Theology and Philosophy

Problems of Evil Workshop

On 14 and 15 July 2014 the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy hosted The Problem of Evil workshop to consider the problem of reconciling the existence of a perfectly loving God with the suffering and evil in the world. The workshop set out to explore a range of responses and approaches to this difficult question including:

  • the construction of ‘theodicies’ (that is, attempts to identify God’s reasons for permitting evil), and 
  • proposals for rethinking the traditional understanding of God. 

In addition to ACU’s own Professor Kevin Hart FAHA (Eric D’Arcy Chair in Philosophy), we were especially privileged to have a number of international speakers. Professor Eleonore Stump drew upon her innovative and wide-ranging book, Wandering in Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering. Other international presenters, each of whom is known for their significant contribution to the problem of evil, were:

  • Professor Terrence Tilley (Avery Cardinal Dulles Chair in Catholic Theology at Fordham University)
  • Professor Beverley Clack (Oxford Brookes University, who is also involved in politics as a local councillor), and
  • Professor John Bishop (University of Auckland).

Local participants included Professor Graham Oppy from Monash University, Dr Andrew Gleeson from Flinders University, and ACU’s Dr Nick Trakakis

The workshop was structured as an interactive discussion between the invited speakers, which extended to the speakers and audience members. Each speaker introduced and defended their own distinct perspective on the problem of evil, and this in turn was subjected to critical appraisal by the speakers and audience at large. The result was an engaging, sometimes even heated and entertaining, discussion on what is undoubtedly one of the most important questions we all face in our lifetime.