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A theodicy is an attempt to defend God's goodness in view of the existence of evil. They are common to monotheistic religions based on the Abrahamic tradition, namely Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as these all suffer from the problem of evil.

In short, the problem of evil occurs when specific attributes are ascribed to God:

  1. Omniscience (all-knowing)
  2. Omnipotence (all-powerful)
  3. Omnibenevolence (infinite goodness)

Given these three attributes, God should know evil things will happen, have the power to prevent them, and the desire and will to prevent them. Since evil things happen nonetheless, it must be assumed that god lacks one of these three attributes.

A theodicy attempts to explain how God can retain these attributes despite the existence of evil.

Theodicy is not found in all theistic beliefs, as not all theistic traditions ascribe the same attributes to God. Some polytheistic religions, for example, do not ascribe any god the quality of omnipotence. If a god does not have the power to prevent evil, then the dilemma is avoided in his case.

Common Theodicies

St. Augustine's Theodicy: Blame it on the Fall from Eden

St. Irenaeus's Theodicy: Evil serves a purpose.

See also

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