Gabriel Marcel on the Mystery of Evil


Here is a brief excerpt from my first bookEvil and the Evidence for God, published in 1993:

“Some philosophers have been rather adroit in their expression of this theme. For Gabriel Marcel, the only problem of evil is what is sometimes called the ‘existential’ mode of the problem. If Marcel is correct, this language intrudes a pseudodistinction and the so-called logical problem of evil becomes a pseudoproblem, or a mystery degraded to the level of a problem. To seek ‘the causes or the secret aims’ of experienced evil, the professed goal of any theodicy, is to view evil ‘from outside,’ where evil no longer ‘touches me’ and is therefore ‘no longer evil which is suffered.’ And evil that ceases to be suffered ‘ceases to be evil.’ So the only evil that exists is the evil thathttps://i2.wp.com/www.iep.utm.edu/wp-content/media/Marcel.gif we encounter in our prereflective lived experience. Our ivory tower incursions into logical territory miss the heart of the matter.”

It has always seemed to me that Gabriel Marcel (1889-1973) was onto something. Today I would say it is a penetrating insight. The details can be found in his little book The Philosophy of Existentialism. But the themes intimated there are explored and developed throughout his essays and plays.

Today, October 8, is the anniversary of Marcel’s death. His work lives on and his influence continues, notably through the work of the Gabriel Marcel Society. I hope you’ll venture to explore the rich texture of Christian sensibility reflected in the pages of this French thinker of the 20th century.

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No Evil in Heaven?


Philosopher Graham Oppy writes:

. . . if it is part of the essence of heaven that it should be a place in which there is no evil, then there is at least some reason to think that heaven must also be a place in which human beings have severely limited freedom of action. . . . [For] no agents are free to perform evil actions in heaven.*

What say you?

*Graham Oppy, Arguing about Gods (Cambridge, 2006), 315

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