Bringing Good Even Out of Evil: Thomism and the Problem of Evil

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.

Bringing Good Even Out of Evil is available in hardcover now and should become available as an ebook soon. It can be purchased at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and Rowman.com.

Endorsements:

“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

Media Resources from Recent Visiting Scholar Trip to Reasons to Believe HQ

I have been very busy and have been late with posting updates recently. But this last Summer of 2022, I was honored to travel to the Reasons to Believe headquarters in Covina, CA as a Visiting Scholar. During my time at RTB on this trip, I worked with RTB scholars, including Fazale Rana, Jeff Zweerink, and Ken Samples, and we created several video and audio resources mainly discussing the problem of animal suffering. I had the time of my life and was extremely blessed to spend time with the RTB scholars and staff!

Below are links to some of the podcasts and YouTube videos we made:

Podcast:

Straight Thinking – The Problem of Animal Suffering: Interview with Philosopher Kyle Keltz

YouTube:

Apologetic Series also Available as a Podcast

Earlier this month, I announced that I am releasing YouTube videos that discuss apologetics and provide a beginner’s guide to defending the truth of Christianity.

So far, the series is going well, and I have been releasing a YouTube video each Wednesday at 5pm central time. However, I also thought that some people might not want to watch longer YouTube videos for various reasons. So, I decided to convert the videos into podcast episodes to make them available in a different, additional format.

As of this posting, my videos are being made available as podcast episodes on numerous podcasting platforms. My podcast is titled Philosophy Apologetics & Theology – B. Kyle Keltz. Here is a list with links to some of the platforms where you can access the podcasts:

If you prefer podcasts, I hope you’ll listen and enjoy!

New Apologetics YouTube Video Series

Last Spring of 2021, I taught a class on Christian apologetics to juniors and seniors at Kingdom Preparatory Academy where my two sons attend here in Lubbock, Texas. The class went really well, and all of my students were a pleasure to teach and discuss Christianity with. I will continue to teach the class going forward every other spring, and I am looking forward to it.

But since I came up with notes and presentations for the class, I thought it would be a good idea to go ahead and use some of that material to make a YouTube video series going over the basics of Christian apologetics. I have many friends, family members, and students who have asked questions over the years about evidence for Christianity, and I thought it would be good to post these videos as a resource for people with similar questions.

I posted the first video today (Introduction to Apologetics), and I plan on releasing one video a week on Wednesdays until all the lessons we covered are released. Here is a tentative list of topics that I have planned:

  1. Introduction to Apologetics
  2. Biblical Basis for Apologetics
  3. Apologetic Method
  4. Truth and Knowing Reality
  5. Cosmological Arguments
  6. Kalam Cosmological Argument
  7. Design Arguments
  8. The Argument from Fine-Tuning
  9. Ethical Relativism vs Ethical Objectivism
  10. The Moral Argument
  11. Mind-Body Dualism
  12. Arguments for the Soul
  13. The Argument from Reason
  14. The Possibility of Miracles
  15. Historical Knowledge
  16. The New Testament Documents
  17. The New Testament Writers
  18. Jesus’ Self-Understanding
  19. The Synoptic Problem
  20. The Resurrection of Jesus
  21. The Modern Trilemma Argument
  22. Inspiration and Inerrancy of the Bible
  23. Religious Pluralism
  24. The Destiny of the Unevangelized
  25. The Problem of Evil
  26. Theodicies
  27. The Bible and Evil
  28. Faith and Reason
  29. Scientism

I hope you enjoy these videos as much as I enjoyed making them and discussing this material with my students.

– Kyle Keltz

Pints with Aquinas YouTube Video on the Problem of Animal Suffering

Earlier this summer, I was interviewed by Matt Fradd of the Pints with Aquinas Podcast and YouTube channel, and the video was released on YouTube last week. I was excited (as always) to discuss the problem of animal suffering with Matt, but especially because I am a fan of Pints with Aquinas.

In the episode, I mainly discussed the answers to the problem of animal suffering that are found in my book, Thomism and the Problem of Animal Suffering. Matt and I also tried to break down some of my answers to make them easier to understand for non-philosophically trained people.

Like my other interviews, although our discussion was over an hour long, I was only able to provide brief responses. So, if you find this topic interesting and want to dive deeper into Christian solutions to the problem, here are links to some of my favorite books on the topic:

Here are links to the interview:

If you enjoy the video or have any questions, feel free to let me know in a comment or email.

Why Do You Believe? Podcast on Answering the Music Man: Dan Barker’s Arguments against Christianity – Part 2

Recently, three of the contributors (Dr. John Ferrer, Steven Lewis, and Brett Bruster) to my co-edited apologetics book Answering the Music Man: Dan Barker’s Arguments against Christianity were on the Why Do You Believe? podcast with Adam Tucker of Southern Evangelical Seminary.

Answering the Music Man is an edited book with seven contributors in addition to Scribner and me. The book analyzes and critiques the arguments against Christianity put forth by Dan Barker, mainly in his book godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists.

In the interview, John, Steven, and Brett discuss their contributions to the book. John’s chapters critique Dan Barker’s definition of “atheism” and proposed system of atheistic ethics; Steven’s chapter critiques Dan Barker’s charges that the God of the Old Testament is evil; and Brett’s chapter critiques Dan Barker’s objections to the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus.

