Ow do We Understand Suffering and Evil?
In the film Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), the protagonist, Judah is an ophthalmologist who had been having an affair with a woman. When he tries to end the affair, she refuses to let the matter end quietly and threatens to reveal the affair to his wife and publicly expose some of his financial indiscretions. After weighing his options, he hires a hit man to murder her. But after the grisly deed is done, he struggles with profound guilt. The Orthodox Jewish teaching of his childhood comes back to him. He was taught that God sees everything and anxiously worries that God has seen this awful crime and will punish him for it. He is certain his life is heading for ruin. In this film clip (see Readings and Resources section above), he returns to his childhood home and imagines a Passover Seder (meal) where different viewpoints about theodicy are addressed. The English word a?theodicya? is derived from two Greek words, theos (God)and dike (justice). Theodicy is the study of the justice of God in light of the problem of evil. How can an all-good and all-powerful God exist if evil also exists? David Hume (1776), who traced this dilemma back to Epicurus (341-270 BCE), framed it this way: a?Epicuruss old questions are yet unanswered. Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?a? (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Part 10). This film clip picks up on this dilemma. After viewing the clip, think about the various theories that were discussed at the Seder.
The next film clip takes place four months later at a wedding reception. Judah meets a filmmaker and recounts his grisly tale in the guise of a movie plot. From this clip, viewers learn that the murder was attributed to a drifter who had committed other murders. They also learn that Judahas medical practice was flourishing, and his relationship with his wife appeared to be very good.
This film depicts two views on the problem of evil. The father, Sol, represents a faith perspective. As one guest describes, a?Sols kindof faith is a gift. Its like an ear for music, or the talent to draw. He believes and you can use logic on him all day long and he still believes.a? The aunt, Mae, represents another: a?And I say if he can do it and get away with it, and he chooses not to be bothered by the ethics, then heas home free. Remember, history is written by the winners. And if the Nazis had won, future generations would understand the story of World War II quite differently.a? The film raises the question of how human beings respond to the problem of evil. Is there a God who sees and responds to evil? Is it possible for God and evil to exist?
After completing the required reading, craft a response to the following:
State your position on the problem of evil and provide arguments to defend your position.
Reading Required chapter 7 from the following book.
Chaffee, J. (2013). The philosopheras way: Thinking critically about profound ideas. (4th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson. ISBN: 10: 0-205-25469-1 or 978-0-205-25469-9.