Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


  • David M. MossIIIEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_694

The term “theodicy” was adapted from the French theodicée which is a compound of the Greek theós (God) and díkē (justice). Etymologically it means the “justification of God.” Generally speaking, theodicy refers to the vindication of divine government given the existence of evil.

Whatever else may be said of evil, it is certainly the abuse of a sentient being, a being that can feel pain. It is the pain that matters. Evil is grasped by the mind immediately and felt by the emotions immediately; it is sensed as hurt deliberately inflicted. Evil is never abstract. It is an existential reality and has to be understood in the personal context of suffering.

In fourth-century Athens, the Epicureans challenged the Stoics with a trilemma: if God could have prevented evil and did not, he is malevolent; if God would have prevented evil but could not, he is impotent; if God could not and would not, why call him God? Here is the primary moral quandary for any monotheism claiming God to be omnipotent,...

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  1. 1.AtlantaUSA