25th November 2020

Theodicy on Encyclopædia Britannica

A term invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716), used for the first time in the title of Essais de Theodicée sur la bonté de Dieu, his only writing in French.


From the Greek theos, “god” and dikē, “justice”.

Literally, it means to justify god: this because God’s existence has to be justified in relation to evil’s existence:

  • If God is omnipotent, omniscient and supremely good, why evil exist?
  • How can we justify God for the presence of evil in the world?

Justice of God, justification of God

The problem

If God exist and he is omnipotent, omniscient and all-good, why does evil exist?


  • Atheism: there is no God
  • Manichaeism: there are two gods, a good one and a bad one, who continuously fight each other
  • Agostino d’Ippona: in a sense, evil doesn’t exist
  • +++ evil is caused by human free will
  • In a certain sense, God isn’t omnipotent
  • Socinianism: God isn’t omniscient

Agostino d’Ippona

The absolute and great goodness of the world is given by the whole of all entities which constitute it. Good is intrinsic in every being, but it’s greater in the whole.

Beauty is a tool God uses to show and enhance goodness of the world.

Evil isn’t real, it’s the absence of God. God doesn’t create evil, since to be created it should be a being; given evil isn’t a being, evil is simply lack of good. Parallelism with lights and shadows: there are no shadows, there only is lack of emptiness

Creating the world from nothing

Anything which is created is automatically good.

1st pbook of the Genesis. the last words God pronounces after creation are: this is good +++.

To be is always better than not to be.

The argument of the original creation: the apple tree wasn’t bad (wasn’t not good), but Eve’s error was to choose wrongly.

An entry on Bayle’s encyclopedia discusses exactly Adam’s sin.

Nicolas Malebranche

The first Christian philosopher who stated that evil is real.

God created the world on the basis on the laws on motion. These laws were so simple and general that side effects


God’s ways and actions are simple and must be general. God isn’t omnipotent, his power is restricted to his laws, which can’t save or be good for everybody. God’s limitations are due to God himself, therefore he’s not omnipotent but he’s the limiter of his own capabilities.

God creates the world for his own glory. The death of Jesus Christ is necessary for the glory of God; it’s prior to the first sin.

Gottfried Leibniz

+++ [[]]

To be the cause and to be the first reason is the same thing.

God has chosen the best world.

??? +++ mathematical argument about maximum and minimum.

If God changed even the smallest element of the world the entire world would’ve changed.

Our world is the best since it’s the one God created, the only existing one to us.

What’s the cause of evil?

It lies in human understanding of God; since it is imperfect, it’s limited and could not be grasped.

Three types of evil:

  • Metaphysical evil
  • physical evil
  • moral evil

By world Leibniz means universe. Leibniz previously proved that our world is the only existing one.

References and resources



edit this page

The following is a graph containing all the notes and every topic in the website