The problem of evil: a contract theory approach

Delong Meng

Session 1A, 11:00am, Room 114

Download: Podcast


We approach the problem of evil from a contract theory perspective. When designing a labor contract, a manager writes a contract, predicts the worker’s actions, and calculates the profit. If the worker can freely choose his actions, then the manager can only achieve a “second-best” profit. On the other hand, if the worker cannot freely choose his actions, then the manager can achieve a “first-best” profit. God designs this world. God knows what human beings will freely choose in any possible world. If human beings have no free will, then God can create a “first-best” world with no evil and suffering, but if human beings do have free will, then the “second-best” solution provides an escape route to the problem of evil. This approach formalizes the idea of “middle knowledge”, first proposed by St. Molina and currently promoted by Dr. William Lane Craig.


I am a third-year economics PhD student at Stanford. I enjoy thinking about questions related to research and faith. This summer I am co-leading the “Exploring the Nature of God” small group along with Andrew Bylard, Michael Vegh, and Kejing Jiang. Hopefully we get some interesting topics from the discussions, and we might even generate more ideas for future passion talks.

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Passion Talks are short talks by Christian grad students, academics and professionals considering how their faith intersects with and impacts their work. Read more…

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