Dr Marius Felderhof of the University of Birmingham delivered an excellent talk on ‘Theodicy’ – how theists attempt to assert the omnipotence and omnibenevolence of God despite the evil and suffering in the world. Dr Felderhof explained that there are a number of classical philosophical responses – perhaps evil does not exist, rather it is the absence of good (Augustine’s view). Alternatively, perhaps we are wrong to assume that God is good – God may be indifferent to the human predicament or even malevolent. Perhaps God is limited and cannot counter evil? Many reject these responses in favour of the ‘Free will defence’ – this asserts that God restricts His own power to allow for human freedom. Others cite the story of Job and the challenge to believe despite the mystery of suffering.
Dr Felderhof’s own view was that all of these responses are too limited – they leave the issue as a theoretical one when the best response should be a practical one – “The existential issue is how we respond, as Marx said ‘The Philosophers have only interpreted the world…the point is to change it’.