This volume samples a variety of modern theological, religious and philosophical discussions on the problem of evil, understood both in terms of the practical or spiritual problem of coping with evil, and the theological problem of explaining its presence in God's world. Topics include protest atheism, responses to the Holocaust, Buddhist spirituality, the freewill defence, the vale of soul-making theodocy, and the 'cost-effectiveness' of evil. Contributors include Roy Eckardt, Austin Farrer, John Hick, Soren Kierkegaard, John Mackie, Jurgen Moltmann, Kenneth Surin, and Elie Wiesel.
“Voltaire points decisively to the disanalogy, a disanalogy that has to do precisely with our existence as conscious and self-conscious beings, and, above all, as beings who are self-conscious in their suffering. Such beings, he is saying, may, indeed must, question their maker and cry out against a fate that condemns them to a life of so much suffering.” (Page 6)
“Within the Christian tradition a variety of attempts have been made to resolve this apparent contradiction. These different ‘solutions’ are sometimes represented as forming part of one of two families of explanation, which have become labelled the Augustinian and the Irenaean (3.2).4 Within these families, a home may be found for such disparate responses to the problem of evil as the ‘principle of plenitude’ (3.3), ‘evil as non-being’ (3.4), the ‘free will defence’—a defence that has been applied both to our individual sins and to humankind’s ‘original sin’ (3.5),5 and the ‘vale of soul-making theodicy’ (3.6).” (Page 3)
“our question centres on such human evils as the Holocaust and Hiroshima” (Pages 4–5)
“The problem of evil is perhaps the most serious challenge to belief in an all-loving, creator God” (Page 1)
“In its most blunt formulation the problem states that either God cannot or God will not abolish the world’s evil.” (Page 2)
Jeff Astley is director of the North of England Institute for Christian Education and and an Honorary Professorial Fellow in the University of Durham.
Ann Loades is Emeritus Professor of Divinity in the University of Durham.
David Brown is Van Mildert Professor of Divinity at the University of Durham and a canon of Durham Cathedral. His books include Choices, Invitation to Theology, The Divine Trinity, and, most recently, a collection of sermons, The Word to Set You Free.