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15 REL 103 - The Problem of Evil, Part I

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Andrea Hollingsworth

on 13 March 2013

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Transcript of 15 REL 103 - The Problem of Evil, Part I

The Problem of Evil God is
all-powerful God is
all-good Evil exists Epicurus thought it impossible to hold all three of the following: Many people today agree. Some definitions Evil… a power that causes suffering and destruction
in God’s good but fallen creation. Two kinds of evil Volcanoes Disease Animal attack Earthquakes Tsunamis Floods Drought Parasites Blizzards Rape Murder Genocide Domination Oppression Stealing Terrorism Sexism Racism Classicism Cruelty Moral Evil Natural Evil Introduction Evil is a Problem Experiential Problem - We suffer.
Intellectual Problem - We ask "Why?" A Brief History of Theodicy Enlightenment There are two ways to solve the problem of evil. Deny God is good or
all-powerful.
Or, deny God exists. David Hume World War 2 Nanking Massacre Cambodia Genocide Bosnia Genocide Darfur, Sudan Genocide Global Ecological Collapse World War 1 Holocaust Cold War East Timor Genocide Rwanda Genocide Then comes the 20th and 21st centuries... Syrian Civil War Theodicies in the western tradition Evil as inherent in the material world Evil as non-being Evil as condition for human becoming Evil and cosmic beauty Evil and submission to the divine will Evil and the free-will defense Evil is the by-product of free will.

Free will is required for genuine responsive love. Gnostics God is immaterial.

Materiality is inherently evil.

God is good, because God has nothing to do with the evil material world. Augustine, Aquinas God is the foundation of all reality.
The material world exists far away from the One, who is the source of all goodness and all being.
Evil is the result of being much further down the ladder of being.
The further we are away from the One/Transcendent, the more evil and suffering we have to deal with.
Evil is not real, it’s just an absence of good. Humans must make decisions between good and evil in order to become mature.

Only by encountering evil can we choose good, and fulfill our calling to become responsible moral agents in the world. Evil stands in an aesthetic relation to the good, thereby contributing to the overall harmony and beauty of God’s world.
In the great painting/mural of life, darker, drabber colors (various experiences of evil) highlight or accentuate the brighter, cheerier colors (experiences of goodness).
Ultimately, good will triumph over evil. The result will be glorious. Human fall into sin is the source of the world’s evil. But...
God ordains everything (even acts of sin and evil). So...
All events fit into the overarching divine purpose, goodness, plan. And...
God’s ways are higher than human ways; we cannot understand them.Therefore...
Humans have no right to complain about evil or question God’s justice; we must just submit. The Problem of Theodicy Should there be suspicion about any attempt to find a definitive answer to the problem of evil? Theodicies sometimes end up justifying evil instead of God. In other words, they “argue too strongly for a positive role for evil in God’s good creation” (from the textbook). Evil and suffering in light of Christ’s death and resurrection Incarnation
God entering the human condition in order to redeem it from within. Easter Sunday:
Resurrection and New Creation Holy Saturday:
Lament, Protest, and Hope Good Friday:
The Cross and Divine Compassion Resurrection is God’s response to evil. It stands as promise of new creation for all in the kingdom of God and key source of hope for the believer. Learning to live between the ‘already’ of Christ’s resurrection and the ‘not yet’ of the new creation
Evil is a continuing reality, even as we strain toward hope for the new creation promised in Easter.
Present existence is like Holy Saturday. The Importance of Retrospect There are times where evil can become a crucible in the Christian life in which virtues are forged. God can turn evil into good.

BUT.

While it may make sense to say something like this after the fact, it may really be wrong to turn it into a claim about how God wills evil for the sake of good.

Only in retrospect can say evil plays a pedagogical role in some people’s lives. Class Discussion Which theodicy (or combination of theodicies) do you find most compelling, and why?
Inherent in the material world
Non-being
Condition for human becoming
Cosmic beauty
Submission to the divine will
Free-will defense

What difference does Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection make for Christian theological discussions of evil and suffering?

Is theodicy itself a problem? Otherwise put, do you think it is sometimes immoral to ask why God allows evil? If so, why? Theodicy = way to "justify God" as being good and powerful in midst of evil in world.
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