HONR250F-01A: Philosophy of Religion

Paper Assignment #2
Due Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Leibniz wrote that, even though there are clearly evils in this world, “evil may be accompanied by an even greater good,” and so God has still chosen the best: this universe must be in reality better than every other possible universe” ("Abridgment of The Theodicy"). Furthermore, he says that the “reason” things exist as they do and that this reason or “first cause” is God, who “produces as much perfection as possible in things and…bestows as much pleasure as possible on minds” ("Metaphysics Summarized"). Pope's Essay on Man claimed that human knowledge is limited and that ultimately, though we can't easily understand it, we must conclude that, “Whatever is, is right” (I.294). The along came Voltaire and his satirical examination of such principles and beliefs in Candide. While we might not agree with the pessimist Martin, whatever foundation there is at the end for optimism in Candide, it's not belief in the teachings of Pangloss. But C.S. Lewis comes along and seems to be arguing—if not exactly in the same terms as Pope and Leibniz, at least something similar.

Which perspective do you find most convincing? Write an essay that answers this question, demonstrating your understanding of important elements of Lewis's arguments as well as the viewpoint(s) you find in Candide, and perhaps in Pope and/or Leibniz as well. You are free to go back and use either Aquinas or Augustine, of course, but you should make sure you have a clear focus on Lewis, Voltaire, Leibniz and Pope. In considering this question, you may want to decide whether Lewis is proposing an understanding that is compatible with Pope or Leibniz, or something fundamentally different (not only in conclusion but reasons). You don't have to do this latter part, but it is one possibility.

Limit: 1500 words (5 pages)