The Problem of Evil: Religion's Greatest Challenge
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The Problem of Evil: Religion's Greatest Challenge

How could a good God allow human suffering?
New
0.0 (0 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
2 students enrolled
Created by Michael Gold
Last updated 7/2020
English
English [Auto]
Current price: $16.99 Original price: $24.99 Discount: 32% off
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This course includes
  • 1.5 hours on-demand video
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • Students will explore the problem of evil, and why it is a challenge to the classical theistic religions of the West. We will explore various solutions, particularly those offered by Judaism.
Requirements
  • There are no prerequisites.
Description

We will study the problem of evil in the eyes of Western theistic religions, particularly Judaism.  If God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good, how could God allow a world filled with suffering.  We will seek answers both in Jewish tradition and more generally, in Western tradition.  After looking a the book of Job, we will explore rabbinic approaches to the problem of evil.  Finally in a series of lectures, we will explore whether God is truly all-powerful, whether God is truly all good, why human evil, and why natural evil.

Who this course is for:
  • The course will have a particular appeal to Jewish students, but will have insights for anyone interested in religion or philosophy.
Course content
Expand all 8 lectures 01:29:28
+ Introduction
1 lecture 09:38

Why does evil create a problem for the theistic religions of the West such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam?  And why is it less a problem for the non-theistic of the East such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Daoism?   Finally, what does the term theodicy mean?

Preview 09:38
+ Theodicies
2 lectures 27:34

We will begin with the Biblical book of Job and how it struggles with God's justice in the face of evil.  We will then turn to Rabbinic literature and the story of the rabbi who became a heretic Elisha ben Abuyah.  Finally, we will look at how various thinkers attempted to understand God in the face of the Holocaust.

Jewish Theodicies
14:47

We will look at the idea of fate which was a fundamental Greek idea.  Christianity developed two alternative views of theodicy based on the writings of Augustine and Irenaeus.  We will also explore an Islamic approach to theodicy from the Muslim theologian Nursi.  Finally, we will delve into Western philosophy by exploring Leibniz's belief that we live in "the best of all possible worlds."

Theodicies in the West
12:47
+ Modifying Theism
4 lectures 40:23

Perhaps God is not all powerful.  We will begin with Harold Kushner's classical book When Bad Things Happen to Good People.  Then we will explore the Jewish idea of hester panim (God hiding God's face), often called the eclipse of God.  This will lead to a study of Lurianic Kabbalah, and the idea of tzimtzum or God's self-contraction.

Perhaps God is Not Omnipotent
09:22

The prophet 2nd Isaiah taught that God created both good and evil.  Perhaps this is a reaction to the ancient idea that there are two different creative forces at work in the universe, a good force and an evil force.  We will look at Gnosticism, Zoroastrianism, and Manichaeism, before turning to the Western idea of Satan.

Perhaps God is Not Beneficent
09:39

We will explore why humans are often the source of evil.  It is based on the ancient Jewish idea that humans have two inclination, one evil and one good.

Human Evil
12:28

Natural evil such as hurricanes and cancer cells are the greatest challenge to traditional theism.  Perhaps they can be explained by seeing a universe that grows organically, and which is constantly in process.  Perhaps even God is in process.

Natural Evil
08:54
+ Conclusion
1 lecture 11:53

We turn now from theology to pastoral advice.  What are five insights that can help people cope with the evil in their lives?

Healing After Evil
11:53

Test your knowledge of what you have learned.

Final Exam
10 questions