Skeptical theism is a popular response to arguments from evil. Many hold that it undermines a key inference often used by such arguments. However, the case for skeptical theism is often kept at an intuitive level: no one has offered an explicit argument for the truth of skeptical theism. In this article, I aim to remedy this situation: I construct an explicit, rigorous argument for the truth of skeptical theism.
This article is a response to Stephen Law's article ‘The evil-god challenge’. In his article, Law argues that if belief in evil-god is unreasonable, then belief in good-god is unreasonable; that the antecedent is true; and hence so is the consequent. In this article, I show that Law's affirmation of the antecedent is predicated on the problem of good (i.e. the problem of whether an all-evil, all-powerful, and all-knowing God would allow there to be as much good in the world (...) as there is), and argue that the problem of good fails. Thus, the antecedent is unmotivated, which renders the consequent unmotivated. Law's challenge for good-god theists is to show that good-god theism is not rendered unreasonable by the problem of evil in the same way that evil-god theism is rendered unreasonable by the problem of good. Insofar as the problem of good does not render belief in evil-god unreasonable, Law's challenge has been answered: since it is not unreasonable to believe in evil-god (at least for the reasons that Law gives) it is not unreasonable to believe in good-god. Finally, I show that – my criticism aside – the evil-god challenge turns out to be more complicated and controversial than it initially appears, for it relies on the (previously unacknowledged) contentious assumption that sceptical theism is false. (shrink)
An expansive, yet succinct, analysis of the Philosophy of Religion – from metaphysics through theology. Organized into two sections, the text first examines truths concerning what is possible and what is necessary. These chapters lay the foundation for the book’s second part – the search for a metaphysical framework that permits the possibility of an ultimate explanation that is correct and complete. A cutting-edge scholarly work which engages with the traditional metaphysician’s quest for a true ultimate explanation of the most (...) general features of the world we inhabit Develops an original view concerning the epistemology and metaphysics of modality, or truths concerning what is possible or necessary Applies this framework to a re-examination of the cosmological argument for theism Defends a novel version of the Leibnizian cosmological argument. (shrink)
Skeptical theists endorse the skeptical thesis (which is consistent with the rejection of theism) that we have no good reason for thinking the possible goods we know of are representative of the possible goods there are. In his newest formulation of the evidential arguments from evil, William Rowe tries to avoid assuming the falsity of this skeptical thesis, presumably because it seems so plausible. I argue that his new argument fails to avoid doing this. Then I defend that skeptical (...) thesis against objections, thereby supporting my contention that relying on its falsity is a weakness in an argument. (shrink)
Arguments from evil purport to show that some fact about evil makes it (at least) probable that God does not exist. Skeptical theism is held to undermine many versions of the argument from evil: it is thought to undermine a crucial inference that such arguments often rely on. Skeptical objections to skeptical theism claim that it (skeptical theism) entails an excessive amount of skepticism, and therefore should be rejected. In this article, I show that skeptical objections to (...) skeptical theism have a very limited scope: only those who reject certain (apparently) popular epistemological theories will be threatened by them. (shrink)
In this paper I develop a novel challenge for sceptical theists. I present a line of reasoning that appeals to sceptical theism to support scepticism about divine assertions. I claim that this reasoning is at least as plausible as one popular sceptical theistic strategy for responding to evidential arguments from evil. Thus, I seek to impale sceptical theists on the horns of a dilemma: concede that either (a) sceptical theism implies scepticism about divine assertions, or (b) the sceptical (...) theistic strategy for responding to evidential arguments from evil fails. An implication of (a) is that sceptical theism is at odds with any religious tradition according to which there are certain claims that we can know to be true solely in virtue of the fact that God has told us that they are true. This result will render conceding (a) unattractive to many sceptical theists. (shrink)
Sceptical theists--e.g., William Alston and Michael Bergmann--have claimed that considerations concerning human cognitive limitations are alone sufficient to undermine evidential arguments from evil. We argue that, if the considerations deployed by sceptical theists are sufficient to undermine evidential arguments from evil, then those considerations are also sufficient to undermine inferences that play a crucial role in ordinary moral reasoning. If cogent, our argument suffices to discredit sceptical theist responses to evidential arguments from evil.
