A Frightening Love: Recasting the Problem of Evil by Andrew Gleeson

By Andrew Gleeson

A daunting Love notably rethinks God and evil. It rejects theodicy and its impersonal perception of cause and morality. religion survives evil via a wonderful love that resists philosophical clarification. Authors criticised contain Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, Marilyn McCord Adams, Peter van Inwagen, John Haldane, William Hasker.

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He is also right to imply that it is similarly absurd to suggest, on the basis of an analogy between God and human parents, that God should not have created the world. But if I endorse the idea that parents – normal loving parents, not caught in a dilemma, not seeking to prevent the violation of some value dear to them and their sense of life’s importance, and not subject to the sway of some unruly passion – would in fact, and do in fact, have children despite the high probability of their being subject to evil, do I not go back on my emphatic claim from Section 2 that such parents would find the very idea of that unthinkable, however great the ultimate good for their children or anyone else?

Understandably, some theodicists have sought to distance themselves from this model. Perhaps the best known is Marilyn McCord Adams (1999, 2001), who develops a quasi-aesthetic account in which the good and evil combine in an ‘organic whole’ of such overall goodness that the evil is ‘defeated’. Most atheologians challenge only the factual assumptions of theodicy, or assumptions of logic and probability. If those factual assumptions are granted, and the underlying moral assumption left unquestioned, theodicy may well win the day.

They believe (or so it can be said in their defence) that something more than morality is at stake here. There is also the love that impels them to create new life, and that is a rival value to morality, with the power to check its authority. In the light of that love, morality, by presuming to judge them, reaches beyond its jurisdiction. This is a consequence, or an aspect, of the fact that the parents do not bear children for the sake of any good beyond the children’s existence, not any collective good or the children’s eternal beatitude, if they believe in such a thing.

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