2John Hick’s Soul Making Theodicy One of the most important recent contributions to the problem of evil is John Hick’s “soul-making” theodicyHick claims that God has given humansfreedom, they have misused thatfreedom and thus brought evil onthemselves and on creation, and God willjustly punish some but save othersthrough the redeeming work of JesusChrist
3Hick asks us to conceive of the world as a “vale of Soul-making” Its purpose is the creation of finite persons who can, and will, freely choose to share in the life of their personal Creator
4God did not create us with ready-made moral character, because for character to be valuable must be developed through experienceSo God has created us as morally and spiritually immature creatures, evolved from the lower animalsAnd with the human race beginning in this way, it is no wonder that we should go wrong, for we existed from the first in a “fallen” state and a suffering-filled worldAnd such a world as we find ourselves in is, Hick insists, absolutely necessary for the perfection of our soulsA pain-free paradise with no difficulties, perils, and hardships would never allow us to learn and to develop, for moral and spiritual growth comes through the facing and overcoming of challenges
6The AfterlifeAnother answer to the problem of evil is the idea of the afterlifeThis theory states that although we may be suffering in this life, if we are good we will be rewarded in the nextEvil and pain exist in this world onlyThis world is only a prelude to the afterlife.Also known as life after death, the afterlife is a generic term referring to a continuation of existence, typically spiritual and experiential, beyond this world, or after death, where no pain will exist.
7People eventually die anyway, so this allows for final justice for everyone in the end, with the righteous (or “saved”) enjoying everlasting lifeImagine a person is saddened after losing ten thousand pounds one morning. In the afternoon however, he unexpectedly earns a million pounds. Losing ten thousand dollars is bad, but on the whole, was this a bad day?Probably not. Potentially, one could see one’s existence in the same way with an afterlife, where the just are rewarded with everlasting life and the guilty are punished. Although the afterlife theory does not remove the problem of evil it lessens it
8Although it does not make evil any less evil Although it does not make evil any less evil. In an absolute sense, evil remains equally wrong with or without an afterlifeNonetheless, such an afterlife would make the world less evil. For example, since the afterlife scenario guarantees final justice for all individuals, it would instil justice where there would otherwise be injustice. And while existing with a finite period of pain (as an innocent sufferer in life) is bad, having existence is far more worthwhile, perhaps infinitely so, if there is infinitely more good than harm (as via everlasting life)So on the whole the world could have infinitely more good than evil, while still allowing humanity as whole to choose its own destiny. So the atheist may be right about evil being a problem for theism; however, the atheist may be also wrong about how big the problem is.God allowing evil becomes more plausibleif God sets up the world to have infinitelymore good than evil.