About this topic
Summary The Argument from Evil is a class of arguments which purport that the existence of evil is incompatible with the existence of God. As Hume put it, "Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?" The argument of evil can be divided into two broad types of arguments: Logical and Evidential. The logical version of the argument argues that the existence of evil is logically incompatible with the existence of God. Those who advance evidential arguments often argue for a much weaker claim - that the existence of evil gives us evidence against God's existence.
Key works A concise statement of the logical problem of evil which has directed much of the recent discussion about this version can be found in Mackie's Evil and Omnipotence. The most popular response to the logical argument from evil has been Plantinga's Free Will Defense. The evidential problem of evil can be seen in Draper's Pain and Pleasure: An Evidential Problem for Theists, Rowe's The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism, and in the Howard-Snyder's The Evidential Argument from Evil. For responses to the evidential argument, we can look at William Hasker's Suffering, Soul-Building, and Salvation, Van Inwagen's The Problem of Evil, the Problem of Air, and the Problem of Silence, Wykstra's The Humean Obstacle to Evidential Arguments, among others.
Introductions Beebe 2003 Tooley 2008
Related categories
Siblings:See also:History/traditions: The Argument from Evil

1772 found
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1 — 50 / 1772
  1. The Soul-Making Theodicy: A Response to Dore.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    The soul-making theodicy seeks to explain how belief in the existence of God is compatible with the evil, pain and suffering we experience in our world. It purports to meet the problem of evil posed by non-theists by articulating a divine plan in which the occurrence of evil is necessary for enabling the greater good of character building of free moral agents. Many philosophers of religion have levelled strong objections against this theodicy. In this essay, Leslie Allan considers the effectiveness (...)
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  2. Plantinga's Free Will Defence: Critical Note.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    Some atheistic philosophers have argued that God could have created a world with free moral agents and yet absent of moral evil. Using possible world semantics, Alvin Plantinga sought to defuse this logical form of the problem of evil. In this critical note, Leslie Allan examines the adequacy of Plantinga's argument that the existence of God is logically compatible with the existence of moral evil. The veracity of Plantinga's argument turns on whether his essential use of counterfactual conditionals preserves the (...)
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  3. The Problem of Evil.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    The existence of evil, pain and suffering is considered by many philosophers to be the most vexed question concerning the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect deity. Why would a loving God permit wanton acts of cruelty and misery on the scale witnessed throughout human history? In this essay, Leslie Allan evaluates four common theistic responses to this problem, highlighting the benefits and challenges faced by each approach. He concludes with a critical examination of a theistic defence designed (...)
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  4. Kötülük problemi bir sözde problem midir?Hasan G. Bahçekapili - manuscript
    Bu çalışma, geleneksel din felsefesindeki kötülük probleminin gerçek değil sözde bir problem olduğunu, dolayısıyla çözümlemeye çalışmak yerine tasfiye edilmesi gerektiğini öne süren bazı yeni tarihli iddiaları değerlendirmektedir. Öncelikle ele alınan konu sözde problem dendiğinde ne kastedildiğidir. Bir problemin iki tarafının karşılıklı olarak aynı yanlış varsayımı yaptığı durumlar literatürde sözde problem olarak nitelendirilmektedir. Makalede bu anlamda sözde problemin türleri ve ölçütleri belirlenmektedir. Arkasından geleneksel kötülük problemini oluşturan argüman ortaya koyulmakta ve problem için getirilen çözüm önerileri tanıtılmaktadır. Makalenin son bölümünde, önceki bölümlerde (...)
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  5. Modal Evil and Divine Necessity.Robert Bass - manuscript
    God is often conceived as a necessary being, but if gratuitous evil is even possible, then God cannot be necessary. Two arguments are developed that the possibility of gratuitous evil is more probable than divine necessity. Thus, probably, it is impossible for God to be a necessary being. The main argument is then followed with some reflection on what this conclusion means for philosophical theism.
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  6. A Kantian Theodicy.Steven M. Duncan - manuscript
    In this paper, I present a Kantian theodicy, i.e. one based on some of the leading ideas in Kant's ethics, to the classical problem of evil and recommend it as an adequate solution to the problem of evil so understood.
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  7. Sin and Suffering.Steven M. Duncan - manuscript
    In this essay I discuss the concept of suffering, the causes of suffering, and the Christian solution to the problem of suffering. I conclude that there is no basis, within the Christian view of things, for raising the traditional problem of evil through reflection on the fact of substantial suffering in the world. I thus respectfully suggest that the problem of evil is only a problem for non-believers, who have the wrong perspective on the nature and source of suffering. (When (...)
