Theodicy and Challenges of Science: Understanding God, Evil and Evolution (Volume II)

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 February 2024) | Viewed by 4556

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Social Sciences and Medical Humanities, Faculty of Medicine, University of Rijeka, 51000 Rijeka, Croatia
Interests: philosophy of science; philosophy of religion; neurophilosophy; philosophical anthropology; cognitive science of religion; ontology; theodicy
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Faculty of Theology, Nicolaus Copernicus University, 87-100 Toruń, Poland
Interests: theology of science; theodicy; science–religion debate; Thomism; pilgrimage; medieval liturgy; philosophy of religion; religious freedom
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue aims to address one of the most challenging questions in theodicy: if God is infinitely good, how can there be so much pain and suffering in the evolutionary path of the human beings? Or more specifically, if God exists, why did He allow humans to develop cognitive mechanisms through the evolutionary process that produce behaviour that is evil or morally bad, causing pain and suffering to so many? Contributions aiming to rethink the interconnectedness of fundamental concepts such as evolution, nature, suffering, pain, values, evil, and good, are welcome. Often, “nature red in tooth and claw” is raised as an argument against the existence of God. However, can we consider nature and evolution from a broader perspective, providing a new framework for understanding pain and suffering? This Special Issue also welcomes contributions regarding the (evolutionary) cognitive science of religion, which poses serious challenges to theodicy and our understanding of the God–world relationship. Namely, the evolved moral bias of the in-group against the out-group for the goal of survival is considered a key factor in the development of attitudes that lead to harm and violence, such as prejudice and dehumanization. Nevertheless, the same biological fundaments and cognitive mechanisms also enable moral codes of religion that proclaim good moral behaviour, such as altruism, cooperation, and sentience. How can we incorporate these theories into theodicy and provide new perspectives on the issue? Contributors are encouraged not to rely exclusively on philosophical and theological theories, but to be open to scientific insights that suggest a reconsideration of the classical viewpoints in theodicy is necessary.

Dr. Saša Horvat
Prof. Dr. Piotr Roszak
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • theodicy
  • evolution
  • cognitive science of religion
  • freedom
  • providence

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

10 pages, 186 KiB  
Article
Evolution, Evil, Co-Creation and the Value of the World
by Robin Attfield
Religions 2024, 15(5), 615; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050615 - 16 May 2024
Viewed by 355
Abstract
This article builds on and supplements an earlier one in this journal about theodicy. It focuses on species extinctions and on the possible role of humanity as fallible co-creators. Christopher Southgate has suggested that co-creators might shoulder the task of curtailing extinctions. In [...] Read more.
This article builds on and supplements an earlier one in this journal about theodicy. It focuses on species extinctions and on the possible role of humanity as fallible co-creators. Christopher Southgate has suggested that co-creators might shoulder the task of curtailing extinctions. In appraising this view, I distinguish between extinctions resulting from evolution, which humans have limited power to reverse, but which are held to be indispensable for the evolution of complexity, consciousness and self-consciousness, and those caused by humanity itself, which humans should reduce, even if they cannot be halted. Human creativity, however, extends further to the development of skills, trades, the arts and literature. Church Fathers, such as Ambrose, Theodoret and Cosmas Indicopleustes, held that God left the creation incomplete so that humanity could enhance it; certainly, human creativity has introduced agriculture, navigation, technology and culture, adding to the value of the world. Granted belief in creation, this can be understood as co-creation. Granted the value that humanity continues to add to the world, the belief that such creativity flows from the creator’s overall plan emerges as a coherent one. Full article
15 pages, 281 KiB  
Article
The Theodicy Challenge and the Intelligibility of the World
by Michał Oleksowicz and Michał Kłosowski
Religions 2023, 14(12), 1513; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14121513 - 7 Dec 2023
Viewed by 957
Abstract
This paper revisits one of the most difficult theological issues, namely God’s infinite goodness and the presence of pain and suffering in the natural world. We deepen the understanding of this problem by referring to the philosophical notion of the intelligibility of the [...] Read more.
This paper revisits one of the most difficult theological issues, namely God’s infinite goodness and the presence of pain and suffering in the natural world. We deepen the understanding of this problem by referring to the philosophical notion of the intelligibility of the world. We argue that pain and suffering are present in biological evolution as a “structural necessity” for the development of more complex structures from simpler ones. The struggle for existence works as a necessary condition for the development of a sophisticated order of nature at the expense of an increase in pain and suffering. If this is so, arguments justifying the ways of a good, omniscient, and omnipotent God in a world where evil and suffering are widespread seem to be undercut. Therefore, we argue that the astonishing intelligibility of nature may help to open our understanding of whatever nature may reveal of itself. This notion—analyzed from ontic and epistemic perspectives—seems to be crucial in reflecting the evolving world, not only from the scientific point of view but also from the theological one. Full article
9 pages, 226 KiB  
Article
Epistemic Theodicy, Epistemic Evil, and Epistemic Responsibility
by Vojko Strahovnik
Religions 2023, 14(10), 1264; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14101264 - 5 Oct 2023
Viewed by 763
Abstract
The paper explores the concept of epistemic theodicy and strengthens an argument that reconciles human fallibility with the existence of an all-powerful and benevolent God. This argument is grounded in epistemic responsibility, emphasizing our epistemic autonomy. The paper supports two aspects of this [...] Read more.
The paper explores the concept of epistemic theodicy and strengthens an argument that reconciles human fallibility with the existence of an all-powerful and benevolent God. This argument is grounded in epistemic responsibility, emphasizing our epistemic autonomy. The paper supports two aspects of this argument: the role of epistemic agency in shaping beliefs and belief formation based on experiential rationality. The paper begins by introducing the concept of epistemic theodicy and its relation to the problem of epistemic evil. Next, it presents a succinct version of the argument based on epistemic responsibility. The paper then focuses on epistemic agency, proposing a notion rooted in reasons-responsiveness and highlighting the agentive nature of belief formation. It provides an outline a of view of epistemic rationality grounded in experiential rationality, showing its compatibility with the responsibility-based response to the problem of epistemic evil. The conclusion reflects on the significance of these accounts of agency and rationality in the context of epistemic theodicy. Full article
9 pages, 260 KiB  
Article
Pain, Life, and God: Theodicy Informed by Biology and Evolutionary Medicine
by Sasa Horvat
Religions 2023, 14(3), 319; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14030319 - 28 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1818
Abstract
Pain is a ubiquitous phenomenon. Since the beginnings of philosophical thought, the question of the nature and origin of pain has developed. However, it also raises the question of how an omnipotent and morally perfect God can allow so much pain and suffering [...] Read more.
Pain is a ubiquitous phenomenon. Since the beginnings of philosophical thought, the question of the nature and origin of pain has developed. However, it also raises the question of how an omnipotent and morally perfect God can allow so much pain and suffering in the world. In this paper, we analyze the findings of biology and evolutionary medicine to better understand the phenomenon of pain. Based on these insights, we then seek to enrich theological and theodicean reflections on the relationship between pain, humans, and God. Full article
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