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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

1819 found
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  1. 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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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. 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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  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. 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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  8. 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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  9. Ways Modality Could Be.Jason Zarri - manuscript
    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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  10. 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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  11. 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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  12. Human Attitudes Toward Suffering.Theodore Bovet - forthcoming - Humanitas.
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  13. Suffering and the Origins of Religion.John Bowker - forthcoming - Humanitas.
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  14. In Defence of The.Erik Carlson - forthcoming - Mind.
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  15. 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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  16. Evil Intuitions? The Problem of Evil, Experimental Philosophy, and the Need for Psychological Research.Ian M. Church, Rebecca Carlson & Justin Barrett - forthcoming - Journal of Psychology and Theology.
    The primary aim of this paper is to highlight, at least in short, how the resources of experimental philosophy could be fruitfully applied to the evidential problem of evil. To do this, we will consider two of the most influential and archetypal formulations of the problem: William L. Rowe’s article, “The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism” (1979). and Paul Draper’s article, “Pain and Pleasure: An Evidential Problem for Theists” (1989). We will consider the relevance of experimental philosophy (...)
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  17. The Context of Suffering: Empirical Insights Into the Problem of Evil.Ian M. Church, Isaac Warchol & Justin Barrett - forthcoming - TheoLogica: An International Journal for Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology.
    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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  18. 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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  19. Free Will and Theism: Connections, Contingencies, and Concerns.Kevin Timpe Dan Speak (ed.) - forthcoming - Oxford University Press.
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  20. Skeptical Theism: New Essays.Trent Doughtery & Justin McBrayder (eds.) - forthcoming - Oxford University Press.
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  21. A Surviving Version of the Common Sense Problem of Evil in Advance.Jerome Gellman - forthcoming - Faith and Philosophy.
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  22. Summaries of Selected Works on Human Response to Suffering.Carolyn Gratton - forthcoming - Humanitas.
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  23. Why God Allows Undeserved Horrendous Evil.Scott Hill - forthcoming - Religious Studies.
    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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  24. Optimism Without Theism? Nagasawa on Atheism, Evolution, and Evil.Guy Kahane - forthcoming - Religious Studies.
    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’s unclear how the suffering associated with evolution could on its own undermine existential optimism. Links between (...)
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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. Philosophy… History December 10, 2007 Erickson “Religion, Philosophy and the Problem of Evil”.Marcia McWilliams - forthcoming - Philosophy.
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  27. 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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  28. Why God is Probably Good: A Response to the Evil-God Challenge.Calum Miller - forthcoming - Religious Studies:1-18.
    A number of philosophers have recently defended the evil-god challenge, which is to explain relevant asymmetries between believing in a perfectly good God and believing in a perfectly evil god, such that the former is more reasonable than the latter. In this article, I offer a number of such reasons. I first suggest that certain conceptions of the ontology of good and evil can offer asymmetries which make theism a simpler hypothesis than ‘maltheism’. I then argue that maltheism is itself (...)
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  29. God's Perfect Will: Remarks on Johnston and O'Connor.Kenneth L. Pearce - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion.
    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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  30. On an Epistemic Cornerstone of Skeptical Theism: In Defense of CORNEA.Timothy Perrine - forthcoming - Sophia:1-23.
    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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  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. Divine Hiddenness and Other Evidence.Charity Anderson & Jeffrey Sanford Russell - 2021 - In Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion.
    Many people do not know or believe there is a God, and many experience a sense of divine absence. Are these (and other) “divine hiddenness” facts evidence against the existence of God? Using Bayesian tools, we investigate *evidential arguments from divine hiddenness*, and respond to two objections to such arguments. The first objection says that the problem of hiddenness is just a special case of the problem of evil, and so if one has responded to the problem of evil then (...)
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  38. Progress on the Problem of Evil.Seyyed Mohsen Eslami & Dan Egonsson - 2021 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 29 (2):221-235.
    A standard reaction to the problem of evil is to look for a greater good that can explain why God (with the traditional attributes) might have created this world instead of a seemingly better one which has no (or less) evil. This paper proposes an approach we call the Moral Progress Approach: Given the value of progress, a non-perfect world containing evil may be preferable to a perfect world without evil. This makes room for the possibility that this world, with (...)
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  39. An Agnostic Defends God: How Science and Philosophy Support Agnosticism.Bryan Frances - 2021 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
    This book contains a unique perspective: that of a scientifically and philosophically educated agnostic who thinks there is impressive—if maddeningly hidden—evidence for the existence of God. Science and philosophy may have revealed the poverty of the familiar sources of evidence, but they generate their own partial defense of theism. Bryan Frances, a philosopher with a graduate degree in physics, judges the standard evidence for God’s existence to be awful. And yet, like many others with similar scientific and philosophical backgrounds, he (...)
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  40. Theodicy, Supreme Providence, and Semiclassical Theism.James Goetz - 2021 - Theology and Science 19 (1):42-64.
    Logical limits of omnipotence, the problem of evil, and a compelling cosmological argument suggest the position of supreme providence and the foremost creation out of nothing that coheres with the constraints of physics. The Supreme Being possesses everlasting love, perception, and force while governing the universe of probabilistic processes and freewill creatures. For example, the Supreme Being intervenes in the processes of creation by the means of synergism with freewill creatures and cannot meticulously control the created universe.
