Chapter 11

             This chapter introduced many differing theodicies, which are religious legitimations of evil in light of the existence of a God.  Theodicies are necessary in order to bring order and understanding to the universal presence of evil and suffering.

            One theodicy is ‘Mystical Participation’. This theodicy centers around the idea that we are part of a larger spiritual reality. For example, In Confucianism, a father may be content in death knowing that he can live on in his children. Such a theodicy is common in primal societies.  This theodicy also sees suffering as trivial in comparison to the union with the divine that will come,

            Another belief is the ‘ This-worldly Theodicy’. This legitimation believes that justice would come in the future, but in this world. Early Israel believed that Yahweh would come and build a kingdom of saints on earth. This was a common theodicy during natural disasters as it gave hope of a better future.

            In contrast, Other-worldly Theodicies believed that justification for evil would come after death, in the next life. Christianity, Islam, and certain branches of Buddhism hold firmly to this belief.

            The Dualist Theodicy is not very common today. However, in religions such as Gnosticism they believe that evil comes from demonic forces that rule the world. They believe that God did not create our world and so is not responsible for what occurs here. We are in the realm of death and evil. Hope lies in the return to the world of light.

            Max Weber says that the Karma-Samsara Theodicy is the most rational justification for evil. This is the theodicy of classical Hinduism. They believe in samsara or reincarnation, karma, which is the law of cause and effect, and dharma, which is one’s individual duty in life. One builds good karma if they fulfill their dharma, and if they have good karma then when they are reincarnated they will be higher up in the social order. Evil and suffering is the result of our own actions in our previous life, and we are in control of our futures.

            There are many Monotheistic Theodicies, which recognize an omnipotent, and benevolent God. Some of these theodicies include: Suffering as recompense for sin, Suffering as test and necessary for soul making, a Theodicy of trust in God’s mystery, theodicy of protest- whereby one protests with God and yet still has faith in him.

Two other defenses are the Free Will Defense and the Process Theodicy. The Process Theodicy says that the universe is in a cycle of process and change. We are social and respond to each other and therefore nothing, not even God can determine the being of others. It states that nothing can have all power but merely all the power that others could conceive, since power is social. Therefore God does not have all the power and evil must exist outside of his power, and is not due to his decisions. Therefore God can merely minimalize evil, but not eradicate it

All these theories are given to justify evil given the existence of a God.





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