Theodicy as Cryptic Anthropodicy

By enunciating the insight that God is just a projection of human ideas the critique of religion undermines, at the same time, that notion, still resonant even in our present day, of all human beings as >“Children of God”. Human beings become more and more clearly visible as what they have, in fact, always really been: children of other human beings. With the driving of God out his place in the psychical economy of human beings those critical questions and accusations which had accumulated in all the attempts at theodicy undertaken in the course of many centuries come now to be directed no longer at God but rather at procreating human beings themselves. Since there was once a time when human beings permitted themselves to see themselves as God’s compliant agents (“Go forth and multiply!”) these same human beings must now be called to account for all that pain and misery supposedly facilitated and “allowed” by this God. Every accusatory cry of suffering once raised against God now falls back upon human beings as God’s >Accomplices, since without such accomplices’ own will to parenthood we ourselves would soon no longer exist, and consequently evil, suffering and death would no longer exist either. Two important differences, however, between theodicy and anthropodicy must be recognized:

1. God can compensate us for all our sufferings by means of the àParadisal Compensation; the human individuals alive at any given time, however, in their capacity as “Mini-Demiurges” (>Parents as Mini-Demiurges), have nothing comparable to offer to their progeny other than a postponement of the hoped-for “good life” into the generation of these children’s own children and thus of the “earthly Paradise” into some indeterminate future. After the collapse of those great promises for the future that flourished throughout much of modernity human beings now find themselves bereft of any plausible justification for their imposition of suffering and misery on billions of beings born without their consent.

2. As accomplices of God human beings can shift, in substance, their own responsibility off onto an almighty Creator who created us out of love and who commands us to put up with all our suffering as the price to be paid for eventual eternal salvation.[1] In light of these considerations we may paraphrase Epicurus as follows:

“Either human beings wish to eliminate evil by ceasing to procreate but are unable to do so; or they are able to do so but do not wish to do so; or they are not able to do so and also do not wish to do so; or they are both able to do so and also wish to do so. In the case where they wish to cease to procreate but find themselves unable to do so, this means that they are weak-willed, which is surely true of many people. In the case where they are able to do so but do not wish to do so, they knowingly condemn their progeny to suffering and death, something which also cannot be put past many human beings. In the case where they neither wish to cease procreating nor are able to do so, they are both >Damnators and unfree, something which cannot be true of human beings. But in the case where they both are able to cease procreating and wish to do so – which is really the only one of these possibilities that is really acceptable for morally acting beings – there will soon be no evil of any sort upon the earth.”[2]


[1] This entry is based, in part, on certain formulations of Guido Kohlbecher (September 2012).

[2] The model for this paraphrasing is to be found in: Epicurus

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