Last Updated on June 1, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 367
Because John Hicks’s Evil and the God of Love is a work of nonfiction, its characters are real historical figures whose ideas in philosophy or theology Hicks explores.
Gabriel Marcel (1889–1973) was a French philosopher and music critic. He dealt in depth with the consequences of a dehumanizing technology on individuals and families. John Hick invokes Marcel in order to try to distinguish a mystery from a problem. Hick feels that for Marcel, evil was not a hypothetical problem but a mystery to be lived and dealt with.
Saint Thomas Aquinas
Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) was an Italian priest and philosopher. John Hick brings up the two chief intellectual obstacles to Christian theism that were put forth by Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century. The ideas of theodicy that Saint Thomas developed, building upon the concepts of Saint Augustine, continue to guide Christian thought. Saint Thomas chose to define evil in terms of deprivation and defect (i.e., the absence of good or a positive quality).
Saint Augustine (354–430) was an early Christian theologist; his works have influenced Western Christian and philosophical thought. John Hick refers to Augustine many times in his book. Augustine approached the issue of evil by propounding the theory that humans are essentially sinners and that Christ sacrificed himself for those sins. Augustine chose divine justice as the foremost characteristic of divine goodness, as mentioned in the Bible.
Antony Flew (1923–2010) was a British philosopher. Flew was an evidentialist for most of his life. He propounded atheism. In 2004, he changed his views, stating that he had begun to believe that there was an Intelligent Creator at work. Flew contended that humans act in a certain way, with respect to right or wrong, because of their intrinsic natures. He also argued that because people possess different natures, the responses to any given situation vary.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860) was a German philosopher. His best-known book is The World as Will and Representation. He believed that after experiencing hell, the time spent in heaven would be filled with ennui. The author contests this claim, stating that heaven could possibly be full of newer discoveries in sciences and arts as well as stimulations that appeal to good men.