This Fall 2022, I published an academic book on the problem of evil. In the book, I use Thomas Aquinas’s philosophical theology to defend Christian theism against contemporary philosophers, including J. L. Mackie, James Sterba, William Rowe, Paul Draper, J. L. Schellenberg, N. N. Trakakis, and Stephen Law.
In 2019, I finished my dissertation on the problem of animal suffering. The problem of animal suffering is a version of the problem of evil where atheists argue that God likely does not exist because of the great magnitude of animal suffering found in the natural history of the Earth. For my dissertation, I used the philosophical theology of Thomas Aquinas, along with findings from contemporary science, to defend theism, mainly by showing that animals do not suffer as humans do.
After finishing my dissertation, I wanted to write another book to cover the problem of evil in general and not only provide an answer to animal suffering, but to human suffering as well. There are many books that discuss Aquinas and evil, so I wanted to cover more updated versions of the problem of evil. Luckily, an editor from Lexington Books reached out to me, told me she found my article answering Stephen Law’s evil-god challenge interesting, and asked me if I wanted to work on a larger, similar project. And, of course, I jumped at the chance.
Bringing Good Even Out of Evil is divided into two main parts. In the first part, I provide an introduction and explanation of Aquinas’s thought that is relevant to the problem of evil. I discuss Aquinas’s evil-as-privation view and some of his ideas regarding God’s existence, God’s attributes, God’s purpose for creating, natural evil, moral evil, and others. I do not provide a defense of Aquinas’s views as much as a survey and introduction. Since Aquinas is often overlooked in the analytic debate over the problem of evil, my goal in the first section is to introduce Aquinas’s ideas to an audience that is versed in the debate over the problem of evil but does not have much experience, if any, with Aquinas’s writings.
In the second part, I then apply Aquinas’s thought to defend Christian theism against contemporary philosophers. Here I engage with J. L. Mackie’s logical problem of evil, James Sterba’s argument from the Pauline principle, William Rowe’s evidential argument, Paul Draper’s abductive Humean argument, J. L. Schellenberg’s divine hiddenness argument, N. N. Trakakis’s anti-theodicy, and Stephen Law’s evil-god challenge. So, this book serves as a contemporary defense of Christian theism as well as a concise introduction to Aquinas’s thought regarding the problem of evil.
“Keltz offers his readers a sophisticated discussion of a long standing theological and philosophical problem. Unlike some who have discussed this problem, he is well aware of the significance that Aquinas has when trying to deal with it. And he puts this knowledge to very good effect in what he writes. The result is a fine introduction to the problem and to insights from Aquinas concerning it.”
—Brian Davies, Fordham University