What does natural evil mean

- 43 - III. Natural Evil and Its Necessity As we have seen, there is only one single way of moral justification for causing evil by an omnipotent and omniscient God, if at all, and thus reconciled with the alleged universal goodness of God: every single evil must be logical be a necessary prerequisite for the creation of a good exceeding this evil in value. In the following it is a matter of clarifying the two conditions contained in this sentence - the logical presupposition of the evil as well as the higher value of the good effected - and examining them for their persuasive power. Before that, however, I would like to briefly address a possible, fundamental objection. Why, one might ask, is God's all-goodness already sufficiently secured by the fact that the two conditions mentioned are fulfilled? Couldn't God even keep goods that are logically linked to certain evils separate from these evils and thus also realize them without these evils? After all, this God is not only powerful in dealing with the natural laws he has created, but simply omnipotent. Seen in this way - 44 should, strictly speaking, an all-good God, could not allow any evil at all in this world. This objection does not seem to me to be justified. In any case, I consider an omniscient Creator God who is not bound by the laws of logic to be unthinkable for us humans. How should we, for example, somehow imagine or think of an earth that would be both a sphere and a disk at the same time? If God is not bound by logic, then he could easily have created such an earth! But if there is such a thing as logic at all, then there can be neither such a creator nor such a world - just as there cannot be a god, whose creatures do not include devils, but people who are possessed by the devil are. As a thinking and acting being, even an almighty God is necessarily bound by logic. The fact remains that the evils of this world can be morally justified if, instead of just factual causes, they are also logically necessary conditions for goods that exceed the respective evils in terms of value. 1. The evolution of man Can it therefore be shown that the natural evils of this world such as natural disasters and diseases are logically necessary means for God to realize the higher goods of this world? What kinds of goods come into consideration for balancing the evils of this world? The answer to this question is not difficult: If the evils are (at least primarily) negative effects on the elementary interests of sentient beings (see Chapter I, 2), then the goods are correspondingly positive effects on the elementary interests of these beings. What can these positive effects consist of? I think they exist, generally speaking, in the existence and well-being (happiness, contentment) of these beings. The existence of a happy person or a content cat is without a doubt something positive, valuable, good. From our own human point of view, our existence as human beings is the primary good in general. In this sense, our theologians try to solve the theodicy problem. In his summary of natural evil, Klaus von Stosch writes: “The natural evil in the world arises from the same laws of nature that enable evolution towards humans. It can be argued that these laws of nature could not be changed if the human evolutionary process was to remain possible. Hence, one can understand the natural evil as a side effect of the laws that make human life possible. " (Stosch I, p. 56) So Stosch obviously wants to say: Without the natural evils of this world we would not have been able to exist. In other words: all natural evils in this world are logically necessary conditions for the creation of man. One thing is clear: if this sentence is correct, then at first glance the problem of natural evil, as explained above, seems to have been solved. How does Stosch justify his statement? Let us begin with his above sentence 1: "The natural evil in the world arises through the same laws of nature that also make possible the evolution towards humans". This sentence obviously means that all natural evils in the world are the result of those laws of nature that have also led to natural evolution and thus to the creation of man. Sentence 1 alone cannot solve our problem with certainty, as shown in detail above (Chapter II, 3). Stosch recognized that too. He also claims in his sentence 2 above that those laws of nature that are the cause of natural evils have not only de facto led to the origin of man, but that they are also in the form in which they were the causes of natural evils , «Could not be changed if the evolutionary process towards humans was to remain possible». Stosch thus expressly asserts the existence of the logical connection between evils and higher goods, which is indispensable for our problem-solving: Without the evils of this world, these goods - that is, we humans - could not have arisen for logical reasons. God, who wanted to create man, despite his omnipotence had no choice but to consciously accept the evils of this world. And elsewhere Stosch writes again in the sense of his sentence 2, the «basic idea», for which he would like to argue, is «that the origin of man ... was only possible in a universe that contains exactly those laws and constants of nature that also bring about the malum physicum »(Stosch I, p. 61). In this context he also repeatedly refers to evolution as the cause of the creation of humans. For