What is natural evil?
Natural Evil and misery are issues that lead many people to reject the idea of God. People look at the pain of the innocent from plagues, earthquakes, and murders and ask, “Where was God?”.
Much controversy has been caused by disputes over whether a merciful god can or should intervene to prevent such events. The issue of evil refers to the question of how an omniscient and omnipotent God reconciles the existence of evil. The evil argument attempts to demonstrate that it is impossible for evil to coexist with such a God.
The concept of God
Attempts to show that the concept of God is compatible with the existence of evil are called theodicy. The problem of evil is often presented in two forms. The logical problem and the probative problem of evil. The logical form of the problem tries to show that logically the coexistence of God with evil is impossible while its probative form tries to show that given the existence of evil in the world, it is unlikely that there is an omnipotent, omniscient, and all-good god. The problem of evil has been extended to include non-human life forms, such as animal cruelty.
The natural evil
The problem of natural evil applies mainly to monotheistic religions, such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, according to which, there is a god who is omniscient and omnipotent but has been examined for other non-theistic or polytheistic religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism and other theories such as secular ethics and evolutionary ethics.
The Orthodox Church
However, the problem of evil is usually presented with theological content. In Christianity, people generally believe that either God punishes lawlessness or that there is a law-abiding relationship between the offender and the problems that usually follow. These are not acceptable by the Orthodox Church that believes in the abysmal love of God, as it was manifested at the Nativity, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection of the Son of God, so that man can be free from false guilt.
People often attribute various misfortunes, calamities, disasters to God or others, forgetting that their actions are responsible for most of what happens to them. Some typical examples are the following.
Frost crop destruction: however, people pollute the environment, and we have abnormal climate changes. When a child leaves home, we talk about the bad character, but we forget the responsibility of the parents.
The Orthodox Church lives with the deep belief that the grace of God accompanies every human being born into our world. Although many times people show with their works that they do not trust Him, God listens to the man humiliated by mistakes and “runs” to help.
Why the Saints pray to God
That is why the Saints also pray to God. Christ’s parable of the prodigal son clearly shows God’s attitude toward man. In Judaism, there is a long history of struggles over the problem of loving God who recognizes evil and misery.
Many stories try to present views on the cause of people’s pain. Some examples are that God can test you, God can urge man to return to the faith, God can punish. There have been beliefs throughout the years that individuals ultimately benefit from pain because it nourishes inner strength and makes the person better.
The Jews and Muslims
The Jews were taught to give thanks for their misery. You often find misery necessary when people choose between good and evil, and the wrong choice can lead people to suffer. Muslims believe that Allah created man of free will.
They believe that the devil is waiting to enter the human mind and thus to go against his conscience and do evil. They still believe that people have an instinct that can affect them for good or for bad.
Allah knows what man has done and will do. He still knows the fate of every human being. Suffering is considered a test of Allah. Finally, they are taught that when Allah created Adam, he asked the angels to respect his decision and that he would rule and take care of the earth. Iblis refused and was punished.
The Buddhist philosophy
This is taken from Christianity, yet Iblis is the devil. The existence of misery is the preoccupation of Buddhist philosophy. Buddha taught that misery is a fact of life. Buddha penetrated the cause of misery and showed that he could put an end to the misery. Buddhism sees misery as a direct result of Karma. With righteous deeds, they create their own environment and their own life. The experience reflects their karma.
Buddhists believe that if they do this, they will transform life on earth. Hindus believe that the universe is made up of good and bad forces. In Hinduism, misery is associated with karma, that is, the results of a person’s sinful deeds.
God cannot be blamed for the pain. People are personally responsible for their own pain. Evil is recognized in two forms: physical evil and moral evil. Physical evil refers to death and its causes. Serious diseases, such as cholera, are considered a punishment for human sins. Moral evil is man’s tendency towards evil. Moral evil is adultery, incest, lying, or causing injury to others. Karma is the explanation of moral evil.
