Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina, Emotions, Logic, and the Problem of Evil

Steve Hays has a good article at his blog responding to common objections raised by critics of Christianity (and critics of religion in general) in times of difficulty, such as what we're experiencing with hurricane Katrina. I thought I would post some comments from the Christian philosopher William Craig, regarding his assessment of recent trends among philosophers:

“So, to sum up our discussion of the logical problem of evil, we have seen that there is no necessary incompatibility between the presence of an all-good, all-powerful God and the presence of evil in the world. And I’m extremely pleased to report to you that after centuries of discussion, contemporary philosophy has come to recognize this fact. It is now widely admitted that the logical problem of evil has been solved. (Praise the Lord for Christian philosophers like Alvin Plantinga to whom this result is due!)...The versions of the problem [of evil] I have discussed so far tried to show that two beliefs held by Christians, namely that God exists and that the world contains the evils we observe, are either inconsistent or improbable with respect to each other. Most atheists have now abandoned the internal problem [of evil] in their attacks upon Christianity. Instead they claim that the apparently pointless and unnecessary evils in the world – usually referred to as gratuitous evil – constitute evidence against God’s existence. That is to say, they argue that the two statements ‘An all-powerful, all-good God exists’ and ‘Gratuitous evil exists’ are incompatible with each other.” (Hard Questions, Real Answers [Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2003], pp. 86-87, 101)

Craig goes on to explain how the objection on the basis of alleged gratuitous evil also fails. But that's not the issue I'm addressing here. Regardless of the validity of the arguments, the problem of evil is being perceived as less of a problem in philosophical circles, if Craig is correct in his assessment. Whatever emotional reactions people have to something like a hurricane, there's no incompatibility between such an event and the existence of an omnipotent and loving God, and it seems that this fact is becoming more widely acknowledged.