Volume 85, Issue 4, Fall 2011
The Goodness of God and the Reality of Evil
The later Wittgenstein’s approach to philosophical inquiry has influenced a number of philosophers who have reflected on the significance of evil for a Christian
view of creation. The strengths and shortcomings of this influence are considered here, with particular attention to the work of D. Z. Phillips. Wittgenstein’s legacy
emerges as a decidedly mixed blessing. On the one hand, a sensitive analysis of the religious use of language reveals the anthropomorphic confusion inherent in attempts to depict God as acting, or as failing to act, for morally sufficient reasons. On the other, a sharp distinction between the natural and the spiritual domains, and the opposition to metaphysics with which it is associated, obscure rather than assist the search for understanding. By way of contrast, the paper concludes with a discussion of Simone Weil’s (profoundly metaphysical) conception of Christ’s mediation between creature and Creator; a conception which points the way to a resolution of the intellectual tension to which evil gives rise in the order of creation.