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What is theodicy? Show more Show less

Theodicy is the name given to reconciling the existence of God as a divine, benevolent, omnipotent being with the existence of evil. The existence of evil appears to contradict the existence of God. If an all-powerful, all-good being existed, then why would they permit evil in the world? The existence of evil must confirm that God is either not omnipotent, not benevolent, or non-existent. Theodicy attempts to answer the basic question of why God permits evil.

Theodicy concludes evil does not exist Show more Show less

Evil as morally bad acts does not exist.
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We cannot see the benefit of “evil” acts

We perceive acts as "evil" only because we cannot see the benefits in them. In reality, these acts are not evil, but are actually "good".

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Context

Evil does not exist. We perceive acts to be evil because we are unable to see the benefit they offer.

The Argument

We arrogantly decide that the world would be better off without evils because they are bad deeds that cause suffering and harm. From God’s perch, we would see that there is no such thing as evil. What we perceive as evils, suffering and tragedy are often outweighed by the benefits of the struggle against them, making them good acts, not evil acts.[1] For example, if a mother loses her child to a rare disease, the development of personal traits like strength and courage far outweigh the struggle she faces. The removal of all the things we perceive as “evil” from the world would make the world a worse place, not a better place. As such, evil as we define it does not exist. Our understanding of evil stems from our epistemological limitations and inability to comprehend the net advantages of seemingly "evil" acts.

Counter arguments

This argument is not very convincing when examined in the context of history. Few would argue that the holocaust survivor that lost every member of their family in the death camps of Eastern Europe gained so much from the experience as to outweigh the loss of their loved ones. If God was truly omnipotent, God would be able to bring the same positive outcomes to fruition without the evils taking place. By permitting the evils, even if they bring a positive outcome that outweighs the negative outcomes, God is either not omnipotent (because God cannot bring the benefits to pass without the evils) or not benevolent (because God can bring the benefits without the evils but chooses not to).[1] Finally, resorting to an argument that hinges on the limits of our epistemological understanding falls into the trap of inductive scepticism. If we cannot hope to understand objective good and objective evil, then why bother trying to understand ethics at all? Why try and act in a “right” way? If seemingly abhorrent actions actually have a net “good” impact, then why not carry out genocidal acts without any moral reservations?[2]

Framing

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Premises

[P1] Evil acts are those that have more negative impacts on the world than positive ones. [P2] No acts have more negative impacts on the world than positive ones. [P3] Therefore, evil does not exist.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] If God was omnipotent and benevolent, he would be able to provide the positive impacts without the negative impacts. [Rejecting P2] History indicates that some acts have more negative impacts than positive impacts.

Proponents

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Further Reading

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References

  1. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evil/#SomImpDis
  2. http://www.sofiatopia.org/equiaeon/theodicy.htm

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This page was last edited on Thursday, 13 Feb 2020 at 11:29 UTC