him, the natural evils, the malum physicum, are nothing more than "unavoidable unwanted side effects of evolution" (Stosch I, p. 68). But does Stosch manage to adequately justify his theodicy position contained in the above sentences 1 and 2 in this way? With the best will in the world, this question cannot be answered in the affirmative. Here I name what I believe are the most important prerequisites for a successful justification, all of which Stosch does not meet. 1. It is obviously true that the evolution that actually took place (let's call it evolution a) led to the emergence of humans - humans with their actual, positive and negative properties. It does not follow from this, however, that God could not have opted for a slightly different evolution (evolution b), which leads to the emergence of man with his actual positive, but without his actual negative properties (i.e. the various evils he has to endure) would have led. Stosch does not provide a single argument that the initiation of such an evolution b would have been logically impossible for God. 2. Let us assume, however, in the Stosch sense, that some of the natural evils present in the world are in fact logically inseparable from evolution - be it cosmological or biological evolution. I am thinking here, for example, of the fact that our earth contains not only good but also very bad, especially unjust climatic conditions for humans, or the fact that humans are mortal beings. Even assuming this assumption, my objection under 1 essentially remains. Because Stosch would have to show the logical necessity for each individual natural evil in order to be able to conclusively justify God's universal goodness! He would also have to show why it would have been logically impossible for God to set in motion an evolution c, which in any case would not have led to such terrible diseases as the Spanish flu (see above, p. 18) or the enabled children dying of cancer to live longer. In this context, one should consider: In the meantime, humans have even managed to successfully fight some terrible diseases (such as the above-mentioned Spanish flu) in accordance with the laws of evolution. But this should not have been possible for an almighty God - unless he would then have had to forego the creation of man at all? Is the existence of those mosquitoes that are currently transmitting a certain virus to pregnant women in South America with dire consequences for their children the logical consequence of the same laws to which humans owe their existence? It is a grave mistake that Stosch, in his repeated unsubstantiated claims of a logical unity between the natural evil and the good of this world, almost always speaks only of the evil (the malum physicum) as a whole - as if it were only justifying the evils of this world could be about an “all or nothing”. The truth is, there are a large number of very different natural evils (such as various natural disasters and diseases). And it cannot be ruled out that God had to accept some, but by no means all of these evils in his creation of man. Indeed, I do not see sufficient reason to believe in an all-good God until I have seen convincing arguments for accepting all of these evils. Of course - to state this again very clearly - everything that has happened in the world since its creation is actually closely related through evolution and its laws. This connection between everything that has happened is therefore by no means automatically a logically compelling connection. It is as little as, for example, driving a stolen car to participate in a charitable relief effort - provided that this trip could also have been made with a borrowed car or with a taxi. 3. In all of this we must not forget that God's omnipotence, as far as the natural laws he created, are not subject to any restrictions, at least within the framework of what is logically possible. In this respect I cannot understand why Stosch always takes it for granted that evolution is indispensable for the creation of man. Couldn't there perhaps have been an alternative to evolution with at least fewer evils overall for God? For Stosch, God's renunciation of evolution with its inevitable evils would of course only have been possible if God had also renounced the creation of man, even "the realization of beings endowed with free will" (Stosch I, p. 68 ). However, there is no justification for this. Much like Stosch, the theologian Armin Kreiner, in the context of his “argumentative overcoming” of the theodicy problem, expresses the assumption that in the world created by God “the totality of natural laws ... forms a closed unit”, in order to then assert that in the world created by God In the case of the creation of an alternative world with a lesser natural evil, everything speaks against "that there would still be human-like beings who would find themselves here" (Kreiner III, p. 156). "The same laws of nature," writes Kreiner, "which enable man to arise and exist, are also responsible for the emergence of natural evils". Yes, “the physical constants and parameters of the universe” are so finely tuned that “even the smallest changes would make human existence impossible” (Kreiner IV, p. 15). There is no evidence for these claims from Kreiner. The thesis of the two theologians is: Our existing world with its natural evil is not the only possible world that God could create. Nor is it necessarily the best possible world in