• Only evil when looked at from a
• Earthquakes are just the natural
world fulfilling its potential.
• Consider: the ‘arbitrary’ nature of
• Caused by humanity turning away
from its true potential .
• Evil that comes through the
actions of mankind. Humans are
free agents, responsible for their
actions and the consequent
Definitions by Aquinas:
CS Lewis (Christian intellectual/ former atheist) says God allows
suffering because "we are like blocks of stone out of which the
sculptor carves the forms of man. Blows of his chisel, which hurt
us so much, are what make us perfect.”
• Devised the classic formulation for the Problem of Evil. It became known as
the ‘Inconsistent Triad.’
• Epicurus concluded that it is reasonable to suppose that due to
the existence of evil, God is either not omnipotent or all loving
or God does not exist.
Epicurus (342-270 BCE)
1. God is willing but not able to prevent
evil? Then he is not omnipotent
2. God is able to prevent evil but not
willing? Then God is not Omni
3. If God is both able and willing then why
do we suffer?
In ‘Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion,’
1. God is not omnipotent or
2. God is not all loving or
3. Evil does not exist
Conclusion: too much evidence to deny that evil does
not exist. God must be either impotent or
malicious. Not the God if classical theism.
Therefore God does not exist.
This led John Stuart Mill to say that “God of classic
Theism doesn't exist.”
There is no ‘problem’
Mary Eddy Baker founder of
Christian Science: evil and
suffering don't exist – they
are a construct of our mind.
Buddhists- suffering part of
existence. Belief in no
‘creator god’ so suffering
not seen as a ‘problem.’
Thus existence of suffering
and evil only a problem for
those who believe in an all
Bertrand Russell adds
that God is used as a
smoke screen, evil is
just a ‘brute fact’ of
Whose view do you agree with and why?
Whose view do you disagree with any why?
My Prime Mover is quite indifferent
• Theos = God
• Dikaios = justification
• Theodicy literally means a justification of God
even with evil in the world.
• There are two main theodicy's: Augustine and
• Interpreted Genesis story literally.
• Very traditional view of God
• God of classical theism.
Hierarchy of Being
• God is Being itself (Supreme Being/ immutable). All
created things reflect greater or lesser being.
• "Since God is supreme being …it follows that He gave "being" to all
that he created out of nothing. To some things He gave more of
being and to others less and, in this way, arranged an order of
natures in a hierarchy of being."
• Original rejection of God by rebellious angels (moral
evil) who ‘fell’ or turned away from God (causing
• Humans created in the likeness of God (Gen 1:27) but
given free will
• Evil was let into the world through the misuse of free
choice of Adam and Eve who ate the apple of
knowledge of good and evil.
• Adam and Eve corrupted and destroyed God’s
natural perfect order creating disharmony and
resulting in natural evil.
1. Origins of Evil/ Role of Freewill
• Seminally present in Adam and Eve= all guilty for the Fall
• We deserve punishment = Natural evil is fitting punishment
“All evil is either sin or a punishment for sin.”
Therefore God is not responsible for moral evil as it through free
choice of humans/ angels.
God is also not responsible for natural evil as this is a result of
the corruption of his perfect created world.
Thus God is not responsible for intervening and correcting it.
2. Our Punishment Today
3. Responsibility of God
• God created everything in Creation perfect.
• God did not create evil.
• Evil comes as an absence of good (cannot create an absence)
• Evil is a privation (privatio boni).
• This means that God cannot be blamed for evil as evil is not a
substance, it is an absence of good.
E.g. Blindness is an absence of sight.
Blindness is therefore not a ‘thing’ but
a lack of something that should be
• Not God’s fault for evil: God made a perfect world because
God is perfect.
• God is not responsible for evil: we bring it on ourselves
when we reject God using our free will.
4. Why give us Freewill?
It is more valuable having
humans with the gift of freewill
rather than just obedient
This world is “Soul Deciding”
Moral Evil Natural Evil God’s Responsibility
Brought into the world
through misuse of
We all commit moral
First moral evil is
Adam and Eve and
Moral evil is seen as
turning away from God
and not following his
are here to help us live
God created a perfect
world as a gift.
God did not create evil as it
is an absence of good.
Where there is goodness
lacking is where moral evil
So God is not responsible
for what we do with our
God is not responsible to
stop it either as it is a
reminder/ punishment of
what our bloodline has
Is a result of moral evil.
Natural evil only exists
as it was brought into the
world by Adam/ Eve
We are part of their
bloodline so deserve
moral evil resulting in the
punishment of natural
• Can you think of three strengths and four
weaknesses of Augustine’s Theodicy?
• Brian Davies supports Augustine’s idea that
evil is not a substance. It is “a gap between
what there is and where there ought to be.”
stories can be
taken and how
we are all
How could a good
God let us suffer
for what Adam
and Eve did?
