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Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God

Marilyn McCord Adams (Cornell University Press: Oct 2000), 240 pages.

When confronted by horrendous evil, even the most pious believer may question not only life’s worth but also God’s power and goodness. A distinguished philosopher and a practicing minister, Marilyn McCord Adams has written a highly original work on a fundamental dilemma of Christian thought — how to reconcile faith in God with the evils that afflict human beings. Adams argues that much of the discussion in analytic philosophy of religion over the last forty years has offered too narrow an understanding of the problem. The ground rules accepted for the discussion have usually led philosophers to avert their gaze from the worst “horrendous” evils and their devastating impact on human lives. They have agreed to debate the issue on the basis of religion-neutral values, and have focused on morals, an approach that — Adams claims — is inadequate for formulating and solving the problem of horrendous evils. She emphasizes instead the fruitfulness of other evaluative categories such as purity and defilement, honor and shame, and aesthetics. If redirected, philosophical reflection on evil can, Adams’s book demonstrates, provide a valuable approach not only to theories of God and evil but also to pastoral care. ~ Publisher’s Description

Table of Contents

    • Acknowledgments
    • Introduction    1
  • Pt. 1    Deconstructing a Problem    5
    • 1    Problems of Evil    7
    • 2    Global Goodness and Its Limitations    17
    • 3    The Dignity of Human Nature?    32
  • Pt. 2    Conceptual Enrichments    57
    • 4    Divine Agency, Remodeled    62
    • 5    Purity and Defilement    86
    • 6    Symbolic Value: Honor and Shame    106
    • 7    Taste and See …    129
  • Pt. 3    Resolution and Relevance    153
    • 8    Resources to the Rescue    155
    • 9    The Praxis of Evil    181
    • Conclusion: Horrors, Disruptive and Disrupting    203
    • Works Cited    209
    • Index    215