Theodicy – Encountering Evil


Title: Theodicy – Encountering Evil

Instructions: Suffering and evil, as fundamental experiences of human life, have been a central concern in many religious traditions. In the following exercises, you will find a variety of different approaches to the phenomena of evil and suffering.

Example 1 – Taoism:

The first text is attributed to the Chuang Tzu (a.k.a. Zhuangzi), a fourth century BC Chinese poet and philosopher, representing the Taoist (a.k.a. Daoist) tradition. Central to his thought is the problem of suffering: how is it possible for human beings to live in a world that is absurd, chaotic, and the cause of intense anguish? Read the following two passages from his work:

Read: Chuang Tzu, Basic Writings (Links to an external site.)

Visit: Chuang Tzu: The Next Voice (Links to an external site.)


7.1. (a) What is the origin of suffering according to Chuang Tzu, and (b) how, according to him, does a person experience liberation from suffering?

Example 2- Buddhism:

A very different concept for the ultimate cause of suffering and evil can be found in the Buddhist tradition of The Four Noble Truths.

Read: Buddha Gautama’s first sermon: Sermon at Benares (Links to an external site.)

Visit the BBC religion page: The Four Noble Truths (and the Eightfold Path) (Links to an external site.)

Read about the: Four Noble Truths (Links to an external site.)

Read about the: Eightfold Path (Links to an external site.)


7.2. What is the Buddhist view of the cause of suffering?

7.3. What is the Buddhist “remedy” for suffering? 

Example 3 – American Indian Religion:

In Native American myths, animals take an important role communicating fundamental experiences in human life. The coyote portrays a versatile god-like trickster figure. In the following myth, Coyote and Eagle Visit the Land of the Dead by the Yakima, coyote deals with the universal experience of death.

Read: Coyote and Eagle Visit the Land of the Dead (Yakima) (Links to an external site.)


7.4. (a) Describe the Native American Coyote and Eagle myth. (b) How does this myth help people cope with the suffering of death?

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