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…]

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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…]

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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…]

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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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Safer than with a Volcano?

Today’s Bizarro comic addresses an interesting theological point. As human beings have found themselves seemingly under assault from forces of nature – volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, storms, etc. – they have sought ways to appease those forces. The idea that they might act mindlessly, that there might be no justice or injustice involved in the destruction [Read More…]

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A Whirlwind of Inconsistencies

In the wake of the devastating tornado in Oklahoma, a number of people have drawn attention to John Piper’s tweet of Job 1:19. Far from this verse indicating the notion that God is judging Oklahoma (which is what some have come to expect to hear from spokespeople for conservative Christian viewpoints), in context the verse [Read More…]

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Graphing a Problem

David Hayward’s cartoon could be about the Book of Job or the recent act by terrorists in Boston. Indeed, we could plot both on the graph. Does correlation indicate causation in this case? Certainly, if more intense suffering is a problem for a monotheistic worldview and so brings out more inane theological utterances, those utterances [Read More…]

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Funnier and Wronger?

I originally posted these comments together with other links in a round-up about blogging related to the recent tragedy. But they grew to the point where they seemed to require a post of their own. Brian LePort joined the conversation between Tony Jones and myself about the story of the slaughter of the innocents in [Read More…]

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Am I Wrong About the Massacre of the Innocents?

First, let’s have some appropriate music to go with this post: Now, on with the post! Tony Jones has suggested in a blog post that I am wrong in what I wrote about the massacre of the innocents. He is wrong about my wrongness, and this post is to explain why. The heart of the [Read More…]

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Breezy Point Theology

This photo from Queens has been circulating widely, showing the devastation caused by fires which broke out in Breezy Point during Hurricane Sandy: The survival of the statue of Mary impressed some Catholics. But as you might expect, I think this illustrates the sort of thing which I blog about often, and which I was [Read More…]

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Don’t Worship a God that isn’t as Loving as You Are

In my freshmen seminar class “Faith, Doubt, and Reason,” we discussed the problem of evil, with the classic statement that (1) divine omnipotence, (2) perfect divine goodness/justice, and (3) the reality of evil are incompatible. Before exploring other possibilities which try to preserve all three, I asked students which they would remove if they had [Read More…]

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