The Problem of Evil Essay

Submitted By aoife983
Words: 2358
Pages: 10

The Problem of Evil In the philosophy of religion, the monotheistic God of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam assumes the divine qualities of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence. However, the problem of evil provides a challenge to the existence of a loving God in the classic theism of the Abrahamic religions. There are two types of evil that exist in the world, moral evil and natural evil. Moral evil is the result of human immorality, such as crime, cruelty, discrimination, genocide, slavery, and other injustices, while natural evil can be defined as the suffering caused by the natural processes of the world (hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other natural disasters). How could an all-knowing, all-powerful, and benevolent God allow the existence of suffering? It is argued that if God is omnipotent, He should be able to stop evil from occurring. If God is all-loving, He would not allow evil and suffering to exist. Since evil does occur, God may be either all-loving or omnipotent or God may be neither all-loving nor omnipotent. If such an assumption is true, then the existence of evil is contradictory to the existence of God. John Hick attempts to provide a solution to the problem of evil and reconcile the idea of divine providence and human suffering. I will argue why I believe the premise of his theodicy is wrong.
John Hick offers the soul-making defense as the justification of the existence of both evil and an all-loving, all-powerful, and all-knowing God. He rejects the Augustinian theodicy that the presence of evil in the world is the result of humanity’s fall from a pristine, idyllic state of paradise. Instead, he developed his soul-making defense on the principles of Irenaean theodicy, which proposes that humans were not made perfect and must undergo a soul-making process to develop virtuous behavior and moral maturity. Hick believes humans were born morally and spiritually deficient and must go through the soul-making process to possess the likeness of God. Men were created in the image of God, but not in his likeness, such as possessing the characteristics of compassion, kindness, love, etc. In order for human beings to attain the likeness of God, they need to develop a moral character. As a result, Hick views the world as a necessity for the development of human beings into spiritually and morally mature individuals. He states that God allows suffering and evil in the world to enable the personal growth of humanity. The presence of evil provides the necessary environment needed for the development and progression of humanity into a moral society. John Hick uses the analogy of a parent and child relationship to support his soul-making defense. The production of a well-rounded and virtuous child through parental guidance is a dual process. He compares the first part of the process, the conception and birth of the child, to the creation of man. The second part involves teaching the child moral values, such as the difference between right and wrong. It is the parents’ responsibility to teach the child to avoid the temptations of immoral actions and live a virtuous life. On a grander scale, God wants His children to become spiritually and morally mature. The existence of evil creates the necessary conditions needed to nurture humans; thus, God allows evil to occur in the world. John Hick does imagine a world constructed as a paradise where pain, suffering, and all forms of evil are eliminated. The consequences of living in such a world would be a society deficient of moral values and characteristics. If moral evil was still allowed, but the suffering and pain resulting from these evils were abolished, then no one could ever be injured. Bullets, knives, fists, and other means of inflicting pain would never be able pierce, bruise, or harm human flesh. When a robbery occurs, the victim’s stolen items will miraculously reappear as if it was never stolen. Fraud, embellishment,…