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The Doctrine Of Creation And The Enlightenment

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Chapter Summary

The Enlightenment, especially in its most radical forms, seemed inherently opposed to the very possibility of a doctrine of creation—or, at best, subscribed to the rather attenuated form of that doctrine that appears in deism. The point here is twofold: on the one hand, the evil and misery of the world are initially incompatible with a beneficent God; on the other, to “justify” the present evils while still attributing this world to a beneficent God is to inhibit and render passive the very human activity that might correct these evils. This chapter sketches a set of reflections around the thesis that theodicy, as the specifically modern form of the doctrine of providential creation, is foundational not simply in the seventeenth century that affirmed this doctrine, but, more curiously, in the Enlightenment that rejected it.

Keywords: beneficent God; doctrine of creation; Enlightenment; evil; theodicy



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