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Show how the theodicies of Irenaeus and Augustine account for natural evil.

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Introduction

Romi Verstappen (a) Show how the theodicies of Irenaeus and Augustine account for natural evil. The problem of evil concerns the challenge of how an all-powerful and all-loving God can allow his creation to suffer, without helping then and putting an end to their suffering. This challenge is an often quoted reason for being unable to believe in God for it is argued, either God does not exist or, if he does then he is not a God worthy of out worship. St Augustine (AD354-430) tried to solve this problem and based his arguments on the Bible, especially the stories of the creation and the fall in Genesis. For Augustine, God is the source of everything, which he believed had been created out of nothing - 'ex nihilo'. As a result everything in the world is created good and therefore the world is perfect and free from faults. As far as Augustine was concerned all creation is good and it expresses the perfection of God's creativity and goodness, 'God saw all that he had made, and it was very good'. This implies that suffering and evil were unknown within this world. He argued that as God is perfect he could not be blamed for the fact that evil does exist within the world, and that any evil that is found is purely deprivation, not a substance - evil and unhappiness is the cause of lack of good and happiness. ...read more.

Middle

In our lives we have choices and it is through these life choices that we develop into 'good' creatures and into the 'likeness' of God. In order for us to develop morally toward God we had to be created and exist at a distance from him, therefore there had to be evil in the world. Natural evil (for example famine) had a divine purpose which was for us to develop qualities such as compassion. Therefore unlike Augustine, Irenaeus believes that God is partly responsible for evil. Irenaeus saw evil as a necessary part of life, something that will eventually make us into better people. Irenaeus sees the world as being unfinished and that we are moving towards a perfect world without evil but we have not reached it yet. God's purpose was not to create a paradise where the world was free of pain and suffering, but as a place where we can develop our souls and where we can become children of God'. God wants us to develop through our free will to become 'children'. The only way we can achieve this, we must be epistemically distanced from God in order to give us the perfect environment to develop both spiritually and morally into 'good' individuals. ...read more.

Conclusion

Another is that in this world we must live in a way that improves our soul and allows us to get in to heaven, so to act in a good way, evil has to exist. A third response is that God is the most highly intelligent and knowledgeable being in the universe so he may have reasons that the human mind cannot comprehend. A fourth response is that suffering is a punishment from God, suffering is a use for God to test us and that suffering stops people from straying away from their belief in God. The 18th century philosopher David Hume used the idea of a triangle, on which to base his argument. One side says, 'God is all powerful', the other says 'God is all powerful' and the third side says 'evil does not exist'. Hume stated that only 2 of the 3 can exist, and the existence of evil and suffering cannot be denied. Therefore one of the other statements about God is not true. Either God is all-powerful, but does not care for the world, or God loves the world, yet is not powerful enough to do anything about the evil and suffering. Either way it is looked at this means that the religious believer is lead to have doubts about God. They may question whether God is actually as powerful or as loving as is said. ...read more.

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