Here are links to the interview:

If you enjoy the podcast or have any questions, feel free to let me know in a comment or email.

Southern Evangelical Seminary Is Honoring Its Professors for Giving Tuesday

Southern Evangelical Seminary is honoring its professors for this Giving Tuesday. The fundraising team has set a goal of $20,000, and they are planning on distributing 100% of the funds to the professors at SES. $10,000 of the goal has already been pledged as a matching fund, and a little over $3,000 of the remaining $10,000 has been raised.

If you, like me, have benefited from the teachings and wisdom of the professors at SES, please consider giving a donation this Tuesday to bless and provide encouragement for these great professors!

Here is a link to SES’s blog, giving more information about the Giving Tuesday campaign: https://ses.edu/honoring-our-professors-for-giving-tuesday/

And here is a link to go directly to SES’s website to donate: https://ses.edu/alumni-friends/give/

ClassicalTheism.com Podcast on Thomism and the Problem of Animal Suffering

I recently sat down with John DeRosa from the Classical Theism Podcast to discuss my book Thomism and the Problem of Animal Suffering. In the podcast, we discuss topics like how I first got interested in animal suffering, the contents and main arguments in my book, and several others. We originally planned for the podcast to last about 50 minutes, but we had so much fun that we ended up talking for over an hour and a half! So, this is definitely the most in-depth interview I have given on the problem of animal suffering.

Here is a link to the podcast: A Response to Animal Suffering w/ Dr. Kyle Keltz.

I you haven’t already checked out the Classical Theism Podcast, I highly recommend it. John interviews prominent apologists, Thomists, and other Christian philosophers (to name a few: Edward Feser, Matthew Levering, Gaven Kerr, Fr. Michael Dodds, Fr. Thomas Joseph White, Michael Licona). John is also an apologist in his own right, as he released an apologetics book this year through Catholic Answers Press titled One Less God Than You: How to Answer the Slogans, Clichés, and Fallacies That Atheists Use to Challenge Your Faith.

If you enjoy the podcast or have any questions, feel free to let me know in a comment or email.

Answering the Music Man: Dan Barker’s Arguments against Christianity

Answering the Music Man Cover

This Summer 2020, I published a book I co-edited with Tricia Scribner that answers objections to Christianity from Dan Barker. Barker, ex-preacher (and Christian musician) and co-founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, travels widely, arguing in debates and speaking on his beliefs that Christianity is false, God does not exist, and the Bible is filled with errors and mythology.

I first saw Barker at my seminary’s annual apologetics conference (National Conference on Christian Apologetics) in 2017. Barker debated Dr. Richard Howe on the existence of God. During the debate, it was obvious to me that Barker had a shallow understanding of Christian theism, and his case against Christianity was more a collection of assertions than reasoned arguments. So, I was surprised to hear that some people in the audience thought Barker made a better case than Howe.

Barker has been touted as one of America’s leading atheists. Yet when I looked at his writings and other debates, it was clear to me that Barker’s reasons for disbelief are poorly reasoned and miss the mark as they are aimed at a mistaken caricature of Christian theism. This is why I gathered a group of scholars from my seminary to write a book exposing Barker’s misunderstandings of Christianity and providing compelling answers to his “arguments.”

Answering the Music Man provides answers to Barker’s main claims against Christianity from his books godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists; God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction; Mere Morality; and Life Driven Purpose: How an Atheist Finds Meaning. In Answering the Music Man, the contributors and I cover topics such as the definition of “atheism,” the compatibility of faith and reason, God’s existence, God’s attributes, supposed Bible contradictions, whether morality can be objective without God, Jesus’ resurrection, whether life can be objectively meaningful without God, and more.

If you are interested in how to answer Dan Barker and other New Atheists like Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens, then you will thoroughly enjoy this book. A unique aspect of this book is that all of its contributors have taught or studied at Southern Evangelical Seminary, so many of the chapters defend Christianity using the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas. Also, students of Aquinas will enjoy Dr. Richard Howe’s chapter that provides an argument for God’s existence found in Aquinas’ De Ente et Essentia.

Answering the Music Man is available in hardcover and paperback at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Christianbook.com, and WipfandStock.com. It is available as a Kindle book at Amazon.com and as an ebook at WipfandStock.com.

Endorsements:

“This book is a helpful and clear response to Dan Barker’s popular-level atheism. It examines his terms and labels, his assumptions, and his arguments in an incisive and accessible manner. Though one may disagree here and there, the book overall presents a highly effective and robust challenge to Barker’s version of atheism as well as presenting the case for the Christian faith.”

Paul Copan, Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics, Palm Beach Atlantic University; author of Loving Wisdom: A Guide to Philosophy and Christian Faith

“As much as this book is about Dan Barker, it is about the new atheism in general. It explains and refutes such views in an academic but accessible way. Being broad in topics and deep in content, it is a wonderful apologetic resource not only to refute the new atheism but to introduce the reader to classical views on many important topics.”

J. Brian Huffling, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Theology, Southern Evangelical Seminary