Absolute idealism and the problem of evil

International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 82 (1):47-69 (2017)
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The problem of evil is regularly regarded as posing a serious threat to theistic belief. However, contemporary philosophers of religion have overlooked the ways in which this problem has been, or could be, handled by theists committed to the metaphysics of idealism. In seeking to redress this lacuna, I turn to the systems of the British idealists, popular in the late nineteenth century though now out of favour, and in particular the work of F.H. Bradley, while also drawing parallels with the Advaita Vedanta school of Hinduism. The central argument of this paper is that these idealist traditions have greater resources to adequately deal with the problem of evil than comparatively mainstream theist views. While standard forms of theism struggle to make sense of the facts of evil, or are even resoundly defeated by them, the conception of divinity suggested or developed by the British idealists offers possibilities for innovative and fruitful ways of thinking about the relationship between God and evil.



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Nick Trakakis
Australian Catholic University

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