Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Annoying Theodicy Objections

As a philosopher, this kind of thing frustrates me to no end. From a recent book review:

"A solution to the problem of theodicy, that is, the reconciliation of the existence and effect of evil with the righteousness of the traditionally defined Jewish or Christian God is, to my mind, simply philosophically impossible. The problem arises due to a certain cluster of defined characteristics of God. God is one, omnipotent, omniscient, omnibeneficent, omnipresent, immovable, impassible, the purposeful creator of all, and involved in history. One simply has to give up one or more of these characteristics to explain how evil came into the world, or one has to argue that evil is not truly evil but only appears to be evil from our limited human perspective."

It annoys me when I see this kind of thing coming even from some otherwise good evangelical theologians (having philosophical training, contemporary theologians can often annoy me). One of my favorite Christian authors has even stated that trying to do theodicy or answer the problem of evil is immoral. Unfortunately, they do not give very good reasons - showing that the existence of the traditional God and the existence of evil are compatible is NOT the same thing as making evil good or belittling it or anything of the sort (that is one way of doing it, but only ONE among many). Some people need more philosophical training! I for one would not opt for either side of the false dichotomy that shows up in the quote above.


Roman Dawes said...

What you describe is a false dichotomy. I fight it against atheists and theists alike.

God allows people to suffer and die because we're better off than not living as mortals.


D. Ian Spencer said...

Hi Roman, glad you agree that it's a false dichotomy. You're third sentence came out a bit garbled, though. I did look at your website and I must say that it seems to have a lot in common with several well-known theodicies and a lot of the same problems. For instance, you seem to think that evil is required for human life but that does not show that God and the existence of evil are compatible since God could have decided not to allow humans to exist in the first place, thereby avoiding all that evil.

D. Ian Spencer said...

I should also say that as a Christian, I believe that life without evil is certainly possible since such will be a reality at the eschaton.

Phillip Brown said...

Hi Ian

It looks as though you and I maybe in the same boat. I myself have started working on the problem trying to combine Philosophy and Theology. I would be interested to hear your answer to the question if you have one.


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