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Author(s): D. Z. Phillips
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"It would be unfortunate if the readership of this book were confined to those with philosophical interests. For its critique of 'answers' to the problem of evil, ranging from the facile to the bizarre, it should be required reading on pastoral theology courses. For its reminder of the priority of grace over works (instrumentalism) it should be taken to heart by theologians. For its deep piety (something I distinguish from selfserving, effervescent 'spirituality'), it deserves to be read as a devotional work. There are not many recent philosophical works of which all of that can be said." Alan P F Sell, Milton Keynes, ANVIL Volume 22 n°3 2005
"An important contribution to the discussion of the sort of questions that the recent tsunami disaster has raised for many people. It is primarily philosophical and analytical, useful for the pastor who has to think about and answer people's questions (...)" Peter W.Russell.
"It is likely to appeal more to sailors on the sea of faith than to those complacently becalmed on the ocean of orthodoxy. But it is full of challenges that cannot be ignored, and insights that will repay further reflection." DrSaxbee, Bishop of Lincoln, CHURCH TIMES.
"The Problem of Evil and the Problem of God is a significant work which exposes some discussions of the problem of evil as decadent nonsense." Simon Oliver, TLS, December 9 2005
"This book, then, is an important contribution to the literature on the problem of evil, and is well worth reading. There is a wealth of argument here, and the second part shows a significant development of Phillips' own position." Religious Studies Department, Lancaster University, Philosophical Investigations, Vol 29, No2.
D Z Phillips currently holds the Danforth Chair in Philosophy of Religion at Claremont Graduate University, California and is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus and Rush Rhees Professor Emeritus at the University of Wales, Swansea. As well as currently being engaged in his own writing projects ,D Z Phillips is also the Director of the Rush Rhees and Peter Winch Archives, and editor of the journal 'Philosophical Investigations' and the 'Swansea Series in Philosophy'.
D.Z. Phillips - welcome to the SCM Press website.
You write as a philosopher of religion rather than a theologian. What does
this distinction mean, and why is it important to you?
A theologian is the guardian of the grammar of a Faith, and such is the
citizen of a certain community of ideas. A philosopher, however, contemplates
the world in all its variety in wrestling with questions about the nature of
Are you ever tempted to write a straight theology book?
The latter half of the present book sometimes seems close to that. Some of my
students would like me to write a book of religious essays (not so much
theological essays). If the latter part of the book seems close to that, it is
because I am exploring religious examples which I believe are worthy of
attention, examples which do not receive the attention they deserve in the
You give the impression in this book that you think the bulk of mainstream
analytic philosophy of religion is barking up the wrong tree. Is that a fair
I make my claims in relation to discussions of the problem of evil. If
I did not think they were fair I would not have made them. I think the trouble
is a more general one, too, in the philosophy of religion. Much of my work has
been concerned with that as is my new book, due out in November, Religion and
What harm do you think bad philosophy of religion does?
As I said, in relation to the problem of evil, bad philosophy betrays the
sufferings people endure and obscures the character of deeper religious and
non-religious reactions to them.
What do you think the proper role of a philosopher of religion is?
The book is about 'The problem of evil'. When we're faced with terrible
evils, what help can a philosopher of religion offer? 5+6. I think I've already
answered these questions. I can elaborate by saying that we need to be rescued
from the assumption that we must discuss evil in the context of some kind of
When we're faced with such evils, what difference can an intelligent
Christian faith make?
It can rescue us from the assumption mentioned in my last answer.
Who have been the biggest influences on your writing?
Rush Rhees, Wittgenstein and Peter Winch in philosophy. Kierkegaard and
Simone Weil in religion.
Are there any theologians writing at the moment whose work fits well with
the kind of philosophy you write?
I'm not all that knowledgeable in this context, but Fergus Kerr and
Ingolf Dalferth spring to mind.
Most importantly - a question I've long wanted to ask: What does the Z
It refers to Zephaniah. There's no Z in the Welsh language, so I
assumed that the registrar had made a mistake, given that I had an uncle called
Dafydd Sephaniah. But my grandfather's name was Zephaniah, so I'm continuing the