Stump, Eleonore. The Problem of Evil
Abstract: This paper considers briefly the approach to the problem of evil by Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, and John Hick and argues that none of these approaches is entirely satisfactory. The paper then develops a different strategy for dealing with the problem of evil by expounding and taking seriously three Christian claims relevant to the problem: Adam fell; natural evil entered the world as a result of Adam’s fall; and after death human beings go either to heaven or hell. Properly interpreted, these claims form the basis for a consistent and coherent Christian solution to the problem of evil.
Comment: A clear introduction to an important approach to the problem of evil. Good primary or secondary reading for undergraduate or postgraduate courses on philosophy of religion.
Stump, Eleonore. Wandering in Darkness: Narrative And The Problem Of Suffering
Publisher’s Note: Only the most naive or tendentious among us would deny the extent and intensity of suffering in the world. Can one hold, consistently with the common view of suffering in the world, that there is an omniscient, omnipotent, perfectly good God? This book argues that one can. Wandering in Darkness first presents the moral psychology and value theory within which one typical traditional theodicy, namely, that of Thomas Aquinas, is embedded. It explicates Aquinas’s account of the good for human beings, including the nature of love and union among persons. Eleonore Stump also makes use of developments in neurobiology and developmental psychology to illuminate the nature of such union.
Stump then turns to an examination of narratives. In a methodological section focused on epistemological issues, the book uses recent research involving autism spectrum disorder to argue that some philosophical problems are best considered in the context of narratives. Using the methodology argued for, the book gives detailed, innovative exegeses of the stories of Job, Samson, Abraham and Isaac, and Mary of Bethany.
In the context of these stories and against the backdrop of Aquinas’s other views, Stump presents Aquinas’s own theodicy, and shows that Aquinas’s theodicy gives a powerful explanation for God’s allowing suffering. She concludes by arguing that this explanation constitutes a consistent and cogent defense for the problem of suffering.
Comment: The book, or extracts from the book, could be used in postgraduate teaching on philosophy of religion. Though the book functions as a whole, individual chapters could be used in teaching to address specific subtopics of the book. Part 1 of the book is useful as an account of the use of narrative in philosophy, and an illustration of the broader range of methods now deployed in analytic philosophy. Part 2 gives a detailed overview of accounts of the nature of love. Part 4 could be profitably used on its own in a course dealing with the problem of evil, though it does contain back-reference to earlier parts of the book.