An essay donated by Alan Rogers
Theodicy: A parable
Theodicy (adjectival form theodicean) is a specific branch of theology and philosophy that
attempts to reconcile the existence of evil or suffering in the
world with the belief in an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent
God, i.e., the problem of evil.
In a strange land far away, the established dogma is that the sum of the
internal angles of a plain triangle is 200º. This truth was given by divine
revelation and appears in the holiest book of the religion of this land.
A young geologian (a student of the state religion) had the hubris one day to
test this truth by careful measurement of a large number of triangles. His
results varied slightly but he could not escape the conclusion that what he
observed was a value of 180º with a measurement error of half a degree. He took
his results to the priests and was duly ridiculed. "Since the truth lies within
the holy book and our interpretation of its contents you must have made a
mistake in your observations" they said. "That you make mistakes is apparent
because your measurements are not identical".
But the more intelligent priests were worried. So they began to use all the
powers of philosophical discourse they possessed to challenge this heretical
idea. They founded a subject called geodicy (not to be confused with
geodesy which, of course, is concerned with the measurement of the planet).
The priests constructed many beautiful arguments, often so complex that
virtually no one could follow them. In this way they were able to continue
believing in the truth of the holy book by means of their solution of the
problem of angle?.
Observation demonstrates that the universe is indifferent to human suffering
and consequently that there is no omnibenevolent god.