The most interesting thing about sceptical theism is its sceptical component. When sceptical theists use that component in responding to arguments from evil, they think it is reasonable for their non-theistic interlocutors to accept it, even if they don't expect them to accept their theism. This article focuses on that sceptical component. The first section explains more precisely what the sceptical theist's scepticism amounts to and how it is used in response to various sorts of arguments from evil. (...) The next section considers and responds to objections to sceptical theism. It is shown that just as there are non-theists who accept the sceptical theist's scepticism, so also are there theists who reject it. (shrink)
Skeptical theism claims that the probability of a perfect God’s existence isn’t at all reduced by our failure to see how such a God could allow the horrific suffering that occurs in our world. Given our finite grasp of the realm of value, skeptical theists argue, it shouldn’t surprise us that we fail to see the reasons that justify God in allowing such suffering, and thus our failure to see those reasons is no evidence against God’s existence or perfection. (...) Critics object that skeptical theism implies a degree of moral skepticism that even skeptical theists will find objectionable and that it undermines moral obligations that even skeptical theists will want to preserve. I discuss a version of the first objection and defend a version of the second. (shrink)
The standard conception of God is that of a necessary being. On a possible worlds semantics, this entails that God exists at every possible world. According to the modal realist account of David Lewis, possible worlds are understood to be real, concrete worlds—no different in kind from the actual world. Some have argued that Lewis’s view is incompatible with classical theism (e.g., Sheehy, 2006). More recently, Ross Cameron (2009) has defended the thesis that Lewisian modal realism and classical (...) class='Hi'>theism are in fact compatible. I argue that this is not the case. Modal realism, I argue, is equipped to accommodate necessary beings in only one of three ways: (1) By way of counterpart theory, or (2) by way of a special case of trans-world identity for causally inert necessary beings (e.g., pure sets), or else (3) causally potent ones which lack accidental intrinsic properties. However, each of these three options entails unacceptable consequences—(1) and (2) are incompatible with theism, and (3) is incompatible with modal realism. I conclude that (at least) one of these views is false. (shrink)
In the first section, I characterize skeptical theism more fully. This is necessary in order to address some important misconceptions and mischaracterizations that appear in the essays by Maitzen, Wilks, and O’Connor. In the second section, I describe the most important objections they raise and group them into four “families” so as to facilitate an orderly series of responses. In the four sections that follow, I respond to the objections.
Surely God, as a perfectly rational being, created the universe for some reason. But is God’s creating the universe for a reason compatible with divine impassibility? That is the question I investigate in this article. The prima facie tension between impassibility and God’s creating for a reason arises from impassibility’s commitment to God being uninfluenced by anything ad extra. If God is uninfluenced in this way, asks the detractor, how could he be moved to create anything at all? This prima (...) facie tension has recently been formalized and dubbed the ‘Problem of Arbitrary Creation’. In this article, I defend a new extension of this problem. I begin by characterizing classical theism, divine simplicity, and divine impassibility. I then spell out the Problem of Arbitrary Creation as developed by R. T. Mullins. I next raise a worry for Mullins’ version of the argument. Finally, I extend the argument and show how my extension avoids the aforementioned worry. (shrink)
In this timely study, Dawes defends the methodological naturalism of the sciences. Though religions offer what appear to be explanations of various facts about the world, the scientist, as scientist, will not take such proposed explanations seriously. Even if no natural explanation were available, she will assume that one exists. Is this merely a sign of atheistic prejudice, as some critics suggest? Or are there good reasons to exclude from science explanations that invoke a supernatural agent? On the one hand, (...) Dawes concedes the bare possibility that talk of divine action could constitute a potential explanation of some state of affairs, while noting that the conditions under which this would be true are unlikely ever to be fulfilled. On the other hand, he argues that a proposed explanation of this kind would rate poorly, when measured against our usual standards of explanatory virtue. (shrink)
God is traditionally taken to be a perfect being, and the creator and sustainer of all that is. So, if theism is true, what sort of world should we expect? To answer this question, we need an account of the array of possible worlds from which God is said to choose. It seems that either there is (a) exactly one best possible world; or (b) more than one unsurpassable world; or (c) an infinite hierarchy of increasingly better worlds. Influential (...) arguments for atheism have been advanced on each hierarchy, and these jointly comprise a daunting trilemma for theism. In this paper, I argue that if theism is true, we should expect the actual world to be a multiverse comprised of all and only those universes which are worthy of creation and sustenance. I further argue that this multiverse is the unique best of all possible worlds. Finally, I explain how his unconventional view bears on the trilemma for theism. (shrink)
