What is called the problem of evil is formulated to challenge the theists who believe the world to be created by an omnipotent and completely good deity to reconcile their belief with the preponderance of evil in it that the deity, they should admit, cannot cause or allow. Forms of theodicy that offer reconciliations have been, and still are, among the main topics in the philosophy of religion. A preoccupation with the problem of evil as understood in a theistic framework and its possible theodicical resolutions has impeded thinking about a problem or problems of evil that may arise in non-theistic frameworks.
At a historical juncture when non-theistic alternatives to theistic faiths interest a growing number of thinking people, a palpable need exists to clarify the structure of the problematique of evil outside theistic presuppositions. I shall describe and contrast the ways metaphysical, cosmological, anthropological and ethical considerations intertwine in transcendent theism and in representative non-theistic frameworks including Spinoza, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Buddhism, and show that problems of evil motivate equally intense and structurally complex reflection in both theistic and non-theistic forms of consciousness. I intend this study to redound to the realization that not only do diverse forms of spirituality exist but they can be lived with equal authenticity and dignity.
|Keywords:||Evil, Problem of Evil, Theism, Non-theistic Alternatives, Forms of Spirituality|
Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, College of Arts and Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Shaker Heights, Ohio, USA
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