Theodicy Philosophy: Definition & Overview

Instructor: Jennifer Keefe

Jennifer Keefe has taught college-level Humanities and has a Master's in Liberal Studies.

We sometimes wonder why both good and evil are able to exist in this world. In this lesson, we will look at the concept of Theodicy and how one philosopher attempted to explain why we need both good and evil.

Deism and Theodicy

Have you ever wondered about whether or not God really exists? And, if there is a God, how could that being allow for both good and evil to coexist in our world? Religions, such as Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, and even Islam, all have their own views on the existence of God, good, and evil.

The philosophical concept of Theodicy came about in a time when science was beginning to overtake religion and new ideas were emerging about the origins of the Earth. One of the new creation philosophies was Deism. Deism was founded during the Age of Enlightenment in Europe (1620s to 1780s) and focused on the ideas of reason and nature. Deists believed all things had a creator, but the creator was not in control of the day to day acts of its creations. Deism served as a way to reconcile beliefs for people who believed in both Christianity and the scientific discoveries of the Enlightenment.

Did you know that many philosophers and scientists of the Enlightenment era in Europe and America were Deists, including many of America's Founding Fathers? Another known follower of the Deist philosophy was Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646-1716), who is pictured below. Leibniz was a German mathematician and philosopher who, like Isaac Newton, came up with his own version of calculus.

Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz by Christoph Bernhard Francke, c. 1700
Gottfried von Leibniz 1700

Theodicy Defined

Gottfried Leibniz also searched for a way to reconcile the existence of both good and evil in the word, an idea he referred to as Theodicy. Theodicy, according to Leibniz, attempted to defend the existence of God, who was assumed to be good, despite the existence of evil in the world.

Theodicy operated on the ideas that:

  • God is good, all-knowing, and all-powerful
  • The universe was made by God
  • There is evil in the world for unknown reasons

The first point assumed God was an actual being. The second point assumed God interacted with our world at one time, making everything in it, including evil. The last point assumed we could recognize the evil in the world (natural disasters, diseases, or the bad things people do). Leibniz theorized that God had to create evil in the world in order to balance out the good.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account