Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
September 15th, 2014 by Joel Watts

some reflections on theodicy

All About Evil

All About Evil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I leaned towards the soul making theodicy as explained by John Hick, but I would go further than that. I am still toying with it, but I am leaning to calling something like entropic theodicy. Here are the basic principles:

  • “Evil,” “good” and “love” (along with other concepts) presuppose a moral order. Even “suffering” and “well-being” are concepts presupposing a pre-existing order. If God pre-exists order and is outside of all systems, then likewise he is outside the moral order. Therefore, such human concepts cannot easily apply to God.
  • God and the Cosmos are not separate (panentheism) albeit the cosmos is physical whereas God is not.
  • God and evil are not separate (Isaiah 45.7).
  • Evil is cosmological. (It exists in all corners of Creation).
  • Evil is entropic (hot water (unstable) growing colder (stable) due to entropy). Thus, evil leads to good, even if eventually. Thus, evil is defined as a cosmological state of instability whereas good is a cosmological state of stability. As with other entropic systems, there has to exist a separation and a difference. This allows for the transformation (theosis).
  • There are natural laws established by God; science has shown that in places these laws are not always strictly enforced; therefore, God is not completely bound by natural laws. Therefore, if God decides to intervene, this is to further the course of evil which will lead to good.
  • We can cooperate with God in the course of evil which leads to the eventual transformation.

Alright, there you go. It is still raw, but thoughts?

Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

4 Responses to “some reflections on theodicy”
  1. Personally, I would tend to avoid the term “entropy”. As you link to it, it’s the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, with specific formulas defining it. Not related to evil. You will get some eye-rolling from scientists in the crowd. Use order, disorder, chaos, whatever. Linking to the scientific meaning of entropy and then associating evil with it has potential for attack by others.

  2. George Plasterer says

    In Volume 2 of his Systematic Theology, Pannenberg refers in a helpful way to entropy and the balancing force of evolution. Scientists rolling eyes is not a bad thing, as long as one makes clear that it is an analogy/metaphor for the theological lesson you are drawing. Pannenberg will also write that the biblical approach to evil is to make it the responsibility of God. This approach is also different from Karl Barth in III.3 on nothingness.

  3. George Plasterer says

    I have some rather lengthy reflections on theodicy, and you have made me make some time in the near future to re-think a few things. As a young person, I wanted to separate God from evil and suffering as much as possible, which would probably be the Barth approach with Nothingness. As I have aged, the idea of God connecting with suffering and evil “in some way” has become increasingly acceptable and maybe preferable. Again, thank you for your thoughts.

  4. Do you have any evidence or support for your fifth bullet point? Why should we believe it?

    Secondly even if we accepted that evil is “entropic” I do not see how it helps the cause. If you want cold water, you could heat up some water and wait for it to get cold. Or you could just not heat it up in the first place.

    Would the same apply, on analogy, for evil? Even if it eventually stabilizes to good, it wouldn’t be much of a strategy for producing good.

    I am probably missing something. Are you suggesting this as a tack-on to Hick and so the soul making is the reason, the entropy just follows…

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