Christian Faith and the Problem of Evil

Christian Faith and the Problem of Evil

Christian Faith and the Problem of Evil

Christian Faith and the Problem of Evil

Excerpt

Theists often ask why a loving and all-powerful God allows terrible things to happen. Atheists have a simple answer: if there were a loving and all-powerful God, he wouldn’t allow terrible things to happen, and, since terrible things do happen, it follows that a loving and all-powerful God does not exist. This argument for the non-existence of God is sometimes called the argument from evil — “evil” being just another way of saying “terrible things.”

In June and July of 1999, I directed a six-week seminar devoted to the argument from evil. The seminar was one of a series of “Summer Seminars in Christian Scholarship” sponsored by Calvin College and funded by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts. Participation in the seminar was limited to Christian scholars teaching at North American colleges and universities. The thirteen members of the seminar were chosen from thirty-six very able applicants. It was expected that in the year following the seminar, each member of the seminar would write an essay, an original piece of scholarly research, on the topic to which the seminar was devoted.

The essays that the members of the seminar wrote were presented at a conference at Calvin the following spring. In addition to the members of the seminar, three distinguished philosophers who had not participated in the seminar — Paul Draper, Alvin Plantinga, and Richard Otte — were invited to present papers at the conference. The papers presented at that conference are collected in this volume. (But three participants in the seminar and the conference asked permission to publish their papers elsewhere, and I reluctantly granted it. It should also be mentioned that . . .

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