John Hick's Theodicy
(from Hick’s “The Problem of Evil” and “Evil and the Infinite Future Good”)
FOR MORAL EVIL (=MORAL WICKEDNESS): THE FREE WILL DEFENSE
1. God created persons and persons by definition/nature are free to sin
Objections and replies:
a. Why didn't God make persons unable to sin?
i. Because that's a contradiction: persons by nature have the ability to sin.
b. Doesn't this mean God is not omnipotent?
i. It is no limitation on God's power to say he couldn't have made persons unable to sin, because this is a contradiction.
ii. That God can't do the impossible is no limitation on God's power or freedom;
(1) 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.
c. Why didn't God make persons who could sin, but in fact, never would sin?
(1) Omniscience allows God to survey the future possible worlds and choose to create those people who could sin, but would choose never to sin.
ii. 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.
iii. 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.
d. Why did God make persons knowing they would sin. It isn't worth it.
i. Many would argue that it is worth it.....
2. 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 and no ability to enter into a personal relation with God)
3. Thus a world in which sin is possible is part of the best possible world
a. Why doesn't God intervene in the worst cases (after free choices are made)?
(1) This allows there to be persons who freely choose.
ii. Perhaps God has intervened and, in any case, the rest of Hick's theodicy addresses this.
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
1. World is a not a completed creation
a. It is not a hedonistic paradise (one made to maximize human pleasure and minimize suffering).
2. 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 requires suffering.
a. Purpose of this world is not provide pleasure for humans, but a place to realize the most valuable potentialities of human personality
i. Moral integrity, unselfishness, compassion, courage, humor, reverence for the truth and capacity to love
3. A world which allows for soul-making is better than a hedonistic paradise
a. 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
4. Thus the best possible world has suffering and hardship in it
5. 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
a. For in this life, some suffering appears to serve no such purpose
b. 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
c. Is this afterlife worth all the suffering?
6. Need to postulate an infinite future good that justifies all the finite suffering endured on the way to it.
a. This is not a "bookkeeping view" in which proportional pleasure is given to compensate for the extent of suffering previously endured
b. But all suffering will be seen to be a necessary means to achieve this infinite bliss for all