Skeptical theism seeks to defend theism against the problem of evil by invoking putatively reasonable skepticism concerning human epistemic limitations in order to establish that we have no epistemological basis from which to judge that apparently gratuitous evils are not in fact justified by morally sufficient reasons beyond our ken. This paper contributes to the set of distinctively practical criticisms of skeptical theism by arguing that religious believers who accept skeptical theism and take its practical implications (...) seriously will be forced into a position of paralysis or "aporia" when faced with a wide set of morally significant situations. It is argued that this consequence speaks strongly against the acceptance of skeptical theism insofar as such moral "aporia" is inconsistent with religious moral teaching and practice. In addition, a variety of arguments designed to show that accepting skeptical theism does not lead to this consequence are considered, and shown to be deficient. (shrink)
One of the most prominent objections to skeptical theism in recent literature is that the skeptical theist is forced to deny our competency in making judgments about the all-things-considered value of any natural event. Some skeptical theists accept that their view has this implication, but argue that it is not problematic. I think that there is reason to question the implication itself. I begin by explaining the objection to skeptical theism and the standard response to it. I then (...) identify an assumption that is prevalent in much of the literature concerning the problem of evil, and show that it is a factor in motivating commitment to the implication I mean to question. I argue that the assumption is false, and that once it is rejected there is room to endorse the skeptical theist's strategy in responding to some arguments from evil without endorsing the putative implication that objectors find unacceptable. (shrink)
Skeptical theism (ST) may undercut the key inference in the evidential argument from evil, but it does so at a cost. If ST is true, then we lose our ability to assess the all things considered (ATC) value of natural events and states of affairs. And if we lose that ability, a whole slew of undesirable consequences follow. So goes a common consequential critique of ST. In a recent article, Anderson has argued that this consequential critique is flawed. Anderson (...) claims that ST only has the consequence that we lack epistemic access to potentially God-justifying reasons for permitting a prima facie “bad” (or “evil”) event. But this is very different from lacking epistemic access to the ATC value of such events. God could have an (unknowable) reason for not intervening to prevent E and yet E could still be (knowably) ATC-bad. Ingenious though it is, this article argues that Anderson’s attempted defence of ST is flawed. This is for two reasons. First, and most importantly, the consequential critique does not rely on the questionable assumption he identifies. Indeed, the argument can be made quite easily by relying purely on Anderson’s distinction between God-justifying reasons for permitting E and the ATC value of E. And second, Anderson’s defence of his position, if correct, would serve to undermine the foundations of ST. (shrink)
In recent years skeptical theism has gained currency amongst theists as a way to escape the problem of evil by invoking putatively reasonable skepticism concerning our ability to know that instances of apparently gratuitous evil are unredeemed by morally sufficient reasons known to God alone. After explicating skeptical theism through the work of Stephen Wykstra and William Alston, I present a cumulative-case argument designed to show that skeptical theism cannot be accepted by theists insofar as it crucially (...) undermines epistemic license to the very theism it is invoked to defend. I also argue that attempts to defend a theism-friendly moderate version of skeptical theism either fail to halt the spread of damaging skepticism, or lack philosophical validity. (shrink)
Skeptical theists purport to undermine evidential arguments from evil by appealing to the fact that our knowledge of goods, evils, and their interconnections is significantly limited. Michael J. Almeida and Graham Oppy have recently argued that skeptical theism is unacceptable because it results in a form of moral skepticism which rejects inferences that play an important role in our ordinary moral reasoning. In this reply to Almeida and Oppy's argument we offer some reasons for thinking that skeptical theism (...) need not lead to any such objectionable form of moral skepticism. (shrink)
Respondents to the argument from evil who follow Michael Bergmann’s development of skeptical theism hold that our failure to determine God’s reasons for permitting evil does not disconfirm theism at all. They claim that such a thesis follows from the very plausible claim that we have no good reason to think our access to the realm of value is representative of the full realm of value. There are two interpretations of ST’s strength, the stronger of which leads skeptical (...) theists into moral skepticism and the weaker of which fails to rebut the argument from evil. As I demonstrate, skeptical theists avoid the charge of moral skepticism while also successfully rebutting the argument from evil only by embracing an equivocation between these two interpretations of ST. Thus, as I argue, skeptical theists are caught in a troubling dilemma: they must choose between moral skepticism and failure to adequately respond to the argument from evil. (shrink)
This paper considers whether theism is compatible with moral error theory. This issue is neglected, perhaps because it is widely assumed that these views are incompatible. I argue that this is mistaken. In so doing, I articulate the best argument for thinking that theism and moral error theory are incompatible. According to it, these views are incompatible because theism entails that God is morally good, and moral error theory entails that God is not. I reject this argument. (...) Since it is the best argument for thinking that theism and moral error theory are incompatible, I conclude that these views are compatible: one can coherently accept both views. (shrink)
Paul Draper has argued that the scientific evidence for the dependence of mental states upon brain states provides a good reason for thinking that theism is very probably false because the extreme metaphysical dualism implied by theism makes it antecedently likely, if God exists, that minds should be fundamentally non-physical entities. However, Draper's argument assumes that what makes God's mind a mind is the immaterial stuff it is made of. But that assumption is potentially faulty. Why? Because, if (...) functionalism is true, then all conceivable minds are fundamentally functional entities identified by what they do, rather than by what they are made of. (shrink)
