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John Hick’s the Problem of Evil

The first opinion takes evil as an illusion, as a construct of the human mind. The second confers upon God finity, God as a struggling ruler, making do with what he can. The third hold the rational that Evil is merely the corruption of the good, the going wrong of something primarily good. The author then proceeds argue from the premise that “If god is an all-good and all-powerful God, why then has he created a world where sin and suffering occur? ” He brings the case to the matter of free will.

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Man is gifted with the freedom to choose this actions and make his own decisions, and in leaving him to his own devices, he has the capacity to choose evil over good. Thus sin and wrongdoing is inseparable from man’s very nature as human beings, and suffering is the consequence of man’s errors. But what about other evils that befall mankind that are not directly caused by their actions? Natural calamities and other fortuitous events are built into the structure of this world and do not stem from man’s actions and decisions. Why would an all powerful God allow these to happen?

Hick proceeds to make a case that man’s world is not a perfect world, cause in a perfect world where there is no pain or suffering, there can be no instance of soul making. In a dream world, there can be no formation of the self, no room for improvement, no way to distinguish between right and wrong. There would be no room for the formation of morals and values, making the perfect world, the worst kind of world possible. Thus, an opportunity for “soul making” justifies the suffering of an imperfect world. The relationship of faith and reason presented in the article lies along the vein of a dialogue.

It recognizes the parallels between faith and reason, and moves towards conversation between them in light of their differences and similarities. It also borders on integration, one being able to unite the faith and reason aspects of evil in their own personal experiences. II. It is possible to maintain a relationship of dialogue between faith and reason with relation to the problem of evil. One can take the more practical approach to evil as the argument for reason and the aspect of God being in the picture as the supposed protector against of evil.

Evil in scientific and practical terms could be explained as unfortunate probabilities and accidental mishaps, an occurrence of scientific phenomenon that can be rationally explained such as why volcanoes erupt or why typhoons are formed. Evil from a religious point of view would be the misuse of God’s gift of free will and consequences of man’s wrong actions. These two aspects can be viewed in a more compatible manner, discussing that yes evil may be a social construct and natural part of the world, but it may also be tackled with relation to a more divine source.

Integration of the two outlooks into a singular understanding of the concept of evil is also possible. I agree with Hick in the sense that I do not believe that evil—as we typically understand it—exists in the world. I believe that what we perceive as evil is simply our misdirected use of the good that God provides us with. Hick uses the term “soul making” which I deem as an apt description of a primary reason in the defense for the existence of evil. I personally have no trouble understanding the dialogue between the scientific and theological characteristics of evil.

I am bombarded daily with news stories about heinous crimes and tragedies, landslides in Columbia, massacres in Indonesia, kidnappings in Basilan, and the list goes on. Some times the question of “Where is God” surfaces with all the adversities, and I find myself asking “what is God doing for all these people who are suffering? ” But however amidst all the issues I know that He is there, and all these problems and conflicts do not change the fact that God exists, and I still have hope for change for these suffering people no matter what the circumstance.

The reason that we even have an experience of a perceived evil is because for the soul to experience itself as any particular thing, the exact opposite of that thing must come into the realm of existence. In other words, in this relative existence, hot cannot be hot without cold, darkness cannot be without light, and you cannot be you without that which is not you. So I believe that what we call evil is just the opposite end of the spectrum of good, not something separate.

Following this line of thought, the next logical step for our human minds to pursue would seem to be that in order for God to experience Himself as the all-consuming good, there had to be something called the all-consuming evil. This is a flawed argument for there is only one deity we recognize as God. God is all there was, all there is, and all there ever will be. The existence of evil cannot be used as a pathetic excuse for God to be able to justify His existence. Logically speaking, that which is divine cannot know and experience itself except in the presence of that which is not divine.

The problem is that which is not divine does not exist. So, since we have the power to create anything, we have simply called it forth through our thought process. That is to say we have simply imagined it, conjuring it up in our imaginations. In agreement with the author, he employed the method of negative theodicy, using the inability to explain proof that there is no God, as the basis for the negation of God’s existence. If there was no evil, or what we humans perceive as evil, there would be no point in us existing. For what is the point of life when you cannot grow or learn.

Where one cannot obtain room for improvement, One cannot form an identity, there is no self. If there is nothing to work for the better of, nothing to improve upon, what is the point of doing anything at all? III. All religions—and philosophies—must wrestle with the problem of evil. We can look all around the world and see what we would clearly label as evil. Many say, therefore, that in addition to the power of God, who is good, there must be a second power at work in the universe: a power of Evil, often personified as the Devil. Traditional Christianity teaches that the Devil is a fallen angel, part of God’s creation that went wrong.

