40.01 Overview (pps.32-33)

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Augustinian theodicy and the Irenaean theodicy , both of which will be described later.) Given the underlying dynamics, this universe, accordingly, is the “best of all worlds.”120

Aquinas agreed with Augustine that evil (both physical and moral) is the privation of goodness, of perfection. He posits that evil is necessary so that many goods may find expression. “If there were no death of other animals, there would be no life for the lion; if there were no persecution from tyrants, there would be no occasion for the heroic suffering of martyrs.”121

It is said that the problem of evil, although insoluble, is counterbalanced and, so to speak, canceled out by the mystery of good. In the words of the old Latin tag, “If God exists, wherefore evil? If God does not exist, wherefore good?”122 But turning the question on its head does not solve the problem.123

Proposed solutions to the problem of evil, some of which overlap theodicies in the Jewish tradition, include the following: evil is an illusion; evil is merely the privation of good; evil has to exist as a counterpart to the good;124 evil is the by-product of the operations of the laws of nature: the presence of evil brings out the good in people. Inadequacies in these theodicies are pointed out by the contemporary philosophers Mackie125 and McCloskey.126
Other theodicies range from theodicies of an indifferent God—e.g., Camus al.127 and Epicurus128;
et a mischievous God—e.g., Russell129; a bad God— e.g., Jung130; an incomprehensible God—e.g., Kafka et a1131; a finitely powerful God—e.g., Kushner et al.132; and a God capable of creating only an imperfect world—e.g., the Indian mystic Tagore et al.133

The mainstream Christian theodicy is that developed by Augustine (354-430 C.E.),133 which posits that the original sin of Adam and Eve haunts us to this day.135

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120 See Hick, “Faith and Knowledge,” p. 541. “In Leibniz’s Theodicy (1710) we find the optimistic view that this is the best of all possible worlds-best not in the sense that it contains no evils, but in the sense that any other possible universe would have to contain more evil.”

121 Summa Theologiae I, 22, 2 ad 2.

122 Hick, Evil and the God of Love, p. 10. Latin: Si deus est, unde malum? Si non est, unde bonum?

123 See Fosdick, Living Under Tensions (New York: Harper & Co., 194l), pp. 214-215.

124 This proposition per se is valid and important. In fact, we employ a slight variation on it as one of nine major propositions in our eventual formulation. The problem is rather in its employment as a stand-alone theodicy. The major challenge is as follows: Granted that evil has to exist as a counterpart to good, why does not omnipotent, omnimerciful God intervene to counter gross evil?

125 J. L. Mackie, “Evil and Omnipotence,” Mind 64 (1955), as reprinted in Brody, Readings in the Philosophy of Religion, p. 157.

126 H. J. McCloskey, “God and Evil,” Philosophical Quarterly 10 (1960), as reprinted in ibid., p. 168.

127 See Camus, “Letters to a German Friend,” in his Resistance, Rebellion and Death (New York: Knopf, 1961) p. 32, as cited in Berkovits, Faith After the Holocaust, p. 71. “I know that heaven, which was indifferent to your horrible victories, will be equally indifferent to your just defeat. Even now I expect nothing from heaven.”

128 See Schulweis, Evil and the Morality of God, p. 19. “The saddest proposition of religious philosophy is the Epicurean formulation of gods who exist and know but who do not care and do not intervene.”

129 Bertrand Russell, as cited in Glatzer, The Dimensions of Job, p. 222. “In a world so full of contradictions I can not find God; I can more easily assume that it was created by a mischievous Mephistopheles in an exceptionally devilish mood.”

130 Carl Gustav Jung, as summarized in Glatzer, The Dimensions of Job, p. 45, proposed that the God of Job, far from being a free Lord of creation, is a demiurge, amoral, inconsistent, touchy, suspicious, ruthless, brutal. This God envies man for what he, man, alone possesses: “a somewhat keener consciousness.”

131 Kafka provides us with a naturally Kafkaesque theodicy: “. . . the fact that the voice does not reach us and that instead we perceive demonic noises, Kafka attributed not to the hostile power of a demiurge but to a strange derangement in the process of communication caused by intermediary forces.” Cited in Glatzer, The Dimensio-ns of job, p. 48. quoting from Buber, Darko shel mikra (Jerusalem, 1964), p. 357. One might actually draw some parallels between Kafka’s statement and some segments of kabbalistic literature. 132.

132 See Kushner, When Bad Things Happen to Good People.
Kushner’s main thrust is that the rabbinic response should focus on comforting the aggrieved, as opposed to providing specific theological responses to the aggrieved. Philosophically, Kushner posits in his book a nonomnipotent Divine. In subsequent lectures in 1985 in New York, Kushner modified his position to posit a Self-willed Divine nonomnipotence.

133 Rabindranath Tagore, “The Problem of Evil,” Hibbert Journal 2 (1910): 705.

134 But if God is omnipotent, why did He not create beings who would not sin?
“If it is said: It would not have been difficult or laborious for Almighty God to have seen to it that all His creatures should have observed their proper order so that none of them should have come to his misery. If he is omnipotent that would not have been beyond His power and if He is good He would not have grudged it; this is my answer. The order of creatures proceeds from top to bottom by just grades. so that it is the remark of envy to say: That creatures should not exist, and equally so to say: That one should be different. It is wrong to wish that anything should be like another thing higher in the scale, for it has its being, perfect in its degree, and nothing ought to be added to it. He who says that a thing ought to be different from what it is, either wants to add something to a higher creature already perfect, in which case he lacks moderation and justice; or he wants to destroy the lower creature, and is thereby wicked and grudging.” Augustine, Confessions and Enchiridion, p. 26.

135 See Hick. Readings in the Philosophy of Religion, p. 5 14. “…the ultimate source of evil lies in an original conscious turning away from God on the part of created personal life.”

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