have existed in the world.
Arguments from the Process Theology
Reed (163-171), who is a proponent of the process theology, points out that God is limited in whatever He does and inexorably natural evils will occur. Process theologies believe that God is not yet developed and He is still in the course of developing. God is not yet powerful; He is affected by the universe, and at the same time changing it. This ideology relates to Plato’s thinking that God created the world out of a pre-existing matter which he did not have total authority over (Carabine 78-99). Johnson et al. (227-231) adopts the same ideology and argues that it is true that man evolved and therefore the evolution theory is right. However, God was responsible for this development. Johnson et al. (227-231) analyzed the universe according to its elements and pointed out that it is impossible for God to wholly influence the atomic particles because they only freely change after a much-extended period. God cannot dictate objects such as stones and probably plants; instead, he can only dictate human beings and some intelligent animals because these creatures have the free will to deviate from God. God is not all-powerful to be worshipped, and He has no preventive measures to avert evil from the world. Griffin links God to a crazy scientist who creates a monster with a hope to control it, only later to find out that the monster is beyond control and cannot be chained at same time (Reed 163-171).
Without the tenets of the Process theology, one can argue that God deciding not to permit certain natural processes, such as the earth movements which lead to the Lisbon earthquake and tsunami, can reduce the amount of evil experienced in the world. Most contemporary theodicies tend to solve the problem of evil by denouncing the omnipotence of God, like Thomas Aquinas did, and believed that God is omnipotent and omnipresent and yet still not accountable for the crime experienced in the world (Cahn 23-28).
Is Suffering the Sole will of God?
The Augustinian philosophy answers this question by stating that God has total authority over his subjects and He determines the destiny of His beings. Hewitt (967-990) writes that according to Augustine, God created some people to enjoy life, while others have been set up to be a vessel of wrath for God’s anger. Therefore, God is the sole determiner of one’s destiny, and one’s fate never depends on the type of life they live. Augustine further argues that even those who live the worst life and belong to few-elected group are by the mercies of God led back to morality through repentance. Nevertheless, the rest of the people who form the majority of the population are not in this number and are brought to existence for the advantage of the few chosen people (Kuwornu-Adjaottor 144-120).
Despite the above-mentioned, Augustine does not hold God responsible for sin and evil in the world and insists that God gave man the free will to do right or wrong. The freedom he envisions is the freedom of spontaneity. Human beings are free because they act independently without any influence from God. God allows evil and sin happen because He does not want to intervene. However, He sometimes does that. It is also a fact that no one can quantify the amount of evil that God can allow us to do because humans will commit more crime as long as they consider themselves below the limits set by God (Kuwornu-Adjaottor 144-120). The assumptions of this theodicy are evident. If God made man with a predefined destiny from the beginning, then how could man be responsible for whatever he does? If God can create someone to sin, then later ask for forgiveness, does it mean that God is the original architect of sin?
Christians and Judaists, on the other hand, recognize _x0091_the elect’ as people born from adulterous and incestuous relationship because God has chosen them to exist, even after being born out of sinful acts. If God selects those people, He wishes them to live a better life, and this election does not depend on the life that one leads, then there could be a possibility that God has also elected or pre-designed some people for eternal life (Hewitt 967-990). The Augustinian theory that tries to maintain the mighty of God, creates a dilemma that makes God imperfect instead.
The conclusion of all these arguments can be drawn from the story of Job in the Bible. The answer to the mystery of Job is not found on the question of why Job is loyal to God and Innocent, yet he is suffering, but in the point raised by Job that it is the nature of God and His relationship to the people. The suffering that Job goes through appears to be a challenge and spat in the face of Job, despite his loyalty to God. Job is tempted through severe miseries that his friends tell him that he should rebuke God and choose death instead of such suffering. However, Job feels dissatisfied by their response, probably because it did not justify his suffering. At the end of the scripture, Job is depicted as a changed man, and in fact, he withdraws his previous objections and protests. Job retracts his earlier comments because he realized that he is just a creature made by and protected by the same God who demands complete submission from Humans. In short, from Jobs story, we can conclude that humans must allow God to be the supreme God and not become the God that people want to imagine or a God that fits the rationality of Humanity. The Christian/Judaist God is not presented as all good, and the Greeks also have acknowledged that their gods can also be the source of evil and suffering. While atheist like Nietzsche have also concluded that God’s creatures are the source of evil. Therefore, God could not be all benevolent and powerful for making such evil creatures. The end conclusion could be Nietzsche is dead and the Superman whom he perceived would come to rescue the Germans (Adolf Hitler) is also dead, yet it is still evil, and goodness prevails in the world. The Greeks also believed in appeasing their many Gods and even offered human sacrifice, but when plague broke out, it almost wiped the entire pop
If you like this sample, we will email it to you with pleasure!