1. The Problem of Evil: Everything that happens is divinely sanctioned <ul><li>Omnipotent—all powerful </li></ul><ul><li>Omniscient—all knowing </li></ul><ul><li>Omnibenevolent—all good/loving </li></ul>All three are needed for worship
2. In a polytheistic context, the chaotic nature of the world (e.g. war, strife, suffering, injustice, and evil) implied multiple gods battling for control but no single deity in control.
3. So although a single, unified deity seems to suggest a more satisfactory, definitive, authoritative, word on the meaning and purpose of human existence, monotheism gets quite complicated. The early Church Fathers (Patristics) new this and their theological attempts to reconcile scripture with experience, reason, and faith are an assortment of various attempts to make the Divine understandable. St. Athanasius 293-373 St. Irenaeus 2 nd Century
4. In the 3 rd Century B.C.E., Epicurus drew the conclusion that the existence of evil is incompatible with the existence of the gods, who care about the matters of mankind, assuming absolute concepts of benevolence, knowledge, and power. Epicurus is credited with being the first thinker to consider the idea of the Divine and the existence of evil as being incompatible. Epicurus (341 – 270 B.C.E.) "Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. If God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?" — Epicurus
8. Man Sues Over God Injury July 9, 2008 KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- A man says he was so consumed by the spirit of God that he fell and hit his head while worshipping. Now he wants Lakewind Church to pay $2.5 million for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. Matt Lincoln says he is suing after the church's insurance company denied his claim for medical bills. The 57-year-old has had two surgeries since the June 2007 injury but still feels pain in his back and legs. He says he was asking God to have "a real experience" while praying. Lincoln says he has fallen from the force of the spirit before but has always been caught by someone. Lawyers for the church say other congregants saw him on the floor laughing after his fall. They say he failed to look out for his own safety.
9. Philosophy of Religion The Problem of Evil WHAT IS EVIL? Evil is typically defined as: physical pain, mental suffering and moral wickedness. The consequence of evil is suffering. “ Natural evil” means the apparent malfunctioning of the natural world (e.g. diseases and natural disasters). “ Moral evil” means the result of human immorality (e.g. genocide).
10. Philosophy of Religion The Problem of Evil The very term “Evil" suggests a moral law Asserting "evil exists" already assumes a moral standard against which to define good and evil. Does “evil” necessarily require an absolute, transcendental, universal moral authority? Can “evil” be simply understood in a human context without resorting to supernatural entities, forces, etc.?
11. The Problem of Evil: Everything that happens is divinely sanctioned <ul><li>Omnipotent—all powerful </li></ul><ul><li>Omniscient—all knowing </li></ul><ul><li>Omnibenevolent—all good/loving </li></ul>All three are needed for worship
12. The Problem of Evil <ul><li>The problem of evil is often considered the most problematic theological issue for monotheism. </li></ul><ul><li>Some go further and think that it establishes that God doesn’t exist. </li></ul><ul><li>Others consider it a problem, but not proof for atheism — nevertheless, they say, it’s at least a problem more difficult to understand than most people think. </li></ul><ul><li>Either way, the problem of evil is something that no theist can ignore. </li></ul>
13. Philosophy of Religion The Problem of Evil The existence of evil and suffering has no consistent solution. All the supposedly orthodox "solutions" to the problem of evil qualify the notion of God, i.e., believers arbitrarily change the nature of God to suit different circumstances. The challenge is to solve the problem of evil without taking back any of God's supposed divine attributes. A Theodicy is an attempt to justify the existence of evil and suffering.
14. The Problem of Evil <ul><li>Omnipotent—all powerful Can’t God do anything about it? </li></ul><ul><li>Omniscient—all knowing Doesn’t God know about it? </li></ul><ul><li>Omnibenevolent—all good/loving Is God indifferent or not love us? </li></ul>If God has these characteristics, (1) how or why does evil occur? (2) why does God allow or permit suffering?
15. The Problem of Evil <ul><li>Omnipotent—all powerful Can’t God not do anything about it? </li></ul><ul><li>Omniscient—all knowing Doesn’t God know about it? </li></ul><ul><li>Omnibenevolent—all good/loving Is God indifferent or not love us? </li></ul>The Mystery of God: Proverbs 3:5 — “Put all your trust in the Lord and do not rely on your own understanding.”
16. Philosophy of Religion The Problem of Evil The monotheistic God of Christianity, Judaism and Islam supposedly possesses divine qualities of omnipotence, omniscience and omnibenevolence. However, the existence of evil and suffering in the world challenges this idea. Augustine, in ‘ Confessions ,’ states the problem very clearly: “Either God is not able to abolish evil or not willing; if he is not able then he is not all-powerful; if he is not willing then he is not all-good.” St. Augustine 454-430
17. Philosophy of Religion: The Problem of Evil As such, the problem of evil can be viewed as an inconsistent triad. St. Augustine 454-430 Evil and Suffering Exist God is Omnibenevolent God is Omnipotent A Theodicy is an attempt to justify the existence of evil and suffering. God is Omniscient
18. Philosophy of Religion Starvin Marvin and the Problem of Evil
19. The Book of Job: The Question of God's Justice Job 1:8 “ The Lord asked him [Satan], “Have you considered my servant Job?” God starts talking about how good Job is. Satan says that Job only loves the Lord because He has given him so much wealth. If God takes away all his good fortune, Satan says, Job will curse Him. God accepts the wager. He tells Satan to do his worst to Job but not to harm him physically.
