Apologetics, Kreeft chapter 7: Evil


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Based on Pocket handbook of Christian apologetics (2003) by Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli. This is a course taught at LTCi, Siliguri.

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Apologetics, Kreeft chapter 7: Evil

  1. 1. TheProblem of Evil Pocket handbook of Christian ApologeticsPeter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli
  2. 2. Consider the followingpropositions:1. God exists2. God is all good3. God is all powerful4. Evil existsIf we accept and affirm the firstthree then it would seem we haveto deny the fourth;- if God exists, wills only good, andis powerful enough to get all hewills, then there would be no evil.
  3. 3. - if God exists, wills only good,but evil exists, then God does notget what he wills. Thus he is notall powerful- if God exists, and he is allpowerful and evil exists too, thenGod wills evil to exist. Thus he isnot all good.- Finally if “God” means “a beingthat is all good and all powerful”and yet evil still exists, thensuch a God does not exist.
  4. 4. Five possible solutions1. Atheism is the denial ofproposition 1, that Godexists.2. Pantheism is the denial ofproposition 2, that God isgood and not evil
  5. 5. Pantheism is the view that theUniverseFive possible solutions (Nature) and God (ordivinity) are identical. Pantheiststhus do not believe in a personal,anthropomorphic or creator god. Theword derives from the Greek (pan)1. Atheism andthe Greek (theos)meaning "all" is the denial ofmeaning "God".1, thatPantheism,proposition Within Godthe central ideas found in almost allexists. are the Cosmos as an all-versions2. Pantheism is the theencompassing unity and denial ofsacredness of Nature. God isproposition 2, thatIn Pantheism, God is identical withgood and not evilthe universe, but in PanentheismGod lies within and also beyond oroutside of the universe.
  6. 6. 3. Modern naturalism andancient polytheism both denyproposition 3, that God is allpowerful.Ancient polytheism limited God’spower by splitting God up intomany little “gods” some of whichwere evil.Modern naturalism, such asprocess theology, does the sameby reducing God to being oftime, growth, imperfection,weakness and limitation.
  7. 7. 4. Idealism here is thedenial of real evil - seenin Advaita Hinduism,Christian science andmuch New Age thinking,all of which say evil isan illusion produced byunenlightened thinking.
  8. 8. 5. Finally, traditional theism,including orthodoxChristianity, Judaism andIslam, affirm all fourpropositions and deny anylogical contradiction. This canbe done only if there aresome ambiguous terms.
  9. 9. Ambiguous |amˈbigyoōəs|5. Finally, traditional theism,including orthodox- (of language) open toChristianity, Judaism andmore than one fourIslam, affirm allinterpretation; having apropositions and deny anydoublecontradiction. This canlogical meaning- unclear or if there arebe done only inexactbecause a choice betweensome ambiguous terms.alternatives has not beenmade
  10. 10. 5. Finally, traditional theism,including orthodoxChristianity, Judaism andIslam, affirm all fourpropositions and deny anylogical contradiction. This canbe done only if there aresome ambiguous terms.
  11. 11. 5. Finally, traditional theism, Customersincluding orthodox who think ourChristianity, Judaism andIslam, affirm all four waiters arepropositions and deny anylogical contradiction. This can rude shouldbe done only if there aresome ambiguous terms. see the manager
  12. 12. Defining evilThere are 2 commonmisunderstandingsregarding evil;1. It is often associatedwith a being2. There is confusionbetween physical andmoral evil
  13. 13. If evil is a being then it is anunsolvable problem - for God wouldhave had to make it and istherefore not all good - or God didnot make it and therefore he is notthe all powerful creator of allthings.We should note that things are notevil in themselves - a sword is notevil - it is the intent it is used forthat is used to order the use - fromthere we decide on the actionwhich it was used for.
  14. 14. Augustine defined evil asdisordered will, disorderedlove - a wrong relationship, anon conformity between ourwill and God’s will. God didnot make it we did - we see inGenesis 1 and 3 the stories ofGod’s good creation andhumanities rebellion and fall.
  15. 15. Secondly, we need to distinguishbetween physical and moral evil -sin and suffering, the evil weactively do and that which wepassively suffer - the evil wechoose and the evil we are subjectto, that which we are responsiblefor and that which we are not.Two explanations are needed:The origin of sin is human freewill. The immediate origin ofsuffering is nature - e.g. we stubour toe on something or drown inthe sea.
  16. 16. Here God cannot beresponsible for sin - but whatof suffering, can that betraced to sin? Genesis 3says that there is a directlink. It does not explain how- but it does declare thornsand thistles, pain in childbearing and the sweat of ourbrow are all the result of sin
  17. 17. Connecting suffering with sin: the FallHumans are generally believedto be a psychosomatic unity -that is body and soul - yoursoul or psyche is your formand your body your matter.Kreeft says it is like a poemwhere the meaning is the formand the sounds and syllablesare the matter.
