Friday, August 23, 2013

Acropolis: The Problem of Evil

The problem of theodicy - "why bad things happen to good people" - came up a lot during my recently concluded summer as a hospital chaplain intern.  This blog entry from Acropolis digs deeply and well into the theological issue.

The Problem of Evil

“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters (Ge 1:1-2, New Revised Standard Version).”

This well-known introduction from the Pentateuch establishes God as the creator of the world, of which he originally considered “very good (Ge 1:31).” Only two chapters later, God somehow allows evil to enter into his world symbolically through the actions of a serpent and two rather disobedient individuals named Adam and Eve. Thus, “the problem of determining whether the existence of evil constitutes evidence against the existence of God (Trakakis, 2005)” was born, Problem of Evil. In theistic religions such as Judaism and Christianity, God alone possesses omnipotence, omniscience, perfect goodness, aseity, incorporeality, eternity, omnipresence, perfect freedom, and the right to be worshiped. So if God is all-powerful, all-knowing, trustworthy, self-existent, ethereal, everlasting, ever-present, sovereign, and praiseworthy; how is he – and how has he ever been – in control of the world while there is so much suffering? Lactantius, an advisor to Constantine the Great, assigned this argument to the Greek philosopher Epicurus (Kempf, 1912):

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?”

This solution, however, is not an acceptable position in the Judeo-Christian tradition of monotheism.  ...


Acropolis: The Problem of Evil