20. The Book of Job: The Question of God's Justice In short order, four messengers arrive at Job's house. The first announces that all Job's oxen and donkeys have been stolen. The next that a fire from heaven incinerated his 7,000 sheep. The next that the Chaldeans took his 3,000 camels. And the last that “a mighty wind” blew down his son’s tent, killing all 10 inside.
21. The Book of Job: The Question of God's Justice But Job does not curse God: He tears his clothes, cuts off his hair, and cries one of the most famous verses in the Bible: “ Naked I came out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” — Job 1:21
22. The Book of Job: The Question of God's Justice Once again (identical to their last run in) God says to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? …” Satan reasons the only reason Job isn't complaining is that he still has health and life. "Lay a hand on his bones and his flesh, and he will surely blaspheme." God can't say no to a challenge. He tells Satan he can do anything short of killing Job. Satan gives Job wicked sores all over his body. Completely incapacitated, Job sits and scratches himself with a broken piece of pottery. His wife, rather inexplicably, tells him he should curse God, but Job is philosophical: "Should we accept only good from God and not accept evil?"
23. The Book of Job: The Question of God's Justice Job 7:19 “ Will you not look away from me for an instant, leave me long enough to swallow my spittle? If I have sinned, what harm can I do you, you watcher of the human heart? Why have you made me your target? Why have I become a burden to you? Why do you not pardon my offence and take away my guilt?”
24. The Book of Job: The Question of God's Justice Job 10:12 Poignantly, Job wonders why God would bother to make him—to fashion him "like clay"—just so that he can suffer. Job thinks it must be a game for God: “ You granted me life and continuing favor, and your providence watched over my spirit. Yet this was the secret purpose of your heart, and I know what was your intent: that if I sinned, you would be watching me and would not absolve me of my guilt. If indeed I am wicked, alll the worse for me! If I am upright, I cannot hold up my head; I am filled with shame and steeped in my affliction.”
25. The Book of Job: The Question of God's Justice Job 13:14-24 In Chapter 13, Job issues his challenge: I don't care how strong He is, I want to speak to Him. Job then makes one of most audacious plays in the entire Bible: He vows to speak the truth to God—to tell God that He has wronged him. “ If he wishes to slay me, I have nothing to lose; I shall still defend my conduct to his face. This at least assures my deliverance…. How many crimes and sins are laid to my charge? Let me know my offence and my sin. Why do you hide your face and treat me as your enemy.”
26. The Book of Job: The Question of God's Justice Job 21:7-17 “ Why do the wicked live on, hale in old age, and great and powerful? They see their children settled around them, their descendants flourishing, their households secure and safe; the rod of God’s justice does not reach them….They live out their days in prosperity….How often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out, how often does ruin come upon them? How often does God in his anger deal out suffering?”
27. The Book of Job: The Question of God's Justice Job 38:1-4 The Lord Himself appears—in a whirlwind! His opening line to Job: "Who is this who darkens counsel with words devoid of knowledge? Brace yourself and stand up like a man…” Job wanted to question God, but that's not how it's going to be. The Lord is going to be the one asking the questions; “I shall put questions to you, and you must answer. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you know and understand.”
28. Job 38:8-11 Who shut the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb?— when I wrapped it in a blanket of cloud and swaddled it in dense fog, when I established its bounds, set its barred doors in place, and said, “Thus far may you come but no farther; here your surging waves must halt?”
29. Even though Job has said that he is innocent, that he doesn't deserve God’s punishment, and that God screwed up, God doesn't address any of these points. Instead He thunders: “I'm the mighty God of creation—how dare you question Me?” and “Oh, I suppose then you are omnipotent, is that right?” In the end, God rebukes Job’s three friends who have been saying all along that God is just and fair and that Job must be somehow deserving of his lot. Strangely, God is angry at Job’s friends because, “unlike my servant Job, you have not spoken as you ought about me.” (Job 42:7) Then God restores Job’s fortunes. Job gets twice as many sheep and camels as before, and 10 new children—seven sons, and three daughters, who are the most beautiful girls in Uz.
