Q and A 01: The privation view of evil

This is the first in a new category of blog – Q and A. Every now and then I get an email or a message via Facebook with a question related to something that somebody has just read at the blog or in an article, or heard in a podcast episode – or maybe just a question out of the blue about an issue in theology, philosophy or biblical studies. I haven’t answered every such question and I can’t do so in future either – not because I don’t appreciate being asked, but sometimes I’ve got a pile of emails sitting there and I just can’t justify replying to all of them, nor could I necessarily do so even if I tried. I’m really sorry if you’re one of those people who I haven’t replied to. This is what I do in my spare time.

The Q and A category is one of the avenues I’m going to use to reply to some of these questions as best I can, albeit briefly. I especially welcome questions that are related to material in the blog or podcast, or material that I’ve had published somewhere. That’s just because I’m more likely to be able to answer the question if it’s in a subject I’ve dealt with before. But I’m open to any questions you have. At least every two weeks (maybe more often, depending on what time allows) I’ll publish one of those questions at the blog in the Q and A category along with my response. You can view previous Q and A blog entries by viewing the Q and A subject in the Subject drop down box over on the right, or by clicking on the Q and A button.

I don’t promise to be able to respond to every email (in fact I can promise that I won’t), but we’ll see how this goes!

The very first question in this series comes from Paulo in Indiana.

“I wonder, what is your view on privation theories of evil? Do you see certain limitations or weaknesses in these types of explanations?

 Thanks for the question Paulo. Talk about starting with a big one! A really satisfying answer to this would require a book length response (and I’m sure I will find myself saying this in reply to a lot of questions), but here are some summary thoughts. Continue reading “Q and A 01: The privation view of evil”

Education and Morality: Are smarter people more virtuous?

This blog entry was prompted by a recent Facebook conversation. A friend of mine was remarking that she had just watched the movie The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which is set amidst Hitler’s notorious “final solution” in Nazi Germany. Understandably, she found the movie upsetting, and she wondered (out loud) how people could bring themselves to treat each other so cruelly.

Facebook being what it is, a diversity of responses was on offer, but one that appeared fairly early one came from a young woman at university. The problem, she told all readers, is that people stereotype and discriminate, and in order to be more enlightened, accepting and more humane was to become more educated (like her, I can only assume). I replied by suggesting that actually education doesn’t turn wicked people into good people. It only enables people to be more cunning in their wickedness. A young student (or graduate, I’m not sure) promptly took me to task for suggesting that education made people evil, and then proceeded to begin cobbling together a lecture on the psychological factors that make people like that. Now of course, I never said that education makes people evil (apparently her education hadn’t helped her to read more carefully). I said that education makes wicked people more cunning in their evil. Continue reading “Education and Morality: Are smarter people more virtuous?”