1. The Task of Theodicy
All great religions that assume one God as the creator of the world (universe) attribute to God omnipotence and benevolence (being all-good)8; i.e., a power which exceeds by far that of any creature or part of the universe and benevolence or goodness which exceeds by far that of any human. Sometimes religions speak of infinite power and of infinite benevolence or goodness. All those religions that have developed a theological reflection in the sense of a theology on their belief-systems have put the following obvious limits on this kind of divine power and benevolence: Logical consistency and consistency with God’s essence and with God’s commands. Since inconsistency and violation of God’s commands are great defects we may replace “limits” by “optimal features”.
The first optimal feature—consistency—allows a maximal domain for God’s omnipotence:
“Therefore, everything that does not imply a contradiction in terms is numbered amongst those possible things, in respect of which God is called omnipotent: whereas whatever implies contradiction does not come within the scope of divine omnipotence, because it cannot have the aspect of possibility.”9
The other two optimal features connect God’s essence and commands with his omnipotence:
“God cannot do anything except that which, if he did it, would be suitable and just.”10
All men, by their experience, know that there is evil. Moreover all living organisms show through their behavior that they try to avoid evil.
Evil (E) in...
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