The philosophical literature
Before the Second World War, there was extraordinarily little philosophical literature on the concept of evil in a narrow sense. Nevertheless, since ancient times, philosophers have considered the nature and origins of evil in a broad sense. While this entry is largely concerned with evil in the strict sense, it is important to study the history of the theories of evil in the broad sense, since these theories provide the background against which the theories of evil in the narrow sense have been established.
Most scholars agree that Plantinga’s (American analytic philosopher) free will of human and non-human spirits (demons) argument successfully solves the logical problem of evil, proving that God and evil are logically compatible but other scholars explicitly dissent.
His dissenters state that while explaining infectious diseases, cancer, hurricanes, and other nature-caused sufferings as something that is caused by the free will of supernatural beings, solves the logical version of the problem of evil. However, it is highly unlikely that these natural evils do not have natural causes that an omnipotent God could prevent, but instead are caused by the immoral actions of supernatural beings with free will who God created.
The theory of John Hick
One especially important type of theodicy, championed especially by John Hick, involves the idea that the evils that the world contains can be seen to be justified if one views the world as designed by God to be an environment in which people, through their free choices, can undergo spiritual growth that will ultimately fit them for communion with God.
Hick’s basic suggestion is that soul-making is a great good, that God would therefore be justified in designing a world with that purpose in mind, that our world is very well designed in that regard, and thus that, if one views evil as a problem, it is because one mistakenly thinks that the world ought, instead, to be a hedonistic paradise.
Secondly, and is illustrated by the weakness of Hick’s own discussion a soul-making theodicy does not justify the existence of any animal pain, let alone for a world where predation is not only present but a major feature of non-human animal life, and has been so for millions of years. Still, others enjoy lives of ease and luxury where there is virtually nothing that challenges them to undergo moral growth.
A second important approach to theodicy involves the following ideas. First, that libertarian free will is of great value; Secondly, because it is part of the concept of libertarian free will that an action that is free in that sense cannot be triggered by anything beyond the agent, not even God can cause an individual to openly do what is appropriate; and thirdly, due to the obvious great benefit of libertarian free will, God should create a world in which the agents possess libertarian free will, even though it is the libertarian free will.
A final important theodicy
A final important theodicy involves the following ideas. First, it is important that events in the world regularly take place since otherwise effective action would be impossible; so, God’s allowing natural evils is justified because the existence of natural evils is entailed by natural laws, and a world without natural laws would be a much worse world.
This type of theodicy is also exposed to serious objections, or the world could be such that there was unlimited room for populations to expand, and ample natural resources to support such populations.
What Christians believe
There are several religions, as well as within a specific religion, especially important differences in people’s religious beliefs, and very different beliefs that one might appeal to, so there are many Christian ideological theodicies that can be built.
The creator, however, lovingly engaged, several generations later, in a rescue operation, in which he, in the person of his son, became incarnated as a human being, and by undergoing a sacrificial death, made it possible for the creator to forgive every human who accepted this sacrifice, and who would then enjoy eternal beatitude living in the presence of the creator.
Traditionally Christians believed, either that Adam and Eve were created ex nihilo, as the story of creation in Genesis 1 seems to say, or else, as the creation story in Genesis 2 says, that Adam was created out of the dust of the earth, and then Eve was formed, sometime later, out of one of Adam’s ribs.
The Christian philosophers
In the light of such evidence, it is not surprising that many Christian philosophers have accepted the hypothesis of common descent, and have adopted some form of theistic evolution, in which the creator intervened at some point to transform some earlier primates into members of a new species, Homo sapiens.
However, while this version of special creation is an improvement, given the very close relations between human and chimpanzee DNA, and the fact that known mechanisms of chromosome rearrangement render the transition from some non-human species to Homo sapiens improbable, the postulation of divine intervention at that particular point does not seem plausible.
The theory of Michael Tooley
According to Michael Tooley (American philosopher, best known for his contributions to metaphysics), suffering from natural evil comes from localized, rational causes. Therapies for serious illnesses have been found, and it is ambiguous why anyone would choose to impose centralized evil and suffering on innocent children, including a supernatural being that God created, and why God failed to prevent such hardship if he is omnipotent.