Twentieth-century analytic philosophy was dominated by positivist antimetaphysics and neo-Humean deflationary metaphysics, and the nature of explanation was reconceived in order to fit these agendas. Unsurprisingly, the explanatory value of theist was widely discredited. I argue that the long-overdue revival of moralized, broadly neo-Aristotelian metaphysics and an improved perspective on modal knowledge dramatically changes the landscape. In this enriched context, there is no sharp divide between physics and metaphysics, and the natural end of the theoretician’s quest for a unified explanation (...) of the universe is God, an absolutely necessary, transcendent, and personal source of all contingent reality. (shrink)
Introduction -- Overview -- Theism, simplicity, and properly anthropocentric metaphysics -- Materialism and dualism -- The power, knowledge, and motives of the primordial God -- The existence of the primordial God -- God changes -- Understanding evil -- The Trinity -- The Incarnation -- Concluding remarks.
Adams presents an in-depth interpretation of three important parts of Leibniz's metaphysics, thoroughly grounded in the texts as well as in philosophical analysis and critique. The three areas discussed are the metaphysical part of Leibniz's philosophy of logic, his essentially theological treatment of the central issues of ontology, and his theory of substance. Adams' work helps make sense of one of the great classic systems of modern philosophy.
One reason for thinking that theism is a relatively simple theory – and that it is thereby more likely to be true than other theories,ceteris paribus – is to insist that infinite degrees of properties are simpler than extremely large, finite degrees of properties. This defence of theism has been championed by Richard Swinburne in recent years. I outline the objections to this line of argument present in the literature, and suggest some novel resources open to Swinburne in (...) defence. I then argue that scientists' preference for universal nomological propositions constitutes a very strong reason for supposing that theism is simpler than parodical alternatives in virtue of its positing omni-properties rather than parallel ‘mega-properties’. (shrink)
God is traditionally taken to be a necessarily existing being who is unsurpassably powerful, knowledgeable, and good. The familiar problem of actual evil claims that the presence of gratuitous suffering in the actual world constitutes evidence against the existence of such a being. In contrast, the problem of possible evil claims that the possibility of bad worlds constitutes evidence against theism. How? It seems plausible to suppose that there are very bad possible worlds. But if God exists in every (...) world, then God exists in those, too. And if God exists in very bad worlds, some say, God is culpable for not ensuring that they are better. In what follows, I consider this argument, survey some responses, and offer a novel solution. Along the way, I argue that theists should maintain that the actual world is a multiverse featuring all and only universes worthy of being created and sustained by God, and – more controversially – I suggest that theists should embrace modal collapse: the claim that this multiverse is the only possible world. (shrink)
Most a posteriori arguments against the existence of God take the following form: (1) If God exists, the world would not be like this (where 'this' picks out some feature of the world like the existence of evil, etc.) (2) But the world is like this . (3) Therefore, God does not exist. Skeptical theists are theists who are skeptical of our ability to make judgments of the sort expressed by premise (1). According to skeptical theism, if there were (...) a God, it is likely that he would have reasons for acting that are beyond our ken, and thus we are not justified in making all-things-considered judgments about what the world would be like if there were a God. In particular, the fact that we don't see a good reason for X does not justify the conclusion that there is no good reason for X. 1 Thus, skeptical theism purports to undercut most a posteriori arguments against the existence of God. What follows is an account of the nature of skeptical theism, an application of skeptical theism to both the argument from evil and the argument from divine hiddenness, and a review of the cases for and against skeptical theism. (shrink)
Legendary since his own time as a universal genius, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) contributed significantly to almost every branch of learning. One of the creators of modern mathematics, and probably the most sophisticated logician between the Middle Ages and Frege, as well as a pioneer of ecumenical theology, he also wrote extensively on such diverse subjects as history, geology, and physics. But the part of his work that is most studied today is probably his writings in metaphysics, which have been (...) the focus of particularly lively philosophical discussion in the last twenty years or so. The writings contain one of the great classic systems of modern philosophy, but the system must be pieced together from a vast and miscellaneous array of manuscripts, letters, articles, and books, in a way that makes especially strenuous demands on scholarship. This book presents an in-depth interpretation of three important parts of Leibniz's metaphysics, thoroughly grounded in the texts as well as in philosophical analysis and critique. The three areas discussed are the metaphysical part of Leibniz's philosophy of logic, his essentially theological treatment of the central issues of ontology, and his theory of substance (the famous theory of monads). (shrink)
According to Michael Almeida and Graham Oppy, adherents of skeptical theism will find their sense of moral obligation undermined in a potentially ‘appalling’ way. Michael Bergmann and Michael Rea disagree, claiming that God’s commands provide skeptical theists with a source of moral obligation that withstands the skepticism in skeptical theism. I argue that Bergmann and Rea are mistaken: skeptical theists cannot consistently rely on what they take to be God’s commands.
