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A solution to the Problem of Evil: Advaita Vedanta and the challenge of horrendous evil

O’Neill-Adkins, Helen Elizabeth


Helen Elizabeth O’Neill-Adkins


Sorin Baiasu


The problem of evil is possibly the most difficult question facing the theist. How are we to resolve the presence of evil in the world with the belief in an all loving, all powerful, God? For generations Western theists have offered possible solutions via refutations, theodicies and defences that rest upon a dual approach to reality, one that holds God as distinct and separate from the individual who is suffering. Two things are apparent from an analysis of such possible solutions – firstly, that no refutation, defence or theodicy is fully successful, and secondly, that such refutations, defences and theodicies underplay the severity of the problem of horrendous evil. I offer a possible solution to the problem of horrendous evil which considers the issue from a non-dual perspective of reality. This non-dual perspective considers God to be one with the true identity of the individual. I root such a perspective within the Hindu philosophical and religious school of thought - Advaita Vedanta - however, such a non-dual perspective of reality is not exclusive to this school of thought. I argue that by adopting Advaita Vedanta’s distinction between two aspects of humanity, The Ego Self and The Self, horrendous evil can have a unique role to play in forcing or driving the individual into self-enquiry. Such self-enquiry can, in turn, lead to the process of awakening to identification as The Self, a process also known as enlightenment, whereby the individual realises their true identity to be one with God/Brahman. In identification as The Self, horrendous evil ceases.


O’Neill-Adkins, H. E. (2022). A solution to the Problem of Evil: Advaita Vedanta and the challenge of horrendous evil. (Thesis). Keele University

Thesis Type Thesis
Additional Information Embargo on access until 1 October 2027 - The thesis is due for publication, or the author is actively seeking to publish this material.
Award Date 2022-12

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