Evil and Suffering (on demand)

    Through the second half of the Autumn Term 2020 Candle Conferences offered a unique, national series of online lectures for students of A Level Religious Studies. Exploring content specified by ALL ENGLISH EXAMINATION BOARDS for the full A Level in Religious Studies, and aiming to develop higher-level AO2 essay skills, the lectures took students on a “deep dive” into the Problem of Evil and Suffering.

    Through each of the first four lectures, presenters Dr Peter Vardy and Charlotte Vardy explored a different aspect of the problem in detail, before the final lecture took the form of a debate, to which students were encouraged to contribute their own, reasoned arguments.

    As always with Candle Conferences, the 45 minute lectures were pacy and engaging, designed to provoke deep thought and further discussion and debate. Each lecture was accompanied by digital student resources, with an overview of the content, useful scholars and quotations, suggestions for extra reading and learning activities, to print off in advance of watching the lecture.

    A Grand Design? (4th November)   

    Does the teleological argument succeed in using evidence of order and purpose to demonstrate the existence of God… or is the universe better characterised by disorder and dysteleological suffering, suggesting a limited God, an evil God… or no God at all? Reflecting on more than a century of horrors, not least the suffering occasioned by COVID 19, as well as on the majesty of creation, this introductory lecture encouraged students to make and defend an academic judgement.  

    St. Augustine and the Problem of Free Will (11th November)  

    The second lecture explored St Augustine’s multi-layered response to the Problem of Evil and Suffering, considering his argument that evil is only a lack of good and that God allowing it can be justified in terms of both the principle of plenitude and human free-will. The free-will defence was then evaluated in more detail, including as it has been presented by Alvin Plantinga. Reflecting on the significance of Armistice Day, 75 years on from the nuclear annihilation of Hiroshima, students were encouraged to consider whether an omnipotent, all-good God would be justified in giving human beings such freedom… and whether if we have such freedom, God really can be omnipotent.  

    The Logical Problem of Evil (18th November)  

    The third lecture began by exploring JL Mackie’s article Evil and Omnipotence (1955), which sets out the logical problem of evil and then argues that there is no adequate solution to it. It then went on to evaluate John Hick’s attempt to provide a “Theodicy for Today” through his Evil and the God of Love (1966). 

    The Evidential Problem of Evil (25th November)  

    The fourth lecture considered William Rowe’s attempt to use evil to disprove the existence of God in The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism (1979). Is it really fair to say that there are instances of dysteleological suffering in the world? Must an omnipotent, wholly good God always prevent suffering when doing so would not result in a worse outcome? 

    “This house believes that evil disproves the existence of God!” (2nd December)  

    This motion was proposed and then opposed, before a range of student video-contributions was played.

    To Book  

    On-demand access to the “Evil and Suffering” lecture-series costs £8 per student, which includes 4 10 page .pdf booklets of resources for the use of the access-holder only and .mp4 recordings of the five lectures (approximately 3 hours of recorded content) to view through a secure page of our website.   

    Alternatively, a school licence for the “Evil and Suffering” lecture-series can be purchased for £80, which includes permission to photocopy the resource-booklets for students within the access-holding school and the option to download lectures for use by the access-holding school in future years, on request.  

    NB:  The passwords last until the end of the academic year, (1st August 2021).  Access to the series through the secure area of our website will end on that date, and any downloads associated with the school licence must have been completed by then.  

    With Candle you get:  

    ○ Up-to-date scholarly content made engaging and tailored to the real needs of A Level students.  

    ○ Sessions and resources designed by practicing teachers with a record of engaging students of all abilities.  

    ○ Easy, secure online bookings with no fees to pay; just print off e-tickets. 

    e-mail: info@candleconferences.com  

    Tel: 0208 133 2241

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