To review human reflection about evil is to review the entire history of theology, philosophy, religion, and literature, from the Rig Veda to Plato to Dostoyevski to Wittgenstein. And to consider the effective operations of evil in human life is to consider the whole history of mankind, from paleolithic tribes to us now.

There are two ways—each of them with a number of variants—that philosophers, theologians, scholars, scientists, and ordinary people have tried, throughout the centuries, to cope with the so-called problem of evil. As with all important human issues, we can try either to solve the "problem" or to get rid of it altogether by declaring it invalid: by denying that the problem exists. Among those who tried to tackle the problem, we find adherents of two fundamentally opposite (or so it seems) metaphysics: Manichaeans and Christians. Among those who denied the validity of the problem—though not all of...


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