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The Table Video

Eleonore Stump

The Problem of Suffering (Eleonore Stump)

Professor of Philosophy / Robert J. Henle Chair in Philosophy, Saint Louis University
March 19, 2018

Philosopher Eleonore Stump and CCT Director Evan Rosa discuss the Problem of Evil, or as Dr. Stump prefers to frame it, the Problem of Suffering. She offers a brief overview of this problem that has vexed theologians and philosophers for centuries.


Eleonore, thank you so much for joining me today. I would like to ask you about what has been called your Magnum Opus, your book, “Wandering in Darkness: “Narrative And The Problem Of Suffering”. First, thank you for, really, a life’s work in Philosophy and Theology. This book in particular has had a pretty far-reaching impact, so many discussions are happening about it. So, asking you about it today is going to fit in with our exploration of Suffering in the Good Life at the Center for Christian Thought. I thought I’d start by asking you about your perspective on the Problem of Evil, the Problem of Suffering. How do you like to explain this problem?

Well, first, let me say thank you for having me here. Thank you for the opportunity to speak in this interview. Thank you for all your good work in this conference, which looks as if it’s going to go very smoothly today, based on what I saw yesterday, which was just lovely.

Well, your part was an important part of that.

Yeah, well, I’m very pleased to be here, and I’m very pleased to be part of the work that you’re doing, for sure. Pleased to see old friends here at Biola and meet new ones too. And, thank you for your kind words about the book too. It was a book I had my heart in, no question about it at all.

Interviewer: That’s evident.

I would like to say, for the record, I hope no one minds, that there is one more book coming, it’s headed to the press in just a matter of days now.

Can you give us a little sneak-peek?

Well, sure, it’s a fat book too, but it’s on the atonement of Christ. So, it’s on guilt,

Yeah forgiveness, love, redemption, and things of that nature. So, that’s coming too.

Well, I can speak for a lot of people in saying that I’m excited to read that.

I’m excited to get it done too. But, what you asked about was the Problem of Suffering, and the West has thought about the Problem of Suffering for many centuries, and of course, not just the West, this problem is represented, can be found in the thought of every culture going. And, it’s a thought that goes something like this, “If there is some sort of supernatural entity that “watches over human beings, if that entity or entities has “care for human beings and has power and mind, “why do we suffer the way we do? “What’s wrong with our world that it looks like this?” Now, there are some people who think because we suffer the way we do, there can’t be any such supernatural entity that watches over us. There couldn’t be. And, the thought of these people is something like this, “Look, if you want to tell me that “you’ve just been diagnosed with Leukemia and “the dog and the house burned down, “and your mother got lost because she has “Dementia and no one can find her, “she’s wandering somewhere in the city, “I can understand what you’re saying. “And, if you want to add in on top of this, “that there’s an all-powerful, all-knowing, “perfectly good being who really loves you, “then I’m going to think something’s wrong in this story.” So, that’s the problem with suffering. It seems as if these things don’t make sense, this story doesn’t make sense.