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  8. The Problem of Despair: A Kierkegaardian Reading of the Book of Job.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    The Book of Job is often read as the Bible's response to theodicy's 'problem of evil.' As a resolution to the logical difficulties of this problem, however, it is singularly unsatisfying. Job's ethical protest against God is never addressed at the level of the ethical. But suggested in Job's final encounter with God is the possibility of a spiritual resolution beyond the ethical. In this paper I examine the Book of Job as a response to the spiritual problem of despair; (...)
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  9. The Problem of Evil - A Socratic Dialogue.Brent Silby - manuscript
    Epicurus asked: “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” This Socratic dialogue explores a popular version of the Argument From Evil. Suitable as an introduction to the topic.
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  10. Ways Modality Could Be.Jason Zarri -
    In this paper I introduce the idea of a higher-order modal logic—not a modal logic for higher-order predicate logic, but rather a logic of higher-order modalities. “What is a higher-order modality?”, you might be wondering. Well, if a first-order modality is a way that some entity could have been—whether it is a mereological atom, or a mereological complex, or the universe as a whole—a higher-order modality is a way that a first-order modality could have been. First-order modality is modeled in (...)
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  11. Should we prevent evil if sceptical theism is right?Alexander Pruss - manuscript
    I argue that the answer is affirmative, pace Oppy.
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  12. Good and Evil in Transcendent Wisdom.Mohammad Gharaguzlu - unknown - Kheradnameh Sadra Quarterly 12.
    Mulla Sadra in all of his works views good and evil from the angle of existence and non-existence. In Shawahid-al-Robubiyyah he says, "existence is equal to all; it is light in every being while darkness is equal to non-existence. The real evil is the same as the negative entity and for this reason lesser evils have entered the world of existence, by the decree and ordinance of God."In Asfar he writes, "That which desires and by which it attains perfection is (...)
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  13. Human attitudes toward suffering.Theodore Bovet - forthcoming - Humanitas.
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  14. Suffering and the origins of religion.John Bowker - forthcoming - Humanitas.
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  15. In Defence of the.Erik Carlson - forthcoming - Mind.
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  16. Experimental Philosophy of Religion.Ian M. Church - forthcoming - In A. M. Bauer & S. Kornmesser (eds.), Compact Compendium of Experimental Philosophy. Walter de Gruyter.
    While experimental philosophy has fruitfully applied the tools and resources of psychology and cognitive science to debates within epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics, relatively little work has been done within philosophy of religion. And this isn’t due to a lack of need! Philosophers of religion frequently rely on empirical claims that can be either verified or disproven, but without exploring whether they are. And philosophers of religion frequently appeal to intuitions which may vary wildly according to education level, theological background, etc., (...)
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  17. If We Can’t Tell What Theism Predicts, We Can’t Tell Whether God Exists: Skeptical Theism and Bayesian Arguments from Evil.Nevin Climenhaga - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion.
    According to a simple Bayesian argument from evil, the evil we observe is less likely given theism than given atheism, and therefore lowers the probability of theism. I consider the most common skeptical theist response to this argument, according to which our cognitive limitations make the probability of evil given theism inscrutable. I argue that if skeptical theists are right about this, then the probability of theism given evil is itself largely inscrutable, and that if this is so, we ought (...)
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  18. Free Will and Theism: Connections, Contingencies, and Concerns.Kevin Timpe Dan Speak (ed.) - forthcoming - Oxford University Press.
  19. Skeptical Theism: New Essays.Trent Doughtery & Justin McBrayder (eds.) - forthcoming - Oxford University Press.
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  20. A Surviving Version of the Common Sense Problem of Evil in advance.Jerome Gellman - forthcoming - Faith and Philosophy.
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  21. Summaries of selected works on human response to suffering.Carolyn Gratton - forthcoming - Humanitas.
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  22. The proper basicality of belief in God and the evil-god challenge.Perry Hendricks - forthcoming - Religious Studies:1-8.
    The evil-god challenge is a challenge for theists to show that belief in God is more reasonable than belief in evil-god. In this article, I show that whether or not evil-god exists, belief in evil-god is unjustified. But this isn’t the case for belief in God: belief in God is probably justified if theism is true. And hence belief in God is (significantly) more reasonable than belief in evil-god, and the evil-god challenge has been answered.
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  23. Causal Connections, Logical Connections, and Skeptical Theism: There Is No Logical Problem of Evil.Perry Hendricks - forthcoming - Religions.
