HOME   People do good because they are human, not because they are religious! 

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"Evil unreal" - a Theodicy or Not?
 
The "evil is not made by God for it doesn't really exist for its just a negation" theodicy is so insulting to humanity that it is amusing to think that it could possibly pay tribute to goodness and to God!  Another way to put the doctrine is, evil is not a power or substance but is merely a gap between what something is and what it ought to be. It is nothing in the sense that the gap is nothing. Evil is when there is something missing.
 
Some deny that it is a theodicy and give a new slant on it. A theodicy is an attempt to show that the existence of evil agrees with the notion of an all-powerful and all-good God. A defence is said to be different. A defence shows why God might let evil happen. A theodicy then is stronger it asserts that the reason why God permits evil is known. It is not a matter that God and evil might co-exist but that they do co-exist.
 
Some modern philosophers though believing in God reject theodicy. The Reality of God and the Problem of Evil is a book that explicates this approach. This book says that God is not a moral agent. That is, though God is good he is not obligated to make everybody’s life perfect and to save people from suffering. This thought comes from the notion that evil is just an absence of good and not a thing. If God is not obligated to make everybody's life perfect this is because it won't work or is very unlikely to happen. But he is still obligated to TRY. Whoever praises a God who doesn't try is praising a bad God.
 
Too many try to glibly say that if our lives are not better it does not matter for it is good from God's perspective. What matters is his happiness not ours. So they praise a God who would happily let us suffer and tell himself that it does not matter. They however would continue, "Evil is like good that is in the wrong place. For example, a knife is good but not good in your chest. God is not obligated to create anything. He is not bound to. Therefore God is not bound to make anything perfect. As far as something is not perfect that is not God’s doing or imperfection is not a thing. God didn’t make imperfection he only made the thing good as far as it is good. This is not a theodicy. A theodicy thinks of how suffering is good for us. But the assertion that evil is just misplaced good simply denies that God allows evil for the sake of some good. It says that theodicy is nonsense for evil is totally useless. At least in that sense, it is a noble theory and an improvement over the theodicies.
 
But it still does not save us the bother of trying to work out a theodicy.
 
Say you take the book as correct. But then what would you say about a person who believed that he didn’t need to get cured of a disease that he could pass on to his child as he attempts to become a father? He can’t say he is creating the good but not the evil. Even if he was, would he be right to father the child? No. So how could God be excused for making people whose health falls short of what it could be. To excuse God is to deny that they SHOULD have perfect health.
 
No matter what one does, the view that evil is a negative and not a reality like good is, fails to give the defender of religion anything to chew on. It isn’t going too far to say that it is better off left out of the attempt to solve the problem of evil. But religion has to dispute that. Why? Because then it has to admit that God does evil though for a greater good or at least to produce as much good as will balance the evil.
 
The Handbook of Christian Apologetics defends the excuse that God never made evil so we can't complain about him making evil on page 132. Thankfully it confesses that if evil is a being, real or an entity like a power or force then the idea of an all-good God is decisively refuted. So far so good, but there is this problem. A God who withholds power to let evil happen is no different from one that makes evil forces. He is still trying to cause harm. It follows then that whether evil is a power or not, God is still not all-good.  The point is not WHAT evil is but THAT it is. Belief in God requires us to ignore that so such belief is evil and opens the heart to embrace it. To try and stop people perceiving that the problem is that evil is is really trying to make them water down their perception of evil and its seriousness. To argue that suffering is something okay because it is not a thing is callous and an attempt to condone evil.
 
The Christians when they say that evil is the absence of good actually mean that evil is the lack of God's presence and activity. They identify good and God. This makes no sense. If God is good then goodness is not God because if I am good I mean I do good not that I am goodness itself. I am not goodness itself because goodness will go on without me. It would still be goodness even if I never existed. In reality the worship of God is not the worship of goodness but the worship of a person. Thus it does not matter to the believer if God is good or not. If you worship God because he does good things then it is really the good things you worship. So it follows that God or belief in him is not important. Augustine evilly devised the theodicy that God is not to blame for evil for evil is merely misplaced good and God is good as a form of worship and as a justification for worship. The goal of the theodicy was to glorify God. But it fails because goodness is a default - it does not need anybody not even God to recognise it. It will make demands on us whether there is a God or not. Even if there was nothing at all, no God, no babies, nothing, it would remain true in principle that murdering babies for fun is wrong. There can be no stronger endorsement of good. Anything else is too weak even if it seems to work.
 
To identify goodness and God is a refusal to embrace real goodness so you use a forged version. Belief in God makes you amoral or immoral. The belief makes you a hypocrite. The theodicy about evil being a lack of good not only fails to defend belief in God but it defends unbelief - in spite of itself! 
 
Summary
 
Evil is not just the absence of good. To say that it is, is just an attempt to minimise how bad evil is and to desensitise those who are horrified by it and cannot see how God could be involved in it even indirectly for it is so horrendously vile. It sneakily tries to avoid the problem: The problem is not what evil is but that it is.
 
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THE WEB
  
www.colorado.edu/philosophy/wes/Tooley2.html
 
THE ARGUMENT FROM EVIL AND THE EXISTENCE OF GOD by Michael Tooley.
 
http://www.nd.edu/~rpotter/courses/finitism.htm
 
FINITISM AND THE PROBLEM OF EVIL, R Dennis Potter,
 
www.ffrf.org/fttoday/august97/barker.html
 
THE FREE WILL ARGUMENT FOR THE NON-EXISTENCE OF GOD by Dan Barker