Evil, Suffering, and Hell – APOL 620

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 09/05/2023

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.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


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).

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 the Course Overview. 

Discussions (4)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to create a thread in response to the provided prompt. 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. 

Question Set Assignments (2)

The instructor will provide a set of questions about the current readings, video presentations, or Discussions. 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. 

Personal Theodicy Essay Assignments (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. 

Research Paper Assignment

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. 

Quizzes (2)

Each quiz will cover the Learn 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.