5
Theodicy for Natural Evils

WHEREAS MORAL EVILS are by far the most important of the two kinds of evils, in that they concern the substantial moral and social wrongs we commit against each other and ultimately against God and for which we are held morally accountable, it is natural evils which are the most difficult for the theodicist to explain or to reconcile with God's goodness. For the creationist, God has been and continues to be involved (intimately) with the world. It is he who conceived of its plan, destined its existents, and brought it into being by his word. Further, it is he who guided its evolution, so that in the created he might realize the purposes for which he created. But if God made and continues to work with the world, how is it possible to reconcile his perfect goodness with the apparently unwarranted and wanton suffering due to natural (i.e., non-human-purposed) causes which plagues human (and animal) existence? How can a God characterized by omnipotence, omniscience, and perfect goodness be directly or indirectly the cause of debilitating diseases such as cancer, arteriosclerosis, muscular dystrophy, poliomyelitis; natural disasters such as earthquakes, tidal waves, floods and tornadoes; inherent defects such as Down's syndrome, sickle-cell anemia, spina bifida; pain-causing animals, reptiles, and insects, such as grizzly bears, crocodiles, and tsetse flies; and a host of other evils, each naming his own? Here there is seemingly no intermediary of free beings onto whom we can shift the burden of responsibility; 1 God is directly responsible for the existence of the world, and depending on one's view

-87-

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