The Problem of Evil, Illustrated Graphically

Discussion in 'Theology and Doctrine' started by Invictus, Nov 22, 2022.

  1. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    upload_2022-11-22_15-25-15.png

    (The above also assumes that only a God with a good will can be a truly personal God.)

    This is admittedly a very broad schematic, and there is no doubt ample room for variation within each of the coordinates of this matrix. What made Schleiermacher interesting as a philosophical theologian is that he tried to find middle ground between theism and pantheism. The difference between the two alternatives ultimately centers on the question of God's omnibenevolence (an attribute Schleiermacher intended to affirm).
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2022
  2. CRfromQld

    CRfromQld Moderator Staff Member

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    Theism says YES to the reality of evil.
     
  3. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    It is "real" in the sense that it is not merely subjective, or an illusion, but as a privation it has no positive being of its own. This distinction has always been a part of traditional theology, as exemplified by Augustine, Damascene, Aquinas, etc., and is traceable all the way back to Ps.-Dionysius and Plotinus. The atheistic and mythological constructs on the other hand require no such qualifications. Here is a fair summary of the traditional theistic position as stated by Aquinas:

    Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv), "Evil is neither a being nor a good."

    I answer that, One opposite is known through the other, as darkness is known through light. Hence also what evil is must be known from the nature of good. Now, we have said above that good is everything appetible; and thus, since every nature desires its own being and its own perfection, it must be said also that the being and the perfection of any nature is good. Hence it cannot be that evil signifies being, or any form or nature. Therefore it must be that by the name of evil is signified the absence of good. And this is what is meant by saying that "evil is neither a being nor a good." For since being, as such, is good, the absence of one implies the absence of the other.
    St. Thomas Aquinas, ST Ia, Q. 48, art. 1, s.c. and resp.
    So, if we're looking at the subject along a spectrum, we proceed from evil being something close to an illusion or a construct of consciousness in pantheism, to something objective yet privative in theism, to something with more positive being of its own in the mythological and atheistic views. Relative to the latter two alternatives, evil is not "real" in theism.
     
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  4. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Relative to white, navy blue is black. ;) And relative to evil Satan, you and I are good -- even though, apart from God's grace, "there is no health in us" (Daily Office, 2019 BCP, p. 12).

    "It's all relative." (I think a relative told me that!) :laugh:
     
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  5. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Yes, that is one way to look at it. But, it should be stressed that the ‘relative’ differences are nonetheless rooted in the presence (or absence) of certain objective features. This then dovetails into differing accounts of evil that are still contested in contemporary philosophy. The “privation” defense in theistic thought, some argue, only pushes the problem back one step, in that an all-powerful, all-good God should also be able to prevent privations as well (in the event that evil itself is not an entity). Other contemporary philosophers question the privation account.
     
  6. CRfromQld

    CRfromQld Moderator Staff Member

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    Evil is an abstract noun, a noun denoting something immaterial and abstract, so it is not a being or an object; but it is still real.
     
  7. CRfromQld

    CRfromQld Moderator Staff Member

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    privation
    prī-vā′shən
    noun
    1. Lack of the basic necessities or comforts of life.
    2. An act, condition, or result of deprivation or loss.
    3. The condition of being without a specified quality or attribute.
     
  8. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    In the privation theory, it is ‘real’ only as a negative feature of something else, not as a thing in its own right. Its ‘reality’ as such is parasitic rather than inherent. Take away the object (that is said to be evil in some way), and the evil disappears.

    To deny the reality of evil, as I am employing the term here, is to deny that evil itself is a thing (in a positive sense), which is what I take most people to intend by ‘real’ in everyday language. There nevertheless remains room in all 4 worldviews to consistently affirm that evil is objective and not a mere illusion.

    I have often noticed that Protestants in general tend to have a lot of trouble with the traditional theistic view (of evil). My guess is that the Reformation’s emphasis on humanity’s ‘fallenness’ seems to hint at the intuition that evil may be something more than a mere ‘privation’ when it comes to moral (as opposed to merely natural) evil.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2022
  9. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    A graphic illustration of the principle that evil is not an entity in itself, but rather a lack of 'love' which is entirely an attribute, even the very nature, of God, is the apparently moving display of strings of light bulbs outside the cinemas of old, or modern LED sequencing - linear displays. The moving image which appears so real is not the actual reality. It is the sequential LIGHTING of individual light emitting components that generates the illusion of a dark patch moving in an animated fashion. If all the light emitting components were lit, there would BE no discernable movement of a darkened patch. Thus it is the LIGHT which actually exists, the darkness is merely the sequencial absence of light resulting in the IMPRESSION of animation.
    .