30. What are we to make of the story of Job, and what are we told about evil and suffering?
31. Augustine and the Problem of Evil: Soul-deciding Theodicy Based on the narratives of Genesis 1-3, Augustine’s theodicy argues that God created the world and it was perfect, without any evil or suffering. Genesis 1:31: “God saw all that he had made and saw that it was very good.” Augustine defined evil as the privation of goodness, just as blindness is a privation of sight. Since evil is not an entity in itself, just like blindness is not an entity in itself, God could not have created it. 354-430 C.E.
32. Augustine and the Problem of Evil: Soul-deciding Theodicy Instead, evil originates from free will possessed by angels and humans, who turned their back on God and settled for a lesser form of goodness thus creating a privation of goodness , as the narrative of ‘the fall’ in Genesis 3 tries to explain. As a result the state of perfection was ruined by sin . Natural Evil : Occurred because of the loss of order in nature, defined by Augustine as the “ penal consequences of sin.” Moral Evil: Derived from human free will and disobedience.
33. Augustine and the Problem of Evil: Soul-deciding Theodicy Augustine reasoned that all humans are worthy of the punishment of evil and suffering because we are “seminally present in the loins of Adam,” deserving of the punishment for original sin . God has the right not to intervene and put a stop to evil and suffering, since he is a just God and we are worthy of punishment. It is by his grace and infinite love however, that we (some of us, those to whom he chooses to give grace) are able to accept his offer of salvation and eternal life in heaven.
34. Responses to Augustine on the Problem of Evil: It is logically contradictory to claim that a perfectly created world went wrong. For evil to occur in a perfectly created world, it created itself ex nihilo (from nothing). Either: (1) God created the world imperfect to start with, or (2) God didn’t know free will would result in sin, or (3) God made it go wrong.
35. <ul><li>Since God creates the universe ex nihilo , God is responsible for everything in the universe – both good and bad. It’s a closed system. How did evil get into it? </li></ul><ul><li>In creating the universe, God foresees or knows the entire history of the universe in full detail. </li></ul><ul><li>So God knows everything that each person does before he/she does it. God also ought to know how the universe He created will turn out. </li></ul>The Problem of Evil: Augustine’s Problem
36. The Problem of Evil: Everything that happens is divinely sanctioned God Creation Free will Evil Suffering
37. The Problem of Evil: Traditional Formulations <ul><li>Why is there suffering in the world? </li></ul><ul><li>Why does it seem that there is needless and excessive suffering </li></ul><ul><li>in the world? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the cause of evil and the cause of suffering? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the purpose (local, cosmic) of suffering? </li></ul><ul><li>What is suffering? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a bad day? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>a toothache? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>losing the game? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>diabetes? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Alzheimer's? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>wars? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>genocide? </li></ul></ul>
38. The Problem of Evil: An event may be categorized as evil if it involves any of the following: 1) some harm (whether it be minor or great) being done to the physical and/or psychological well-being of a sentient creature; 2) the unjust treatment of some sentient creature; 3) loss of opportunity resulting from premature death; 4) anything that prevents an individual from leading a fulfilling and virtuous life; 5) a person doing that which is morally wrong; 6) the ‘privation of good’
39. Definitions <ul><li>Natural evil : Pain and suffering caused by natural forces that aren’t within the control of a moral agent. </li></ul><ul><li>Moral evil : Pain and suffering caused by a moral agent. </li></ul><ul><li>Necessary evil : the existence and degree of the pain is needed to serve an overall good purpose. </li></ul><ul><li>Unnecessary evil : the existence and degree of the pain is not needed to serve an overall good purpose. </li></ul>
40. Theodicy versus Defense Rather than attempting to explain how God could allow evil, a defense tries to show that, even if we don't know how an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect being could allow evil, it doesn't follow that an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect being couldn't allow it. That is, even if we can’t see how God could allow evil, it doesn't follow that (A) and (B) are logically inconsistent.
41. William Rowe's version of the evidential argument from evil is as follows: (1) There exist instances of intense suffering which an omnipotent, omniscient being could have prevented without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse. (2) An omniscient, wholly good being would prevent the occurrence of any intense suffering it could, unless it could not do so without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse. Therefore, (3) There does not exist an omnipotent, omniscient, wholly good being.
42. William Rowe's makes his point with this example: "In some distant forest lightning strikes a dead tree, resulting in a forest fire. In the fire a fawn is trapped, horribly burned, and lies in terrible agony for several days before death relieves its suffering."
46. Moral Evil vs. Natural Evil The problem of moral evil is the idea that we are morally imperfect and either deserve our suffering in life or have inherited our deserved suffering in life from an earlier transgression (e.g. Adam and Eve). Here, evil is a product of free will and some think this is precisely what enables us to be loving (or not) toward the less fortunate. The problem of natural evil , however, seems to undermine this rationale. Natural evil seems to lack the moral opportunities in which individuals can aspire to the moral challenge. For instance, the tsunami in Indonesia killed several hundred thousand men, women, and children. The suffering surrounding this tragedy was not a product of the moral failings of individuals not loving each other enough to render aid during the flooding, but rather the result of the tsunami.