    In this paper, I consider Sterba’s recent criticism of skeptical theism in context of his argument from evil. I show that Sterba’s criticism of skeptical theism shares an undesirable trait with all past criticisms of skeptical theism: it fails. This is largely due to his focus on causal connections and his neglect of logical connections. Because of this, his argument remains vulnerable to skeptical theism.
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  24. Should Atheists Wish That There Were No Gratuitous Evil?Guy Kahane - forthcoming - Faith and Philosophy.
    Many atheists argue that because gratuitous evil exists, God (probably) doesn’t. But doesn’t this commit atheists to wishing that God did exist, and to the protheist view that the world would have been better had God existed? This doesn’t follow. I argue that if all that evil still remains but is just no longer gratuitous, then, from an atheist perspective, that wouldn’t have been better. And while a counterfactual from which that evil is literally absent would have been impersonally better, (...)
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  25. Naturalistic and Theistic Explanations of the Distribution of Suffering.Dan Linford - forthcoming - In Graham Oppy & Joseph W. Koterski (eds.), Theism and Atheism: Opposing Viewpoints in Philosophy. Cengage.
    This is a forthcoming section for the book "Theism and Atheism: Opposing Arguments in Philosophy", edited by Graham Oppy, Gregory Dawes, Evan Fales, Joseph Koterski, Mashhad Al-Allaf, Robert Fastiggi, and David Shatz. I was asked to write a brief essay on whether naturalism or theism can successfully explain the distribution of suffering in our world. Wheras another section covers the possibility that suffering is evidence against theism, my essay is concerned only with the ability for either naturalism or theism to (...)
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  26. Escepticismo y creencia religiosa.Diego E. Machuca - forthcoming - In Carlo Rossi & Robert K. Garcia (eds.), Cuestiones contemporáneas de filosofía de la religión. Fondo de Cultura Económica.
    Este capítulo ofrece un panorama del escepticismo acerca de las creencias religiosas tal como el mismo es entendido dentro de la tradición de la filosofía analítica. Su estructura es la siguiente. La Sección 2 propone una posible taxonomía del escepticismo religioso. Las tres secciones subsecuentes examinan tres argumentos que pretenden ofrecer razones para sostener o bien (i) que las creencias religiosas son falsas, o bien (ii) que las mismas carecen, per se o al menos por el momento, de justificación epistémica. (...)
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  27. Empirical Challenges to the Evidential Problem of Evil.Blake McAllister, Ian M. Church, Paul Rezkalla & Long Nguyen - forthcoming - In Joshua Knobe & Shaun Nichols (eds.), The Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    The problem of evil is broadly considered to be one of the greatest intellectual threats to traditional brands of theism. And William Rowe’s 1979 formulation of the problem in “The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism” is the most cited formulation in the contemporary philosophical literature. In this paper, we explore how the tools and resources of experimental philosophy might be brought to bear on Rowe’s seminal formulation, arguing that our empirical findings raise significant questions regarding the ultimate (...)
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  28. Philosophy… History December 10, 2007 Erickson “Religion, Philosophy and the Problem of Evil”.Marcia McWilliams - forthcoming - Philosophy.
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  29. Does Process Theism Matter?Bob Mesle - forthcoming - American Journal of Theology and Philosophy.
    The great strength of process theism is also its tragic flaw. It avoids the weaknesses of more traditional theologies--e.g., the problem of evil and conflicts with science--by envisioning a God so thoroughly interwoven with nature and history that there is nothing left which they cannot do without God. Even if we can understand what process theologians mean by their claims (per Antony Flew), there seems to be no empirical method to distinguish the work of God from the work of nature, (...)
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  30. Toward a Reactive Attitudes Theodicy.Garrett Pendergraft - forthcoming - In Peter Furlong & Leigh Vicens (eds.), Theological Determinism: New Perspectives. pp. 231–50.
    According to the argument from gratuitous evil, if God were to exist, then gratuitous evil wouldn’t; but gratuitous evil does exist, so God doesn’t. We can evaluate different views of divine providence with respect to the resources they are able to bring to bear when encountering this argument. By these lights, theological determinism is often seen as especially problematic: the determinist is seen as having an impoverished set of resources to draw from in her attempts to respond to the argument (...)
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  31. Review of Laura Ekstrom's "God, Suffering, and The Value of Free Will". [REVIEW]Hendricks Perry - forthcoming - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion.
