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Theodicy

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Fall of Man by Lukas Cranach the Elder

Theodicy (from Greek: θεός, theós, "god" + Greek: δίκη, díkē "justice") is the specific defense of a just and omnipotent God with respect to the evil that exists and persists in the world.[1] The term was coined by the German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz.[2]

Problem of evil

Evil has existed in the world since the fall of man. Yet God is omnipotent and omniscient. So why does evil occur? As a corollary, why may evil people do their deeds, and why does evil befall "good" people?

Problem of God

In fact, the problem that theodicy addresses is more basic than that: Does God exist at all?[3] Apart from whether God can exist if evil ever prospers, philosophers have since the times of the ancient Greeks disputed the existence of the divine. However, if God does not exist, then the intricate order of the universe and of life on earth are far more difficult to explain. As soon as one admits the the world has an inherent order that bespeaks intelligent design, one must search for a Designer.

Why evil?

If God exists, then why does He permit evil?[4] Unbelievers sometimes perceive that some religions, like the Abrahamic systems (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) "excuse" evil by blaming it on Satan. An atheist will often cite evil as evidence that God does not in fact exist. Theistic evolutionism, suggest that humanity is the culmination of a process involving pain and suffering, namely God would have used a painfull process (natural selection, survival of the fittest) to create man in His image and likeness.[5]

All these explanations ignore a fundamental fact of the history of divine-human relations. That fact is the fall of man. By their disobedience to God, Adam and Eve separated themselves from God, and did so in a material way that has consequences. Furthermore, God often allows men, either as individuals or as nations, to make bad decisions and then suffer the consequences. For example, when the people of Israel demanded a true king, God gave them Saul, a most unwise and disobedient king. God later raised up a good king, David, and even guaranteed to David that from his lineage would come a King—Jesus Christ—Whose kingdom would never end. (And even before this King finally assumes His royal office, the world must suffer under two very wicked "kings" indeed.Revelation 13 )




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References

  1. Definition of Theodicy by Merriam-Webster
  2. Champlin, R,N.; Bentes, J.M (1991) (in portuguese). Enciclopédia de Bíblia Teologia e Filosofia [Encyclopedia of Bible Theology and Philosophy]. 6. São Paulo, SP: Editora Candeia. p. 461-462. 
  3. Kempf, Constantine. "Theodicy." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. Accessed September 4, 2008.
  4. Robinson, B. H. "Theodicy: Why doesn't God prevent evil?" <http://www.religioustolerance.org/>, July 19, 2007. Accessed September 4, 2008.
  5. Stambaugh, James (1996). Snelling, Andrew. ed. "Creation, Suffering and the Problem of Evil". Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal (Creation Science Foundation) 10 (3): 391-404. ISSN 1036-2916. 

See also