Leibniz's sense of the word. But it is a world in which the existing natural evils are fully justified by the fact that they are logically necessary conditions for the higher goods also present in our world, namely in particular for the existence of humans. God simply could not have created us human beings as we are without the natural evils of this world present. A convincing justification for this very far-reaching thesis cannot be found in either Kreiner or Stosch. Yes, there are even passages in the works of both theologians in which they seem to admit that their thesis is not at all a well-founded assertion, but merely a hypothesis or assumption. Stosch writes at one point that his thesis can "neither be substantiated nor refuted with the means of natural science - at least with the current state of research" (Stosch I, p. 65). And Kreiner relativizes his thesis at some point with the sentence that its correctness can in any case "not be excluded from the outset" (Kreiner III, p. 156). But are theses relativized in this way still sufficient to justify God's all-goodness? For even if one admits that evolution without natural evils could not have led to the creation of man: Why could Almighty God not have renounced the entire evolution with its natural evils and still at least created "human-like beings" ? That our leading theodicy theologians consider this impossible is all the more astonishing when you consider that at least according to Christian teaching, God actually created man in a paradise without biological evolution and without natural evil - in a paradise that Only through the "original sin" of Adam and Eve got into his present, malevolent condition (see Genesis 1 - 3). And besides, according to Christian doctrine, God also created angels without evolution, that is to say, beings that are "endowed with free will" and "human-like" beings. It is, it must be said, certainly nothing new that today's theologians apparently no longer want to believe in much of what is in the Bible - such as the doctrine of paradise. But the fact that, for the purpose of their theodicy, they even take for granted that certain statements of the same Bible, which for Christians is the "Word of God", are in contradiction to the laws of logic, must surely give us pause. The following example also shows very clearly what conclusions Stosch is prepared to draw again and again from his thesis, despite its actually only hypothetical character. Stosch expressly describes the “suffering of animals” as a “challenge” for theodicy, since animals - unlike us humans - do not “benefit from human free will”. Stosch sees the only possible and convincing solution to this problem in the "immortality of animals" which, through the "soul formation" of the animals, leads to a "compensation of the individual suffering" of the animals. For Stosch, the “assumption of compensation and soul formation of animals” - the, as he writes, “soul formation process” of animals - also “independent of the theodicy problem” is “very obvious”, “because the completion of the People cannot be thought of as being independent of animals if you keep in mind how much people are connected to their pets ”(Stosch I, p. 68 f.). I have to say: Of course I would be happy if, as the owner of my cats, I could one day experience the “compensation and soul formation” of these animals for the purpose of my own “perfection”, although I would “compensate for their individual suffering” can actually see no real reason. Something different may of course apply to those mice that, thanks to their good nutrition, have not eaten my cats over time, but have killed them. Should I perhaps believe in the "immortality" of these mice in order to "compensate" for the suffering of the mice, for which I am partly responsible (I could have kept my cats at home permanently)? And finally: How do those numerous people find their “perfection” who have no pets at all? In any case, from a philosophical point of view one would like to get to know some rationally comprehensible arguments for this justification of the suffering of animals - especially their eating and being eaten - in the course of evolution.But also for this - as well as for his other theodicy hypotheses - Stosch unfortunately misses such understandable arguments that go beyond mere wishful thinking. Incidentally, in his essay Thinking Omnipotence as Love, Stosch even believes that he can conclusively derive God's omnipotence from God's omnipotence. Love, he writes, is - 53 - "not just a quality that one should expect from a really powerful being, but the way in which omnipotence becomes an experiential reality". God's omnipotence is "to be understood as the power of his love" (Stosch III, p. 265). However, as some dictators have convincingly shown in the past, this does not necessarily apply to human omnipotence, insofar as there is such a thing. Here, Stosch apparently falls back on the “cuddle concept” presented and criticized above: For the divine properties, completely different standards apply than for the human properties denoted by the same terms (see p. 14 f.). I cannot understand why Stosch does not at the same time declare the entire theodicy problem to be settled once and for all: If God's omnipotence is already conceptually contained in God's omnipotence, there can be no omnipotent God (whose existence we have assumed) who does not is all-kind! 2. Life without natural evils It seems to