discuss the claim that any belief in life after death is a theodicy in itself

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Discuss the claim that any belief in life after death is a theodicy in itself.

The purpose of a theodicy is to explain why an all-powerful and all loving God allows evil and suffering. All theodicies accept that in order to justify this evil and suffering there must be a future life in which all the injustices, inequalities and tragedies of this life will be compensated for. This is why some philosophers regard belief in life after death as the greatest of all theodicies.

Christians believe that through Jesus’ death and resurrection (the Atonement) sin and evil was defeated and we all have the chance of eternal life. As a consequence of the Atonement Christians believe that people can go on to a next life where they will be compensated for all the suffering they have experienced. It is unclear what form Jesus was resurrected in, in the New Testament there is evidence of full body resurrection, like Jesus raising Lazarus in a full bodily resurrection and also the risen Jesus claimed to be flesh and bones. There is also evidence of spiritually transformed bodily resurrection, Jesus was able to materialise and localise at will. Paul described the resurrection body as a ‘spiritual body’ inhabiting a spiritual world. Without life after death, a life of eternal happiness in the presence of God, nothing can justify the existence of evil and suffering in the world. John Hick regards life after death as a solution to the problem through eschatological verification, in that it is only at the end of time that we can know whether all the suffering in the world is justified. This means that once we die it will either be proven that there is life after death or not, if we die and there is life afterwards it is proven to be true yet it cannot be proven false as we would just be ceasing to exist. So at the end of time we will know if we will know if suffering is justified if life after death is proven.

Resurrection is open to serious criticisms which if true would weaken its success as a theodicy. The idea that in a future life we will retain our current physical bodies raises a number of issues. Christians claim that in heaven we will be timeless but physical bodies would need food and drink and would perform the normal bodily functions so would we continue to age and eventually grow old or would God somehow restore our youth and enable us to remain forever young? Also, what about babies who died very young, would heaven be wasted on them? If we were resurrected in a replica of our present physical bodies what will happen to those who were born disabled or lost limbs due to various accidents, if they were to keep their present bodies surely they would not be happy to live forever with a disability they have had to suffer with on earth. Heaven is supposed to be a reward for dealing with all our suffering in life so if we have to continue suffering because our bodies stay the same, that is not giving us a reward. This would mean that the inequalities of this life would not be resolved in the next life and the whole idea of life after death as a theodicy would be under threat. In response, Christians claim that God has been healing and repairing people from the beginning of time until when they die or he will do so at the end of time if we do not enter heaven until after the last judgement. However if this healing is done miraculously by God why does God not do it on earth to people before their death to give them a better quality of life? In which case, the status of life after death as a theodicy would be called into question.

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Hicks replica theory is an explanation of a spiritual resurrection, Hick claims that life after death is a possibility if at the moment of death God were to make an exact replica of that person with all their memories and personal characteristics intact. The person who survives death would be identical to the one who died, but would exist in a ‘different space’ from us that is only observable by God. Hick therefore claims that the dead person can experience resurrection in a ‘spiritual body’ inhabiting a spiritual world. However, there are some problems with this theory, some critics claim ...

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