What Is Evil For The Darwinist?

Twilight are, I think, very telling. Most striking to me is how few of your correspondents — and none in the set of notes posted just yesterday morning — seem interested in, or even cite with a measure of familiarity, any of the great Christian theologians on the matter: St. Augustine or St. Thomas, Luther or Calvin, Kierkegaard, or even a near contemporary like Reinhold Niebuhr. As far back as Augustine, Genesis was being interpreted in a non-literal or allegorical manner! So to argue over the precise timing of Adam and Eve "eating an apple," as your one correspondent did, is nothing short of bizarre — its genuinely a world of discourse thousands of years out of date. You know this, of course. But its striking how many of your presumably secular or at agnostic correspondents imagine a religious response to evil and suffering only through the terms set by fundamentalists. They counter a stilted argument proffered by fundamentalist theology then go on as if their work is done. This not only is pretty cheap intellectually, but incredibly impoverishing for our public discourse. The best word for it, I think, is ignorant.

I recently spent a great deal of time re-reading Niebuhr (and thus, by extension, Augustine and Kierkegaard) on the problem of sin and

The Weekend Wrap

In his Sunday column, Andrew assessed Obama's first eight months of foreign policy. The neoconservative panic continued, but some principled conservatives were willing to cut the president some slack. And a few readers dialed back Andrew's optimism over Iran. In other news, Bill Clinton finally recanted over marriage equality, more gruesome details emerged from Kentucky, … Continue reading The Weekend Wrap

Dissent Of The Day

A reader writes:

I've been following your posts on theodicy and it dovetails with something that's happening in my own life right now.

A cousin just died last Friday of ALS – Lou Gehrig's disease. I don't know how familiar you are with the disease, but it's among the most cruel, evil of diseases – robbing the person of his ability to move, to communicate, to go to the bathroom by himself – yet leaving his or her mind untouched.

The Daily Wrap

A particularly scattered mix on the Dish today. Speaking at the UN, the president had the courage and common sense to use words like "torture" and "occupation." Speaking at a China-based, French-owned financial brokerage, Palin caused people to walk out. Andrew primarily tackled the precarious political position in Iran (whose people seem more and more … Continue reading The Daily Wrap

A World Without Pain


"Pain teaches," said her mother, Trish Gingras. "Pain protects. Pain can save you from a lot of bad things in life." Gabby, who is 5, suffers from an extremely rare disorder called congenital insensitivity to pain. For unknown reasons, the connection between the nerves that sense pain and the brain's recognition of pain is missing. Her other sensory areas — touch, heat, vibration, and the ability to perceive movement — are normal.

Some of the complications this has caused:

The Daily Wrap

The Dish hummed with activity today. Andrew continued to express misgivings about the Gulliver-like situation in Afghanistan, and criticized McChrystal for the pressure he seems to be exerting on the White House – a concern challenged by Dish readers. Building on the reactions to yesterday's leak, we grabbed commentary from Exum, Ricks, Packer, Michael Lind, … Continue reading The Daily Wrap

An Old Debate

Russell Blackford argues that the paradox of suffering requires one to become an atheist. He writes that the "intellectually honest response, painful though it may be, is to stop believing in that God": [M]ost of the supposed explanations of evil make sense only in a pre-scientific setting. They are now absurdly implausible even at face … Continue reading An Old Debate

On Heaven

A passage from James Wood’s review of Bart D. Ehrman’s God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question—Why We Suffer: Heaven, one of the tenderest verses in the Bible has it, is where God will wipe away all tears from our faces. In her novel “Gilead,” Marilynne Robinson adds, in a … Continue reading On Heaven