Theodicy

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Theodicy

Postby Pax Vitae » Sat Feb 01, 2003 4:55 pm

What follows is taken from the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy on the subject of Theodicy. Which deals with the goodness of God in the face of all the evil acts in the world and how a Good God can allow these evil acts to take place. This is being posted in reply to Skeptic’s idea of discussing Theodicy.

theodicy (from Greek theos, 'God', and dike, 'justice'), a defense of the justice or goodness of God in the face of doubts or objections arising from the phenomena of evil in the world ('evil' refers
here to bad states of affairs of any sort). Many types of theodicy have been proposed and vigorously debated; only a few can be sketched here.

(1) It has been argued that evils are logically necessary for greater goods (e.g., hardships for the full exemplification of certain virtues), so that even an omnipotent being (roughly, one whose power has no logically contingent limits) would have a morally sufficient reason to cause or permit the evils in order to obtain the goods. Leibniz, in his Theodicy (1710), proposed a particularly comprehensive theodicy of this type. On his view, God had adequate reason to bring into existence the actual world, despite all its evils, because it is the best of all possible worlds, and all actual evils are essential ingredients in it, so that omitting any of them would spoil the design of the whole. Aside from issues about whether actual evils are in fact necessary for greater goods, this approach faces the question whether it assumes wrongly that the end justifies the means.

(2) An important type of theodicy traces some or all evils to sinful free actions of humans or other beings (such as angels) created by God. Proponents of this approach assume that free action in creatures is of great value and is logically incompatible with divine causal control of the creatures' actions. It follows that God's not intervening to prevent sins is necessary, though the sins themselves are not, to the good of created freedom. This is proposed as a morally sufficient reason for God's not preventing them. It is a major task for this type of theodicy to explain why God would permit those evils that are not themselves free choices of creatures but are at most consequences of such choices.

(3) Another type of theodicy, both ancient and currently influential among theologians, though less congenial to orthodox traditions in the major theistic religions, proposes to defend God's goodness by abandoning the doctrine that God is omnipotent. On this view, God is causally, rather than logically, unable to prevent many evils while pursuing sufficiently great goods. A principal sponsor of this approach at present is the movement known as process theology, inspired by Whitehead; it depends on a complex metaphysical theory about the nature of causal relationships.

(4) Other theodicies focus more on outcomes than on origins. Some religious beliefs suggest that God will turn out to have been very good to created persons by virtue of gifts (especially religious gifts, such as communion with God as supreme Good) that may be bestowed in a life after death or in religious experience in the present life. This approach may be combined with one of the other types of theodicy, or adopted by people who think that God's reasons for permitting evils are beyond our finding out.



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Postby Uccisore » Sat Feb 01, 2003 7:17 pm

I don't think a working Theodicy is nessicary, as long as there is shown to be room for theodicy.
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Postby Skeptic » Sun Feb 02, 2003 7:57 am

Please explain further Uccisore. What do you mean by a working Theodicy? and what do you mean by room for one?
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Postby Uccisore » Sun Feb 02, 2003 8:59 am

A theodicy interacts with the Problem of Evil. Most commonly, it is a proposed tool to show that the Problem of Evil doesn't make the existence of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent impossible.
What I'm saying is that a theodicy isn't nessicary to do that. All one need do is show that it is *possible* for evil and God to exist, in other words, show that it is possible that there is some correct theodicy. This is enough to defeat the Problem of Evil. Coming up with a theory of what that correct theodicy *is* is probably a bit of a wasted effort, since there's most likely no way to confirm it as true or false.
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Postby Pax Vitae » Sun Feb 02, 2003 9:33 am

True, but a lot of those arguments presuppose freewill. It is quite possible that freewill doesn’t exist, and is just an illusion in our mind. If that is the case then any pain and suffering is cause by the instigator of the chain of events, and this chain can only follow a single path. So in that case if God created a world without freewill and there is evil it’s there because God wanted it. As we have no will to choose our paths, we then end up always facing evil, which is only there because it was predestined.

A lot of things called ‘evil’ in the world have to do with our Moral Codes. Some acts that were once evil are how no longer considered evil. So this begs the question, was it really an evil act at the time it was committed? Or to kill somebody in self defence is not considered evil, but to aimlessly kill is. Why the difference? I’d say it’s because of our moral codes. I don’t believe in ‘Evil’ as a greater entity that exists, but only as something that exists in moral relativism. I don’t believe you can prove God’s non-existence by evil. But it does affect the type of personality that the God must have after examining the world, which he created.

What do you guys think?

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Postby Uccisore » Mon Feb 03, 2003 3:59 am

True, but a lot of those arguments presuppose freewill. It is quite possible that freewill doesn’t exist, and is just an illusion in our mind. If that is the case then any pain and suffering is cause by the instigator of the chain of events, and this chain can only follow a single path. So in that case if God created a world without freewill and there is evil it’s there because God wanted it. As we have no will to choose our paths, we then end up always facing evil, which is only there because it was predestined.



My argument against predestination has always been that our own sense of free-will is so obvious and unquestionable that any argument against it would be counter-intuitive, and thus the argument itself is always going to be less credible than belief in free will. Very similar to someone presenting me with an argument that I don't exist. Unless that argument convincingly explains the sensation that I exist, it fails.
Anyway, I don't mean to advance a free-will theodicy or any other. I mean to say that if it can be shown that it needs to be demonstrated that the existence of God and the existence of Evil are incompatible before a theodicy is even nessicary. I don't think this demonstration can be made.

I don’t believe in ‘Evil’ as a greater entity that exists, but only as something that exists in moral relativism. I don’t believe you can prove God’s non-existence by evil. But it does affect the type of personality that the God must have after examining the world, which he created


That's an excellent point! Moral Relativism pretty much makes the Problem of Evil a non-starter. Looking at the world (and all the information it offers) and using that information to discover what God must me like is much better than coming up with a God and trying to make the world fit into the concept.
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