SCHEDULE OF CLASSES: THE PROBLEM OF EVIL

1)  Introduction

2)  The formal problem of evil (God is omnipotent, God is good, there is evil); moral evil vs. natural evil; logical versus empirical problem (existence of evil versus amount and distribution of evil); moral subjectivism.

3)  Moral subjectivism; science and theodicy; ethical monotheism.

4)   The Garden of Eden.  Some questions: What is the role of the Tree of Life?  What are the serpent's motivations?  Why is God worried about humans challenging him?  What is the "knowledge of good and evil," and is this a bad thing or a good thing to have?  Why does the serpent single out Eve?  Is man originally mortal or immortal?

5)   Interpretations of the Fall of Man. "Good and evil" as good and bad, rather than moral good and evil.

6)  The Eden story and comparative mythology: Gilgamesh, Prometheus, Pandora.  James Frazer's reinterpretation of the Eden story.  Essay # 1: Interpretation of the Fall of Man story.

7)   Original Sin; The Bible and the Retributive Solution; The Book of Job.

8)  The Book of Job: prose versus poetry; multiple different theodicies.  The meaning of the Whirlwind speech: Power, Incomprehensibility, Mystical Vision interpretations.

9)    The Book of Job; Karma and rebirth as a theodicy.  Karma objections: Fatalism, rationalization of status quo, no duty to help others, why is there death?, why no memories of past lives?, how is free will possible, does karma determine character?, why do animals suffer?, is there any evidence for rebirth?

10)  Karma critiqued;  Afterlife as Compensation versus Reward.

11)   Life as a Test: Is it a fair test?  Why is the test different for everyone? Why do we need to be tested?  Testing vs. temptation (who is the tester, God or Satan?); Why doesn't everyone get a chance to take the test (infant mortality)?  Hume's objection: most people deserve neither heaven nor hell, but something in between.

12)   Is testing a good thing for people?  John Hick's soul-building theodicy.  The Instrumental theory of evil; pain as instrumentally useful; Hume's argument for a world without pain.

13)    EXAMINATION # 1

14)   The mystery of free will; the problem of free will and divine foreknowledge.  Two arguments as to how free will and divine foreknowledge are not contradictory: Augustine: foreknowledge does not imply causation.  Boethius: God is outside time altogether while free will occurs in time.  Aquinas' solution: omnipotence does not imply what is logically impossible, and it is logically impossible to have certain foreknowledge of free choices.

15)  Free Will: can it explain Natural Evil?  The Autonomous Natural Order argument.

16)   Objections to Free Will Theodicy: 1) Explaining Natural Evil (reply: ANO argument); 2) Mackie & Omnipotence; 3) Afterlife Problem; 4) Is free will worth the price?; 5) Infinite Regress problem: where did evil come from?; 6) Pelagian problem; 7) Mackie # 2: can we have both free will and no sin?; 8) Plato's Paradox: No one does wrong knowingly.

17)   Free will & divine omniscience

18)  Plato's Paradox as an objection to the Free Will Theodicy, as rejection of Radical Free Will.

19)   Cosmic Dualism: the battle between Good and Evil.  Questions handed out for second exam.

20)   Dualism: Objections

21)   Second Examination

22)  Holism: Weak and Strong Versions.  Weak Holism: Aesthetic, Educational/contrast, Fortunate Fall.

23)  Strong Holism: the Complementarity of Opposites; Evil as Illusion; Privatio Boni

24)  The Plenitude Theodicy: The best of all possible worlds. Plenitude and emanation.

25)  The Plenitude Theodicy: Objections.  Is the world a plenitude?  The Cholera Objection: is this the best of all possible worlds?

26)   Plenitude objections: the Predation problem.  Free will versus plenitude.

27)   Plenitude objections: Is there a scale of being?  Has life become more "complex"?  The hierarchy/feudalism objection.  The Distribution problem. Is life a boon?

28)   Last class: final essay topic handed out.