    Louise Antony calls Laura Ekstrom’s book “courageous” (backcover). I have no clue what it means for a work of philosophy to be courageous, but Ekstrom’s book is certainly good. And despite the fact that I think there are about a million problems with it, I recommend it to anyone interested in the problem of evil or skeptical theism: it's well researched and clearly argued—undergraduates as well as professional philosophers will find this book useful. (Well, this recommendation comes with one caveat: (...)
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  32. Why Evil won't go Away: A Philosophical Analysis of the Relationship between Religions, Ideologies and Evil.Anne Leona Cesarine Runehov - forthcoming - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion.
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  33. Skeptical Theism and Skeptical Atheism.J. L. Schellenberg - forthcoming - In Justin McBrayer Trent Dougherty (ed.), Skeptical Theism: New Essays. Oxford University Press.
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  34. Exploring Human Suffering: Why the Reluctance?E. Timothy - forthcoming - Bioethics Forum.
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  35. Evidential Problem of Evil, The.Nick Trakakis - forthcoming - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    The Evidential Problem of Evil The evidential problem of evil is the problem of determining whether and, if so, to what extent the existence of evil (or certain instances, kinds, quantities, or distributions of evil) constitutes evidence against the existence of God, that is to say, a being perfect in power, knowledge and goodness. Evidential […].
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  36. November 20, 2012 Philosophy 1000 Problem of Evil.Emily Waters - forthcoming - Philosophy.
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  37. Was evolution worth it?Guy Kahane - 2023 - Philosophical Studies 180 (1):249-271.
    The evolutionary process involved the suffering of quadrillions of sentient beings over millions of years. I argue that when we take this into account, then it is likely that when the first humans appeared, the world was already at an enormous axiological deficit, and that even on favorable assumptions about humanity, it is doubtful that we have overturned this deficit or ever will. Even if there’s no such deficit or we can overturn it, it remains the case that everything of (...)
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  38. Against the New Logical Argument from Evil.Daniel Rubio - 2023 - Religions 14 (2):159.
    Jim Sterba’s Is a Good God Logically Possible? looks to resurrect J. L. Mackie’s logical argument from evil. Sterba accepts the general framework that theists seeking to give a theodicy have favored since Leibniz invented the term: the search for some greater good provided or greater evil averted that would justify God in permitting the type and variety of evil we actually observe. However, Sterba introduces a deontic twist, drawing on the Pauline Principle (let us not do evil that good (...)
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  39. Kötülük Problemi ve Tanrı: Felsefi Bir İnceleme.Hasan G. Bahçekapili - 2022 - Ankara, Turkey: Nobel Akademik Yayıncılık.
    “Dünyadaki kötülüklerin varlığı, geleneksel teizmdeki Tanrı inancı için bir problem oluşturur mu?” 2000 yıldan fazla zamandır çok çeşitli geleneklerden gelen düşünürleri meşgul eden bu çetrefilli soruya bu kitap, en güncel tartışmalardan hareketle cevap vermeye çalışıyor. Kötülük probleminin tarihsel gelişimini, mantıksal ve delilci kötülük argümanlarını özetledikten sonra kitap, geleneksel ve modern teist çözüm önerilerini ele alıyor: Özgür iradenin varlığı veya manevi gelişim potansiyeli, kötülüklerin varlığını meşru hâle getirir mi? Etrafımızda gördüğümüz kötülüklerin gerekçesi konusunda şüpheci tavır takınıp Tanrı'nın hikmetinin, insanın kısıtlı zihni (...)
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  40. The Context of Suffering: Empirical Insights into the Problem of Evil.Ian M. Church, Isaac Warchol & Justin Barrett - 2022 - TheoLogica: An International Journal for Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology 6 (1):1-16.
    While the evidential problem of evil has been enormously influential within the contemporary philosophical literature—William Rowe’s 1979 formulation in “The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism” being the most seminal—no academic research has explored what cognitive mechanisms might underwrite the appearance of pointlessness in target examples of suffering. In this exploratory paper, we show that the perception of pointlessness in the target examples of suffering that underwrite Rowe’s seminal formulation of the problem of evil is contingent on the (...)
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  41. The global/local distinction vindicates Leibniz's theodicy.James Franklin - 2022 - Theology and Science 20 (4).
    The essential idea of Leibniz’s Theodicy was little understood in his time but has become one of the organizing themes of modern mathematics. There are many phenomena that are possible locally but for purely mathematical reasons impossible globally. For example, it is possible to build a spiral staircase that is rising at any given point, but it is impossible to build one that is rising at all points and comes back to where it started. The necessity is mathematically provable, so (...)
