The Concept of Theodicy
Theodicy is one of the concepts used by theologians to try and justify the goodness and all-knowing nature of God against the existence of evils of the world. While a defense tries to prove that the existence of evil does not dispute God’s existence, Theodicy justifies of Vindicated God in the presence of the evidential problem of evil. Theodicy was a result of the need to explain why bad people prospered and good people suffered. Theodicy answers pertinent questions as to why God would allow the existence of evil some of which causes terrible suffering. Some of the issues explained by theodicy include: Won’t God have accomplished His divine purposes if He obliterated evil and used another means? Are the series of evil in the world compatible with God’s divine purposes? Can God justify the gruesome evil meted to sentient beings? Is a God who allows such evil worthy of praise? Theodicts would answer such questions by arguing that people cannot be able to explain such occurrences due to the limitations of human capacity, and therefore humans are not in a position to explain something they cannot fathom. God has an infinite capacity; therefore, it is hard for human to object that He had a purpose for the existence of evil.
On December 2, 2015, a married couple – Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook, opened fire at a party in San Bernardino, California. The couple killed fourteen people and injured 22 of them. The first saddening part about this incident is the fact that the party at the Inland Regional Center, where the shooting happened was a departmental meeting for the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health where Farook worked as a health inspector. Farook shot at his co-workers using semi-automatic weapon together with his wife. As much this was a killing it was also a betrayal of trust. The second part, the makes even the incident sadder, is the story of the people killed as described Los Angeles Times. One of the women had fled Iran in fear of religious prosecution and was a mother of three. The newspaper described another man as a father of six who was “a free spirit who befriended strangers in the grocery store checkout line.” The description goes on and on for the fourteen victims of the shooting and one is left to wonder why this had to happen to such beautiful souls.
One of the things that were evident during the San Bernardino shooting was the castigation of prayers by some people. One of the prominent newspapers –DAILY NEWS, had on its cover page “GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS,” which was a provocation to God’s goodness or more so, existence. The newspaper went ahead and highlighted some tweets from prominent figures such as Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, and Paul Ryan, calling for prayers. One of the ways that a theodict would explain this horrifying incident through Augustinian theodicy which states that God is not culpable for any sin, and He remains good because all the sins of the world are as a result of the punishment of the original sin by Adam and Eve. Augustinian theodicy postulates that God created the world perfectly without sin, and therefore evil was created by man. Iranean theodicy further throws in more light to the issue by proclaiming that humans are free agents, who have a free will, therefore not controlled by God. Stump and Murray suggested that for goodness to develop in humans, then they must experience suffering and evil.
According to theodicts, the mass shooting could be a message to from God that we are the enemies of ourselves. Others would claim that the shooting had a purpose and it is only God who knows the purpose, but it is for a good cause. Theodicts would not see suffering or evil as a punishment but rather a foot step to moral perfection or a condition for soul-making. To Theodicts, life does not end on this earth, but they believe there is an afterlife; therefore the death of innocent lives is not a loss. Theodicy only addresses monotheist because it only addresses evil in religious terms with the recognition of a single superior being i.e. God. An atheist would out rightly be ruled out of the conversation because they do not believe in the existence of God; therefore, they cannot justify His omnipotence in the presence of the evidential problem of evil. Non-theists such as Tao, believe in impersonal cosmic force as they believe death or suffering is not evil but part of a natural cycle. Polytheists believe in multiple powers, and this is in contradiction to Theodicy, which recognizes a single power.