The less suffering, the harder it is to deal with?

Ross Douthat wants someone to write a book entitled A History of Theodicy:

Here’s something I’d like to see: A history of popular theodicy, tracing the influence of the “argument from the existence of evil” against belief in God (or the Christian God, at least) throughout the course of Western history. It’s my impression – and it’s only an impression, which is why I’d like to see someone do the necessary intellectual spadework to refute it or back it up – that this argument has gained increasing currency even as our material conditions have dramatically improved; which is to say, the less suffering a particular population experiences, the more likely the suffering it does experience will be cited as evidence against the existence of a benevolent deity.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • JLarson

    Richard B. Schwartz wrote a book titled “Samuel Johnson and the Problem of Evil” that I used for my Johnson paper from grad school. I don’t have the book or paper in front of me, but I do remember that Schwartz deals with many of the popular philosophers’ ideas about this problem (Voltaire is a big one), and especially how Johnson dealt with them in responding to Soame Jennings.

  • JLarson

    Richard B. Schwartz wrote a book titled “Samuel Johnson and the Problem of Evil” that I used for my Johnson paper from grad school. I don’t have the book or paper in front of me, but I do remember that Schwartz deals with many of the popular philosophers’ ideas about this problem (Voltaire is a big one), and especially how Johnson dealt with them in responding to Soame Jennings.

  • allen

    “A history of popular theodicy, tracing the influence of the “argument from the existence of evil” against belief in God (or the Christian God, at least) throughout the course of Western history.”

    But, but, isn’t our very knowledge of good and evil an argument in favor of the existence of God? Surely no serious person contends that morality is a sort of mass-hallucination that highly evolved random vacuum fluctuations are prone to.

  • allen

    “A history of popular theodicy, tracing the influence of the “argument from the existence of evil” against belief in God (or the Christian God, at least) throughout the course of Western history.”

    But, but, isn’t our very knowledge of good and evil an argument in favor of the existence of God? Surely no serious person contends that morality is a sort of mass-hallucination that highly evolved random vacuum fluctuations are prone to.


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