We are reading a few powerful testimonies to the grave problem raised, for theologians, by the existence of evil and suffering in the world. We read Russell's "Why I Am Not A Theist," where he comments on this problem. We also read a section from Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, in which he refers to this problem - so-called THEODICY, or 'how to justify God' so to speak, how to account for the presence of evil in a world that is said to have been created by an omnipotent and benevolent God. Read especially page 80, 2nd column, 2nd paragraph, page 81, 1st column, 2nd paragraph, from Perry-Bratman, for Hume's statement of the problem in its starkest form.
Notice that Leibniz - Perry-Braman, pp. 91-93 - is far more optimistic. Who is right - Hume or Leibniz?
Could it be that there is really no evil in the world? For instance, if we could see the WHOLE picture, not merely catching glimpses from our limited perspective, we would then realize that there is no evil? Is this a satisfactory response to the problem of THEODICY?
Could it be that evil is just the absence of good - not a real thing in itself, like "something missing" is not some other thing that is actuallym there? /This has been a popular answer - and it is more or less canonical for many Christian thinkers. Do you find this response satisfactory?
Could it be that evil is necessary for human freedom? Here is what this means: If God had made people in such a way that they would always act benevolently, would people really be free? Is someone who ALWAYS does the right thing a good person? Doesn't "good person" mean that one could have chosen to do something bad and yet held back from doing it? But, notice something else: What if God had made people so that they would always CHOOSE to do the right thing - they could do otherwise but never chose to do so? But, still, if everyone were nice - and if the universe were a happy place - there would be no opportunity for human beings to exercise moral judgment. So, if God wanted to create MORAL agents, God had no choice but to also allow for the possibility of evil and suffering. But, this also diminishes God's omnipotence - can you see why?