The theory of Alvin Plantinga
Alvin Plantinga, following Augustine of Hippo (a theologian, philosopher, and the bishop of Hippo Regius in Numidia, Roman North Africa) and others have argued that the free choices of supernatural beings such as demons give rise to natural evils.
Others have argued that natural evils are the result of the fall of man, which corrupted the perfect world created by God, or that natural evils are the result of natural laws, or that natural evils provide us with a knowledge of evil which makes our free choices more significant than they would otherwise be, and so our free will more valuable, or that natural evils are a divine penalty process for the ethical evils committed by humans, and so the natural evil becomes acceptable.
There is also debate regarding the compatibility of moral free will (to select good or evil action) with the absence of evil from heaven, with God’s omniscience, and with his omnibenevolence.
The afterlife theodicy
The afterlife theodicy was suggested by Thomas Aquinas (an Italian, Dominican friar, philosopher, Catholic priest, and Church doctor) to handle the issue of evil and explain the existence of evil.
The assumption behind this theodicy was that afterlife is endless, human life is too short, and God allows evil and suffering to evaluate and bestow eternal heaven or hell based on human moral principles and human misery.
Aquinas went beyond and proposed that the afterlife is the “greatest good” that rationalizes the evil and the hardship in life today. Christian author Randy Alcorn claims that heavenly pleasures will make up for the miseries on earth.
The theory of Stephen Maitzen
Stephen Maitzen (the W. G. Clark Professor of Philosophy at Acadia University, Nova Scotia, Canada), has called this the “Heaven Swamps Everything” theodicy and argues that it is false because it conflates compensation and justification.
The second failure of the theodicy afterlife is its failure to rationalize the pain faced by small babies and innocent children from illnesses, harassment, and trauma in war or terrorist threats since babies and children are not to be anticipated to “human moral actions.” Likewise, moral actions and the idea of preference do not concern the problem of the evil attributed to animals suffering from natural evil and human activities.
The theory of Leibniz
Leibniz argued that the truth of Theodicy (religion) and philosophy could not contradict each other, since reason and faith are both “gifts of God”, so if their controversy were valid, it would automatically mean that God fights himself.
Theodicy is Leibniz’s attempt to reconcile his own philosophical system with his own interpretation of the doctrines of Christianity. This work was motivated in part by Leibniz’s beliefs, adopted by many philosophers and theologians during the Enlightenment within the rational and enlightened nature of the Christian religion, as compared to its supposedly less sophisticated non-Western counterparts.
It was also formed based on Leibniz’s beliefs about the perfection of human nature and his view that metaphysical necessity must have a logical or rational basis, even if its metaphysical causality seemed inexplicable in terms of natural necessity (of the natural laws recognized by science).
Because reason and faith must be in complete harmony, any doctrine of the religion that cannot be defended by reason must be rejected. Next, Leibniz is one of the most central critics of Christianity. If God is good at all, wise and powerful, then how did evil invade the world?
The answer, according to Leibniz, is that while God is indeed unlimited in wisdom and power, His human beings, as creatures, are limited in wisdom and their will (the power to act). This predisposes human beings to wrong beliefs, wrong decisions, and ineffective actions on the altar of their free will
The Human choice
God does not arbitrarily impose pain and suffering on people but also allows moral evil (sin) and moral evil (pain and suffering) as necessary consequences of metaphysical evil (imperfection), through which people can recognize and correct their wrong decisions but also as the opposite of true good.
It would be easy for God to make a good world with nothing bad in it if the only goods in the world were thrills of pleasure and the only evil things stabbed with pain. In addition, if there were any pain at all — if only one human felt the slightest headache — that would be concrete proof against God’s existence.
The good of individual human beings is based on their free will to choose between good and evil, their potential to create their own characters and those of their fellow beings, to show bravery and devotion, to love, to be useful, to comprehend splendor and to discover the truth, and all that, without a bit of suffering on the way, cannot be accomplished.