Evil, Suffering, and Hell – APOL 620

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 07/28/2020

Course Description

An advanced study of the differing forms of the problem of evil and suffering. The course will explore the problem and investigate various theodicies and responses to the problem. Attention will also be given to the issue of hell and eternal damnation.


APOL 550


The problem of evil is a real problem for all sentient beings, and even more for believers in God, for whom more things are evil and morally sub-par than for the typical non-believer. Suffering is here to stay, and strikes often in an unpredictable yet distinctively disruptive and nagging (and sometimes crushing) way. It is imperative for the Christian theist to “have an answer…to anyone who happens to ask…for the reason for the hope within” him or her, and so in this course, the student will attempt to rationally work through the issues and understand why God allows evil (in so far as it is given to know in this life).

Measurable Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Describe the various forms of the problem of evil.
  2. Defend the existence and goodness of God in the face of evil, pain, and suffering.
  3. Defend the doctrine of Hell as integral to the Christian worldview and consistent with the goodness of God.
  4. Differentiate various theodicies and defenses offered in response to the problem of evil, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each.
  5. Develop a practical apologetic plan to address the problem of suffering.
  6. Appraise the various arguments against God’s existence based on the existence and nature of evil.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in Module/Week 1.

Discussion Board Forums (4)

Discussion boards are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to create a thread in response to the provided prompt for each forum. Each thread must be at least 400 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to the threads of at least 2 classmates. Each reply must be at least 200 words. (MLOs: A, B, D)

Question Sets (2)

The instructor will provide a set of questions about the current readings, video presentations, or Discussion Board Forums. The student will answer each question according to the length of the reply indicated in each question. Answering these questions will allow the students to see connections, reflect on current reading, and prepare for the Personal Theodicy Essays. (MLOs: A, B, F)

Personal Theodicy Essays (2)

The student will write 2 1,200–1,800-word critical reflection papers that focus on answering this question provided within the course. Each essay must be a formal paper, with citations and footnotes, and is not to be a sermon or other homiletic exercise. Each essay must include at least 6 references and be in current Turabian format. (MLOs: A, B, C, D, E, F)

Research Paper

The student will write a 3,600–4,200-word research-based paper that focuses on one of the topics drawn from the possible paper topics provided within the course. The paper must be in current Turabian format and include at least 8 references in addition to the course textbooks and the Bible. (MLOs: A, B, C, D, E, F)

Quizzes (2)

Each quiz will cover the Reading & Study material for the assigned modules/weeks. Each quiz will be open-book/open-notes, contain 15 multiple-choice and true/false questions, and have a time limit of 1 hour. (MLOs: A, B, D)