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Philosophical problems for people with religious beliefs Essay

* In what ways might evil and suffering create philosophical problems for people with religious beliefs? Outline two solutions to these problems( 21 )

* To what extent are these solutions successful?( 9 )

1. Suffering can cause all sorts of problems that can shake people’s religious beliefs. Evil and suffering create problems in people’s faith because they have lost someone or they have suffered particular hardship in their life and they wish to blame someone or something for their personal suffering and this is normally God. If someone close to a person dies and that person is religious or has been brought up in a faith even if they have lapsed it will make them doubt their faith even though we know that everyone has to die someday but it is never the right time to loose someone you love.

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And because of this people blame God or if they have a faith it may make them feel that god is not there. This is the issue of the inconsistent triad. The triad says that god is all loving all powerful and all knowing. If this is true would an all loving God let innocent people suffer at the hands of illness and natural disasters. And if he is all loving and he wouldn’t want us to suffer like this he might not know it was happening and so the second angle of the triangle is disproved and finally if he is both all loving and all-knowing he would not want people to get hurt and he knew it was happening so maybe it is the fact that he simply wants to help but he cannot as he is not all powerful.

The inconsistent triad is a very big philosophical problem as it is a very logical series of suggestions and seems perfectly logical that if you love someone you wouldn’t want them to be hurt if you knew it was happening and more importantly you had the power to stop it why wouldn’t you especially if you loved that person. This is then used to say that if God is not all of these things then he is not God. This sums up nicely the flaw in all religion. If you say your God loves you and they are all powerful then why do they allow people, innocent people to suffer.

Also the second problem with the morality of evil and suffering that can hurt religious beliefs is the issue of unanswered prayers. If someone is praying that their friend or relative won’t die of an illness or something along those lines if they do people often turn away from god because they feel he is not listening because what they asked for had not been granted. And again this relates back to the inconsistent triad as if he can hear the prayers and if he loves the people who ask him and plead him for help and he ignores them and lets people die maybe he isn’t all powerful or isn’t all loving.

Some theists respond that a perfect being may still allow some evil, asserting that it will enable certain greater goods, such as free will, which can not be achieved without allowing some evils. A theodicy, on the other hand, is an attempt to provide such justifications for the existence of evil. Richard Swinburne maintains that it does not make sense to assume there are such greater goods, unless we know what they are, i.e., we have a successful theodicy. Many contemporary philosophers disagree. Skeptical theism, which is based on the theological position that humans can never expect to understand the divine, is perhaps the most popular response to the problem of evil among contemporary philosophers of religion.

But how do we truly explain the problem of evil and suffering especially in relation to the existence and power of god. Swinburne also once said “in a cool moment we must provide a satisfactory answer for atheists.” I believe that this concept could also be applied to the theists who are suffering or are questioning god as a result of evil and suffering. To deal with the issue of theist faith suffering as the result of suffering we must address the objections to the problem.

These are many and varied; for example Christian scientists often say that God cannot exist due to the logical problem of the inconsistent triad whereby the two claims negatives the third and therefore the existence of a perfect god. The existence of evil is of course the strongest objection and causes the most problems for faith. But there are many types of evil there is natural evil, god created a flawed and imperfect world. There is also moral evil why did god create people capable of doing such terrible things but this comes down to the issue of free will in mankind. But overall evil is the min reason for philosophical problems in beliefs.

This is often countered by some theists saying that maybe god is making us suffer out of love. In irenaean theodicy it is considered and based upon the fact that our god is a personal god unlike in the Augustinian theodicy where god seems more disinterested and distant. It is implied that god loved his creation. ” god looked upon what he had done and he saw it was very good”( the book of genesis).and because he loved us so much he wanted us to have the chance to create our perfect soul through an imperfect world with challenges to receive the ultimate reward of a perfect soul. So we suffer for a positive purpose or outcome.

Professor John Hick developed the soul making theodicy. John Hick believes that in order for moral growth to take place it is important that human beings are created at a knowledge distance from God. This knowledge means that human beings do not know whether God exists and so this knowledge gap means that human beings are genuinely free and have space to grow and mature through making their own moral choices. Irenaeus, a Church Father. Believed that human beings have a two stage process of moral development, having been created in “the image and likeness of God.” (Genesis 1:26). Created in the image of God, human beings have potential, which they may achieve in this world as they attempt to grow into the likeness of God, thus fulfilling their potential. This two stage process of moral development is compared to growing from a child into an adult through our moral choices.