Christian Theism and the Problems of Philosophy begins by presenting Plantingas essay, and the chapters that follow address issues in three traditional areas of interest to philosophers: epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics.
In this paper I develop a novel challenge for sceptical theists. I present a line of reasoning that appeals to sceptical theism to support scepticism about divine assertions. I claim that this reasoning is at least as plausible as one popular sceptical theistic strategy for responding to evidential arguments from evil. Thus, I seek to impale sceptical theists on the horns of a dilemma: concede that either sceptical theism implies scepticism about divine assertions, or the sceptical theistic strategy (...) for responding to evidential arguments from evil fails. An implication of is that sceptical theism is at odds with any religious tradition according to which there are certain claims that we can know to be true solely in virtue of the fact that God has told us that they are true. This result will render conceding unattractive to many sceptical theists. (shrink)
Skeptical theists purport to undermine evidential arguments from evil by appealing to the fact that our knowledge of goods, evils, and their interconnections is significantly limited. Michael J. Almeida and Graham Oppy have recently argued that skeptical theism is unacceptable because it results in a form of moral skepticism which rejects inferences that play an important role in our ordinary moral reasoning. In this reply to Almeida and Oppy’s argument we offer some reasons for thinking that skeptical theism (...) need not lead to any such objectionable form of moral skepticism. (shrink)
What we call “the evidential argument from evil” is not one argument but a family of them, originating (perhaps) in the 1979 formulation of William Rowe. Wykstra’s early versions of skeptical theism emerged in response to Rowe’s evidential arguments. But what sufficed as a response to Rowe may not suffice against later more sophisticated versions of the problem of evil—in particular, those along the lines pioneered by Paul Draper. Our chief aim here is to make an earlier version of (...) skeptical theism more responsive to the type abductive atheology pioneered by Draper. In particular, we suggest a moderate form of skeptical theism may be able to resist Draper’s abductive atheology. (shrink)
This book explores the value impact that theist and other worldviews have on our world and its inhabitants. Providing an extended defense of anti-theism - the view that God’s existence would (or does) actually make the world worse in certain respects - Lougheed explores God’s impact on a broad range of concepts including privacy, understanding, dignity, and sacrifice. The second half of the book is dedicated to the expansion of the current debate beyond monotheism and naturalism, providing an analysis (...) of the axiological status of other worldviews such as pantheism, ultimism, and Buddhism. -/- A lucid exploration of contemporary and relevant questions about the value impact of God’s existence, this book is an invaluable resource for scholars interested in axiological questions in the philosophy of religion. (shrink)
Arguments strong enough to justify skeptical theism will be strong enough to justify the position that every claim about God is empirically unfalsifiable. This fact is problematic because that position licenses further arguments which are clearly unreasonable, but which the skeptical theist cannot consistently accept as such. Avoiding this result while still achieving the theoretical objectives looked for in skeptical theism appears to demand an impossibly nuanced position.
