How was evil created

How does evil come into the world? - Notes on the problem of theodicy


That is the rock of atheism. The slightest twitch of pain, even if it stirs in only one atom, makes a rift in creation from top to bottom. (Thomas Payne in Georg Büchner's drama "Dantons Tod").
Everyone has good and bad experiences in their lives. Pain, suffering, injustice, torture, rape, war and murder are some of the most terrible experiences. For those who believe in God, in the one and all-powerful Creator God of the monotheistic religions, such experiences can lead to a deep crisis. For with them the question arises: Where do the horrors come from in a world that a loving God created and of which it is said in the first book of the Bible: "And God saw everything that he had made; and lo and behold, it was very good"? It is the question of justice and justification of God at the same time. In the discussions of theology it plays a major role and is summarized under a term that is derived from the Greek words theos (God) and dike (Law, justice) composed: theodicy.

Long before the monotheistic religions prevailed with Judaism and Christianity - later also with Islam - the Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BC) made persistent critical remarks on the problem of a God that was claimed to be good versus one that was sometimes experienced as bad World made: "Either God wants to eliminate evil and cannot: then God is weak, which does not apply to him, or he can and does not want to, then God is envious of what is alien to him, or he does not want it and can not: then he is weak and envious at the same time, therefore not God, or he wants it and can, which is only befitting God: where then do the evils come from and why does he not take them away? " The question leads to an aporia, an irresolvable contradiction.

Nevertheless, theology and philosophy have worked on solution models for centuries. One of the best known is that of dualism: the positive God receives a negative counterpart, an adversary who represents and personifies evil. In the Christian and Islamic religions this is the figure of Satan, often interpreted as a fallen angel. From the point of view of theodicy, however, one is only thrown back to the question of how God could allow the angel to fall. Another solution model provides for God to withdraw from his omnipotence in order to allow freedom (of decision) for man. The biblical story of the fall of Adam and Eve alludes to this. These models never completely remove the fundamental contradiction. The philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz (1646-1716), who coined the term theodicy, only creates an approximation with his assertion that this world is the best of all possible and that evil has the smallest space in it.

Where was God in Auschwitz?

In the middle of the twentieth century the theodicy problem was dramatically exacerbated by the horrific experience of the Holocaust. Where was God in Auschwitz or in the Dachau concentration camp? A scene in the opening sequence of the film The Ninth Day asks the question quite explicitly. One answer can be in protest against God or in his extinction through atheism. Modern theology (e.g. Dorothee Sölle) tries to give another answer with the Jesuan Passion. In Jesus, God experienced evil first hand. After that, religiosity can only be articulated in solidarity with those who suffer. In this way the indissoluble contradiction of theodicy is translated into a social practice.

Amazement and horror

The theologian Rudolf Otto defined the sacred as an experience of both the astonishing and the terrifying as early as the 19th century. Perhaps the holiness of God can only be saved if he also takes responsibility for evil. In any case, "evil" as a propaganda cliché of current war policy would definitely be overridden.

Author: Herbert Heinzelmann, 09/21/2006