a) Examine what Theists mean by the problem of Evil (6) b) Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of 2 theodicies that attempt to solve this problem (14)
a) Theists believe in a God who is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent. This God, in principle, should be able to remove all occurrences of evil in the world. However, it is quite clear to us that both evil and suffering continue to exist. A theodicy tries to solve this obvious problem. The likes of Aquinas and Augustine have recognised the problem as this: If God is able to prevent suffering and does not do so, then He is malevolent, if He is willing to prevent it but cannot, then He is not all powerful. Furthermore, if God’s omnipotence includes the ability to know everything, he must know that humankind suffer due to evil, not only in the present but in the future. Therefore a Theist cannot claim that it is God’s ignorance of suffering that stop him from intervening to prevent either its occurrence or its impact. Atheists on the other hand conclude that the God of Classical Theism cannot exist as he clearly lacks one or more of his necessary qualities.
This means that the nature of God is brought seriously into question as the evidence of evil implies that God has chosen to allow it, whether it be moral evil, such as murder or rape, or natural evil, such as earthquakes and volcanoes. A theist cannot logically deny the existence of evil.
Theists are therefore left with a dilemma. Should they abandon belief in God because the evidence of evil is so overwhelming? Do they qualify their belief and understanding of God to fit the evidence or do they claim that evil and suffering are figments of the imagination and do not exist in reality – as ‘Christian Scientists’ do. Theists have to recognise the truth of two conflicting claims – that God is all powerful and all loving and that evil exists.
This is both theologically and philosophically...
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