Wright on Theodicy: Reflections on Evil and the Justice of God

Philosophia Christi 10 (2):461-472 (2008)
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In "Evil and the Justice of God", N.T. Wright presses the point that attempting to solve the philosophical problem of evil is an immature response to the existence of evil--a response that belittles the real problem of evil, which is just the fact that evil is bad and needs to be dealt with. As you might expect, I am not inclined to endorse this sort of sweeping indictment of the entire field of research on the philosophical problem of evil. (I sort of doubt that Wright really meant to either.) But I do think that there is a kernel of truth in what I take to be Wright's fundamental objection to attempts to solve the philosophical problem of evil. In the first section of what follows, I will try briefly to explain why. I will then go on to argue that, despite this fact, certain efforts at solving the problem of evil avoid Wright's objection. Indeed, drawing on recent work by Elenore Stump, I will argue that one perfectly legitimate way to try to solve the philosophical problem of evil is to follow precisely what seems to be the main piece of advice in "Evil and the Justice of God": namely, to look more seriously than we have at the attitudes taken toward evil by human authors of and characters in the Bible, and to attend more carefully to what the Bible says about how God deals with evil.
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