Religious Studies 17 (2):179 - 197 (1981)

Nancy Frankenberry
Dartmouth College
What good is divinity if it can come only in dreams and shadows…? It is a well-known and rarely challenged assumption that one of the chief merits of Whitehead's cosmology is that it enables religious thinkers to come at the problem of God in relation to the presence of evil in an entirely new way. Among the virtues most commonly appealed to in praise of the Whiteheadian theodicy are its emphasis on God's persuasive, rather than controlling power; its defence of the moral goodness of the God whose nature is reconceived in the light of the problem of evil; and its provision for a realistic hope in the redemptive processes operative in divine and human history. However, none of these aspects of process theodicy is without serious problems. In what follows I will present certain reasons why I do not believe process theism has made good its claim to have solved, with the help of Whitehead's philosophy, the problem of evil. Rather, I will suggest that like the story of what happened to the donkey laden with salt, who took to the water, process theology's ‘solution’ to the problem of evil dissolves in the dialectic river of life, until nothing is left but the verbal sack in which it is contained. Much of the force of this critique will hinge on recognizing the systematic implications of the role of ambiguity in a processive-relational universe, a position I will summarize in conclusion
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DOI 10.1017/S0034412500000962
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