consequent nature

God & Evil

Two questions this month struck me as complementary, and I decided to combine them. They are: 1. Process theism seems to speak of God as eternally envisaging and harmonizing all possibilities. But some possibilities are horrific—genocide, rape, torture . . . If God is good, how can these possibilities be eternally in God? How can such possibilities be “harmonized”? Perhaps it makes sense to say as Wieman does that possibilities do not exist primordially, but are created with the universal process? 2. If all events are eternally in God’s memory in all their immediacy, how do we avoid the notion that all evil is also preserved in God forever? There are allusions to this problem in PR (the idea that God “dismisses” such events into the triviality of their mere facticity). I find these responses unsatisfying. How does God overcome the evils which God experiences? How is it that goods are preserved (“tender care that nothing be lost”) and not evils?
Publication Month: 
January 2006
Author - First Name: 
John B.
Author - Last Name: 
Cobb, Jr.

Dr. Cobb's Response

The first of these questions is, for me, theologically easier to respond to than the second, but philosophically more difficult. That is, I think that when we understand what Whitehead means by the “eternal objects,” the sense that God’s inclusion and ordering of all of them does not have detract from God’s goodness. On the other hand, I have repeatedly found that my effort to explain what Whitehead means by a pure possibility fails to communicate. Still it may be worth trying again.

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