The Corner

Second that Motion

Ross has a high-brow hail Mary bleg for someone to do a history of theodicy. I think it’s a nifty idea and have my own reasons for wanting to see it done/theories for why I think Ross may be right:

Inspired by James Wood’s latest litany of eloquent complaints against the God in whom he doesn’t believe, here’s something I’d like to see: A history of popular theodicy, tracing the influence of the “argument from the existence of evil” against belief in God (or the Christian God, at least) throughout the course of Western history. It’s my impression – and it’s only an impression, which is why I’d like to see someone do the necessary intellectual spadework to refute it or back it up – that this argument has gained increasing currency even as our material conditions have dramatically improved; which is to say, the less suffering a particular population experiences, the more likely the suffering it does experience will be cited as evidence against the existence of a benevolent deity. (Or put another way, you’re more likely to hear New Yorker writers wax indignant about how the existence of human misery precludes their believing in God than you are to hear the same argument from people in slightly less comfortable positions.)…. 

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