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Suffering Belief: Evil and the Anglo-American Defense of Theism (Toronto Studies in Religion) Paperback – March 1, 1999
«As a philosopher of religion who has defended theism for many years, I find it hard to convince myself that the criticisms of belief in God to be found in this book can all be refuted. I recommend the book highly to theists, agnostics, and atheists alike.» (Clement Dore, Chair of Philosophy, Emeritus, Vanderbilt University)
«Professor Weisberger's work is the most clear, careful, and comprehensive review and evaluation of the recent literature on the problem of evil that one could hope for. It is valuable both as a source book and as a complete study.» (Michael Hodges, Professor of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University)
About the Author
The Author: A. M. Weisberger, who was Chair of Philosophy and Religion at a private liberal arts college for many years, received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Vanderbilt University. Her interest in issues of suffering and justice has been a dominant force in her research, which spans the areas of philosophy of religion, practical ethics, and Holocaust studies. She has published on a variety of topics in professional journals in philosophy, religion, and the sciences.
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"The theist . . . must explain why [the] abundance of evil persists and why the number of rapes, murders, child torturers, serial killers, bombings, animal cruelties, and the like proliferate at a rate that threatens to exhaust and suffocate us." (pg. 233)
What Weisberger has set out to do is explain the problem of natural and moral evil and the many attempts by theists to defend God against unjustified evils. After laying out the problem, Weisberger delves deep into two types of solutions to the problem of evil: Concessionary and Non-Concessionary Solutions. The former type of solutions deny one of the premises of the problem of evil (namely, denying that evil exists, or that God is all-powerful or all-good), while the latter accept all the premises, but create a theodicy, or an attempt to protect God from all the evil in the world.
I found the Non-Concessionary Solutions to be most insightful, due to the fact that most theists will not, (1) deny evil, or (2), re-define what God is. Weisberger gives a lot of attention and detail to the Free Will Defense, whereby an attempt is made to justify the existence of evil by positing that free agents will do good and evil.
Weisberger gives the theist side their due by formulating and analyzing their arguments in a respectful though tough way. She never dismisses an argument without giving the theist's best argument and explaining why we have no good reason to accept it.
Although the writing style is for those interested in philosophy (so dense at times), the material is very engaging. I'd recommend this to anyone who has taken at least one philosophy course, due to some of the concepts discussed.
The problem of evil has fascinated me for years. Not only do I find it a challenge to the central claim of Western theism, namely, God, but it points out of the amount of unnecessary suffering that exists in our world. Believing that all the evil that does exist is going to one day "all make sense" and be fine, does nothing to actually help alleviate much of the suffering that exists.
"If we soberly consider that this world, this level of existence, with all its manifold beauties and horrors, is what demands our full attention, then perhaps greater efforts would be made to improve our environment." (pg. 234-235)
Dr. Weisberger's book is a concise yet precise examination of the age-old but apparently intractable Problem of Evil. Most astute here is the author's assertion that the burden of proof lies with the Theist. That is, since all the premises of the inconsistent triad are those asserted by the Theist and all previous attempts to resolve the inconsistency fail, the intractability of the Problem endures. While the traditional discussion is accurately and interestingly presented, some current contributions are also examined. Plantinga's theodicy rightly receives very little attention while Hick's epistemic distance and Dore's revised soulmaking are the subject of thorough treatment. Chapter Six, with its attention to the "Pollution Solution," includes treatment of a version previously unknown to this reader. Here again Weisberger demonstrates the pitfalls of such a proposed solution. Any rational thinker concerned with the Western God cannot avoid this book.
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Dr. Weisberger's book is a concise yet precise examination of the age-old but apparently intractable Problem of Evil.Read more