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Earthquakes and Evil The problem with theodicy. Tim Middleton Christians in Science Student Conference 2014. Before…. Lepsy Fault, Kazakhstan. … and after. Lepsy Fault, Kazakhstan. Beijing. Tibet. 40 mm/a. http://www.googleearth.com. Identifying faults from space.

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earthquakes and evil the problem with theodicy

Earthquakes and EvilThe problem with theodicy

Tim Middleton

Christians in Science Student Conference 2014

before
Before…

Lepsy Fault, Kazakhstan

and after
… and after

Lepsy Fault, Kazakhstan

slide4

Beijing

Tibet

40 mm/a

http://www.googleearth.com

identifying faults from space
Identifying faults from space

Images of the Daluoshan Fault in northern China from the Worldview satellite

looking at faults in the field
Looking at faults in the field

Liulengshan Fault, northern China

modelling faults on a computer
Modelling faults on a computer

Greg Houseman, University of Leeds

12 th january 2010 haiti earthquake
12th January 2010 Haiti Earthquake

Roger Bilham, Nature , 18 February 2010

what is theodicy
What is theodicy?
  • Justifying God
  • Omnipotence
  • Omnibenevolence
  • Omniscience
shattering the european enlightenment
Shattering the European Enlightenment

The Ruins of Lisbon – copper engraving - Wikimedia Commons

voltaire poem on the lisbon disaster
Voltaire: ‘Poem on the Lisbon Disaster’

“These women, these infants heaped one upon the other, these limbs scattered beneath marbles; the hundred thousand unfortunates whom the earth devours, who—bleeding and torn, still palpitating, interred beneath their roots—end their lamentable days without comfort, amid the horror of their torment!”

a history of theodicy
A history of “theodicy”

1859: publication of The Origin of Species?

Data from Google Ngram

two types of evil
Two types of evil
  • Moral evil
  • Natural evil
four possible theodicies
Four possible theodicies
  • Evil is necessary
  • A cosmic fall
  • An angelic fall
  • Kenosis and the price of freedom
four possible theodicies1
Four possible theodicies
  • Evil is necessary
  • A cosmic fall
  • An angelic fall
  • Kenosis and the price of freedom
four possible theodicies2
Four possible theodicies
  • Evil is necessary
  • A cosmic fall
  • An angelic fall
  • Kenosis and the price of freedom
fall and expulsion from garden of eden3
Fall and Expulsion from Garden of Eden

Benjamin West’s The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise

four possible theodicies3
Four possible theodicies
  • Evil is necessary
  • A cosmic fall
  • An angelic fall
  • Kenosis and the price of freedom
four possible theodicies4
Four possible theodicies
  • Evil is necessary
  • A cosmic fall
  • An angelic fall
  • Kenosis and the price of freedom
the problem with theodicy
The problem with theodicy
  • Rational and intellectual
  • Not pastoral and personal
gabriel marcel the problem with theodicy
Gabriel Marcel: the problem with theodicy

“But evil which is only stated or observed is no longer evil which is suffered: in fact, it ceases to be evil. In reality, I can only grasp evil in the measure in which it touches me—that is to say, in the measure in which I am involved, as one is involved in a lawsuit.”

so what are we to do
So what are we to do?
  • Compassion
  • The example of Christ
questions for discussion
Questions for discussion
  • Do you find any of the theodicies I’ve outlined convincing?
  • Do you agree with Ivan Karamazov?
  • Is theodicy just an intellectual anaesthetic?
  • To what extent is a rational defence of evil important to Christian living?