Quotations about   theodicy

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There is only one question which really matters: why do bad things happen to good people?

Harold S. Kushner (b. 1935) American author, rabbi
When Bad Things Happen to Good People, ch. 1 (1981)
Added on 3-Mar-17 | Last updated 3-Mar-17
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The sun shines and warms and lights us and we have no curiosity to know why this is so; but we ask the reason of all evil, of pain, and hunger, and mosquitoes and silly people

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (18 Aug 1830)
Added on 6-Jul-16 | Last updated 6-Jul-16
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I am often inclined to be envious of other people’s religion. They are so cocksure dogmatically that they act as though they are omniscient. Life has no doubts, its direction is determined, all evil is by hypothesis overruled by an all-wise God for good. I do not share this view of life, any more than I share the Christian Science views of disease, but I can see that it makes people enthusiastic, effective, self-forgetful and often fanatical and great bores.

Henry Joel Cadbury (1883-1974) American biblical scholar, Quaker historian, writer, activist
“My Personal Religion,” lecture, Harvard School of Divinity (1936)
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Added on 24-May-16 | Last updated 24-May-16
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Quite often, people who mean well will inquire of me whether I ever ask myself, in the face of my diseases, “Why me?” I never do. If I ask “Why me?” as I am assaulted by heart disease and AIDS, I must ask “Why me?” about my blessings, and question my right to enjoy them. The morning after I won Wimbledon in 1975 I should have asked “Why me?” and doubted that I deserved the victory. If I don’t ask “Why me?” after my victories, I cannot ask “Why me?” after my setbacks and disasters.

Arthur Ashe (1943-1993) American athlete
Days of Grace, ch. 10 (1993)

Often paraphrased (or used elsewhere by Ashe) as "If I were to say 'God, why me?' about the bad things, then I should have said 'God, why me?' about the good things that happened in my life."

Added on 4-Mar-13 | Last updated 11-Sep-15
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Rabbi Jannai said: “It is beyond our power to explain either the prosperity of the wicked or the afflictions of the righteous.”

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
The Mishnah (c. AD 200)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 12-Jul-16
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