Evil and suffering summary of key points and pros of theodicies

Defined by john hick as ‘physical pain, mental suffering and moral wickedness.’

Why is it that the innocent suffer most?

There is no evil

There is no God

Evil = karma

Example of Job

The problem then for believers is how can a loving God allow so much evil? There can be no religious justification for evil: it is unacceptable.

Augustine: ‘either God cannot abolish evil or he will not; if he cannot then he is not all-powerful, if he will not then he is not all good.’

Four distinctive problems:

  • Theological – nature of God
  • Philosophical – conflicting claims
  • Diverse – different evils demand diff explanations
  • Challenging – evil and suffering are objective reality.

The inconsistent triad of JL Mackie shows that believers have to believe all three of the points about God.

If God created the uni out of nothing then he is responsible for all in it. Evil is in it. Qed…

Or he could have created a world without… but he didn’t …

Where was God on Sept 11th?

Where was God in the holocaust?

Flew: saying God’s love is not like human love does not provide a good enough reason.

So does evil have a purpose?

  • Punishment?
  • Test?
  • Inevitable? But will become perfect.
  • Allows God’s love to be seen?


Theodicies are justifications ie accept that God is right to allow evil to stay and that it is necessary somehow.



  • World created perfect
  • Went wrong
  • Fall of man
  • Privation of good
  • Hell
  • Heaven
  • Jesus salvation
  • Allows God’s love



  • Image of God – likeness
  • No coercion therefore genuine free will
  • Evil encourages characteristics for perfection
  • No suffering after death
  • Heaven for all
  • No evil no development – placidity, stagnation, no temptation
  • Vale of soul making
  • Need for an afterlife but…
  • Natural evil justified
  • Moral evil? Hitler?



  • God not ominp
  • Part of creation bound by its laws
  • Not classical theist but …
  • Continuous creativity and suffering is result of natural discord ie development or growing pains!
  • God suffers too
  • God cannot prevent evil
  • ‘God’s goodness is vindicated in that the risk-taking venture in the evolution of the universe was calculated to produce and has produced a sufficient quality and quantity of good to outweigh all the evil’


The freewill defence


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