THEODICY AND THE INTERPERSONAL PROBLEM OF EVIL
Williams, Tate Matthew
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The problem of evil in its current state is an argument against the existence of God from the existence of suffering in the world. Theistic response has developed along two lines: theodicy, which attempts to explain suffering by appealing to overriding, justifying goods; and skeptical theism, which calls into question the argument itself, typically on the grounds of our limited capacity to know the reasons for suffering if they existed. In this thesis I compare the current way of framing the problem of evil to the way it was framed by St. Thomas Aquinas, and I find that compared to him contemporary philosophers are thinking about the problem in a very narrow way. For Aquinas, I argue, suffering was as much a challenge to interpersonal connection with God as it was a challenge to God’s existence. I explore this broader way of framing the issue by reformulating the problem of evil as an argument against the Christian practice of trusting God. I conclude by surveying possible avenues of response by Christian theists to this new formulation of the problem of evil, arguing that there are serious barriers to a successful skeptical theistic response. As a result, I recommend theodicy as the most promising avenue.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeHowe, Leslie; O'Hagan, Emer; Liptay, John; Dahl, Darren
Copyright DateDecember 2020
The Problem of Evil, Aquinas, Theodicy, Skeptical theism