Evil and soul making
John Hick was a philosopher of religion; he was a British philosopher who supported the anglo-analytic tradition of theology. Before becoming a philosopher, John Hick was a law student who underwent different religious experiences (Cramer, n.d). John Hick changed his career from law to philosophy and theology. Before his sudden change in career, John Hick was a law student. John Hick wrote the evil and soul-making soul making article to argue that God allows evil in the world because human beings should learn to follow His will. The main goal of life for people is to transcend into the likeness of God. Hick (1978) asserts that God created human beings in his image but not in his likeness. Therefore, it is the responsibility of human beings to want to transform into the likeness of God. Furthermore, Hicks (1778) argues that human beings should adopt desirable qualities in regards to moral character. The acquisition of moral qualities will enable human beings to have a personal relationship with the creator. Also, Hicks argues that the world which makes it easy for human beings to experience maximum pleasures of life and minimum pain will not be the ideal environment for a human being to transcend into a perfect human being. Hicks (1978) argues that for human beings to transcend into perfect living creatures, they need to face constant pain and rejection. An environment that produces the finest individuals is one which the inhabitants have to face different obstacles, perform tasks and attain goals. Furthermore, human beings need to face many dangerous experiences, solve problems and endure setbacks.
A soul-making environment should have elements of evil where there are significant risks for an individual to face (Cramer, n.d). The world is an evil place, but inhabitants learn about different methods to prevent risks and overcome the effects of evil. People will have the opportunity to grow in character and virtue. However, Hicks argues that for an individual to pass the test of evil, the individual needs to be further from God. An individual has the power of self-will; the individual should decide to follow the path of God and not the world. Hicks (1978) argues that if God created human beings directly in his presence, it is likely that they would not worship him out of a personal will. However, if an individual experiences evil without the presence of God, God will help the individual to build a personal relationship with him. God gave human beings the ability to make self-choices. Human beings have the power of free will unlike other creatures in the world. Capacity to reason and make decisions regarding the worship of God is fundamental to the growth of a personal relationship.
Hicks reviewed the Irenaean theodicy of soul making and the Augustine theodicy and made a conclusion that both texts agree that God plays a role in the existence of evil. However, Hicks prefers the Irenaean theodicy more appealing compared to the Augustine theodicy. According to Hicks (1978), the Augustine theodicy is not a good source for the reflection of religion because it describes the destiny of human beings to be divided between heaven and hell. However, Hicks (1978) supports the Irenaean theodicy because it stipulates that one day God will succeed to win the hearts of human beings through love and faith.
Pros and cons of evil
The major advantage of evil is that it makes an individual want to be closer to God. An individual who has faced evil is better inclined to seek the divine intervention of God compared to people who have not faced any hardships in life. The world is like a soul-making universe where people have the choice to follow good or evil. Hick (1978) argues that it is through tribulations that a human being will lessen the epistemic distance between him and God. God allows evil to exist in the world so that human beings can choose to be moral beings. God gave humans the will to choose and build their moral character. Choosing to be a moral character is equivalent to being in the likeness of God (Hicks, 1978). In his theodicy, Hick defends the decision of God to allow evil to exist in the world. Human beings are born with a moral deficiency and therefore face a significant challenge in the world as they build their moral character. Furthermore, the world is a soul-making world where human beings are free creatures with the will to decide what is best for them in regards to morality.
Human beings would not have the will to choose against God or deny the existence of God if they were brought into an immediate presence of God. Rather, since there is an epistemic distance from God, human beings have the free will of choosing to walk with God through good intervention or follow evil. According to Hick (1978), the world is ambiguous in regards to religion. There are many religion in the world that proclaim to be the true religion. However, the world is a purely natural phenomenon that allows human beings to choose to follow God.
Evil is necessary in the world because it enables people to develop moral virtues (Cramer, n.d). Virtues that are developed through a free will are stronger than those that are present from the beginning of life. God allowed evil in the world to exist because he understood that it would give human beings the ability to develop moral virtues (Cramer, n.d). Also, it would allow human beings to understand and appreciate the importance of moral virtues. For example, there is a difference between a person who was born with courage and one who has developed courage because of life’s struggles. Intrinsically, the individual who developed courage because of hardships is stronger than the one who was born with courage. The individual who developed courage because of hardships values and appreciates the virtue of courage compared to the individual who was born with courage.
According to Hick (1978), human beings develop their personality because of the hardships that they face in the world. The human personality is composed of intellectual, spiritual and moral aspects which develop over time as an individual gains experience in living in a world full of evil. Other philosophers like Hume believe that the very existence of pain the world is proof that God does not exist (Pojman, Solomon & Michael, 2013). However, Hick (1978) opposes Hume’s arguments by asserting that the world that does not understand suffering and pain is the world where people do not have the ability to make moral choices. Therefore, a painless world is the world where people do not have the advantage of moral growth and development.