me that Kreiner's attempt to justify all natural evils in the following way is rather absurd. Kreiner claims that the alternative to our world with its natural evils is nothing more than a “land of milk and honey of unclouded lust and joy”, in which everything is set up for our benefit from the outset and therefore no need at all for “values ​​such as consideration, selflessness and compassion” exists (Kreiner I, p. 165). It is above all these moral virtues whose value, according to Kreiner, more than outweighs the natural evils that are indispensable for their formation. God - 54 therefore quite rightly decided in favor of these evils and against the hedonistic "land of milk and honey". There is more than one powerful objection to this thesis by Kreiner. First, as everyone knows, there are a multitude of natural evils (natural disasters such as diseases) that we humans cannot do anything about even with the greatest effort. So why did God not limit the evils He caused to those evils that a virtuous person can at least in principle effectively combat? And incidentally: How can this thesis by Kreiner justify even the rudimentary sufferings that were common in the animal world for thousands of years, when there were no people on earth who could have helped the animals in any way? Second and decisive: Contrary to Kreiner's assertion, a "land of milk and honey" is by no means the only possible world that was available to God as an alternative to our real world with its evils. Why, my question is, why could God not have chosen a world of the following kind, for example? I mean a world in which there are indeed no natural evils and a completely suffering-free life for humans and animals, but which nevertheless offers humans a multitude of possibilities to improve the lives of their fellow human beings through virtuous, altruistic behavior and thus become morally to prove before God. In a world like this, which would by no means be a “land of milk and honey”, people could indeed have very different, qualitatively graduated, that is, more or less good lives. And in such a wicked world no one would be prevented from morally advocating in a variety of ways out of “unselfishness and compassion” - 55 that just like his own, in principle, good, pain-free life, also his, in principle, good, pain-free life Fellow human beings would lead to an even better, more fulfilling, happier life in one way or another. One should consider: If A has a less good life than B, one might say that A has a "worse" life than B. But that does not mean that A therefore necessarily has a "bad", a bad, has a bad life. Even a vacation in Mallorca, which is perhaps less good than a vacation in Crete, is not a bad vacation. And if a university professor should have a better life than a secretary, the latter necessarily has a less good life than the former, but by no means necessarily a bad life. Contrary to what Kreiner claims, the “land of plenty” of pure connoisseurs and idlers was only one, but by no means the only possible alternative to our real world that was available to God. And nobody would seriously want to claim that the alternative to the “land of milk and honey” described above, with its multitude of possibilities to make people's lives free from suffering, is inferior in value to our actual world with its immense natural evil. The question of whether even the “land of milk and honey”, contrary to Kreiner's assumption, would not be preferable to our actual world, can therefore remain an open question. - 56 - 3. The evaluation of the natural evil Let us now assume, however, that all my previous objections to the "necessity thesis" of theologians like Stosch and Kreiner would come to nothing. Then there still remains the following important point to consider: it is definitely not enough, in order to solve our problem, that evil is logically necessary to cause any good. (In accordance with morality, A may not steal a car, for example, because otherwise he would not be able to give his son the desired birthday present.) The good created must also undoubtedly be a higher good - a good that clearly reflects the evil he has accepted exceeds in value. In other words: the good in question must be of such a nature that its causation makes the causation of the accepted evil a morally impeccable act. Only under this condition can the divine cause of good and evil be a morally perfect, all-good God. Seen in this way, any divine causation or admission of an evil as a result, all things considered, must be a morally sound, correct act. But would precisely this condition actually be fulfilled under the assumption made by our theologians that we humans would not have come into existence without the evils of this world? Our theologians seem to take this for granted. It does not seem to me to be self-evident, however, that the creation of our actual world with us humans is morally preferable to the creation of a world with less natural evil and - 57 instead with living beings that are not on the same level as us humans. I do not want to claim the opposite of this assumption here, but only to say that our theologians, who start from this assumption, for their part should actually give generally comprehensible reasons for it. In this context, they should especially show why the happy life of those people who are not or hardly affected by the natural evils of this world, the often immense misery of those people who, as