In Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God , Marilyn McCord Adams uses another kind of defense for theism. In this reading Adams argues that the problem of evil has been directed at theism in general, which in this case has caused readers on either side of the debate to miss how important and how unique Christianity is to the problem of horrendous evils on this view. She argues that Christianity has a variety of unique tools that can meet the problem of evil more effectively when not abstracted into simply classical theism.
Adams’ account has the kind of honest, penetrating discussion of real evil in our world about which philosophy would do well to take notice. The little child kidnapped ...view middle of the document...
This act of Christ means that our defilement from sin, evils, and even horrendous evils has the possibility of becoming holiness. Thus, through Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit’s redefining rebirth of baptism, God offers the greatest good to every individual
Through this self-defilement which leads to holiness, God invests meaning by “…being good to all created persons–that is, in seeing to it that each gets a life that is a great good to him/her on the whole, one in which any participation in horrors is not merely balanced off but defeated Adams’ thesis, then, is that in Christ, God provides the defeater for horrendous evils by ensuring that each person’s life is a great good. Here Adams rides a fine line of universalism it seems as though she may be saying every person is indeed saved through Christ, eventually, but her account can be easily modified by those who reject universalism–for one can argue that God provides the defeater simply by offering the possibility of such goods to each person. And God is good to each person by providing such an opportunity.
Adams uses the rest of her work to argue further how God’s participation in suffering demonstrates that God has been immeasurably good to each individual. I find Adams’ argument particularly enlightening. Her emphasis on the individual evils of the world is a breath of fresh air as well as a new challenge to Christian philosophers. We do need to address individual atrocities. This doesn’t mean we need to go through, case-by-case, and provide theodicies for each event. Rather, as Adams urges, we can address this by arguing that God is good to every individual through his redemptive act by Jesus Christ.
My main critique of Adams in this work is that while I find her issues with abstracting the problem of evil to hit the mark some of the time, I think she underestimates the value of some of the analytic responses to the problem of evil. Certainly, taking evil as a sum total and arguing that God could have some reason for permitting this much evil to occur downplays the importance of the evil actions towards individuals, but there is a place for such defenses within philosophy. Rather than jettisoning these types of answers, then, I think we would be best suited adding Adams’ defense to the many-faceted response to the problem of evil from Christian philosophers of religion.
My first objection is that she looks at the problem of evil as residing fundamentally in the finitude of creatures. She says that the main hurdle to atonement lies not in what we as people do but what and who we are. In the face of the holy, to use Otto's key term, `we have no more rightful place in God's household than worms and maggots do in ours nothing we could naturally be or do would make us suitable for divine company. There's just a `size gap'...