Evil and Suffering
On-demand lecture series for students of A Level Religious Studies
With Dr Peter Vardy and Charlotte Vardy
Re-launches 11th September 2021
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 “Evil and Suffering” lectures take 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 explore a different aspect of the problem in detail, before the final lecture takes the form of a debate, to which students contributed their own, reasoned arguments.
As always with Candle Conferences, the 45 minute lectures are pacy and engaging, designed to provoke deep thought and further discussion and debate. Each lecture is accompanied by a 10 page .pdf booklet of student resources, including an overview of the content as well as suggestions for extra reading and learning activities, to print off in advance of watching the lecture.
A Grand Design?
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 encourages students to make and defend an academic judgement.
St. Augustine and the Problem of Free Will
The second lecture explores 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 is then evaluated in more detail, including as it has been presented by Alvin Plantinga. Students are then 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
The third lecture begins 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 goes 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
The fourth lecture considers 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!”
The presenters propose and then oppose the motion, before a range of student video-contributions is played.
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 access to the .mp4 recordings of the five lectures (approximately 3 hours of recorded content) to view through a secure page of our website until the 1st July 2022.
Alternatively, a school licence for the “Evil and Suffering” lecture-series can be purchased for £80, which includes access to the lectures for the same period as well as permission to photocopy the resource-booklets for students within the access-holding school.
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.
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