For someone relatively well-versed in Christian theology, the term theodicy was surprisingly new to me. In Greek, theos means “god” and dike means “justice” which makes the term literally mean “justifying God.” The English Oxford Dictionary defines theodicy more extensively as, “The, or a, vindication of the divine attributes, esp. justice and holiness, in respect to the existence of evil; a writing, doctrine, or theory intended to justify the ways of God to men.”
There are many approaches to theodicy, but the most popular (and one mentioned in class) was argued by both Augustine and Aquinas who believed that evil did not actually exist but was instead the absence of something good. A way I’ve heard it explained is through light and dark; you can quantitively measure light but darkness does not exist because it is simply the absence of light. Liebniz takes this concept of theodicy a step further and uses the analogy of a picture with dark spots. While the spots might strike one as ugly, it might add beauty to the whole, explaining his idea that it is better to have a world of rich variety and plentitude… sound familiar?
While I was familiar with these ideas long before class, it was interesting to put a term to it and understand that Paradise Lost is an epic dedicated to this study of theodicy, a complex question that theologians and philosophers have attempted to answer for centuries.