  18. 18. So if our soul is separated fromGod by sin our body will suffertoo - it will be alienated andexperience pain and death asinevitable consequences of sin.Spiritual death and physicaldeath go together as our bodiesand soul go together.So we have to ask did the Fallliterally take place in humanhistory? What if Gen 3 is notreal then it is a fable about sinand Adam and Eve are onlysymbolic.
  19. 19. 2 consequences:1. There was never a time ofinnocence when God made allthings good - so we were madesinners and we can trace thatback to God (who is therefore toblame).2. If the Fall is only what we do -then why has no one ever resisted- if there is a choice and everyonechooses the same do you reallythink there is real freedom?
  20. 20. Kreeft suggests 2 powerfularguments for believing thehistoricity of Genesis 3.1. Nearly every, tribe, nation, andreligion throughout history has asimilar story. The idea of paradisehaving been lost - a time of no evil,suffering or death. Just becauseall think it doe not make it true - itis simply an indicator - and it thenmeans we can put the need forproof n those who deny such ideas.
  21. 21. 2. We need to look at the humancondition, namely,A. All people desire perfecthappinessB. No one is perfectly happyC. All desire complete certaintyand perfect wisdomD. No one is completely certain orperfectly wise.No one has the two things we allwant - as if we all ‘remember’ Edenbut cannot recapture it. We do notaccept how we are but long foranother time when things weredifferent.
  22. 22. Kreeft suggests we imagineGod as symbolised by a large Godmagnet - 3 iron rings hangfrom it.Ring 1 represents the soulRing 2 the bodyRing 3 natureWhilst ring 1 (soul) remains incontact with God then all 3remain attached - if ring 1loses contact with God all fall.As our soul declaresindependence from God thewhole structure falls apart:
  23. 23. Kreeft suggests we imagineGod as symbolised by a with large God- our soul loses contactmagnet - 3 iron rings hangour body and also with nature -from it.so all1suffers for our authorityRing represents the soulover nature is delegated by /Ring 2 the bodyfrom 3 nature we reject GodRing God - thus,Whilst ring 1 (soul) remainsheand we reject the authority incontact with God then all 3delegatedremain attachedwe can see sinAs a conclusion - if ring 1loses contact with God allmanand suffering come from fall.As our soul declaresnot from God.independence from God thewhole structure falls apart:
  24. 24. Defining “Free Will”Kreeft does this by contrasting itwith determinism.Determinism says all we do isaccounted for by heredity andenvironment.Free will then adds a thirdelement to this, an element notdetermined by heredity.H&E condition our acts but do notdetermine them - just as paintsand a frame do not determine thepicture to be painted - they arenecessary but not sufficient causeof freely chosen acts.
  25. 25. Kreeft suggests looking at how weuse words - praise, blame,command, moralise etc. to eachother - would you do those to arobot? Of course not they are notmorally responsible. So, if youremove free will from life then allmoral meaning disappears fromlanguage and life.
  26. 26. One might ask why did Godgive us free will?Kreeft suggests this is not theright question to ask - after allyou give a pony to a child or apolish to a table - but you donot give three sides to atriangle, or free will to aperson. Free will is part of theessence of the person - withoutit they would not be a person -in fact we would consider thema “machine”.
  27. 27. Defining “Omnipotence”Part of the problem of evil is theproblem of a God who is all powerfulas well as all good. Why didn’t Godcreate a world without sin?Gen 1,2 says he did - the problem ofsin was not with God, but with man.And if you then suggest God shouldhave created man without thefreedom to sin, then you have toconsider this removing love fromthe world - after all, love is achoice: Love proceeds from free will
  28. 28. But the question is still askedcould God have created a worldwith free will and without sin -the answer is “He did!” thepresence of sin is not cased byGod but by the choice of men.Our freedom means there wasalways going to be thepossibility of sin - even with anomnipotent God. It would appearto be a contradiction to want aworld with free choice (of goodor evil) and at the same time nopossibility of choosing evil.
  29. 29. Some Christian thinkers suggestGod is not limited by anythingeven the laws of logic - and sothey disagree with this position.Kreeft argues that it is not partof God’s nature to performanything that has a meaninglesscontradiction. God is consistentwithin himself, this is the verynature of God.The consequence of this thinkingis that even an omnipotent Godcannot forcibly prevent sinwithout removing our free will.
  30. 30. This “cannot” does notSome Christian thinkers suggestGod is not limited by anythingeven the thatof logic - and so mean laws God’s power has met somethingthey disagree with this position.Kreeft argues that it is not part greater than performof God’s nature to it outsideanything that has but, as CS of Himself - a meaninglesscontradiction. God is consistent Lewis said, “nonsensewithin himself, this is the verynature of not cease to be does God.nonsense when we addThe consequence of this thinkingis that even an omnipotent God the forcibly prevent sincannot words “God can” before it.without removing our free will.
