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Assignment # 7 – Chapter 11 (10)

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Title: Theodicy – Encountering Evil

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Instructions: Suffering and evil, as fundamental experiences of human life, have been a central concern in many religious traditions. In the following exercises, you will find a variety of different approaches to the phenomena of evil and suffering.

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Example 1 – Taoism:

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The first text is attributed to the Chuang Tzu (a.k.a. Zhuangzi), a fourth century BC Chinese poet and philosopher, representing the Taoist (a.k.a. Daoist) tradition. Central to his thought is the problem of suffering: how is it possible for human beings to live in a world that is absurd, chaotic, and the cause of intense anguish? Read the following two passages from his work:

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Read: Chuang Tzu, Basic Writings (Links to an external site.)

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Visit: Chuang Tzu: The Next Voice (Links to an external site.)

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Question:

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7.1. (a) What is the origin of suffering according to Chuang Tzu, and (b) how, according to him, does a person experience liberation from suffering?

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Example 2- Buddhism:

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A very different concept for the ultimate cause of suffering and evil can be found in the Buddhist tradition of The Four Noble Truths.

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Read: Buddha Gautama’s first sermon: Sermon at Benares (Links to an external site.)

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Visit the BBC religion page: The Four Noble Truths (and the Eightfold Path) (Links to an external site.)

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Read about the: Four Noble Truths (Links to an external site.)

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Read about the: Eightfold Path (Links to an external site.)

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Question:

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7.2. What is the Buddhist view of the cause of suffering?

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7.3. What is the Buddhist “remedy” for suffering? 

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Example 3 – American Indian Religion:

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In Native American myths, animals take an important role communicating fundamental experiences in human life. The coyote portrays a versatile god-like trickster figure. In the following myth, Coyote and Eagle Visit the Land of the Dead by the Yakima, coyote deals with the universal experience of death.

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Read: Coyote and Eagle Visit the Land of the Dead (Yakima) (Links to an external site.)

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Question:

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7.4. (a) Describe the Native American Coyote and Eagle myth. (b) How does this myth help people cope with the suffering of death?

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