Outline of John Hick’s Evil and God of Love

This short post covers the gist of his main points. He tries to provide an answer to this thorny question. Great for students in Phil. 101  and other interested readers.

I. Argument

If A, then B.


Therefore, not-A.

                                                A                                                            B

1. If God is perfectly loving and all-powerful, then he must wish and be able to abolish evil.

2. Not-B: But evil exists (it’s not abolished).

3. Therefore, Not-A: God is not all-powerful or perfectly loving.

II. Proper Definitions

A. Evil is not an illusion (as in Christian Science)

B. God is not a finite deity (as in Process Theology)

1. He is not learning more things or accumulating power as he goes

C. Evil is not an ultimate constituent of the universe, not coordinate with good

D. “Evil is essentially parasitic upon good” (Augustine), not a being in its own right

E. Evil is not willed or created by God

III. Two kinds of Evil

A. Moral: Humans cause this one

B. Non-moral (Natural): Hurricanes, disease, etc.

1.. I add: Nowadays philosophers call this natural disaster.

IV. Moral Evil

A. Can a human be genuinely free and be caused to act certain ways by God? (No)

B. It is no limitation on God’s power to not be able accomplish logical contradictions

C. Hick speaks:

“The origin of moral evil lies forever concealed within the mystery of human freedom”

V. Suffering

A. Non-moral evil

B. Avoid a “positive” explanation for every evil: “This evil happened for this reason”

C. Show a “negative” (not) explanation: “It is not possible to show that this evil happened for this reason”

VI. Our Overall Purpose on Earth

A. Skeptic’s assumption:

1.. Humanity is completed creation

2. World is suitable dwelling for fully-formed creature

3. World is like a cage for our pet

B. Christianity’s assumption

1.. World is not hedonistic paradise

2. Creature (and creation) is not fully formed

3. What if all potential harm vanished?

a. A club used as a weapon suddenly became like foam rubber or bullet shot out of gun became harmlessly soft.

b. We don’t live in a pleasure palace. Why not?

C. Vale (Valley) of Soul Making

1. A certain level of suffering in the Valley of Soul-Making is preparation

2. Humans have a higher destiny

3. They are training for reigning “Over There”

4. Heaven is where all the suffering and pain and evil will be removed.

ARTICLES IN SERIES (alphabetical order)

Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics

Clifford’s Ethics of Belief

Descartes’s Meditations I and II

Hick’s Evil and God of Love

Hume’s Argument against Design

Hume’s Theory of Knowledge

James’s Will to Believe

Kant’s Ethics

Locke’s Theory of Knowledge

Mill’s Ethics

Nietzsche’s Madman and the Death of God

Paley’s Watchmaker and Design Argument

Plato the Soul Man

Plato’s View of Justice and the Soul

Rachels’s Moral Objectivism

Ryle’s Category Mistake

Sartre’s “Existentialism and Humanism”

Socrates’s “Apology”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s