The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 8, 2006

Philosophy of Religion

C. Robert Mesle
Pages 97-102

Suffering, Meaning, and Pragmatism
What Do Theodicies Do?

What do theodicies do? This paper argues that we can evaluate and respond to theodicies more effectively if we ask, as pragmatists, what problems we are trying to solve, whether we solve them effectively, and whether these are the problems we should be addressing. Some maintain that, beyond defending religious beliefs, theodicies also address deep emotional needs. I argue that we would do better to abandon theodicies of hidden meaning, acknowledge honestly that bad things happen, and seek comfort and meaning by bringing about whatever good is possible in the situation.