The Problem with Evil

03 Aug 2017

This essay contends that there are significant theological problems connected with the use of the term “evil” to label states of affairs, such that the “problem with evil” is that we are too quick to presume to know what evil is. If evil is defined as that which is against the good, and the good is identified with God’s will, then the use of “evil” should be restricted to those actions of free creatures that oppose the divine will. The classic understanding of evil as a privation of good will therefore be rejected, on the grounds that it depends on an expectation that the good of individual creatures should conform to a general type. It follows that instances of what is traditionally termed “natural evil” are not properly categorized either as evil or as good, but rather as occasions for the discernment of how God’s will for creaturely flourishing is to be realised in a particular context.