Classical Theism, Evil and Its Varieties: Abrahamic Science-Engaged Theology

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2024) | Viewed by 8149

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Department of Social Sciences and Medical Humanities, Faculty of Medicine, University of Rijeka, 51000 Rijeka, Croatia
Interests: philosophy of science; philosophy of religion; neurophilosophy; philosophical anthropology; cognitive science of religion; ontology; theodicy
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Faculty of Theology, Nicolaus Copernicus University, 87-100 Toruń, Poland
Interests: theology of science; theodicy; science–religion debate; Thomism; pilgrimage; medieval liturgy; philosophy of religion; religious freedom

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Guest Editor
College of Natural and Health Sciences, Zayed University, Dubai 19282, United Arab Emirates
Interests: Islamic theology; Islam and atheism; Islam and science

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The problem of evil and its varieties are one of the most significant issues that affect all theistic traditions. On the one hand, several theists believe that God is omnibenevolent, alongside being omniscient and omnipotent. On the other hand, suffering and evil exist in the universe. How can we reconcile these two apparent contradicting positions? Several theological and philosophical developments in classical theism (in Islam, Christianity, and Judaism) tried to square this issue in various ways.

However, the contemporary period raises many new issues that demand renewed attention to an age-old question. New problems have arisen in biology, medicine, genetics, cognitive science, anthropological findings, social and cultural complexities, and environmental issues, to name a few, which provide new and exciting avenues for the problem of evil.

For instance, Yujun Nagasawa (2018) suggests that evolutionary biology requires a new moral category of evil that he calls the 'systemic problem of evil,' as it is a long-term process that governs the development of life, which has resulted in extensive death and suffering of several lifeforms in the process. Accordingly, it does not neatly fit into the categories of moral or natural evil. Another example is the discussion of biological determinism, which is the position that our genes influence us towards certain behaviours because of our genetic predispositions. How strongly should we let such insights affect our understanding of moral agency, which affects our understanding of moral evil? Such questions and inquiries are of interest to this Special Issue.

In the spirit of science-engaged theology (Perry and Leidenhag, 2021), we believe that new and rich theological developments can be made in light of these new developments. We invite you to join our adventure of understanding all these new forms of evil that continue to challenge theistic traditions. In this Special Issue, original research articles and reviews are welcome, particularly interdisciplinary approaches to the topic.

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

References

Nagasawa, Yujin. 2018. “The Problem of Evil for Atheists.” In Nick N Trakakis, ed. The Problem of Evil: Eight Views in Dialogue. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 151–175.

John Perry and Joanna Leidenhag. 2021. “What is Science-Engaged Theology?” Modern Theology, 37(2), 245-253.

Dr. Sasa Horvat
Dr. Piotr Roszak
Dr. Shoaib Ahmed Malik
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • evil
  • theism
  • biology
  • theodicy
  • indeterminancy
  • values
  • moral

