Economic Theodicy

COVID19 has reaffirmed, like the 2007 financial crisis, the inability of contemporary economics to deal with economic suffering. Its only analytical category for suffering is lack of commodities, and the only solution is more growth to deliver more commodities.

Contemporary economics is naive about evil, offers a deformed account of scarcity, and false hopes for understanding and relieving suffering. Economics’ inadequate account of suffering is of wider cultural concern because economics is the master language of contemporary western culture.  Especially so in Australia.

This paper discusses contemporary economics account of suffering, then turns to the history of economic thought to consider the theologically informed accounts of suffering offered by Adam Smith, TR Malthus, and their followers.  It concludes by considering whether an adequate theologically informed account of economic suffering can be offered, and how this might fit into the larger theological debate about theodicy.