St irenaues also suggested that evil could be tracked back to human free will.he differed from Augustine by saying that god did not make a perfect world and that evil has a valuable part to play in god’s plans for humanity. Irenaeus said that god was partially responsible for evil. In the sense that god created humans imperfectly in order that they could develop into perfection. His own image but with the intention of letting them develop into his likeness or perfection of character later. Being in gods image means that you have intelligence, morality, personality, but perfection would only be accomplished as humanity was changed into god’s likeness developing over time. God couldn’t have created humans in perfection because attaining the likeness of god needed the willing cooperation of human individuals. Moreover freedom requires the possibility of choosing well instead of evil and therefore god had to permit evil and suffering to occur.

St Augustine lived in the fifth century and it was his concept that god was perfect the world was perfect and it was mans evil that caused this to break. God brought the world into existence from nothing (ex nihilo) the fall itself is chapter three of genesis. Augustine taught that following the fall the devil tempted Adam and eve to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge the fruit from the knowledge tree.

The fruit which god had forbidden Adam and eve to eat. Sin is the definition of the will of a rational being away from god which is motivated by pride hubris. Augustine believed that original sin was passed down through the act of sexual intercourse so that every human being, as descendants of Adam and eve suffer from original sin. Humanity has a tendency towards sin. Man wants to sin. “The good that I would I cannot.” Evil is a privation of goodness. Evil doesn’t exist as a substance of his own right. Augustine described sin as a falling short or missing the mark of that which god intends. Augustine believed that the “ugliness of sin is never without the beauty of punishment

In the scientific age of the twenty-first century people no longer believe in angels. The whole idea of the fall is nonsensical and is only fit for a pre-scientific view of the world. Similarly people no longer believe in the devil. Augustine’s theodicy depends on his assumption that the world was made perfect. This is contradicted by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection. The story of Adam and Eve is not historically true, it is a myth. The teaching of Original Sin is not Biblical, but comes from St Augustine. The idea that the human race is fallen, as we inherit Original Sin from Adam and Eve is both Scientifically nonsensical and Even if it were true it is highly unfair to punish the offspring (the human race) for a sin committed by their parents, i.e. Adam and Eve.

2. As we see pain and suffering around us in the so called “perfect world that God created and we feel a need to justify why this is happening and more importantly who fault it is. This is where god comes into the equation, the designer of the earth and an all knowing being who loves us all no mater who we are. The mere idea of pain in this world with this being calls into question the very existence of what our existence is and how it came to be. The definition of a theology is to prove the divine attributes of god and when one sees death in ones family; could one ever possibly see a vindication of evils existence?

In analysis both theodicy’s one must take into consideration the historical context in which both were conceived and written. With modern scientific knowledge we have com to believe that the universe came into existence through the big bang. Consequently many have discredited the possibility of the genesis version of creation. The Augustine theodicy is therefore open to much modern day speculation and criticism, as it is based on the belief that man established evil due to a conscious decision made by Adam and eve under temptation from Lucifer.

This is the fall and when human existence supposedly turned away from the grace of God. In today’s more logical and pragmatic society the idea of man’s creation through such events is considered to be nothing more than mythological farce. Where the text should not simply be discredited but is more of a symbol in this case to Christianity. In discrediting the source of the theodicy therefore one considers what remains of Augustine theodicy ineffective due to our lack of belief in the first premise. The point to consider is if one is a traditional catholic and believes that this is the word of God or weather one takes a more modern stance on the issue and learns from scientific growth of the modern era.

However scientist still struggle to provide a true explanation for the cause of the big bang, had Augustine been able to see these modern times he may have argued the point that when the fall happened (the expulsion of Adam and eve from the garden.) the big bang would have occurred. This is very open to interpretation as it is now a certainty that the story of Adam and eve is a metaphorical device to explain the beginning of the world to people who were simpler than today’s standards. What is clear is that the Augustine theodicy is a very traditionalist approach to the idea of evil. Whereas the irenaean theodicy was written before the Augustine theodicy it is actually a more modern in its approach to the problem of evil and suffering.

In these modern times under newer scientific evidence such as the theory of evolution and the big bang theory St Iranian’s theodicy was cast into new philosophical light. It was shown to be a document before its time as it draws from an original state of imperfection in the universe. Which then has to work towards perfection? Her is so much evil in today’s society we can see many natural evil. In contrast to natural evil one cannot but help agree that the world is not perfect. In contrast to natural evil occurring due to a delicate balance being lost in the world the idea of an imperfect world working towards perfection appears far more feasible.

To conclude one must draw to the evident change in sociological and intellectual factors from the time of Irenaeus and Augustine. Although both when written may have proved strong vindification for moral and natural evil in the case of the existence of god mans growth appears to change the significance of each thing in the universe.

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