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Unformatted text preview: The Problem of Evil:
A Case Study The Book of Job:
QUESTIONS Is it morally deficient of God Is to allow Job to suffer when he had the ability to prevent it? when Why does God allow Why Job to suffer undeservedly? 1 The Book of Job:
EIGHT PROPOSED SOLUTIONS TO THE PROBLEM OF EVIL 1. The "Virtue is its Own Reward" Solution: “God lets Job suffer in order to prove that God good people are good for its own sake, that virtue is its own reward.” that
SUPPORT: This solution seems to be implied in SUPPORT: the Prologue, in God’s conversation with Satan. the 2 Objection to (1): Virtue may indeed be rewarding, but it is Virtue nonetheless wicked to injure a person merely to demonstrate this point. merely 2. The "Bad Job" Solution: “Punishment must be the result of sin; Punishment thus, Job suffers, but not undeservedly.” thus,
SUPPORT: Job’s friends observe in the text that friends he has or his children have (or must have) sinned. Moreover, this solution is consistent with the conventional wisdom of the time. the 3 Objections to (2): a. Job says repeatedly that this is not the case. b. The opening lines of Job state that he is The c. d.
‘blameless and upright’. Even God says to Satan that Job is blameless. Even God Even if Job has sinned, it still seems that he is Even suffering out of proportion to his sin(s). sin(s 3. The "Happy Ending" Solution: “It is acceptable for Job to suffer because It he ultimately gets back all the things that he lost (and perhaps more).” he
SUPPORT: The function of the Epilogue seems SUPPORT: to be to present this solution. to 4 Objections to (3): a.Job does not get back “what he lost,” Job though he does get compensated. What though he loses (in particular, his family) is irreplaceable, and the author of Job neglects the importance of this fact. neglects Objections to (3), cont.: b. Many people who suffer do not get Many rewarded in the end; Job is in fact an anomaly. anomaly. 5 Objections to (3), cont.: c. Some answer that rewards happen in the Some afterlife. This will not help the Job problem, however, since Job does not believe he will be rewarded later. (Belief in heaven as a place of eternal reward did not arise until centuries after Job was written.) written.) Objections to (3), cont.: d. It is the original injury that was done to d. Job that was problematic. So, the fact that God recompensed Job for the suffering he incurred is irrelevant, because it does not justify the original injury. justify 6 4. The “Devil Made Me Do It” Solution: 4. “Satan, not God, inflicted the suffering Satan, on Job.” on Objection to (4): This position ignores the fact that Satan is This God's agent. If one person is responsible for the actions of another, then if the first person permits the second to do something evil, then the first person is at least equally as culpable as the second. least 7 5. The "Unanswerable Question" Solution: “It is pointless to ask why Job suffers, It because humans do not have access to enough information to answer it.” enough Objection to (5): It is not clear that any additional It information is relevant to solving the problem.
[Recall that the problem of evil involves an alleged inconsistency that arises from believing that God is good, extremely powerful, and extremely intelligent, and the fact that innocent people suffer. If a set of propositions is inconsistent, then it remains inconsistent no matter how many other propositions are added to it.] no 8 6. The "Impertinent Question" Solution:
“The only one who knows why it is acceptable The for Job to suffer is God; and it is impertinent and disrespectful for humans to ask God why humans suffer.” humans SUPPORT: In the text, God makes the point that SUPPORT: to ask a question is to imply that the person asked has some obligation to give an answer. Consequently, to ask anything of God is disrespectful. disrespectful. Objection to (6): Humans have the ability to ask this Humans question, so it is not clear why they do not have this right. have 9 7. The "Beggar's" Solution:
“Since humans are absolutely dependent on Since God, humans have nothing that is their own; that is, everything they have comes from God.” that Consequently, they deserve none of the good Consequently, things that they have and thus have no basis for complaining about the way that God treats them. (I.e., “The Lord gives and the Lord takes The away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”) away, Objection to (7): Objection This seems to commit us to the idea that This nothing that humans do affects God in any way, which deeply complicates the notion of a personal deity, and consequently, the idea that God cares about human beings. idea 10 8. The "God Above Justice" Solution: “This whole question involves a false This presupposition: namely, the belief that God is either just or unjust. God is, in fact, neither one; he is above or ‘outside of’ justice.” Objection to (8):
To claim that God is above justice and injustice To and hence neither just nor unjust is a radical move to make, especially if it is made only to solve the problem of evil. It is traditional to claim that God is just, or at least, that He is good. If God is neither just nor unjust, how can he still be considered good? unjust, 11 ...
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This note was uploaded on 01/29/2011 for the course PHIL 2010 taught by Professor Snyder during the Fall '06 term at Georgia State.
- Fall '06