Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’s Theodicy was published six years before his death and has the distinction of being his only book-length philosophical work published during his lifetime. Leibniz coined the term “theodicy,” which means “vindication of the justice of God.” For Leibniz, a product of the French Enlightenment, the proper way of vindicating the justice and goodness of God in the face of evil was through reason, not faith. The overarching theme of the Theodicy is that at least some religious doctrines can be rationally demonstrated and need not be taken as articles of faith.
The problem of evil involves the apparent inconsistency of the existence of a morally perfect and omnipotent God and the existence of evil. If God were morally perfect, it seems that God would want to eliminate all evil, and if God were omnipotent, then it would be within God’s power to eliminate evil. Thus it seems that evil could not exist if God does. However, since evil obviously does exist, it appears that God either does not exist or is not both morally perfect and omnipotent. Leibniz, who wanted to retain the orthodox conception of God as a morally perfect and omnipotent being, thus needed to explain why God allows evil. In the context of Leibniz’s philosophy and his fundamental theological principle that God always chooses the best, the challenge thus became one of explaining how the actual world, with all of its evil, is nevertheless the...
(The entire section is 897 words.)
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