"The greater strength of Irenaeus's explanation of evil is that it points to a loving God". Discuss (17 Marks)

There are both strengths and weaknesses of this Theodicy. John Hick provides support for this theory as he accepts the view that God needed to allow humans to develop themselves, rather than creating them perfect. He argues that the goodness, which is developed by free choice, is genuinely better than an already made goodness. If God had wanted his creation to be genuinely loving, then he had to have given them this quality to develop goodness themselves.

Peter Vardy further supports this notion through his analogy of a king, who falls in love with a peasant girl. Although he had the power to make the girl fall in love with him, he choose not to do so, he instead choose to win over her love. Similarly, God had to allow humans to develop goodness and love for him themselves, in order for their love of God to be genuine.

So therefore it is assumed by Irenaeus that we, humans, are created imperfect, because it we were born perfect then we would never disobey God. Irenaeus's view that Heaven must be the goal of everyone can also be supported. The challenges of the world do not always result in genuine human development for example horrific evil and suffering. So therefore only a supremely good future in Heaven can justify the magnitude of the suffering. People who commit evil are seen as nothing more than ‘victims of the system', and therefore Irenaeus sees that it is essential for God's justice that no one is overlooked. Therefore the people who are supportive of this theory would believe that Irenaeus's theory does point to a loving God, as he forgives those who commit evil.

However, not everyone is supportive of this notion. The concept of heaven for all seems unjust and has attracted much criticism because it does not seem fair that everyone should go to Heaven regardless of the fact that some have committed evil, and others have not. This therefore questions Gods justice and if Ireneaus's view were true then it most certainly does not point to a just God.

Religious people object to this because it contradicts the teachings in the Bible and the Qur'an, which promises punishment for the unrighteous. It also makes moral behaviour pointless; if everyone is to go to heaven then what is the point going out of our way to do good?

A more fundamental criticism is the view that suffering can never be an expression of God's love. It can be argued that love can never be expressed by allowing any amount of suffering, no matter what the reason. D. Z. Philips argued that it would never be justifiable to hurt someone in order to help them.

Ivan refuses to believe in a God who allows innocent children to suffer. He emphasises that such suffering can never be justified, even by the promise of eternal compensation in Heaven.

Overall, there are both advantages and disadvantages of this Thoedicy, but the advantages seem to outweigh the weaknesses, as we are promised a better life in heaven for eternity, regardless of the fact that some people commie crimes and are evil, which shows that God is not only loving but forgiving.

Philosopy 8.2 of 10 on the basis of 2417 Review.