Critical Remarks on a Theocentric Solution to the Problem of Evil
In this paper, Robert Audi’s thoughts on the ineffaceable problem of evil are critically discussed. Audi develops his thought on God and evil within a broader framework that seeks to defend the possibility of rational religious commitment. He proposes a theocentric solution to the problem, which is focused on the divine experience with creation and which asks for the conditions a world has to fulfill in order to be good enough for being created by an omnicompetent God. Following this line of thought, the problem of evil can be solved if the enormous value of divine experience made in the world and with all creatures that live on earth is included in the overall comparison of good and evil. The paper provides a detailed reconstruction of Audi’s argumentation and locates it within its broader philosophical contexts. Furthermore, it considers three difficulties Audi’s theocentric solution has to resolve: Firstly, a theocentric theodicy cannot fully explain the existence of natural evil, especially horrendous natural evil. Secondly, such a position seemingly has to accept fairly burdensome metaphysical assumptions regarding the character of divine experience. Finally, an alternative theocentric conception that allows for divine regret seems to be in line with Audi’s philosophy of religion and might eventually be more responsive to human experience with great moral evil.
KeywordsNatural evil Philosophy of religion Problem of evil Rationality of religious belief Theism Theodicy
- Adams, Marilyn McCord. 1999. Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
- ———. 2001. The Architecture of Reason. The Structure and Substance of Rationality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- ———. 2004. The Good in the Right. A Theory of Intuition and Intrinsic Value. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Davis, Stephen T. 1981. Free Will and Evil. In Encountering Evil. Live Options in Theodicy, ed. Stephen T. Davis, 69–83. London: Continuum International Pub. Group.Google Scholar
- Hick, John. 1966. Evil and the God of Love. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
- ———. 1981. An Irenaean Theodicy. In Encountering Evil. Live Options in Theodicy, ed. Stephen T. Davis, 39–52. London: Continuum International Pub. Group.Google Scholar
- Howard-Snyder, Daniel, ed. 1996. The Evidential Argument from Evil. Bloomington/Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
- Leftow, Brian. 2014. Immutability. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2014/entries/immutability/. Accessed 23 Feb 2017.
- Peterson, Michael L., ed. 1992. The Problem of Evil. Selected Readings. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
- ———. 1998. God and Evil. An Introduction to the Issues. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
- Plantinga, Alvin. 1974. God, Freedom and Evil. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans.Google Scholar
- Rowe, William. 1979. The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism. American Philosophical Quarterly 16: 335–341.Google Scholar
- Trakakis, Nick. 2016. The Evidential Problem of Evil. In The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://www.iep.utm.edu/evil-evi/. Accessed 10 Aug 2016.
- Wilkinson, Michael B., and Hugh N. Campbell. 2010. Philosophy of Religion. An Introduction. London: Continuum.Google Scholar