Theodicy

 

1.    What is theodicy?  Theos – God + dike – justice.  Justifying the ways of God in

the face of evil or chaos

 

Broader definition:  Explanation or legitimization of chaotic, evil, and suffering

Evil must be not only endured but also explained to hold off despair, meaninglessness.

 

Theodicy places our own life, which may be riven with tragic suffering and the threat of chaos, in a larger framework of meaning that bestows a sense of order, purpose, and even repose.

 

2.    Theodicy and the Holocaust

How is it possible?  Who did it?  Hitler? How did Hitler make decisions?

A decentralized process: beaurocrats.  Professionals (lawyers, soldiers, doctors)

Medicalizatin of Holocaust – ghetto as quarantine to prevent infection, a cleansing process (everything in experienced hands); legal questions concerning who is a Jew and who is not (the whole process conceived as a legal one).

         Where was God in all this?  Chosen people?  How to respond?

 

3.    Samsara-Karma-Dharma

Karma and freedom.  A law of cause and effect. Cf. Job who protests his innocence to God

The relativity of evil: doing oneŐs dharma.  WhatŐs good for one is evil for another

The shared aspect of karma – not an individualist doctrined

Defining the nature of evil: Samsara

         Experience in life; the endless cycle of rebirth

 

4.  Monotheistic theodicy:

         God is good; God is omnipotent; Evil exists

(1) Suffering as recompense for sin: JobŐs friends. Repent.

(2) Suffering as a test: soul making, a trial of faith

         Job: God allows Satan to test job

         Suffering shapes character – virtues such as patience, humility, fellow feeling

                  Cf. Richard Bach

GodŐs purpose includes creating finite, imperfect creatures who, through freedom, can develop spiritual insight, moral character.  Moral growth requires a world in which there is pain and suffering.  Without it, meaningless

 

(3) A theodicy of submission: The mystery of GodŐs sovereignty

Job is questioning GodŐs governance of the universe while he sits in self absorption

GodŐs ways pass human understanding