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The essay on the problem of evil has been a focus of argument since the sixteenth and the eighteenth century. The argument about the theodicy problem in the early modern philosophy was as a result of the new scientist’s dream. The dream was about a perfect science that could explain everything on the surface of the earth. Philosophers have treated theodicy philosophically by use of ideas to explain the challenge of sin in the present world and theologically to identify, understand and justify sin.
These intriguing questions about God are: Is God able to prevent sin? Is He willing to prevent sin? Is God powerful and good? If God is not able to prevent or unwilling to prevent sin, then He is impotent and malevolent, thus consistent with the existence of sin. If God is all powerful and benevolent, then there should not be a problem with sin (Kremer, 17). In this paper, the focus will be on Hick’s idea that God is responsible for the continuation of sin.
The attributes of God as good and powerful may not be fully understood by human beings. In addition, atheists argue that God’s attributes should be defined based on genuine theodicy showing the consistency in relating God with evil, and not just hypothetical (Kremer, 21).
Francisco Suarez: Gods involvement in sinful acts
Suarez argued that God is the cause and answerable to every effect produced by human beings. However, the immorality of sin cannot be traced to God as a source. Suarez classified moral sins into two categories: a sinful act that has a rational good will, but has defects in due perfection with regards to a free action and evil of punishment as lacking due good inflicted as a result of sin. He also implied that some of the sins human suffer are not in any way related to their faith. In faith, all the sins that befall humans are as a result of sin (Kremer, 34).
This is especially the original sin as God’s initial intention when he created man was to keep him free from sin, suffering, and death. Natural sin is traced from the imperfect power that cause them resulting in imperfect effects. These evils are indirectly traceable to God who is the origin. Therefore, evil is not intended by God, but He permits it. On the other hand, other causes of sins can be willed by God as He cannot just be the cause of evil, but also the cause of other kinds of evil (Kremer, 65).
For something to occur, there should be a first cause that is received by a secondary cause resulting in the final completion of the secondary cause by producing certain effects. The occurrence is a manner of principles because the action of the secondary power result in a complete power. Suarez, in his conclusion, stated that God concurs with human actions since He freely offers occurrences.
He emphasized that, for human beings not to sin, they must have the ability to be self determiners with God’s concurrence, which is not the case. In addition, he agreed with the Catholic doctrine that God is the provider of the world. Therefore, every action affected in the world is either knowingly intended by God or knowingly permitted by God (Kremer, 79).
Many writers deny the the perfectness of God in moral goodness, but Christian writers have not denied good as omnipotent. An early religion that was rival to Christianity believed that God did not have the power that could stop bad from occurring.
In fact, they considered both good and bad powers equally strong. Many theologians in the past have talked vaguely concerning the weakness of God in relation to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Nonetheless, it is not clear if they thought God could not prevent Christ’s crucifixion (Kremer, 81).
Some Christian theologians have claimed that God allows evil to occur for the purpose of good. The followers of Christian traditions are worried about moral sin than natural evil. In the Christian history, natural evil was seen to be inevitable. In this case, humans were seen as immoral and embodied as many things could harm them. Augustine pointed out that natural suffering could be intended for the good purpose if the choices were made for the good purposes (Kremer, 92).
God’s and Human’s responsibility
God did not ignore human responsibility for having the sovereign responsibility over his creation. Christ freed sinners from captivity even though believers still battle with the devil and the struggle against own sinful desires. Human beings do not have the power to overcome the sinful desires without the help of the holy spirit. It is a mystery that sin continues in the lives of humans after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and can only be taken out by daily repentance.
Christian considers moral evil in relation to human freedom and responsibility that involves right or wrong. Some philosophers argue that God should have created human beings who do not sin. In the same breath, He would have created people who are genuinely free and guaranteed to act rightly. This argument has caused contradiction that God made humans as genuinely independent in relation to Him (Cheetham 72).
Another contradicting argument is that God gave human freedom in relation to Him. Hick explained that this is not a genuine freedom: that a person is shaped by God and the same applies to the nature of his or her actions. Hick also argued that humans have no ability to explain a free act.
Therefore, the mystery of human freedom would always relate in understanding the origin of evil. Suffering as a result of sin draws a connection between freedom and moral evil (Cheetham 91). In this case, the moral incompetence of humans causes them a great deal of suffering.
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Some pain and suffering that man undergoes through as a result of sin. In some cases, the suffering is not necessarily as a result of sin or rather due to the structure of the earth. In such cases, the theodicy follows a negative path hence does not support the argument that human suffering is for the divine good purpose. God had an intention to create a perfect world for a perfect and a completely created human being.
The world is full of hardship that Hick considered not to have been made by a perfectly benevolent and powerful God. According to Christians, the world was intended to be a comfortable place for the inhabitants without pain and suffering. However, it is seen as a “soul making” place of suffering to enable human become heirs of internal life (Cheetham 93).
The nature of sin, as advocated for by Hick, makes it necessary for human beings have a reason for committing sin. This seems to conflict with the nature of sin because it makes it hard to explain. For instance, when a person makes a wrong deed, the individual usually has a choice not to do so.
The fact that a person might go ahead and do it means that there is some motivation involved. Whatever action one takes, it always serves to satisfy a certain desire. Those opposing the claims of the soul-making project make the nature of sin seem inexplicable and irrational. In response to this, Hick questioned why God created creatures acting in an unreasonable and inexplicable way. If one tries to answer this question, one can end up attributing the origin of sin to God (Cheetham 97).
Some Christian atheists considered the death of Jesus as one of the worst thing that had ever happened out of the bad. The initial intention of God for sending his beloved son to the earth was to save the human race. The question is about why did the blood of Jesus fail to restore the relationship between man and God back to where it was before man sinned.
This could have meant that the salvation through the blood of Jesus was perfect. Some of these questions may not be understood by man. In a way, I agree that the continuation of sin is God’s will as He has power over every creation. Thus, only God can stop the occurrence of sin. God is good and powerful. Thus, whether He allows sin to continue or not, His intentions are always good as it was in the beginning of creation.
Cheetham, David. John Hick: A Critical Introduction and Reflection. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003. Print.
Kremer, Elmar J. The Problem of Evil in Early Modern Philosophy. Toronto [u.a.: Univ. of Toronto Press, 2001. Print.