When it comes to philosophy of religion, there are few topics as challenging, and interesting, as the problem of evil. At least as far back as the ancient thinker Epicurus, philosophers have been wrestling with the question, If God exists, then why is there evil? How can so much sin and suffering in the world be consistent with an all-powerful, perfectly good God? Much ink has been spilled on this issue, both critiquing religious belief because of this problem and offering reasons why God might permit evil.
At no time in history has there been so much published on the topic as there has been in the last few decades. Innovative formulations of the problem and equally innovative means of rebutting the objection continue to emerge, advancing the discussion in illuminating ways. The newly published God and Evil: The Case for God in a World Filled with Pain (InterVarsity, 2013) is a welcome addition to the conversation. Edited by Chad Meister and James K. Dew, Jr., the book features contributions from over twenty scholars, dealing with a wide variety of issues.
The first part of the book features three chapters (by Greg Ganssle, Yena Lee, James Dew and Bruce Little) that distinguish different formulations of the problem of evil. This is followed by a section offering several defenses and theodicies, including the “free process” defense (Garry DeWeese), the Augustinian approach (Doug Geivett), the Leibnizian “best possible world” theodicy, (Jill Graper Hernandez), and the Irenaean “soul-making” theodicy (by yours truly).
The next section features chapters on a variety of issues, including original sin and primeval sin (Paul Copan), the hiddenness of God (Chad Meister), evil and prayer (Charles Taliaferro), evil and the resurrection of Jesus (Gary Habermas), evil in non-Christian religions (Win Corduan), evil and the new atheism (David Beck), and evil as evidence for Christianity (Greg Ganssle).
The fourth section addresses issues of special current interest, including evil and religious diversity (William Lane Craig), evil and the problem of Hell (Kyle Blanchette and Jerry Walls), evil and intelligent design (William Dembski), and evil and evolution (Karl Giberson and Francis Collins). The book concludes with an appendix featuring the transcript of a well-known debate on the problem of evil between William Lane Craig and Michael Tooley.
Naturally, I was delighted to be a part of this project, and I’m eager to dig into the book with the Philosophy of Religion class I am teaching this semester. It is especially gratifying to see all of the Taylor University connections represented in the volume, including my illustrious colleague Win Corduan, our former student Jill Graper Hernandez (now a professor at University of Texas at San Antonio), and Doug Geivett, whom I replaced at Taylor when he left for Talbott School of Theology two decades ago.
If you are looking for a book that will introduce you to current perspectives on evil and provide a rich set of resources for responding to the problem, God and Evil would be ideal. All of us who contributed were careful to write our chapters in an engaging style that is informative but does not bog down in technical detail. So the book will be of interest to both the lay reader as well as the seasoned scholar.