Many Christians usually find it difficult to explain how both good and evil coexist at the same time. This fact makes this issue a popular subject for many Christian and non-Christian philosophers. On the other hand, their points of view result in arguments. One of the philosophers who have contributed to this debate is John Hick. His work on the soul-making project has elicited varied reactions. Both sides support their arguments in a number of ways.
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However, Hick’s soul-making project is one of the most influential philosophies addressing the attitude towards God and sin. A theoretical analysis of Hick’s theodicy offers satisfactory insight into how an infinitely powerful God might permit evil to exist or even happen. Both the weak and the strong points of Hick’s argument will be evaluated in the paper.
One of the ways in which Hick put his point across is to refer to Augustine theorists. He refuted their claims that human beings were given the autonomy to choose their path. Moreover, he disputed the claim that humans and some angels misused this freedom and subsequently brought trouble on themselves. Finally, Hick disagreed with the notion that evil came about after human beings committed the sin. Therefore, he concluded that malevolence was not a punishment for the original transgression.
Hick’s soul-making project defends the antagonism to Augustinian theorists by quipping that the fall of soul beings was not necessarily a calamity. In that case, the fall of humans was viewed as a manifestation of the weakness found in human beings. That flaw was part of human beings right from creation.
To support that claim, Hick asserted that human beings were created not in the “likeness” of God, but in His “image”. Therefore, human beings are infants spiritually. The creator’s intention was to let humans grow both morally and spiritually. Hick then made the conclusion that evil did not exist as a punishment. The arguments articulated by this theory are very shrewd and convincing.
Another strong point of Hick’s theory is that it can easily be adapted to the present-day doctrine. The soul-making project points out that the world is a place where souls grow and develop. Therefore, no one is to go through his/her life as a ready-made person. Human beings have to strive to achieve certain moral values.
In the same way, when character is developed gaining certain life experience, is beneficial to a person. Even in modern day life, everything that is achieved through strife is of more value. As Hick puts it, a paradise would not permit humans to develop. The challenges faced and overcome result in more perfect human beings.
One area of Hick’s soul making project that seems controversial is the claim that God is responsible for the continuation of evil. To those opposing against the theory, claiming that God is responsible for any evil is outrageous. This group believes evil is a making of the human beings themselves.
Hick condemned this fall doctrine as a whole. He claimed that that doctrine could not be proved either scientifically or philosophically. According to Hick, it would be historically impossible to prove it because the theory of evolution would refute such a possibility. In addition, philosophically, it would be difficult to conceive the idea of sin in a perfect world. One can argue that even before the fall, the perfection did not mean that humans were ideal.
Instead, humans were then uncorrupted. Hick addressed that by making a claim that even if this was true, human beings still needed a reason or a motive to sin. In this case, there should have been an external influence or an internal weakness in humans. Both the scenarios point that God was responsible for either the external force or the internal flaw.
The nature of sin, as advocated for by Hick, makes it necessary for human beings to have a reason for sinning. This seems to conflict the nature of sin because it makes it hard to explain. For instance, when a person makes a wrong deed, he or she 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 against 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.
Therefore, my conclusion is that Hick’s soul-making project still explains how a perfect God can permit evil in His creation. The opposing claims fail to conceive me. Even using historical and scientific support, it is still difficult to refute Hick’s claims. All the weak points in his theory do not necessarily translate into strong points for the opposing camp. The fall doctrine also fails to attribute sin solely on the free will of the human beings. Therefore, human beings sin because the environment in which God placed them challenges them to do so.