If God is all-good and all-powerful then, how come there is evil at all? And if there is a Devil, how come God’s power or ability as a universe designer is so limited or flawed that things got so screwed up (pardon the expression)? How can there be a dialogue much more integration between faith and reason with regards to evil when the God that faith upholds cant’ stand by His supposed duties? Some say God sends evil to punish people for misdeeds, a consequence for one’s sins, but that makes for an unmerciful God, and that would mean that at least some of his creations by being merciful are in some aspect better than God.

So what is it—is God weak or incapable or simply cruel? Also, as David Hume, the eighteenth century philosopher, stated the logical problem of evil when he asked about God, “Is He 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? ” As John Robinson discusses in his article “Can a truly contemporary person be an atheist? ” one of the arguments for atheism is that God is morally intolerable, if God truly does exist, then why is there suffering?

He is saying that because God has disappeared from history he is no longer present for faith. But he is truly absent, he is not simply hidden from view, and therefore he is truly dead. When we challenge belief in God on the basis of the logical problem of evil, it is suggesting that it is irrational or logically impossible to believe in the existence of both a good and all-powerful God and in the reality of evil and suffering. Such a God would not possibly allow evil to exist.

Another argument would be that if God has made men such that they in their free choices they sometimes prefer what is good and sometimes what is evil, why could he not have made men such that they always freely choose the good? IV. In answer to that question of God either being incapable or mean, it is that God simply is. I don’t believe that one must qualify God with the terms all-loving, all-powerful, and all-knowing because God is Love and God is Power or God is Knowledge. God simply is. Evil is simply good that is immature or misdirected. It has no power of its own; it has only the power that our minds allow it.

It doesn’t have to be destroyed or fought against anymore than when you come into a darkened room and turn on the light, so that it would chase all the darkness away. It is dealt with by thinking about and working to bring about the good that you want in its place. The concept of God and evil coexist, evil in the world does not logically contradict the existence of God. It is difficult for us to understand why God would allow some things to happen. But simply because we find it difficult to imagine what reasons God could have for permitting them, does not mean that no such reasons exist.

It is possible that such reasons are not only beyond our present knowledge, but also beyond our present ability to understand. A child does not always understand the reasons that lie behind all that his father allows or does not allow him to do. It would be unrealistic for us to expect to understand all of God’s reasons for allowing all that He does. We ourselves do not even fully understand many things about the world we live in–what lies behind the natural forces of inertia or gravity, what makes up the subatomic particles etc. Yet still we believe in these physical realities.

An example would be, if the richest man in the world and a poor beggar both jump off a building at the exact same time, they both hit the ground. There is no judgment on who deserves to hit the ground—that is the law of gravity. The same thing applies to the law of God. If I decide that I am going to jump off a bridge, it would have be a very petty, small-minded God that would stop me from doing that. It would require that God make a judgment about me and whether I’m too good or too bad to deserve something like that happening to me. God is not judgmental. God is impersonal. God is always and forever saying, “Yes! ” to whatever we want. God doesn’t say this is good or this is bad – God doesn’t interfere with law. God is Law. He simply says that if you do this, this is the consequence. What we simply need to be able to understand the dialogue between the idea of God and evil and be capable of integrating this concept into our lives is the simple task of opening our minds to the more possibilities and not be too limited or analytical. Evil is really a kind of ignorance or an unenlightened belief. For instance the belief that two and two make five never alters the fact that two and two make four.

The belief that two and two make five is not a thing in itself and therefore does not have a universal law to support it. It is merely operating through someone’s ignorance. The same principle applies to evil, we have created a concept of evil in our minds—but it is our creation, and the same mind (our mind) that created that concept can create a different paradigm to replace it—one of wholeness and goodness and love. We can produce in our lives all the freedom, abundance, peace and fulfillment we desire. At the same time if were to focus our attention on is limitation and negativity that is what we get.

However, the good news is that no matter how terrible a situation seems to be, there is always good in it, because there is always God in it, for God is everywhere and all is in God V. I was initially unmotivated with this paper writing requirement, viewing it as simply another requirement needed to be fulfilled in order to complete my Philosophy 103 course and finally graduate. To be honest, I didn’t really choose Hick’s article because it struck me the most or I enjoyed it among all the other articles, I simply picked up the first article in the pile and decided then and there that it would be the basis for my paper.

But in the course of reviewing the related literature and rereading the article and my notes, I’d actually come to understand the article and realize what the author is trying to communicate. I’ll be graduating soon (hopefully! ), and entering into what everyone else calls the “real world”. Going out and getting a job, working for a living and ceasing to depend on my parents. I’ll be mingling with all sorts of people, from all walks of live, dealing with different cultures and mindsets, and no doubt be more exposed to humanity and the world in general.

I’ll have more contact and experience of the harsh realities and social evils of humankind, and I need to always remember that even in the company of malevolence and strife, there is always hope. God has not and will never abandon me, and all the suffering should not be an excuse to lose faith/. No amount of suffering should be able to dissuade me from maintaining a positive outlook and not being overcome by al the ills in this world, still keeping steadfast to my Christian faith and values.

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