Purpose (pps.xix-xxi)

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This work will support the credo that there is no necessary conflict between the heart and the mind, between faith and reason, between tradition and truth.4

Unde malum? “From whence evil”5 -if there be a God?

The first known formulation of this paradox in Western philosophy was that of Epicurus ca. 300 B.C.E.6 Eastward, and approximately four hundred years earlier, a thundering prophetic voice cried out:

Therefore is justice far from us,
Neither doth righteousness overtake us;
We look for light, but behold darkness,
For brightness, but we walk in gloom.
-Isaiah 59:9

How can we reconcile an all-powerful, all-merciful God with the existence of evil?

The question is indeed almost as old as mankind.7 To phrase it another way: How can we affirm the validity of a sincere religious commitment in a world where we ourselves have witnessed such prevalence of gratuitous, gross evil? The problem goes beyond the issue of the suffering of the innocent, and beyond the question of the suffering of the righteous. It involves the fundamental issue of whether there is any higher moral order at all to the cosmos.8

The purpose of this study is not to make the case that a religious approach to life is a logical imperative, nor to expound its glories. Rather, the purpose is to offer a unified philosophical structure for those examining, considering, sympathetic to, or practicing a religious approach. Our study will focus initially on the theodicy question. As the work progresses, and as components of our approach to the theodicy question begin to fall into place, we will address several other difficult philosophical/theological issues:

How can man’s freedom be reconciled with God’s omniscience (all-knowing), His foreknowledge, or His possible intervention?

——————- NOTES ——————-

4 Gordis, A Faith for Moderns, p. 8.

5 See Hick, Evil and the God of Love, p. 12. “What, then, are the various kinds of evil that have been identified in the literature of theodicy? There is, first, the important distinction just mentioned between moral and natural evil. Moral evil is evil that we human beings originate: cruel, unjust, vicious, and perverse thoughts and deeds. Natural evil is the evil that originates independently of human actions: in disease bacilli, earthquakes, storms, droughts, tornadoes, etc. In connection with these latter, it is a basic question whether events in nature which do not directly touch mankind, such as the carnage of animal life, in which one species preys upon another. or the death and decay of plants, or the extinction of a star, are to be accounted as evils.”

6 Quoted by Lactantius (ca. 260 C.E.-ca. 340 C.E.).

7 See Glatzer, The Dimensions of Job, p. 37. “In 1791 Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) published in his essay ‘On the Failure of All Philosophical Essays in the Theodicy,’ . . . thus far no theodicy has succeeded in harmonizing the concept of moral wisdom in the rule of the world and man’s worldly experience with the end of justifying the former. Our reason, says Kant, gives us no insight whatsoever into the relationship between the world of our experience and the supreme wisdom (of God).”

8 Schulweis, Evil and the Morality of God, p. i.


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