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A theodicy is a defense of God's goodness in light of the existence of evil. There are different ways of making an argument that constitutes a theodicy, and in this paper I would like to concentrate on three different styles, and analyze them in terms of their strengths and weaknesses. The first type of theodicy is known informally as the "greater good" argument: it suggests that the evil that is permitted by God is outweighed by his goodness, and is permitted in the course of establishing some greater good. The second type of theodicy is based on the concept of free will: to some extent it is a subset of the "greater good" argument, for it holds that God permits human free will (and therefore the possibility of evil being done) as a greater good. The third theodicy hinges upon the idea of a natural order: this posits that God's goodness is manifest in the establishment of a natural order of things in which evil plays a role. Each of these styles of theodicy has its good and bad aspects, and it is worth examining them in some greater depth individually. The "greater good" style of theodicy hinges, to a large extent, upon our sense of God's omniscience. If our intellectual capacity is infinitely less than that of God and the comparison of anything finite, such as human intelligence, to something infinite like the omniscience of God then it stands to reason that the existence of evil may be part of some larger scheme which eludes our understanding. Any Christian theodicy
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