The Religious Problem of Evil

James Aho

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Violence

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199759996
Published online March 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Religious Problem of Evil

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  • Religious Studies
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  • Comparative Religion



This chapter provides some of the answers as to how evil is experienced and why it exists. Evil explodes into the everyday world unasked and unwelcome, and has little underlying meaning other than in relation to culturally contrived notions of orderliness, goodliness, or legality. Three major reasons or rhetorics are routinely raised by evil-doers when called upon to account for their acts: arguments from affect, from custom, and from rationality. Human evil is always “reasonable” even if it seems at first glance to be crazy. Mankind becomes the occasion of evil; not out of craven malignity, but out of a yearning to triumph over evil. Albert Camus reported on the human response to “plague,” a metaphor for the evils he had just witnessed during the Second World War. However, he failed to determine exactly what a disillusioned grappling with evil might mean.

Keywords: evil; affect; custom; rationality; mankind; Albert Camus; orderliness; goodliness; legality

Article.  4797 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Philosophy of Religion ; Comparative Religion

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