John Milton 's Paradise Lost

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John Milton sought to a very ambitious thing with his greatest work, Paradise Lost. He boldly asserted himself to the epic tradition, the most difficult genre. Further, the goal of his writing was perhaps the hardest topic a human being can engage with, the problem of evil. At the risk of being cliche, the old adage, “If you lose your faith over anything less than the problem of evil, you are simply not thinking.” seems fitting. Milton seems at least, whatever his faults, to understand the weight of the objection. He clearly describes this in the opening lines of his epic: That to the heighth of this great argument I may assert eternal providence, And justify the ways of God to men. (1.24-26) This is the underlying point of the whole…show more content…
So what must he do to answer this objection? Firstly, one would have to be very arrogant to maintain that he knew what the answer to this question is for everyone. The reader of Milton cannot really say: “This whole business doesn’t do a thing to show God innocent, nobody could ever see God as justified by this book.” This is simply due to the nature of the problem of evil. The fact is,the problem of evil actually assumes something quite interesting about the character or quality of the universe. It must assume that the idea of good and evil makes any sense at all. For if we say that God is not good for allowing evil to continue, we must be appealing to a standard of good that God does not match. Lewis frames this situation well: My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? (Lewis 31) The point is to say that we must be comparing our perception of God to a supreme standard of good, and where else does this come from, but God. Thus the objection itself assumes that God must exist. So then what is the point of a theodicy? If we are not defending God’s existence, what are we seeking to do? What objection are we defending God

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