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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 supports the existence of an all-powerful, benevolent God Show more Show less

The study of Theodicy effectively defends the existence of a benevolent, omnipotent and omniscient God.
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God understands outcomes in the way we cannot

God, in his omniscience, knows the outcome of everything. It is possible that he permits some evil acts because to prevent them would incur greater evil or prevent greater good.

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Context

God, in their omniscience, understands the impact and outcomes of their actions. Therefore, it is plausible that they already act to eliminate evil when they are able to do so without incurring a greater evil or preventing the occurrence of a greater good.

The Argument

An omniscient and omnipotent God can intervene to prevent evil from occurring. However, they are unlikely to do so if the outcome of the divine intervention would prevent the occurrence of a greater good or cause a greater evil. For example, imagine a situation where God sees a child suffering from leukaemia. In their benevolence and omnipotence, God could intervene and spare the child. But if the child then grows up to become a serial killer, in eliminating one evil, God has incurred a greater evil. Because we can never know the full impacts of divine intervention, it is possible that God prevents evil deeds whenever they can without incurring a greater evil or preventing a greater good. Without God, the world might be a much worse place. Evil and depraved acts that we cannot even comprehend or believe are possible might have emerged had an omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent God not been working to eliminate evil.[1]

Counter arguments

The theory is incomplete because it cannot explain how an action attributes a greater or lesser value to evil deeds. Does God decide when and when not to eliminate evil with the end goal of creating the best possible world for all people? Or does God decide when to intervene based on making preventing many ills on falling on one person and making their life miserable? Does God decide how and when to intervene based on what is morally right and morally wrong? For example, if instead of becoming a serial killer, the child grows up to be a morally impeccable person but accidentally kills four people in a car accident. Would it not be the morally correct decision to spare the child from leukaemia, even if it results in the death of four other people? For the argument to be effective, it must incorporate a bridge between good and evil, and morally right and wrong actions. [1]

Framing

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Premises

[P1] God is all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful. [P2] Therefore, the only evil he would permit would be that which the act of preventing would prompt greater evil or prevent greater good. [P3] Therefore, evil on earth is compatible with an omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent God.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] There is no objective way of assessing what would be a "greater" evil.

Proponents

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Further Reading

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References

  1. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evil/#SomImpDis

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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 17:46 UTC