victims of diseases or natural disasters, often from birth of just having a wretched life more than outweighs it. It is precisely this last point that points us to an important fundamental question of moral evaluation. The question is: What should the decisive criterion be when it comes to the evaluation of an action that has a positive effect for individual A (or several individuals A) but negative for individual B (or several individuals B)? Can such an action always be morally justified or even praiseworthy if the positive effects of the action for individual A - always assuming there are no logical alternatives - outweigh the negative effects of the action for individual B? If this is correct, then it is indeed sufficient for a successful theodicy that the happiness or well-being of all people or individuals A created by God quantitatively outweighs the misfortune or misery of all people or individuals B created by God. And this is evidently the case above all when people A already clearly outnumber people B, which may be the case in our actual world. Corresponding to this - 58 it could perhaps also be shown that “eating and being eaten” in the animal kingdom brings more benefit than harm to the animal world as a whole, or that a possibly predominant harm is in any case more than outweighed by the benefit of biological evolution for humans. But is a greater overall benefit enough to justify any damage done morally? Can a doctor perhaps remove both of his kidneys from an elderly person and thus kill him in order to use these kidneys to save the lives of two younger people whose kidneys are inoperable after an accident? According to conventional morality, certainly not, although the benefits of this act clearly outweigh its harm. However, one has to consider: The divine creation of man is not entirely comparable with this case insofar as the people A and B created by God - unlike the three named people entrusted to the doctor - only came into existence through God's action. Let us now consider the following example: The married couple X has ten children, of which six children (A) can lead a normal, largely happy and long life, while four children (B) are so seriously ill that they become fuller after a few years Sorrow and pain die. Here, too, the benefit of X's reproductive behavior is likely to outweigh the harm of this behavior in terms of value. But does married couple X really act morally - provided that X knew in advance that due to a genetic defect in the man, the probability of having seriously ill children was 40 percent? Shouldn't the couple have done without family planning altogether? Difficult question. Supporters of a utilitarian ethic, that is, based on the overall benefit of our actions, will certainly praise the couple. However, I myself have strong doubts - without wishing to plead explicitly at this point in favor of an alternative ethic to utilitarianism. In any case, our theologians seem to be starting from a utilitarian ethic that focuses on the overall benefit of all living beings with regard to the judgment of God, without even addressing the problem. Because otherwise they would hardly praise God's creation of man without any consideration of those people and animals, who would better never have been created, in the most natural way over and over again as the highest value of creation and undoubted proof of God's all-goodness. As quoted above (p. 32 f.), Leibniz goes so far as to see no problem for his theodicy in the fact that possibly those people who are characterized by “fame and perfection” are behind those who are “the Misery and imperfection »have to endure, clearly inferior in numbers. For he assumes that in this case "the excellence of all the good of the smallest number ... all of the evil of the greatest number" outweighs. In this sense, our theologians today could say: “Even the poorest state in Africa by no means speaks against God's all-goodness, as long as we take a look at the Pope and the inhabitants of the Vatican. After all, these people lead the far more perfect life. " To state this clearly once again: I am not interested in making my own statement on the moral valuation problem addressed, but simply to ask the reader - especially the ethically interested reader - to this additional, usually completely ignored problem to which every - 60 - In my opinion, theodicy has to be addressed briefly. At the end of this chapter, I would like to summarize our theologians with the following questions: In your opinion, what extent would the natural evil of the world we live in be in order for you - in contrast to the actual natural evil of our world - to experience the universal goodness of the That the creator of this world did not consider to be justified? " According to my previous experience with them, our theologians could really only answer this question: “How bad the evil of our world is in detail does not matter. Because we know that the all-good God has good reasons for every evil. " Each reader has to decide for himself whether he is satisfied with such an answer. Incidentally, I did not go into the answers to the problem of natural evil that prominent theologians often give in the media. The philosopher Ansgar Beckermann already shows very clearly the wrong ways Wolfgang Huber and Margot Käßmann, for example, go with their alleged solutions without “taking the actual problem of the evil seriously” (see Beckermann, p. 116 ff.).