WEBINAR: Disease and the Problem of Evil

Apr 28, 2020
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Jeffrey BishopSaint Louis University

Stephen MeredithUniversity of Chicago

Cosponsored by America Media, the Society of Catholic Scientists, the Saint Benedict Institute, the Beatrice Institute, the Collegium Institute, the Nova Forumand the Program on Religion and Medicine at the University of ChicagoThis program is made possible by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

Whether caused by pathogens, environmental exposure, or genetics, disease is typically understood to be an unwarranted and unwanted removal from one’s normal condition of good health. While a natural phenomenon, disease raises classic questions of theodicy. If illness is a privation of the good of health, should we also understand disease to be an evil? How can science, theology, philosophy, and literature help us to account for the occurrence of deadly diseases and the suffering that results from them?

In this moderated conversation, Stephen Meredith, professor of pathology and molecular biology at the University of Chicago, and Jeffrey Bishop, healthcare ethicist and professor in philosophy and theology at Saint Louis University, will engage these questions and others surrounding disease and the problem of evil.


Jeffrey P. Bishop is the Tenet Endowed Chair in Health Care Ethics, professor of philosophy and professor of theology at Saint Louis University. He holds an MD from the University of Texas and a PhD in philosophy from the University of Dallas. Bishop's scholarly work is focused on the historical, political, and philosophical conditions that underpin contemporary medical and scientific practices and theories.  He has written on diverse topics from transhumanism and enhancement technologies to clinical ethics consultation and medical humanities. Dr. Bishop is the author of The Anticipatory Corpse: Medicine, Power, and the Care of the Dying and is currently working on a second book with colleagues M. Therese Lysaught and Andrew Michel tentatively titled, 'Chasing After Virtue: Neuroscience, Economics, and the Biopolitics of Morality'.

Stephen Meredith is Professor in the Departments of Pathology, Neurology, and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Chicago, where he also teaches courses on literature, philosophy, and theology. He works on the biophysics of protein structure, concentrating on amyloid proteins associated with neurodegenerative diseases. He also teaches courses in the College on James Joyce’s Ulysses, St. Thomas Aquinas, Augustine’s City of God, and other authors, particularly Dostoevsky and Thomas Mann. His main theological interest is in the problem of evil, and in this connection, he is currently writing a book on the philosophical and literary perspectives on disease. His current interests also center on the impact of biotechnology and the genetic revolution on the definition of human nature.