Evil in the world enables people to differentiate between good and wrong (Pojman, Solomon & Michael, 2013). The world is a place where people suffer immense trouble and suffering through disease and war. However, the presence of war in the world makes an individual understand the disadvantages of war. Likewise, the world makes people understand that good health is a blessing to people. In a world where people did not face injury or be liable to inflict pain and suffering in the world, there would be no distinction between what is right and what is wrong.
Hick (1978) believes that human beings were not created in an idealistic environment as perfect human beings. Rather, human beings were created as imperfect beings whose life’s mission is to grow into the likeness of God. The environmental conditions and the existence of evil in the world are essential because it makes human beings to want to grow into the likeness of God. According to Hick (1978), in his article Evil and the God of Love, Hick argues that it is impossible to view human beings as animal pets. Animals do not have the ability to think about what is wrong or right. Their life is shaped since birth, and they do not possess the ability to make choices and differentiate wrong from right. However, human beings are born as children who have to develop into adulthood as perfect beings who are capable of understanding what good and evil. Also, they should be able to grow into the likeness of God through spiritual growth. People will realize from their spiritual awakening that worldly pleasures are not the fundamental basis of enjoying a fulfilling life. Rather, human beings will realize that spiritual awakening and closeness to God are the fundamental requirements of living a successful and promising life.
According to Pojman, Solomon and Michael (2013), for ‘good’ to exist, then ‘evil’ must exist. There can be no good without evil. God did not create evil, but he allows it to exist so that human beings can differentiate between good and evil and make a decision about which path to follow. Many people believe that because evil exists in the world, there can be no God. However, that is a false premise because God is the one who allows evil to exist in the world. There is a moral law that governs how people behave. Human beings were born with a deep conviction of differentiating right and wrong. Therefore, there exists a moral absolute that human beings must follow if they want to be close to God (Pojman, Solomon & Michael, 2013). The presence of evil in the world should be a fundamental basis in the quest to know God. In the current world, God gets all the blame when bad things happen in people’s lives. People will not understand why God allows suffering and pain. Also, God does not get the credit when good things happen in people’s lives. People chose to blame rather than thank God for his blessings.
The presence of evil in the world is necessary because God makes good out of evil (Cramer, n.d). When human beings face countless occasions of evil, they need to seek the divine intervention of God, and in turn, God will destroy the evil and allow good to thrive. In the world, evil deeds such as wars between countries is a necessity because peace comes after war. The human race needs to understand war to understand and appreciate peace. Furthermore, wars and destructions bring people together to accomplish a common goal. Furthermore, after the end of war, people can see the destructive nature of war and resort to never allowing war to recur. Wars cause the destruction of property, loss of life, permanent body injuries and psychological torments. However, peace brings happiness, love and room for personal growth. Therefore, people need to understand the two concepts of peace and war to choose the best concept.
According to Cramer (n.d), people need to value good health. A disease is a form of evil that exists in the world in many forms, such as cancer, diabetes and arthritis. God allowed diseases to inflict human beings when they decided to disobey his will. However, the presence of diseases makes it necessary for people to practice healthy loving habits to decrease the chances of disease infliction. Also, people will value the presence of good health in their lives. There are always two sides, and human beings are forced to choose a side. The Bible says that a person cannot serve two masters the same time (Pojman, Solomon & Michael, 2013). Therefore, human beings must pick a side. The best side is the side where good exists, where there is no evil, disease or destruction. Rather the presence of God brings good fortune, health and growth.
The main disadvantage of evil is that causes pain and suffering. Many people across the world suffer because of evil in the society (Cramer, n.d). It is common for people in society to be driven by selfish needs without the consideration of other people. Therefore, many people lose their souls and life because of permitting evil to exist in the community. People have the power to chase evil in their lives. However, few people know about the existence of such power. An individual has a moral conviction that needs to be embraced if the quest against evil should be won (Cramer, n.d). The presence of evil in the hearts of men makes God pull away from them. God cannot exist in a place where it is evil.
In conclusion, evil is necessary because it is an opportunity for people to understand the nature of God. God does not condone evil in the hearts of men but allows it to occur so that men can decide to destroy evil. All human beings are different from other creatures because they have the ability to make decisions. They have the power of reasoning and free will. God wants human beings to decide to seek and dwell in him. Good is greater than evil; God is good. An individual who seeks divine intervention from God is likely to live a life full of blessings and God’s grace. God will always protect his people from evil if they decide that they only want God’s council. It is a decision that human beings need to make- to be closer to God. Therefore, with the suffering, pain and destruction that comes along with evil, God will destroy the evil and bless his people if only they decide that they want to be free from evil.
Cramer, D. (2017). John Hick (1922-2012). Retrieved fromhttp://www.iep.utm.edu/hick/#SH3a\
Hick, J. (1978). Evil and Soul-making. Retrieved from http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com
Pojman, L., Solomon, R. & Michael, R. (2013). Encountering the Real Faith and Philosophical Enquiry. Cengage Learning.