PROJECT TOPIC- PROBLEMS OF EVIL IN G W V LEIBNIZ: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The problem of evil in the world has long been a puzzle to the human mind. If God exist and if he is infinitely good and powerful, and if this world was actually created by him, it is impossible to understand why there could be so much evil in it. That God exist may be indisputable, but may be this is a blind trust, for how indeed can any man be so naïve as to accept or not to feel apprehensive about the presence and continuous presence of human misery in a universe created by a superlative supreme being?
The manifestation of this doubt is in a situation wherein a child dying of inoperable cancer of the throat, his earthly father is frantic in his effort to help, but, his heavenly father reveal no obvious sign of concern. Many have taken it as a duty to persuade or tell others by forceful compliance that nothing like evil exist, others in the same vein would rather have it that evil is a necessary good. In his well know novel, the Plague.
Albert Camus makes it clear that the main reason why he does not believe in God is the impossibility of reconciling the existence of an infinitely good and omnipotent God with the reality of “evil” in the world supposedly created by him. I shall refuse until I die to love this creation in which children are tortured.1 Says Dr. Rieux, the main character in the novel. Asked whether he believes in God, Dr. Rieux, (who is working very hard, treating the sick during an epidemic in the town) says if such
an infinitely good and omnipotent being were to exist he would not bother himself treating the sick; he would simply leave the business of healing the sick to him, since he is infinitely good omnipotent he thinks it is better not to believe in God and do all that is within ones power to fight evil in the world instead of looking up to God for the help that will never come. Since the order of the world is ruled by death, may it not be better perhaps, for God if we do not believe in him and fight with all our strength against death without lifting up our eyes towards the sky where he sits in silence.2 Epicurus Sextus, long ago put his view on the problem of evil in the form of a dilemma
Is God able to prevent evil in the world but is unwilling to
do so? Then he is not infinitely good; on the contrary he is
Malevolent. Is God able to prevent evil in the world but is
Unable to do so? Then he is not omnipotent;
he is on the contrary, impotent. But, if he is both able and
willing to prevent evil (if his is both omnipotent and infinitely good) why is there evil in
the world created by him?3
To some early thinkers or writers, nothing can shake the solidity of this reasoning and dilemma of God’s inherent nature or attributes as presented by the Christians. To the Christians, the questions of evil and God is looked upon as an intellectual or logical affairs which are often times unwarranted and unfruitful to them, the problem of evil has been resolved. By careful observations, actually man finds his existence or survival threatened by evil, such as:
famine, diseases, death, corruption, to mention but a few, and have refused to accept the situation as it is. Man is constantly, continuously pressing forward through blood and tears to realize the rational behind the necessity of the existence or non existence of evil which keeps on pestering his freedom, hence the Christians not only destroyed or ruled out evil. Evil in the opinion of many is found in every human cultural setting, hence it is a social phenomenon central to the social nature of man.
Various philosophical schools and religious belief have through the ages, offered some tremendous explanations to the problems of evil. In this research work the problems of evil shall be discussed in different segments. However, philosophers maintain that evil is viewed in two ways namely: moral and natural evil. The argue that man through the misuse of his free will is responsible for moral evil.
And, natural evil they hold is traceable to God since everything in the world is part of God, a self expression or modification of God. The earth is the lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein.4 Whatever God does, he does it from the necessity of his nature. Most religions view evil, as a modus operandi of testing the faith of his loved ones and correcting them through suffering. Evil is also God’s instruments for punishing sinners.
Finally, deriving from the above is the idea that the problem of evil is a natural phenomenon in which the world cannot do without, because it is evil that brings about good. In appreciating the stoics belief that evil has an immense contribution towards the order and harmony of the universal system.
PROJECT TOPIC- PROBLEMS OF EVIL IN G W V LEIBNIZ: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The whole problems of evil in theism centers on the fact that a first principle who is all-good, all powerful, all-loving, the ultimate cause of everything is presupposed. Then, the problem lies on the inconsistency between the reality of evil before an omnipotent and all-loving father. As a challenge to theism, the problem has traditionally been in the form of a dilemma; if God is perfectly loving, he must which to abolish evil, and if he is all-powerful, he must be able to abolish evil.