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  41. We Are Not in the Dark: Refuting Popular Arguments Against Skeptical Theism.Perry Hendricks - 2021 - American Philosophical Quarterly 58 (2):125-134.
    Critics of skeptical theism often claim that if it (skeptical theism) is true, then we are in the dark about whether (or for all we know) there is a morally justifying for God to radically deceive us. From here, it is argued that radical skepticism follows: if we are truly in the dark about whether there is a morally justifying reason for God to radically deceive us, then we cannot know anything. In this article, I show that skeptical theism does (...)
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  42. Mary, Did You Consent?Blake Hereth - 2021 - Religious Studies:1-24.
    The Christian and Islamic doctrine of the VIRGIN BIRTH claim God asexually impregnated the Virgin Mary with Jesus, Mary’s impregnation was fully consensual (VIRGIN CONSENT), and God never acts immorally (DIVINE GOODNESS). First, I show that God’s actions and Mary’s background beliefs undermine her consent by virtue of coercive incentives, Mary’s comparative powerlessness, and the generation of moral conflicts. Second, I show that God’s nondisclosure of certain reasonably relevant facts undermines Mary’s informed consent. Third, I show that a recent attempt (...)
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  43. Evaluating a New Logical Argument From Evil.Bruce Langtry - 2021 - Faith and Philosophy 38 (2):229-244.
    J. L. Schellenberg, in “A New Logical Problem of Evil,” published in The Blackwell Companion to the Problem of Evil, argues that (if God exists) God has, of necessity, a disappreciation of evil, operating at a metalevel in such a way as to give God a non-defeasible reason to rule out actualizing a world containing evil. He also argues that since God’s motive in creating the world is to share with finite beings the good that God experiences prior to creation, (...)
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  44. Vagueness and the Problem of Evil: A New Reply to van Inwagen.Luis Oliveira - 2021 - Manuscrito: Revista Internacional de Filosofía 44 (4):49-82.
    One of the few points of agreement between most theists and non-theists working on the problem of evil is that the existence of a perfect God is incompatible with the existence of pointless evil. In a series of influential papers, however, Peter van Inwagen has argued that careful attention to the reasoning behind this claim reveals fatal difficulties related to the Sorites Paradox. In this paper, I explain van Inwagen’s appeal to sorites reasoning, distinguish between two different arguments in his (...)
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  45. God’s Impossible Options.Kenneth L. Pearce - 2021 - Faith and Philosophy 38 (2):185-204.
    According to Michael Almeida, reflections on free will and possibility can be used to show that the existence of an Anselmian God is compatible with the existence of evil. These arguments depend on the assumption that an agent can be free with respect to an action only if it is possible that that agent performs that action. Although this principle enjoys some intuitive support, I argue that Anselmianism undermines these intuitions by introducing impossible options. If Anselmianism is true, I argue, (...)
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  46. The Secular Problem of Evil: An Essay in Analytic Existentialism.Paul Prescott - 2021 - Religious Studies 57 (1):101-119.
    The existence of evil is often held to pose philosophical problems only for theists. I argue that the existence of evil gives rise to a philosophical problem which confronts theist and atheist alike. The problem is constituted by the following claims: (1) Successful human beings (i.e., those meeting their basic prudential interests) are committed to a good-enough world; (2) the actual world is not a good-enough world (i.e., sufficient evil exists). It follows that human beings must either (3a) maintain a (...)
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  47. Do We Need a Plant Theodicy?Lloyd Strickland - 2021 - Scientia et Fides 9 (2):221-246.
    In recent decades, philosophers and theologians have become increasingly aware of the extent of animal pain and suffering, both past and present, and of the challenge this poses to God’s goodness and justice. As a result, a great deal of effort has been devoted to the discussion and development of animal theodicies, that is, theodicies that aim to offer morally sufficient reasons for animal pain and suffering that are in fact God’s reasons. In this paper, I ask whether there is (...)
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  48. De Ciuitate Dei I in Light of Seneca’s De Prouidentia.Patricio Domínguez Valdés - 2021 - Heythrop Journal 62 (2):311-322.
  49. Second-Personal Theodicy: Coming to Know Why God Permits Suffering by Coming to Know God Himself.Dylan Balfour - 2020 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 88 (3):287-305.
    The popularity of theodicy over the past several decades has given rise to a countermovement, “anti-theodicy”, which admonishes attempts at theodicy for various reasons. This paper examines one prominent anti-theodical objection: that it is hubristic, and attempts to form an approach to theodicy which evades this objection. To do so I draw from the work of Eleonore Stump, who provides a framework by which we can glean second-personal knowledge of God. From this knowledge, I argue that we can derive a (...)
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  50. Evil and the god of indifference.László Bernáth & Daniel Kodaj - 2020 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 88 (3):259-272.
    The evidential problem of evil involves a rarely discussed challenge, namely the challenge of defending theism against the hypothesis of a morally indifferent creator. Our argument uses a Bayesian framework and it starts by showing that if the only alternative to classical theism is naturalistic atheism, then fine-tuning can render theism virtually certain, even in the face of evil. But if the alternatives include the hypothesis of a morally indifferent creator, theism is defeated even if the fine-tuning premise is accepted. (...)
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