News

Loading...

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Worst Theodicy Ever?

Theodicy, as you all know, is the term for reconciling the existence of God with that of evil. The word was coined by Leibniz, and actually generated enough confusion at the time that some French readers thought "Theodicy" was the name of the author.

The problem was first posed by Epicurus in the form, quoting from Nicholas Jolley's Leibniz:

1) God is omnipotent.
2) God is just and benevolent.
3) Evil exists in the world.

The full set of 1, 2, and 3 seem to conflict; the "problem of theodicy" is to show that they don't.

Father Malebranche, a Cartesian contemporary of Leibniz, posed a solution that I think would strike most people as making the problem worse rather than better. As I see it, the average person uninterested in theology and faced with this problem is actually likely to give up 1, and think something like "God is great and really powerful but just hasn't figured out a way to beat that Satan fellow yet -- but in the end he will." While this may be theologically unsatisfactory, it gets him through the day and, more importantly, his religious life.

Malebranche's solution is likely to make him pissed, though. What he contends is that God is morally obliged to act to maximize his own glory, and that a world obeying the sort of laws that permit evil does so to a greater extent than would one that does not. Yow! If Malebranche was seeking to "justifie the ways of God to Man," I think he missed the mark by a wee bit: "You mean I have leprosy so that you can have a little more glory?!"

Leibniz, on the other hand, offers a much more satisfactory solution to the problem, based on his metaphysics, which holds that everything is related to and reflects everything else, and in a way that makes each thing what it is. As Jolley puts it, it is not possible for there to be a world with Mother Teresa but without Hitler, since they are each, in a sense, a part of the existence of the other. So, a world in which the most possible minds achieve the most possible happiness may be one in which great evil exists as a necessary component.

It is also interesting to note that, in some other theistic religions, this problem does not really arise at all. For instance, in Vedic theology, every individual really is an aspect of the one supreme soul -- "that art thou" -- and thus, whatever evil experienced is always befalling God, and is not something He is imposing on creatures from the outside.

5 comments:

  1. Yeah I like Leibniz's answer. I presented my own version a while back; I'm not going to bother searching for the post.

    I think when you die and are intimately connected with God (assuming that's what you choose--you can go to hell if you want instead), then He could walk you through it, so to speak.

    E.g. He could start by saying, "OK, should reality be logical?"

    You would say, "Yes."

    This alone would probably imply all of mathematics.

    Then He might start going through the laws of physics, and step by step you would fully endorse every decision He had made (when creating the universe).

    You would be waiting to jump in at some point and say, "Stop! Why didn't you make the universe such that this infant didn't drown?!"

    And then He would calmly point to your other decision earlier, and say, "Because we both agreed this was the right move here. If that infant weren't to drown, we would have to either change this decision, or allow a universe in which contradictions occurred. And earlier you said you wanted it to be logical."

    He might then raise an eyebrow and say, "Let me get this straight. You thought that maybe YOU cared more about this infant than I did? Or perhaps that I hadn't been aware of the infant's situation?"

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've never heard of Malebranche before. Bizarre. Wouldn't his theodicy imply that the moral value of the world will actually be diminished once Satan and death are confined to the lake of fire after the last Judgment?

    ReplyDelete
  3. If you can find it, check out Robert Titiev on "The Problem of Goodness"--late 70s.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous2:33 AM

    Welcome to wow gold our wow Gold and wow power leveling store. We wow gold are specilized, wow power leveling professional and reliable wow power leveling website for wow power leveling selling and wow gold service. By the World of Warcraft gold same token,we offer wow power leveling the best WoW service wow power leveling for our long-term and wow powerleveling loyal customers. wow powerleveling You will find wow powerleveling the benefits and value powerleveling we created powerleveling different from other sites. As to most people, power leveling they are unwilling to power leveling spend most of wow power leveling the time wow gold grinding money Rolex for mounts or rolex replica repair when replica rolex they can purchase Watches Rolex what they Rolex Watches are badly need. The Watch Rolex only way is to look Rolex Watch for the best place rs gold to buy cheap WOW gold. Yes! You find it here! Our WoW Gold supplying service has already accumulated a high reputation and credibility. We have plenty of Gold suppliers, which will guarantee our delivery instant. Actually, we have been getting Runescape Gold tons of postive feedbacks from our loyal RuneScape Money customers who really appreciate our service.

    ReplyDelete
  5. We offer WoW power leveling,World of Warcraft power leveling,Warhammer Online Power Leveling & Warhammer Power Leveling & Warhammer Online Gold,if you want buy cheap wow power leveling & honor power leveling,please come here to choose. you could find any kinds of powerleveling you want. Please remember,we are your online game helper. Please remember,we are your online game helper.please come here to choose. you could find anything you want.wow power leveling,wow power leveling,wow power leveling,wow power leveling,wow power leveling,wow powerleveling,wow powerleveling,wow powerleveling,wow powerleveling,wow powerleveling,Warhammer Online Power Leveling,war leveling,Warhammer leveling,Warhammer Power Leveling,Warhammer Online Gold,Warhammer Gold,WAR Power leveling,WAR Gold,world of warcraft power leveling,world of warcraft power leveling,world of warcraft power leveling,world of warcraft power leveling,world of warcraft power leveling,world of warcraft powerleveling,world of warcraft powerleveling,world of warcraft powerleveling,world of warcraft powerleveling,world of warcraft powerleveling,wow gold,wow gold,wow gold,wow gold,wow gold,world of warcraft gold,world of warcraft gold,world of warcraft gold,world of warcraft gold,world of warcraft gold,AOC Power Leveling,AGE OF CONAN Power Leveling,Warhammer Online Power Leveling,Warhammer Power Leveling,Warhammer Online Gold,Warhammer Gold,2 Moons Dil,MapleStory Mesos,Maple Story Mesos,MS Mesos,WARHAMMER ONLINE GOLD,Cheap WARHAMMER ONLINE GOLD,RuneScape Gold,RS Gold,RuneScape Money,RS Money,SilkRoad Gold,SilkRoad Online Gold,SRO Gold,EVE ISK,EVE Online ISK,Gaia Gold,2 Moons Dil,WOTLK power leveling,AOC Gold,AGE OF CONAN Gold,LOTRO Gold,Lord of the Rings Online Gold

    ReplyDelete