A Zhuangzian Critique of John Hick’s Theodicy

Sophia 59 (3):549-562 (2020)
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Abstract

Hick’s soul-making theodicy defends the omnipotence, omniscience, and all-goodness of God in the face of evil. It holds that the end of the creation process is the development of human beings into children of God. In order to achieve the end, an evil-dependent soul-making process must be employed. It then concludes that, because the end is so valuable, the omnipotent and omniscient creator’s not having prevented the existence of evil is morally justified and thus not in conflict with her being all-good. In particular, God’s having created a world with evils and evil-dependent values, which may be called “an Irenaean world,” is morally justified. In the Zhuangzi, Zhuangzi holds that the actual world is, in reality, a world without evils and evil-dependent values, but with evil-independent values, which may be called “a Zhuangzian world,” while ordinary people mistakenly take the actual world to be an Irenaean world. In an insightful story in the Chapter “The Great and Venerable Teacher” of the Zhuangzi, he amounts to claiming that a Zhuangzian world is better than an Irenaean world. Without endorsing Zhuangzi’s two positions, I argue against Hick’s soul-making theodicy in this way: It is Hick’s burden to prove either that a Zhuangzian world is metaphysically impossible, or that the actual world, as an Irenaean world, is better than any Zhuangzian world. However, there are not any resources in his soul-making theodicy that can provide any such proofs. Therefore, Hick has not justified, nor rationally established, his soul-making theodicy.

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Leo Cheung
Chinese University of Hong Kong

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References found in this work

The Nature of Necessity.Alvin Plantinga - 1974 - Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
Evil and omnipotence.J. L. Mackie - 1955 - Mind 64 (254):200-212.
God, Freedom, and Evil.Alvin Plantinga - 1978 - Religious Studies 14 (3):407-409.
The Complete Works of Zhuangzi.Burton Watson (ed.) - 2013 - Columbia University Press.

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