17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2009
The literature in contemporary analytic philosophy devoted to the problem of theodicy is vast and deep, but among the numerous books and articles, this one stands out to me. Adams admits at the end of the book that she has written enough that all readers will likely find something to be offended by in the text, but I believe it is also true that anyone who reads this book will find something of value in it.
A particular strength of the work is that instead of only thinking about how to justify God and his allowance of evils in the world in the abstract (e.g. Plantinga's free will defense, Hick's "soul-making" theodicy), Adams focuses upon the problem of evil from the perspective of the victim, and in doing this, comes across as being more sensitive to the sheer awfulness and horror that participants of horrendous evils experience. Adams defines "horrendous evils" as "evils that participation in which (that is, the doing or suffering of which) constitutes prima facie reason to doubt whether the participant's life could (given their inclusion in it( be a great good to him/her on the whole" (26). In providing a response to the problem of horrendous evils, Adams is concerned not with a global or generic explanation to the problem of evil, but wishes to show how God can make each individual participant's life a great good to him/her on the whole. If God is to be considered good to all, God must restore meaning to the life of the individual who has been a victim of horrendous evils.
Another positive in Adams's treatment of theodicy is her use of Christian resources in addressing the problem. Adams argues that the only way for horrendous evils to be defeated from within the perspective of the victim is by "integrating participation in horrendous evils into a person's relationship with God." In particular, it is the event of the cross, where the crucified Christ submits to death in god-forsakeness, that creates a point of identification between God and a humanity harassed by horrendous evils. God's participation in human horrors at the cross makes it possible for every victim of horrendous evils to integrate their narrative into God's own life and story, and thus suffuse their life with meaning and significance. An interesting consequence of her argument is that it entails a strong affirmation to universalism (hell turns out to be the paradigmatic example of a horrendous evil).
17 of 107 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2004
This was a very very painful book to read. The author when at the height of her career was a brilliant logician, and all aspiring medievalists from far and wide marvelled at her investigations into William of Ockham's thought. But now, alas, those days are over and the author has overextended her talent by attempting to take on the problem of evil (something she has engaged in before, if only qua editor) but this time by using obsolete, archaic theories of anthropology. Where did her degree in anthropology come from? There is no degree. Where are the references to contemporary anthropology? Not in this book -- in fact it seems like the author didn't bother to even read anyone whose written later than 1980! Good grief! What kind of book is this? Many of her colleagues and former students probably have tremendous sympathy over her loss of faith in analytic philosophy and all its false promises to truth and certainty. But just as many are probably chuckling at this ham-handed attempt to start anew, as if one could invent a discipline of anthrology ex nihilo. This book, as the Magistra would say if she knew any better, " is totally underwhelming."