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  42. Why God allows undeserved horrendous evil.Scott Hill - 2022 - Religious Studies 58 (4):772-786.
    I defend a new version of the non-identity theodicy. After presenting the theodicy, I reply to a series of objections. I then argue that my approach improves upon similar approaches in the literature.
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  43. Will and Desire: Suffering in Buddhism and Augustinian Christianity.Huzaifah Islam-Khan - 2022 - Asian American Voices 4 (1):22–27.
    This paper discusses the existence and nature of suffering as understood by Buddhism and Augustinian Christianity. The Buddha taught suffering as arising from human desire, while Saint Augustine believed it to be a direct result of human free will. In both traditions, the existence of suffering is linked directly to humans, whether it is in their ability to have desires or will freely. These two accounts of suffering and evil are presented in the first section, along with how their respective (...)
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  44. Optimism without theism? Nagasawa on atheism, evolution, and evil.Guy Kahane - 2022 - Religious Studies 58 (4):701-714.
    Nagasawa has argued that the suffering associated with evolution presents a greater challenge to atheism than to theism because that evil is incompatible with ‘existential optimism’ about the world – with seeing the world as an overall good place, and being thankful that we exist. I argue that even if atheism was incompatible with existential optimism in this way, this presents no threat to atheism. Moreover, it is unclear how the suffering associated with evolution could on its own undermine existential (...)
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  45. Bringing Good Even Out of Evil: Thomism and the Problem of Evil.B. Kyle Keltz - 2022 - New York, NY, USA: Lexington Books.
    The question of whether the existence of evil in the world is compatible with the existence of an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good God has been debated for centuries. Many have addressed classical arguments from evil, and while recent scholarship in analytic philosophy of religion has produced newer formulations of the problem, most of these newer formulations rely on a conception of God that is not held by all theists. In Bringing Good Even Out of Evil: Thomism and the Problem of Evil, (...)
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  46. The Nonconsequentialist Argument from Evil.Justin Mooney - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (12):3599-3615.
    Stringent non-consequentialist constraints on permitting horrendous evils pose a formidable challenge to the project of theodicy by limiting the ways in which it is permissible for God to do or allow evil for the sake of bringing about a greater good. I formulate a general and potent argument against all greater-good theodicies from the existence of robust side constraints on permitting evil. Then I contend that the argument fails. I begin by distinguishing between side constraints on doing evil and side (...)
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  47. What the Problem of Evil Properly Entails.I. Neminemus - 2022 - Social Sciences Research Network.
    It is sometimes thought that the Problem of Evil entails the inexistence of God. However, this is not the case: it only entails the inexistence of an omnipotent-benevolent god, of which the God of Classical Theism is an example. As for ‘limited’ deities such as that of process theology, or malevolent deities such as that of dystheism, the problem of evil is not a problem at all.
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  48. Defending the Free Will Defense: A Reply to Sterba.Luis Oliveira - 2022 - Religions 13 (11):1126-1138.
    James Sterba has recently argued that the free will defense fails to explain the compossibility of a perfect God and the amount and degree of moral evil that we see. I think he is mistaken about this. I thus find myself in the awkward and unexpected position, as a non-theist myself, of defending the free will defense. In this paper, I will try to show that once we take care to focus on what the free will defense is trying to (...)
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  49. God's Perfect Will: Remarks on Johnston and O'Connor.Kenneth L. Pearce - 2022 - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion 10:248-254.
    Why would God create a world at all? Further, why would God create a world like this one? The Neoplatonic framework of classical philosophical theology answers that God’s willing is an affirmation of God’s own goodness, and God creates to show forth God’s glory. Mark Johnston has recently argued that, in addition to explaining why God would create at all, this framework gives extremely wide scope to divine freedom. Timothy O’Connor objects that divine freedom, on this view, cannot be so (...)
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  50. On an Epistemic Cornerstone of Skeptical Theism: in Defense of CORNEA.Timothy Perrine - 2022 - Sophia 61 (3):533-555.
    Skeptical theism is a family of responses to arguments from evil. One important member of that family is Stephen Wykstra’s CORNEA-based criticism of William Rowe’s arguments from evil. A cornerstone of Wykstra’s approach is his CORNEA principle. However, a number of authors have criticized CORNEA on various grounds, including that it has odd results, it cannot do the work it was meant to, and it problematically conflicts with the so-called common sense epistemology. In this paper, I explicate and defend a (...)
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