  31. 31. Defining “Goodness”Goodness is more thankindness - for exampledentists, surgeons, evenfootball coaches do good work -but it might hurt a bit! Godwould not be good if good justmeant being kind.We might be kind to anotherpersons children whilst having‘higher’ standards for our own.We kill animals to prevent painwhilst having higher hopes forhumans, hence no euthanasia.
  32. 32. God allows suffering and deprives usof some “pleasures” in order that wemight receive the higher pleasure ofgreater good and of spiritualeducation. (Many have acknowledgedthat wisdom can come throughsuffering).Job did not suffer because of his lackof godliness but because God wantedJob to see Him more - supremehappiness - Job 42:5 - in this Job is aparadigm for all of us.All God does is good - so he allows evilto work in us for this - this is like menot doing Dan’s homework for him!
  33. 33. Defining “Happiness”The shallow modern meaning ofhappiness is a subjective feeling- you feel happy. It is atemporary phenomenon, itcomes and goes. It happens[mainly] by chance and issourced externally. E.g.Winning at something, bodilyexcitement, power etc. - notpoverty, chastity, obedience.
  34. 34. There is an older deeper meaning tohappiness - found in the Greek wordeudaimonia - this is an objectivestate, not subjective feeling. Jesussaid you are blessed (objectivelyhappy) even when you mourn (aresubjectively unhappy) - Matt 5:4.True happiness is about a lifetimenot a moment - it then is under ourcontrol, a choice, created by wisdomand virtue (which are good habitsnot passively received) - andhappiness is internal not external,Kreeft suggests it is about a goodsoul not a good bank account.
  35. 35. God’s providence arranges ourlife for true happiness at theend - but this might notinclude shallow, subjectivehappiness. Some suggests fortrue happiness to beunderstood we have to suffer.It is something in the spirit ofman not the body or feelings.Such happiness acts as ananchor even when times arestormy. Physical andemotional storms strengthenand harden our anchor.
  36. 36. God’s providence arranges ourlife for true happiness at theend - but this might not Teresa of Avila saidinclude shallow, subjectivethat the most miserablehappiness. Some suggests fortrue happiness toseen from earthly life, beunderstood we have to suffer. the perspective of ofIt is something in the spiritman not thelooks like one heaven, body or feelings.Such happiness in an an night acts asanchor even when times are inconvenient hotel.stormy. Physical andemotional storms strengthenand harden our anchor.
  37. 37. Providence and FreedomHaving defined these five termswe can better understand therelationship of God’s providenceand our freedom. Consider thisline of reasoning:- God knows all things and hisknowledge is eternal- therefore he knows my choicebefore I make it, so how can Ichoose anything freely?- freedom must give me thechoice of evil or good, but here Ido not seem to get any genuinechoice
  38. 38. - God appears to have made mychoices, and I get none- so if God exists human freedom isimpossible- Therefore, God must be theauthor of sinHow can we respond to suchreasoning?1. God’s knowledge being eternaldoes not mean he determines whatyou will do. His knowledge issimply not constrained by time (aswe are) - God does not change,whilst time does, it moves on - Godtranscends time.
  39. 39. “God sees in a single and eternalact of vision all our free choicesas they really exist, embedded intheir times, places andcircumstances”2. If God created us to be free thenour freedom is a gift - but withinthis God’s creating and conservingpower must be present in all ouracts. No freedom we might havecan eliminate our need for God - heis the source of all things and hegives being to our freedom.
  40. 40. “God sees in a single and eternalact of vision all our free choices“Creatures can act on theiras they really exist, embedded inown times, placesto othertheir in respect andcreatures; but never withcircumstances”2. If God created us to be free thenrespect to the creator.our freedom is a gift - but withinWithout creating and would bethis God’s God there conservingno freedom for us to all ourpower must be present in have.And there would be no “us”acts. No freedom we might havecan eliminate our need for God - hetothe source of all things and heis have it.gives being to our freedom.
  41. 41. Kreeft leaves providence andfreedom with this comment:“if God really is intimately involvedin giving being to our freechoices...think what a terrible thingsin must be. God has committedhimself to create and sustain thoseof us who use the gift of freedom tohurt others and to hate Godhimself.The power of those whodrove the nails into the hands andfeet of his beloved Son cameultimately from him. If freedom hasa terrible price, surely God paysmore than his share”
  42. 42. Practical ApplicationIt is important to see evil not just asan argument against God but as abroken relationship, a spiritualdivorce. In effect what is required is apractical, not theoretical, answer tothe problem of evil.The practical problem involves theguilt and sin produced in us - Christcame to solve this problem.Guilt can only be removed by God -through faith in the atoning wok ofJesus Christ