Foolproof Theodicy?

Jonathan Bernier wrote this in a comment here on this blog, and I thought it deserved wider circulation. It seems to me that a foolproof theodicy would have to be one in which the innocent never suffer. Therefore it would have to argue that those who suffer are not innocent. Such a theodicy should be [Read More...]

How Could God Let This Happen?

From Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. You can insert many other remakes and make the same point. Although the fact that some of us have the luxury of asking why a benevolent God would allow bad movies, rather than why we have not had any food for a week, itself raises the problem of evil. Be [Read More...]

Proof of God?

While some religious believers argue against the Big Bang, others have seen it as proof of God. Such language is problematic. It is one thing to say that our universe seems to point beyond itself to something that came before it. It is quite another to try to use that as proof that one’s own ideas [Read More...]

Theodicy and Thanksgiving

Last Sunday in my sunday school class, we talked about prayer. Perennial questions came up, the most pressing of which was how to avoid having prayers asking for help, and giving thanks for good fortune, become things that cause harm to those around you. It is ultimately the same issue that got Job’s friends into [Read More...]

God’s Plan

The above Pie Comic illustrates the danger of responding to tragedy, or anything else perplexing and troubling, by invoking God’s plan. The impression conveyed is inevitably of a highly anthropomorphic God whose benevolence and/or competence are placed in serious doubt.   [Read more...]

Close Call

The cartoon above hopefully clarifies why some of us think that the expression of gratitude for one's own experience is problematic, when it posits God's direct and deliberate involvement in arranging circumstances for one's own benefit, while ignoring the contrasting experience of others and failing to offer a theological account of what befalls them in [Read More...]

The Hummingbird and the Parasite

Open Parachute shared the above image with a quote from David Attenborough. This illustrates well the theological objection that is raised not by atheists and agnostics in the first instance, but by liberal religious believers. And it relates not just to matters of creation but to the implications of thanking God for the good as [Read More...]

Could the Problem of Evil Become a Thing of the Past?

Students in one of my classes wrote about the problem of evil this semester, and some chose to do their final paper on that topic. For many of them, the problem of evil seems to be something simple. Sure, there may be suffering, but all the joys and pleasures of life make up for them. [Read More...]

Is God an Economist?

First, here’s a cartoon from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Now, let’s note what the cartoon doesn’t show. At the end of the Book of Job, Job receives back double of every type of property he owned. But he only receives the same number of children as he previously had. I suspect that, if anything, this [Read More...]

No Good Without Evil?

My students recently submitted assignments on the problem of evil. The reading on this topic included J. L. Mackie’s famous essay “Evil and Omnipotence” (not “Evil and Impotence,” as a student wrote in an essay for a colleague of mine). Mackie discusses the argument that good is a statement of contrast, and thus that there [Read More...]

Job Notwithstanding

That the view that suffering is due to sin is still prevalent, even in traditions that have the Book of Job, just goes to show how tenacious that way of viewing things is. It is easier to accept the view of Job's friends (even if one accepts as authoritative the Book of Job, which condemns [Read More...]


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