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When Bad Things Happen to Good People

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When Bad Things Happen to Good People
First edition
AuthorHarold Kushner
PublisherSchocken Books
Publication date
Publication placeUnited States
Pages176 pp
Followed byTo Life: A Celebration of Jewish Being and Thinking 

When Bad Things Happen to Good People (ISBN 1-4000-3472-8) is a 1981 book by Harold Kushner, a Conservative rabbi. Kushner addresses in the book one of the principal problems of theodicy, the conundrum of why, if the universe was created and is governed by a God who is of a good and loving nature, there is nonetheless so much suffering and pain in it—essentially, the evidential problem of evil. The book argues for theistic finitism.[1] Kushner proposes a finite God solution to the problem of evil. God is benevolent but not all-powerful to prevent evil.[1]

Rabbi Kushner's book was a New York Times bestseller for many months in the non-fiction category. It has been translated into at least a dozen languages.[2]


Kushner seeks to offer comfort to grieving people. His answer to the philosophical problem is that God does his best and is with people in their suffering, but is not fully able to prevent it.[3]

Kushner's beliefs, which seem to question God's omnipotence, have been criticized by some conservative scholars associated with Orthodox Judaism[4] as well as evangelical Christianity.[3]

Atheist philosopher Michael Martin has disputed Kushner's finite God theodicy.[1]



  1. ^ a b c Michael, Martin. (1990). The Finite God Theodicy. In Atheism: A Philosophical Justification. Temple University Press. pp. 436-438. ISBN 0-87722-642-3
  2. ^ "Rabbi Harold Kushner '55 | Columbia College Today". www.college.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2023-04-30.
  3. ^ a b John Frame (1994). Apologetics to the Glory of God. p. 157. ISBN 0-87552-243-2.
  4. ^ Rabbi Y. Kirzner, Making Sense of Suffering ISBN 1-57819-757-0.

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