Cover image for Horrendous evils and the goodness of God
Horrendous evils and the goodness of God
Adams, Marilyn McCord.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xi, 220 pages ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1580 Lexile.
Format :


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BJ1401 .A435 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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When confronted by horrendous evil, even the most pious believer may question not only life's worth but also God's power and goodness. A distinguished philosopher and a practicing minister, Marilyn McCord Adams has written a highly original work on a fundamental dilemma of Christian thought--how to reconcile faith in God with the evils that afflict human beings. Adams argues that much of the discussion in analytic philosophy of religion over the last forty years has offered too narrow an understanding of the problem. The ground rules accepted for the discussion have usually led philosophers to avert their gaze from the worst--horrendous--evils and their devastating impact on human lives. They have agreed to debate the issue on the basis of religion-neutral values, and have focused on morals, an approach that--Adams claims--is inadequate for formulating and solving the problem of horrendous evils. She emphasizes instead the fruitfulness of other evaluative categories such as purity and defilement, honor and shame, and aesthetics. If redirected, philosophical reflection on evil can, Adams's book demonstrates, provide a valuable approach not only to theories of God and evil but also to pastoral care.

Author Notes

Marilyn McCord Adams is Horace Tracy Pitkin Professor of Historical Theology at Yale's Divinity School and Department of Religious Studies. She is the author of William Ockham and co-editor of The Problem of Evil.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. i
Introductionp. 1
Part 1 Deconstructing a Problemp. 5
1 Problems of Evilp. 7
2 Global Goodness and Its Limitationsp. 17
3 The Dignity of Human Nature?p. 32
Part 2 Conceptual Enrichmentsp. 57
Introduction to Part Twop. 59
4 Divine Agency, Remodeledp. 62
5 Purity and Defilementp. 86
6 Symbolic Value: Honor and Shamep. 106
7 Taste and See ...p. 129
Part 3 Resolution and Relevancep. 153
8 Resources to the Rescuep. 155
9 The Praxis of Evilp. 181
Conclusion: Horrors, Disruptive and Disruptingp. 203
Works Citedp. 209
Indexp. 215