Thursday, January 25, 2007

Elie Wiesel and the Problem of Evil

As theists, we must always remember that we’re not responding to some abstract argument. We’re not dealing merely with premises, but with people. As such, if we intend to respond to the Problem of Evil, we must keep the problem always before our eyes, lest we forget.

Elie Wiesel, reflecting on his sojourn in a concentration camp:

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed.

Never shall I forget that smoke.

Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.

Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever.

Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live.

Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.

Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live as long as God Himself.

Never. (Night, p. 34)


John W. Loftus said...

Hmmmm. It's late David, but I thank you for the reality of what we're dealing with. At the risk of those who might object, I too realize that the odds of a person who is exactly like me typing these words are absolutely incredible beyond belief. So I do understand the force of the Design argument, just like you have admitted the personal force of evil in our world. We must make sense of it all. Like a jury we muct decide, since for some of us it's a "forced option."

Anyway, thanks for acknowledging the reality of suffering in our world. I likewise acknowledge the mind boggling nature of our present existence.

Doug said...

Please forgive the cheerleading (and you can delete this since it's not relevant to the post),
but I have been reading your posts over at dangerousidea and various other places... Very insightful & knowledgeable!

Sandalstraps said...


I, too, have wrestled with theodicy. While it is not my primary interest, I did a series on theodicies at my blog. While I remain a Christian, and an active member of a church, I find the problem of evil a compelling one that theodicy cannot answer.

I did, however, post a little bit on Elie Wiesel's story, especially as it relates to the project of theodicy. You can find that post here, if you are interested.

And, incidentally, 'Til We Have Faces is one of my favorite novels. If memory serves, it was the last book Lewis published. It has a very different voice from much of the rest of his work. His wife's death hangs over it, giving it a depth I didn't see in most of his other works of fiction. I mean that less as a stab at Lewis' other work - which I cut my teeth on (especially the Space Trilogy) - and more as a compliment to Faces. If pain serves no other purpose, it at least improves our art.

thekingpin68 said...

Hi David,

Congratulations on so many comments for a new blog, but I see that you have done some debating. I am working on theodicy as well in the Theology and Religious Studies department at Wales, Lampeter. I am completing the work via distance learning and live in Greater Vancouver. I have completed a 40,000 word MPhil dissertation on the topic previously and am working on a 60,000 word PhD dissertation. I have had three theoretical chapters accepted by my advisor (free will, sovereignty, and soul-making) and I am now issuing out questionnaires on the subject. I am also working on a related practical theology chapter. I do some debating on my blogs but with sleep apnea my dissertation work takes up most of my energy.:)

All the best with your philosophy PhD.


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