Explain the Irenaean Theodicy

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  1. Explain the Irenaean Theodicy

The problem of evil is a challenge to the existence of God due to his qualities of omnipotence, omnibenevolence and omniscience. It maintains that according to theists, God possesses all of these qualities, and indeed has to in order to exist, but that these qualities are inconsistent with the existence of evil and suffering in the world. Macke labelled the Problem of Evil a “logical problem” that faces all theists, and that they must be able to “solve” the problem in order to justify their beliefs. A theodicy is an attempt to do just that.

The Irenaean Theodicy was set out by Irenaeus and does not attempt to deny the existence of evil, which is a criticism of the Augustinian Theodicy, and accepts that God created a world of both good and bad elements on purpose. Critics would say that this cannot be loving, but Irenaeus believed that in order to be loving God had to give humans freewill. This freewill is what leads to moral evil in the world; without freewill moral decisions would not truly be moral, as they would be the only option. This can be compared to Kant’s argument that ethical decisions can only be moral when made out of freedom. He uses evidence from the Bible, suggesting that when God sees what he has created and says it is “good” he does not mean that it is free from suffering, but serves its purpose. He would argue that a good world would not fit its purpose- to draw people nearer to God.  He says that it is not moral for people to be forced into belief, and an imperfect world allows there to be doubt about God’s existence, and therefore allows for people to choose whether to believe in God or not. However, this only explains the existence of moral evil in the world.

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Irenaeus continued to justify natural evil in what is sometimes known as the “soul-making” argument. He believed that although we are made in God’s image, we have to become in his likeness and natural evil help us to become stronger, better people. It helps people to develop attributes like generosity through giving to charity and to appreciate their lives. This is similar to the Story of Job, where God made lots of awful things happen to Job like murdering his family in order to help him appreciate the privileged life he previously lived and to test his faith in God. ...

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