JOHN HICK’S THE PROBLEM OF EVIL
John Hick discusses in his essay The Problem of Evil, the objections to the belief in the existence of God is the presence of evil in the world. He begins by posing the traditional challenge to theism in the form of the dilemma: That if God was perfectly loving, he must wish to abolish evil, and being all powerful, is able to perfectly do so as he will its. He then proceeds to present some views regarding this issue, giving insights from three point of views, that of contemporary Christian Science, the Boston Personalist school, and the theologian Augustine. The first opinion takes evil as an illusion, as a construct of the human mind. The second confers upon God finity, God as a struggling ruler, making do with what he can. The third hold the rational that Evil is merely the corruption of the good, the going wrong of something primarily good.
The author then proceeds argue from the premise that “If god is an all-good and all-powerful God, why then has he created a world where sin and suffering occur?” He brings the case to the matter of free will. Man is gifted with the freedom to choose this actions and make his own decisions, and in leaving him to his own devices, he has the capacity to choose evil over good. Thus sin and wrongdoing is inseparable from man’s very nature as human beings, and suffering is the consequence of man’s errors.
But what about other evils that befall mankind that are not directly caused by their actions? Natural calamities and other fortuitous events are built into the structure of this world and do not stem from man’s actions and decisions. Why would an all powerful God allow these to happen? Hick proceeds to make a case that man’s world is not a perfect world, cause in a perfect world where there is no pain or suffering, there can be no instance of soul making. In a dream world, there can be no formation of the self, no room for improvement, no way to distinguish between right and wrong. There would be no room for the formation of morals and values, making the perfect world, the worst kind of world possible. Thus, an opportunity for “soul making” justifies the suffering of an imperfect world.
The relationship of faith and reason presented in the article lies along the vein of a dialogue. It recognizes the parallels between faith and reason, and moves towards conversation between them in light of their differences and similarities. It also borders on integration, one being able to unite the faith and reason aspects of evil in their own personal experiences.
It is possible to maintain a relationship of dialogue between faith and reason with relation to the problem of evil. One can take the more practical approach to evil as the argument for reason and the aspect of God being in the picture as the supposed protector against of evil. Evil in scientific and practical terms could be explained as unfortunate probabilities and accidental mishaps, an occurrence of scientific phenomenon that can be rationally explained such as why volcanoes erupt or why typhoons are formed. Evil from a religious point of view would be the misuse of God’s gift of free will and consequences of man’s wrong actions. These two aspects can be viewed in a more compatible manner, discussing that yes evil may be a social construct and natural part of the world, but it may also be tackled with relation to a more divine source. Integration of the two outlooks into a singular understanding of the concept of evil is also possible. I agree with Hick in the sense that I do not believe that evil—as we typically understand it—exists in the world. I believe that what we perceive as evil is simply our misdirected use of the good that God provides us with. Hick uses the term “soul making” which I deem as an apt description of a primary reason in the defense for the existence of evil.
I personally have no trouble understanding the dialogue between the scientific and...
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