Theodicy is a word that gets kicked around every now and then when bad things happen like the Tsunami in Japan or the earthquake in Haiti. A few words about it from Wikipedia:
Theodicy (from Greek theos - "god" + dike - "justice") is the theological and philosophical studying of the nature of God, in the face of evil in the world. Traditionally, theodicies attempt to resolve the evidential problem of evil and reconcile God's traditional characteristics of omnibenevolence, omnipotence and omniscience (all-loving, all-powerful, and all-knowing) with the occurrence of evil in the world. Although such arguments have existed for centuries, the term theodicy was coined in 1710 by Germany philosopher Gottfried Leibniz in his work, Théodicée.Here are a few of the theodicies proffered over the centuries:
- Leibniz attempted to demonstrate that the evil in the world does not conflict with the goodness of God and that, notwithstanding its many evils, the world is the best of all possible worlds. His view was that since Scripture clearly asserts both the perfection of God and the presence of evil, we must take up an attitude of acceptance in the face of their coexistence.
- Augustine argued that evil exists as a result of free will of either humans or angels and, as a result, all evil is either sin or the punishment of sin. Aquinas agreed with Augustine and suggested that evil must exist for the appreciation of goodness: if there is no suffering, freedom from suffering cannot be truly appreciated.
- Irenaeus argued that human creation was split into two parts: humans were made first in the image, the like likeness, of God. The image of God consists of having the potential to achieve moral perfection, whereas the likeness of God is the achievement of that perfection. To achieve moral perfection, Irenaeus suggested that humans must have free will. Therefore, evil exists to allow humans to develop as moral agents.