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(I) in What Ways May Suffering Be Seen as a Problem for a Religious Believer? Give an Account of Two Solutions to This Problem.

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2 (a) (i) In what ways may suffering be seen as a problem for a religious believer? Give an account of two solutions to this problem. (21) (ii) To what extent is one of these solutions more convincing than the other? (9)

i) Suffering may be seen as a problem for religious believers because it may make them question the existence or qualities of the God of classical theism. For example, the inconsistent triad as proposed by J.L. Mackie has three different corners, where it is impossible for all three corners to be true at the same time. The corners of the triangle are “god is omnibenevolent”, “God is omnipotent” and “evil exists”. If God was omnibenevolent he would not want evil to happen, and if he was omnipotent he would have the power to stop evil from happening. Therefore, as evil exists, one of these qualities must be false which means the God of classical theism cannot exist. This is known as the theological problem.
If God is not all powerful or perfectly good, it forces the question of whether he is worthy of worship. If God does not possess the qualities that define him as God what is the purpose of worshipping him as a God.
Another problem for religious believers is that if God is omniscient he knows everything that has happened and that will happen. Therefore, he knows when evil is about to happen and yet does not do anything to prevent it. This presents another problem that God may also not be omniscient, which again, brings us to question whether he should be worshipped at all.
Evil and suffering may also question believers to stop believing and question the existence of god, as they may believe that if evil exists, then God can not, as the God of classical theism would not allow evil to happen.
A solution to the problem of evil is the Augustinian theodicy. Augustine begins by saying that the universe was created perfectly and all good, with no evil in it. He also argues that there is no such thing as evil, and evil is just a privation of good, the same way one might argue that darkness is a deprivation of light. He goes on to say that evil was bought into the world by humans and angels when they disobeyed God and therefore sinned (the fall). He argues that the sin done in the fall was then seminally passed down through adam to everyone on earth now, so we all have this original sin. He goes on to say that therefore, it must mean that we deserve to experience evil, as God is a just God and must punish us for our sins. Also, he believes that God showed his love and kindness when he sent his son, Jesus, down to earth to die, so that those who believed in him could have eternal life in heaven and those who didn’t, and committed sin would face eternal torment in hell. This solves the problem as it argues that it was humanities fault rather than Gods fault for the existence of evil.
Another solution to the problem of evil is the irenaean theodicy. Irenaeas does not argue that the world was created perfectly but instead argues that we are all created in the image of god and over our lives we would develop into the likeness of God and become perfect moral and spiritual beings. He claims that evil has a key part to play in this as it helps us to develop qualities such as love and hope, which are important in our journey to achieve moral and spiritual perfection. He said that God could not have created humans already perfect because attaining the likeness of God requires cooperation from humans. He argued that God could not intervene because otherwise he would be taking away our freewill and would be stopping us from choosing between good and evil. He said that once we had reached perfection, evil and suffering would end and we could enjoy eternal paradise in heaven. Hick also added to irenaeas’ argument by saying that it was important for god to leave us to develop by ourselves as if god had made us all perfect, the good we performed would be the goodness of robots. He also said that humans had to have an epistemic distance from god, so we wouldn’t know he existed, so we could choose between good and bad by ourselves. This solves the problem as it claims that God intended for evil to exist to provide humanity with a way to develop and become perfect spiritual beings.

ii) Both solutions have varying degrees of conviction. Augustine’s theodicy provides a reason fro the existence of evil and removes the blame from God without taking away his qualities, making it a successful theodicy. However it contains many weaknesses that may make it less convincing. For example, as mentioned by Friedrich Schleiermacher, it is a logical contradiction to say that a perfect world has gone wrong, and if God created the world perfectly it would not have gone wrong. In addition to this, if there was no knowledge of good or evil before the fall, how was it possible for humans and angels to disobey god. These logical contradictions make Augustine’s theodicy less convincing. Another criticism is that this theodicy goes against the scientific theory of evolution, as evolution argues that the world was far from perfect at the start and over time, has improved. This scientifically proven theory contradicts Augustine making his theodicy less convincing.
The irenaean theodicy is also a successful theodicy and also avoids many of the criticism that the Augustinian theodicy faced, such as going against evolution, and the problem of a perfect world going imperfect.
However, it also has its criticisms. It raises the question to why God simply didn’t create perfect humans to begin with, as this would have prevented us from going through evil and suffering. However, this could be countered by saying that true moral perfection requires the cooperation of human individuals, and if god made us all perfect we wouldn’t have that.
Another criticism is that some suffering does not help people develop qualities. For example, moral evil such as rape does not have any benefits or help the victim in any way. Also, it is true that some suffer more than others, and the problem of how God decides who suffers more and who suffers less arises. Additionally, it may be considered unfair that although some suffer more than others, everyone gets to go to heaven.
Overall, I think that the irenaean theodicy is more convincing than the other one. This is because the Irenaean theodicy does not contradict science, as Augustines does. The claim that sin can be seminally passed down can be proven to be incorrect and therefore uproots the entire argument. Also, although the Irenaean theodicy faces the problem of an unjust God, I believe that the Augustinian theodicy faces larger problems as it does not seem fair for us to be punished today for something that we did not do. Overall, I think that the irenaean theodicy is more convincing than the Augustinian theodicy.

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