But, evil exists, therefore, God cannot be both omnipotent and perfectly loving. Either, He is all-loving but not all-powerful, in which case, He would wish to remove evil but cannot, or He is all-powerful but not perfectly loving, in which case, though, he can abolish evil but prefers that evil continues to remain. However, the problem lies on the fact that the existence of evil is inconsistence with the view that this world is created and above all maintained by a truly loving and provident God.
Furthermore, the fundamental nature of evil, it makes it a difficult subject of inquiry, hence people conceives it based on their orientation and background. This has drastically reduced the concept of evil to a matter of belief. In an attempt to fill the lacuna in the literature the proceeding sections seek to find answers to the following questions; why is there evil in the world? Who is actually responsible for evil in the world? What is the solution, to the problems of evil in the world created by God?
1.3 AIM OF THE STUDY
Following the methodological convention of research writing, the aim of this study is to examine critically leibnizian conception of the problems of evil in the universe, ranging from his theodicy which explains God’s relation, to human life with specific reference to God’s justice in ordaining or permitting evil. His best of all possible world in which he assert that our world not withstanding the presence of evil in it. I shall also examine his wickedness in positing this theory, so as to give my own contribution to solving the problems of evil in the world.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this research work is of great important to the human race. The problem of evil which is as old as man has constituted a great surprise to the entire human race considering the presence of an omnipotent being. However, this project (research work) will tend towards correcting the wrong impression some person (s) have about God, these has caused a nonchalant attitude towards worshiping God. In addition, the Holy Bible, assert in the book of Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the thought that I think towards you, saith the
Lord, thoughts, of peace, and not of evil, to give you an
Furthermore, at the end of this project reader will get to know who is responsible for the evil on the surface of the earth, supposedly created by God. Many, will equally abstain from doing evil in the act of expressing their free-will. Our youths and parents will abstain from perpetrating social evils, such as; rape, stealing, cultism, drugadicting, drunkenness to mention but a few and to see evil also as a phenomena to be appreciated.
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
Over the centuries, the question of why, God allows suffering has challenged many philosophers and theologians. Some assert that since God is all-powerful, he must ultimately be responsible for suffering. But this study is limited to leibnizian conception of evil. However, other theories will be reviewed as a reference point. I intend to analyze and bring out the uniqueness and contributions of Leibniz to philosophical thoughts and philosophy of religion to the development of the concept of evil.
1.6 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
In this segment of the (project) research work, I shall be discussing certain concepts contained in the philosophy of religion. This concepts arouse as a result of the controversy inherent in the existence of God. The following are some of the concepts as will be used in the research work to avoid ambiguity. In the interest of further reference, the are: Evil, theism, Atheism, Deism, Fideism, Pantheism to mention but a few. However, the above mentioned concepts require analysis for clarification purposes.
- i) Evil: the term “evil” comes from a Greek world “Thoreeos-poneros” Evil is understandable only in terms of good, for evil is the lack of goodness the perfection which a thing has in itself; so there is absolute badness, a want of reality that belongs to a thing. What then is evil in itself? Obviously, it is as difficult for us to form an idea of evil, as it is to form an idea of nothingness. Because, of the impossibility of thinking without accompanying our intellectual representation with images of seeing, hearing, or touching. In fact we cannot form an idea of nothingness except by comparison with, or by opposition to good.
Similarly, evil is not being, not anything, positive, but a privation of a good. Evil, weather absolute or relative is not a mere lack of reality, otherwise everything except God would be bad or evil, because God alone lacks no reality. For Dulles, A.R, in his book; Introductory Metaphysics assert that,
Evil is not mere imperfection, it is the absence of a perfection, which is demanded by a given nature, in the sense that the being in question is capable of receiving it and has an inner dynamism towards it.6
Therefore, François petit, O. Praem, in their book, Problems of Evil; translated by Christopher Williams assert that;
Evil is the privation, that is, the absence of a quality due to the nature of a being, but in fact lacking.7
Furthermore, Bonum ex integra causea, Malum guocumgue defectu, as it is written in Greek meaning that; it is essentially a privation of due entity or a privation of right order in human behaviour.