This paper examines the relationship between the classical theistic conception of God and modal realism. I suggest that realism about possible worlds has unwelcome consequences for that conception. First, that modal realism entails the necessity of divine existence eludes explanation in a way congenial to a commitment to both modal realism and classical theism. Second, divine knowledge is dependent on worlds independent of the creative role and action of God, thereby suggesting a limitation on the nature of divine knowledge (...) and on the nature of God's creative role. Third, modal realism indicates the existence of real, albeit non-actual, worlds of appalling evil threatening the classical conception of divine omnipotence and benevolence. (Published Online July 10 2006). (shrink)
Theism is the view that God exists; naturalism is the view that there are no supernatural beings, processes, mechanisms, or forces. This Element explores whether things are better, worse, or neither on theism relative to naturalism. It introduces readers to the central philosophical issues that bear on this question, and it distinguishes a wide range of ways it can be answered. It critically examines four views, three of which hold that things are better on theism than on (...) naturalism, and one of which holds just the opposite. (shrink)
Panentheism seems to be an attractive alternative to classical theism. It is not clear, though, what exactly panentheism asserts and how it relates to classical theism. By way of clarifying the thesis of panentheism, I argue that panentheism and classical theism differ only as regards the modal status of the world. According to panentheism, the world is an intrinsic property of God – necessarily there is a world – and according to classical theism the world is (...) an extrinsic property of God – it is only contingently true that there is a world. Therefore, as long as we do not have an argument showing that necessarily there is a world, panentheism is not an attractive alternative to classical theism. (shrink)
Scientific knowledge is not merely a matter of reconciling theories and laws with data and observations. Science presupposes a number of metatheoretic shaping principles in order to judge good methods and theories from bad. Some of these principles are metaphysical and some are methodological. While many shaping principles have endured since the scientific revolution, others have changed in response to conceptual pressures both from within science and without. Many of them have theistic roots. For example, the notion that nature conforms (...) to mathematical laws flows directly from the early modern presupposition that there is a divine Lawgiver. This interplay between theism and shaping principles is often unappreciated in discussions about the relation between science and religion. Today, of course, naturalists reject the influence of theism and prefer to do science on their terms. But as Robert Koons and Alvin Plantinga have argued, this is more difficult than is typically assumed. In particular, they argue, metaphysical naturalism is in conflict with several metatheoretic shaping principles, especially explanatory virtues such as simplicity and with scientific realism more broadly. These arguments will be discussed as well as possible responses. In the end, theism is able to provide justification for the philosophical foundations of science that naturalism cannot. (shrink)
Some analytic philosophers of religion argue that theists should embrace the hypothesis of the multiverse to address the problem of evil and make the concept of a “best possible creation” plausible. I discuss what classical theists, such as Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas, might make of the multiverse hypothesis including issues such as: the principle of plenitude, what a classical theist multiverse could look like, and how a classical theist multiverse could deal with the problem of evil and the question of (...) a best possible creation. (shrink)
Skeptical theism is a family of responses to the evidential problem of evil. What unifies this family is two general claims. First, that even if God were to exist, we shouldn’t expect to see God’s reasons for permitting the suffering we observe. Second, the previous claim entails the failure of a variety of arguments from evil against the existence of God. In this essay, we identify three particular articulations of skeptical theism—three different ways of “filling in” those two (...) claims—and describes their role in responding to evidential arguments of evil due to William Rowe and Paul Draper. But skeptical theism has been subject to a variety of criticisms, several of which raise interesting issues and puzzles not just in philosophy of religion but other areas of philosophy as well. Consequently, we discuss some of these criticisms, partly with an eye to bringing out the connections between skeptical theism and current topics in mainstream philosophy. Finally, we conclude by situating skeptical theism within our own distinctive methodology for evaluating world views, what we call “worldview theory versioning.”. (shrink)
Several theists have adopted a position known as ‘sceptical theism ’, according to which God is justified in allowing suffering, but the justification is often beyond human comprehension. A problem for sceptical theism is that if there are unknown justifications for suffering, then we cannot know whether it is right for a human being to relieve suffering. After examining several proposed solutions to this problem, I conclude that one who is committed to a revealed religion has a simpler (...) and more effective solution. In particular, according to traditional Judaism, God has permitted us, indeed commanded us, to relieve suffering, so we know that it is right for us to do so. I further show how God's command, according to Judaism, that we save lives provides an answer to an analogous argument put forward by David Hume. Thus, revealed theistic religions can sometimes solve problems more effectively than theism alone. (shrink)
Some moral realists have defended moral realism on the basis of the purported fact that moral facts figure as components in some good explanations of non-moral phenomena. In this paper I explore the relationship between theism and this sort of explanationist defense of moral realism. Theistic explanations often make reference to moral facts, and do so in a manner which is ineliminable in an important respect – remove the moral facts from those explanations, and they suffer as a result. (...) In this respect theistic moral explanations seem to differ from the sorts of moral explanations typically offered by moral explanationists. (shrink)