Hell is a difficult
concept, if God
created it he must
needing it – so
why not change
A perfectly created
world shouldn't have
gone wrong. Cannot
create something out of
1. World was not perfect
2. God enabled it to go
Irenaeus (130 -200, He died 150 years before
• Fall taken literally
• The serpent is to blame for the Fall, although Adam and
Eve are not totally blameless
• Adam and Eve are like that of children who go astray
because they have not yet developed sufficient wisdom
to do what is right.
• Even if a child is difficult does not mean parent will
• Punishment is often a way to help them to mature.
• Thus, God has not abandoned us but gives us the
distance and punishment to mature.
• Supernanny - The Wischmeyer Family 2/8 -
‘Let us make man in Our image, in Our
likeness.’ Genesis 1:26
• We are made in the image of God (with
the potential for Good).
• Humans could not receive full goodness at
Creation as we are spiritually immature
• Free will needed to develop own
• Free will was better than receiving ready-
• Gift of moral perfection would not have
meant anything to human beings if they
did not learn the value of it for
• We are moving towards the
likeness of God (becoming
Good) with the potential to
be like God
• We become like God or
move towards the likeness
of God by freely choosing
• God did not create a perfect world.
• We have freewill so we can become perfect, have to earn
• Moral evil is caused by human’s misuse of free will.
• God allowed us to have this free will = more beneficial than
making ready-made perfection.
• Salvation from God is open to all, who use their freewill for
• This is the world for “Soul Making”.
• However, the damned will be sent to hell as they refused
the ‘workmanship’ of God: ‘Your ingratitude, ignoring his
goodness in creating you human, will mean you have lost
his work on you, you will lose your life (Against Heresies
Role of Human Freewill
Responsibility of God
• God not responsible for us disobeying and turning to evil (moral evil)
through our freewill.
• The work of God is on going e.g. seeing Christ as working alongside our
• God needs to remain at a distance in order for us to mature
Must learn, be tested:
• Adam (man) suffers through working the ground
• Eve (woman) pain of giving birth
• Through natural evil (not perfect world)
But punishment had to be given boundaries so that Adam and Eve did not
despise God (children need boundaries)
• This can be linked to an Athlete who has to train their
body and mind and test it in order to build the
Irenaeus’ Examples in ‘Against Heresies’ Book 4
Mother and Milk
E.g. A mother not being
able to give a child
Just as a young infant
cannot take solid foods
(given milk) as they are
could not receive fully
formed goodness as
they were spiritually
immature and so are
given free will to
develop their own
Potter and Clay
Humans cannot get to God by
their own means-need a helping
E.G. We should keep ourselves
moist so that God can work us
without becoming too rigid. God’s
‘hands’ help mould us through
the existence of natural evil.
Natural evil ‘shapes’ us from the
image of God to the likeness =
develops desirable moral qualities
It is therefore necessary for God
to help humans achieve moral and
Jonah and Whale
responded to his
swallowed by the
needed for soul
Suffering must be
endured = move
closer to God/ His
Modern Irenaean Theodicy – John Hick
• Human beings were not created perfect but develop in
Stage One: ‘Image’
Spiritually immature. Through struggle to survive
(evolve) humans can develop into spiritually mature
The Fall is a result of immature humans who are only in
the ‘image’ of God
Stage Two: ‘Likeness’
Grow into a relationship with God
• God's presence not always obvious so humans have a choice whether or not
to believe in God (full FW)
• According to Hick everyone will be saved – Universal Salvation but some
post death soul making is needed = purgatory.
• Irenaeus believed in Hell and rejected Universal Salvation.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Irenaean
Hume: “Could not our world be
a little more hospitable and still
teach us what we need to
know?” Does the suffering have
to be so extreme?
Elie Wiesel “Trial of God” Challenging God to
keep promises found in Psalms, Job. Is such a
God worthy of worship?
Freewill is necessary: God had to
give it to humans!
Freewill is needed in order to for beings to love God (John
Love cannot be forced, therefore God has to give people
Watch the clip, how does this link to Aladdin?
Peter Vardy: illustration of the peasant girl – King falls in love
with a peasant girl – could force her to marry him but for her
to love him in return has to be earned.
• The suffering of innocent children is too high a price to pay for
the gift of freedom
• He would like God to take it back because he cannot deal with
• How can this be used against Augustine's Theodicy
and Irenaeus’ Theodicy?
Dostoyevsky “The Brothers Karamazov”
• Alvin Plantinga: “A world containing free creatures is far more valuable than a
world containing robots.”
• Process Theology: Whitehead/ Griffin.
God isn't omnipotent e.g. A mother giving birth, she does the 1st stage then things
occur which she has no control over. God makes the 1st move then we carry on
God created the world but now is independent, God no longer has total control, so
God suffers with us.
• Richard Swinburne
Total freewill is necessary. If God intervened in horrors, it would compromise free
will like an overprotective parent.
Either were have complete free will to choose our actions or we live in a world
where events are decided by God – like a toy world
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