EVIL, SUFFERING, AND RELIGION by Brian Hebblethwaite


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Hebblethwaite, a lecturer in divinity at Cambridge, discusses how the problem of evil has been perceived and handled in the various world religions. Eastern religions, with Buddhism as supreme case, tend to emphasize the aspect of suffering and the practical task of alleviating it, whereas monotheistic religions of the West, Christianity being the prime instance, worry most about the plague of human wickedness and about how the existence of evil can be reconciled with the divine providence of a supremely good and powerful God. Of the principal ways of coping with evil, Hebblethwaite finds the path of self-sacrifice and redemptive suffering--the Bodhisattvas, the Suffering Servant, Jesus--the most profound response. The best way to explain the existence of evil, he thinks, is to regard moral evil (sin) and natural suffering as the necessary by-products of a world that allows for free will and evolution. But the ultimate response to those who, with Ivan Karamazov, cannot countenance the brutality and pain that God permits, is the belief that creation is an ongoing process leading to a future state of perfection, one that can only be dimly perceived from within the process but that will make the requisite suffering worthwhile. A rare achievement: an engaging introductory text that develops a rigorous and significant line of thought, currently the focus of a more ambitious treatment by David Griffin (p. 965).

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 1976
Publisher: Hawthorn