2.3. Theodicy (If there is only one God and that God is good, how does evil exist?)


The term

The problem

Israelite Views





  1. Common evil / extreme evil
  2. Individual responsibility / collective responsibility
  3. Immediate / long term

A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

Whatever happens, it was designated long ago and it was known that it would happen; as for man, he cannot contend with what is stronger than he. Often, much talk means much futility. How does it benefit a man? Who can possibly know what is best for a man to do in life—the few days of his fleeting life? For who can tell him what the future holds for him under the sun?

Some of those with insight shall stumble so that they may be tested, refined, and purified, until the end time which is still appointed to come. … Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; Some to everlasting life, others to reproach and everlasting disgrace. But those with insight shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, And those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.

The word of the LORD came to me: What do you mean by quoting this proverb upon the soil of Israel, “Parents eat sour grapes and their children’s teeth are blunted”? As I live—declares the Lord GOD—this proverb shall no longer be current among you in Israel. Consider, all lives are Mine; the life of the parent and the life of the child are both Mine. The person who sins, only he shall die. Thus, if a man is righteous and does what is just and right… if he has abstained from wrongdoing and executed true justice between man and man; if he has followed My laws and kept My rules and acted honestly—he is righteous. Such a man shall live—declares the Lord GOD.

When you have children and children’s children, and have grown old in the land, should you then act corruptly by fashioning an idol in the form of anything, and by this evil done in his sight provoke the LORD, your God, I call heaven and earth this day to witness against you, that you shall all quickly perish from the land which you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You shall not live in it for any length of time but shall be utterly wiped out. The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and there shall remain but a handful of you among the nations to which the LORD will drive you. … Yet when you seek the LORD, your God, from there, you shall indeed find him if you search after him with all your heart and soul. In your distress, when all these things shall have come upon you, you shall finally return to the LORD, your God, and listen to his voice.

When the sons of men had multiplied, in those days, beautiful and comely daughters were born to them. And the watchers, the sons of heaven, saw them and desired them. And they said to one another, “Come let us choose for ourselves wives from the daughters of men, and let us beget children for ourselves.” And Shemihazah, their chief, said to them, “I fear that you will not want to do this deed, and I alone shall be guilty of a great sin.” And they all answered him and said, “Let us all swear an oath, and let us all bind one another with a curse, that none of us turn back from this counsel until we fulfill it and do this deed.” Then they all swore together and bound one another with a curse. …. they swore and bound one another with a curse... These and all the others with them took for themselves wives from among them such as they chose. And they began to go in to them, and to defile themselves through them, and to teach them sorcery and charms, and to reveal to them the cutting of roots and plants.

Truly the evil man shall not go unpunished, but those who are just shall escape.

If the just man is punished on earth, how much more the wicked and the sinner!

The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.

I have been young and now am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.

How can anyone be in the right against God,

or how can any born of woman be innocent?

Even the moon is not bright

and the stars are not clean in his eyes.

How much less a human being, who is but a worm,

a mortal, who is only a maggot?

Others, not necessarily Israelite?

Practice (Poll Everywhere) pollev.com/toddhanneken457 (Administer)

Submitted Questions

Chastisement, Deuteronomy

I find it interesting that it is possible for somebody to truly believe God is punishing them for something their parents or grandparents did vs. saying “it’s just bad luck” when something awful happens to them.

Why won't the punishment always match the sin? Why will the punishment be far worse or far less in relationship to the sin?

Unknowable, Job and Ecclesiastes

The explanation that God’s justice cannot be understood is not very satisfying or helpful.

Philosophical views, stoicism, free will

This is actually something I remember from my philosophy class last semester and philosophy was something that helped understand some theology ideas like this one.

Why do we need to know what evil is, or order to have something to contrast what is good? Can't we just know good and not have to compare it to anything else.

Why has he let humans run amok with free will?

If God did not create the evil choices, how different would the world be? Would he still come to judge us? Would there still be hell? Or would there only be heaven?

Own articulations

This life is short, temporary suffering doesn't matter compared to eternal heaven.

There is a devil not matter how great and powerful god is bad things will always happen.

That there is evil out there and he can not save us from everything we ourselves as humanity need to learn to save ourselves.

The idea of God being just is ideal cause justice can't be good or evil its more meant to uphold a standard if that makes sense. God is like a human judge giving out punishments and rewards.

I too believe that something’s happen to us for a reason, and that reason can be for a greater outcome.

Do you think God stays in heaven because he too lives in fear of what he’s created?

Another thing that I found interesting was that Satan and afterlife justice was more of a newer belief. It seems like these aspects are very important in Christianity, and it is weird that it was a later addition.

More later in the course

How can a soul be judged in the afterlife?