Moreso, Clark, G.A; Thales to Dewey; A History of Philosophy. Maintain that,
evil is …The privation of good, the extreme degree of which is absolute non-being.8
Though a privation, evil really exist, Evil as evil, the privation of good-cannot have positive existence for every positive entity is good and has real being. Good and being are identical. Also, if evil were a positive thing, God being the ultimate cause of all positive beings would also be the cause of evil, including moral evil, but this would involve a contradiction of willing and forbidding the same thing under the same aspect. As for the cause of evil, I posit good. Good is the cause of evil since evil cannot cause evil. Same thing negative and privative cannot be the cause of nothingness, for a cause is something positive and natural ……. Good thus cause evil indirectly.
ii) THEISM: theism according to François petit, O. Praem, Problems of evil, trans by Christopher Willians
Is the view that there is a God or there are gods who stand in some kind of direct or personal relationship with human beings.9
Elymologically, theism is indistinguishable from “Deism” except that the former term is derived from Greek word for God “θoes and the latter from latio; “deus”. Deism as a theory of the nature of God maintains that
there is a Divine being or Divine power separated from the physical world which it has created or started, but, that this Divine being exercises no direct influence or force on events occurring within the universe as it now exist.10
The above quotation is from Popkin, H.R; et al Philosophy Made simple. Furthermore, in the conception of God, in Judeo-Christian tradition (which we are concerned), the Deity has usually been portrayed as all-powerful, all-merciful, omniscient, infinitely perfect and a being worthy of unlimited worship. This God of theism is a personal God. Let us now state the problem.
iii) ATHEISM: Atheism is the theory that denies God’s existence. It has three species; practical, Negative, and positive theoretical atheism.
Practical atheism is professed by those who live as if there is no God, life after death, retribution, reward and eventually accountability for acts not accounted for here in this world. Negative atheism is the group of people who either have no knowledge of God (people born and bred in atheistic background) or who do not care to acquire the knowledge of God. This could be otherwise called theistic indifferentism.
POSITIVE THEORTICAL ATHEISTS: This refers to those that not only assert that God does not exist, but who go on to elaborate whole arguments, schemes and systems to establish their disbelief or rejection of theism. For friedrick Nietzsche, God is dead. This implies that God existed, but, he is no more. Man is the new God who Climbs to the superpower status. For Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, religion that asserted God’s existence is the opium of the people who hide in it. However, in the Midst of oppression from the capitalist powers of the class struggle. That “God” must be killed for those people to be librated and for the justice of the rule of the proletariat against the Bourgeoisie to arise.
For neo-Marxists like ludwigfeurbach, it was not God who created man, for there was no such God. It was man who created God in man’s image. Now it is time to dismantle that oppressive fabricandum on man, for him to be liberated. In the existentialism of jean Paul satre, God is an obnoxious nihilism of primitive mentality. Modern man has reasserted his existential Ego in his liberalism from past bondage. For these atheistic doctrines, there is no rational justifiable ground what so ever for the exploited man that has come of age to accept the reality of God.
- iv) Fideism: fideism is the theory that accepts God’s existence, the immortality of the soul, God’s intervention in history, moral principles and the veracity of the Christian religion on faith, not on reason. William of Ockham was it’s greatest propagator, his thesis is that only faith is the surest grantor of certitude in religion and moral matter.
- v) Pantheism: derived etymologically from the Greek word pan meaning all, en meaning in and theos meaning God. This literally implies that everything is looked in God.
The faith of pantheism is the Dutch Baruch Spinoza described as the philosopher drank with God. Pantheism holds that all is in God and God is in all. In pantheism, God loses his transcendental nature Spinoza’s famous phrase is “Deus Sive national” in Latin, but in the English equivalent things becomes, divine being and activity. On the one hand, pantheism is an exaggerated vision of philosophical animism. On the other hand, for separating God from creation, for identifying God and nature, pantheism is a sort of atheism because it denies God His personal, absolute and transcendental qualities of a supreme being that accounts for the origin and end of creation. As recorded in the book of Revelation chapter 22 verse 13 of the Holy Bible, king James version I am Alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.11 Pantheism, a species of Pantheism accepts God’s existence, but relates him reciprocally to creatures. It is the view that everything is hooked in God.