God, Evil, and Human Learning

A Critique and Revision of the Free Will Defense in Theodicy

By Fred Berthold Jr.

Subjects: Theology, Religion, Psychology Of Religion, Christianity
Paperback : 9780791460429, 116 pages, August 2004
Hardcover : 9780791460412, 116 pages, August 2004

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. The Central Importance of the Free Will Defense

3. Why Doesn't God Cause Us to Have a Wholly Virtuous Free Will?

4. Should the Traditional Free Will Defense Be Revised?

5. The Concept of a Limited God

6. The Concept of Free Will

7. A Revised Free Will Defense

8. An Ecological Theology



Index of Names

Index of Subjects

Revises the traditional free will defense regarding the existence of evil in the world of a loving God.


God, Evil, and Human Learning explores the age-old question: How is it possible to believe in the God of the Christian faith when the world contains so many grievous evils? Author Fred Berthold Jr. examines the most influential argument used by Christian theologians to answer that question, the "free will defense," which holds that God is not responsible for the evil in the world, but that evil arises from the human misuse of free will. He points out the weaknesses of this defense and provides a more adequate concept of free will. Berthold argues that free will is a complex of abilities which are acquired—if acquired—through human learning in the context of experiences of actual goods and evils and their consequences. He revises the "free will defense" and offers a new view of the relationship between God and his creatures.

Fred Berthold Jr. is Kelsey Professor of Religion, Emeritus at Dartmouth College.