Why Is There Evil?

God and Evil, by Michael Galligan (Paulist, 1976, 80 pp., $1.65 pb), God, Power, and Evil, by David R. Griffin (Westminster, 1976, 336 pp., $17.50), Evil, Suffering and Religion, by Brian Hebblethwaite (Hawthorn, 1976, 115 pp., $3.50 pb), and How God Deals With Evil, by W. Sibley Towner (Westminster, 1976, 185 pp., $4.95 pb), are reviewed by Steve Siebert, graduate student, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.

One often hears these days that modern man is faced, as never before, with a series of objections to Christian belief known as the “problem of evil.” Although it is acknowledged that Augustine and others in the Christian tradition struggled with the presence of massive evil in a world alleged to have been created by a good God, it is claimed that the wars, concentration camps, and gas chambers of modern times have focused the contrast between God and evil even more sharply. Indeed, for many people it has become the apologetic problem of our time. With such considerations, in mind, these four books have been written.

The shortest and in many ways the wisest is Michael Galligan’s God and Evil. In the space of forty-five pages he examines two traditional and two contemporary justifications of God (“theodicies”) in the face of an evil world. Traditionally the most popular, the theodicy of free will (associated with Augustine, but it was the consensus of the Western church until after the reformation, and is still espoused in conservative circles) locates the source of moral evil in man’s free rejection of a perfect created state, and explains natural evils with reference to testing by God or punishment for sin, or else traces it to the malicious intent of a fallen ...

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