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

12 pages, 282 KiB  
Article
NIODA and the Problem of Evil: God as Ultimate Determiner
by Javier Sánchez-Cañizares
Religions 2023, 14(8), 1037; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14081037 - 14 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1241
Abstract
The problem of evil permeates contemporary theodicy, raising the question of how an omnipotent and benevolent God can allow its existence. Exploring this inquiry is inherently tied to investigating divine action, specifically the interplay between time and eternity within a temporary creation. In [...] Read more.
The problem of evil permeates contemporary theodicy, raising the question of how an omnipotent and benevolent God can allow its existence. Exploring this inquiry is inherently tied to investigating divine action, specifically the interplay between time and eternity within a temporary creation. In recent decades, the Non-Interventionist Objective Divine Action (NIODA) project has endeavored to present a science-backed perspective that acknowledges a respectful divine action harmonizing with the workings of nature. However, this viewpoint has faced criticism from various angles, particularly for its perceived inability to provide a definitive response to the problem of evil. This contribution aims to overcome these criticisms. While not necessarily endorsing the NIODA proposal, it seeks to present a fresh outlook on the question of evil that aligns with NIODA, addressing the dichotomy between the unity and plurality of divine action in the world and offering novel insights for the Christian doctrine of creation. Full article
13 pages, 2221 KiB  
Article
Anatomical Analysis of Holbein’s Dead Christ in the Tomb and Corresponding Theological Commentary
by Daniel Miščin and Lovorka Grgurević
Religions 2023, 14(7), 951; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070951 - 24 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1037
Abstract
Approaching Hans Holbein’s painting The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb (1521/22) this paper combines the expertise of anatomical analysis and the perspective of theology and philosophy in order to address some of the well-rooted assumptions about Holbein in the historical [...] Read more.
Approaching Hans Holbein’s painting The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb (1521/22) this paper combines the expertise of anatomical analysis and the perspective of theology and philosophy in order to address some of the well-rooted assumptions about Holbein in the historical reception of his Dead Christ. The authors propose a balanced conclusion about the hypothesis of a drowned man from the Rhine being a model for the painting, pointing out that the body of the man from Holbein’s painting, according to anatomical details, could not have previously been in water. Furthermore, the absence of an Adam’s apple on Christ’s body is interpreted in the light of New Testament texts, rather than as a result of Holbein’s lack of anatomical precision. Similarly, the fact that Holbein painted a corpse deprived of all signs of divinity is seen in connection with the theological notion of kenosis. Ultimately, the authors conclude that the results of the anatomical analysis reflect the key elements of the hermeneutics of Gospel reports of Christ’s passion and death. Full article
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26 pages, 403 KiB  
Article
God in the Face of Natural and Moral Evils: A Thomistic Approach
by Juan José Sanguineti
Religions 2023, 14(7), 816; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070816 - 21 Jun 2023
Viewed by 1146
Abstract
The existence of evil in a world created by God raises very difficult questions to answer. Under the inspiration of Thomistic philosophy, in this article we face this problem first of all “from below”, trying to understand the meaning of physical evils in [...] Read more.
The existence of evil in a world created by God raises very difficult questions to answer. Under the inspiration of Thomistic philosophy, in this article we face this problem first of all “from below”, trying to understand the meaning of physical evils in living nature, especially in animals (pain, aggressive interactions). Secondly, in thinking of the enormous amount of moral evil in the human world, we consider the biblical faith in original sin as illuminating. We examine some points of Thomas Aquinas in this regard, especially his thesis that the physical cosmos is not affected by original sin and that the loss of man’s primitive happy situation involves a contradiction between his spiritual aspirations and his mortal nature subject to limits and suffering. This situation is remedied by the help God gives man through his ordinary Providence, which includes a personal struggle against evil, and above all through his salvific plan which we know thanks to the biblical faith. Full article
17 pages, 270 KiB  
Article
Rape with Murder and Suicide: The Evidential Argument from Evil against Naturalism
by Han Jen Chang
Religions 2023, 14(6), 715; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14060715 - 29 May 2023
Viewed by 2828
Abstract
The problem of evil seems to have been the patent of theism for a long time. However, some philosophers notice that this is not necessarily the case and raise arguments from evil against atheism. In this paper, I follow this insight and raise [...] Read more.
The problem of evil seems to have been the patent of theism for a long time. However, some philosophers notice that this is not necessarily the case and raise arguments from evil against atheism. In this paper, I follow this insight and raise the evidential argument from evil against naturalism. I argue that some human behaviors that cause evil and suffering contradict the principles of evolution and should not exist in a naturalistic world. Nevertheless, they do exist, and they accordingly disconfirm naturalism. To attain this conclusion, I first establish that psychological mechanisms as evolutionary causes are the ultimate causes of human behaviors if naturalism is true. Then, I argue that cases of rape with murder and suicide have contravened their relevant psychological mechanisms’ adaptive functions and should not exist. Therefore, cases of these behaviors make it reasonable to believe that naturalism is not true. Both naturalists and theists now have to raise plausible explanations for various evils in the world. It is possible for theism to outcompete naturalism with respect to evil as a result. Full article
12 pages, 286 KiB  
Article
How to Study the Historical Imprint of Religions on Cultures According to Christopher Dawson
by Rubén Herce
Religions 2023, 14(3), 372; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14030372 - 13 Mar 2023
Viewed by 935
Abstract
Christopher Dawson is one of the great philosophers of history. He understood the signs of the times and anticipated what was to come in Western society. He considered religion to be the soul of cultures and showed this in his writings. The aim [...] Read more.
Christopher Dawson is one of the great philosophers of history. He understood the signs of the times and anticipated what was to come in Western society. He considered religion to be the soul of cultures and showed this in his writings. The aim of this article is to articulately present Dawson’s vision of how to study religions from his discipline. To this end, it first shows the possibility of the scientific study of religion. Then it explains the method suggested by Dawson for such a study and the relevance of religious experiences and religious social types as sources for the study of religion. Finally, it analyses the constitutive elements of religion and the notions of religion that Dawson handles, always from a historical approach open to the transcendent. Full article
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