Divine Evil?: The Moral Character of the God of Abraham

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Adherents of the Abrahamic religions have traditionally held that God is morally perfect and unconditionally deserving of devotion, obedience, love, and worship. The Jewish, Christian, and Islamic scriptures tell us that God is compassionate, merciful, and just. As is well-known, however, these same scriptures contain passages that portray God as wrathful, severely punitive, and jealous. Critics furthermore argue that the God of these scriptures commends bigotry, misogyny, and homophobia, condones slavery, and demands the adoption of unjust laws-for example, laws that mandate the death penalty for adultery and rebellion against parents, and laws institutionalizing in various ways the diverse kinds of bigotry and oppression just mentioned. In recent days, these sorts of criticisms of the Hebrew Bible have been raised in new and forceful ways by philosophers, scientists, social commentators, and others.

This volume brings together eleven original essays representing the views of both critics and defenders of the character of God as portrayed in these texts. Authors represent the disciplines of philosophy, religion, and Biblical studies. Each essay is accompanied by comments from another author who takes a critical approach to the thesis defended in that essay, along with replies by the essay's author.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[T]he problems posed by the essays in Divine Evil? get to the heart of the viability of the Bible in the modern world." —Restoration Quarterly
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199576739
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/7/2011
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Bergmann is Professor of Philosophy at Purdue University. He received his B.A. and M.A. at the University of Waterloo and his Ph.D. at the University of Notre Dame. He has held fellowships from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and Pew Charitable Trusts. He has published numerous articles in epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy of religion as well as a book, Justification without Awareness.

Michael J. Murray is the Arthur and Katherine Shadek Professor in the Humanities and Philosophy at Franklin and Marshall College (Lancaster, PA). He received his B.A. at Franklin & Marshall College, and his M.A, and Ph.D at the University of Notre Dame. He has held fellowships from the Institute for Research in the Humanities (Madison, Wisconsin), the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, the Notre Dame Center for Philosophy of Religion. His recent publications include Nature Red in Tooth and Claw: Theism and the Problem of Animal Suffering, and The Believing Primate: Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Reflections on the Origin of Religion (edited with Jeffrey Schloss).

Michael C. Rea is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Notre Dame. He received his B.A. at UCLA and his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Notre Dame. He has published numerous articles in metaphysics and the philosophy of religion and is author or editor of more than ten books, including Analytic Theology: New Essays in the Philosophy of Theology (with Oliver Crisp), Oxford Readings in Philosophical Theology, and The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology (with Thomas Flint).

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Table of Contents

Introduction, Michael Bergmann, Michael J. Murray, and Michael C. Rea
Philosophical Perspectives
I: Problems Presented
1. Does God Love Us?, Louise Antony
Comments on 'Does God Love Us?', Eleonore Stump
Reply to Stump, Louise Antony
2. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Edward Curley
Comments on 'The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob', Peter van Inwagen
Reply to van Inwagen, Edward Curley
3. Satanic Verses: Moral Chaos in Holy Writ, Evan Fales
Comments on 'Satanic Verses: Moral Chaos in Holy Writ.', Alvin Plantinga
Reply to Plantinga, Evan Fales
II: Solutions Proposed
4. Animal Sacrifices, John Hare
Comments on Animal Sacrifices, James Crenshaw
Reply to Crenshaw, John Hare
5. God Beyond Justice, Mark C. Murphy
Comments on 'God Beyond Justice', Wes Morriston
Reply to Morriston, Mark C. Murphy
6. The Problem of Evil and the History of Peoples: Think Amalek, Eleonore Stump
Comments on 'The Problem of Evil and the History of Peoples: Think Amalek', Paul Draper
Reply to Draper, Eleonore Stump
7. What does the Old Testament Mean?, Richard Swinburne
Comments on 'What does the Old Testament Mean?', Wes Morriston
Reply to Morriston, Richard Swinburne
8. Reading Joshua, Nicholas Wolterstorff
Comments on 'Reading Joshua', Louise Antony
Reply to Antony, Nicholas Wolterstorff
Theological Perspectives
9. What About the Canaanites?, Gary A. Anderson
Comments on 'What About the Canaanites', Nicholas Wolterstorff
Reply to Wolterstorff, Gary A. Anderson
10. Canon and Conquest: The Character of the God of the Hebrew Bible, Christopher Seitz
Comments on 'Canon and Conquest: The Character of the God of the Hebrew Bible', Evan Fales
Reply to Fales, Christopher Seitz
Concluding Remarks
11. God's Struggles, Howard Wettstein

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