By John S. Feinberg

In this exam of the questions posed through the matter of evil, John Feinberg addresses the highbrow and theological framework of theodicy. starting with a dialogue of the logical challenge of evil, he interacts with prime thinkers who've formerly written on those themes.

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Whereas in some theonomous systems God’s choice of rules for us and actions for himself could be arbitrary, in Leibniz’s theology God’s deci- L 46 T h e M a n y Fa c e s o f E v i l sions are never arbitrary. 1 Since there must always be a sufficient reason for what God does (otherwise he wouldn’t do it), human reason, apart from divine revelation, should be able discover that reason and ascertain what God would choose. Leibniz believed this to be so. Leibniz believed that, given the principle of sufficient reason, there is a best possible world.

Moreover, one must ascertain whether existence Leibniz and the Problem of Evil 49 of moral and physical evil is necessary or contingent. If these evils are necessary, God couldn’t avoid them without totally refusing to create any world. If they are contingent, God could avoid them. One must then explain why God didn’t create some other possible world that omits those evils. As we shall see, Leibniz admits that moral and physical evil are contingent, but he then explains why a world with just those evils in the amount present in our world must exist.

That principle is the theonomist’s notion of God’s freedom. According to theonomy, God’s will is absolutely free at all times. This doesn’t mean God can contradict what he has ordained, but only that he is absolutely free to rescind his rules and will others. Moreover, theonomists also hold that only God’s free will is necessary. Anything other than God is radically contingent. This is true because everything depends on God as its cause, but also because everything could have been (and still can be) anything else God wants.

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