Open Access Presidential Scholars Thesis
Jerome Soneson, Faculty Thesis Advisor
We are all aware of the great amount of tragedy in the world. Natural disasters have brought massive devastation on entire communities. Death and illness have brought grief and suffering upon every family at some point in time. Severe accidents and physical ailments have altered the lives of numerous individuals. And the list could go on.
It seems as if such suffering is random. And it is clear that such suffering is not distributed on the basis of good or evil that people have done. Both the godly and the wicked suffer. Christian philosopher William Lane Craig writes, "I think of a prominent Christian leader in my home town who was decapitated in a sledding accident when he ran into a barbed wire fence he hadn't seen; or of a pastor who backed out of his driveway and killed his infant son, who had been playing behind the car; or of some Canadian missionaries who were forced to return from the field when their little daughter fell from her third story window to the concrete driveway below and suffered severe brain damage." 1 The question of why such suffering comes upon us is hard.
The question gets even harder when that suffering is a result of the malice and wickedness of other people. It is a terrible thing for a friend to be killed when his car slides off of a bridge in an icy blizzard. It is an even worse thing if that friend is killed by a drunk driver. It is utterly tragic that so many millions die each year from droughts. But the problem of suffering is doubled when we consider the millions who have died from things such as murder, genocide, and war. For then the issue is not simply how such terrible things could happen to so many, but how human beings could be capable of such wickedness. In World War II alone, more than 51 million people were killed--6 million of those Jews maliciously slain in concentration camps.
Date of Award
Department of Philosophy and World Religions
Presidential Scholar Designation
A paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation Presidential Scholar
1 PDF file (105 pages)
©1998 Matt Perman
Perman, Matt, "Solving the problem of evil" (1998). Presidential Scholars Theses (1990 – 2006). 27.