John Hick's Theodicy
I. For Moral Evil (=moral wickedness): The Free Will Defense
- God created persons and persons by definition/nature are free to sin
- Why didn't God make persons unable to sin?
- Because that's a contradiction: persons by nature have the
ability to sin.
- Doesn't this mean God is not omnipotent?
- It is no limitation on God's power to say he couldn't have made
persons unable to sin, because this is a contradiction.
- That God can't do the impossible is no limitation on God's
power or freedom;
- It is not a limitation to say God can't make a round
square or a free being who can't sin, because there is
nothing there to be done that God can't do.
- Why didn't God make persons who could sin, but in fact, never would
- Omniscience allows God to survey the future possible
worlds and choose to create those people who could sin,
but would choose never to sin.
- But freedom is genuine openness: God can't know how
persons will freely act since how they will act only becomes
real in the act of choice, and only then is it knowable. Before a
person freely chooses to act, there is nothing to know.
- Thus there is no limitation on God's omniscience to say God
doesn't know how people will act, because there is nothing
there to be known until they act.
- Why did God make persons knowing they would sin. It isn't worth it.
- A world in which there are persons (able to sin) who enter into a
personal relationship with God is a better world than one without
persons (and no possibility of sin)
- Thus a world in which sin is possible is part of the best possible world
- Why doesn't God intervene in the worst cases (after free choices are
- This allows there to be persons who freely choose.
- Perhaps God has intervened and, in any case, the rest of Hick's
theodicy handles this
II. For Nonmoral Evil (=suffering, and perhaps natural disasters like
hurricanes): World is a Place of Soul-Making Where Evil is Necessary
to Achieve the Infinite Future Good of the Afterlife
- World is a not a completed creation
- It is not a hedonistic paradise (one made to maximize human
pleasure and minimize suffering).
- World is a place of soul making ("in which free people wrestle with the
problems of existence in an attempt to become children of God") and this
- A world which allows for soul-making is better than a hedonistic
- In a hedonistic paradise there would be no sciences, no hardships, no
bad consequences of actions, no one could be harmed, no point to
moral virtues like courage or fortitude
- Thus the best possible world has suffering and hardship in it
- Because all nonmoral evil and suffering must be a necessary part of
fulfilling God's good purpose for creation, we need to postulate an
afterlife in which soul-making continues
- There can be no wasted lives; no suffering that ends in resentment,
fear, selfishness and disintegration of character, and doesn't
contribute to soul making
- Is this afterlife worth all the suffering?
- Need to postulate an infinite future good that justifies all the finite
suffering endured on the way to it.
- This is not a "bookkeeping view" in which proportional pleasure is
given to compensate for the extent of suffering previously endured
- But all suffering will be seen to be a necessary means to achieve this
infinite bliss for all