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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
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  1. B. A. (1998). R. A. Sharpe. The Moral Case Against Religious Belief. (London: SCM Press, 1997.) Pp. 102. £7.95 Pbk. Religious Studies 34 (2):231-234.
  2. F. Abel (2005). The Resolution of the Problem of Theodicy in the New Testament. Filozofia 60 (8):573-595.
    The question of Theodicy demands a reasonable justification of the nature, structures and goals of evil and suffering in the world. The paper attempts to explain the reasons for its presence in our lives and seeks to unveil its principles. If God is all knowing, almighty and also merciful, we must face the problem of the presence of evil and suffering in this world. The main goal of the paper is to show the way the New Testament deals with this (...)
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  3. Robert Ackermann (1982). An Alternative Free Will Defence. Religious Studies 18 (3):365 - 372.
    Many philosophers have written in the past as though it were nearly obvious to rational reflection that the existence of evil in this world is incompatible with the presumed properties of the Christian God, and they have assumed a proof of incompatibility to be easy to construct. An informal underpinning for this line of thought is easy to develop. Surely God in his benevolence finds evil to be evil, and hence has both the desire and the means, provided by his (...)
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  4. Marilyn Adams (2011). Julian of Norwich: Problems of Evil and the Seriousness of Sin. Philosophia 39 (3):433-447.
    Julian of Norwich emphasizes God’s eternal and unchanging love for humankind. Her visions show how God is not angry with our sins and so has no need to forgive us. God does not shame or blame us but excuses us and plans how to reward and compensate us for sin. In relation to Mother Jesus, we remain dear lovely children who need help, correction, and education. Although these remarks suggest to some that Julian must be soft on sin, that she (...)
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  5. Marilyn McCord Adams (2013). Ignorance, Instrumentality, Compensation, and the Problem of Evil. Sophia 52 (1):7-26.
    Some theodicists, skeptical theists, and friendly atheists agree that God-justifying reasons for permitting evils would have to have an instrumental structure: that is, the evils would have to be necessary to secure a great enough good or necessary to prevent some equally bad or worse evil. D.Z. Phillips contends that instrumental reasons could never justify anyone for causing or permitting horrendous evils and concludes that the God of Restricted Standard Theism does not exist—indeed, is a conceptual mistake. After considering Phillips’ (...)
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  6. Marilyn McCord Adams (2008). Plantinga on “Felix Culpa”. Faith and Philosophy 25 (2):123-140.
    In “Supralapsarianism, or ‘O Felix Culpa,’” Alvin Plantinga turns from defensive apologetics to the project of Christian explanation and offers a supralapsarian theodicy: the reason God made us in a world like this is that God wanted to create a world including the towering goods of Incarnation and atonement—goods which are appropriate only in worlds containing a sufficient amount of sin, suffering, and evil as well. Plantinga’s approach makes human agents and their sin, suffering and evil, instrumental means to the (...)
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  7. Marilyn McCord Adams (1997). Chalcedonian Christology: A Christian Solution to the Problem of Evil. In Stephen T. Davis (ed.), Philosophy and Theological Discourse. St. Martin's Press
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  8. Marilyn McCord Adams (1993). God and Evil: Polarities of a Problem. Philosophical Studies 69 (2-3):167 - 186.
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  9. Marilyn McCord Adams (1986). Redemptive Suffering: A Christian Solution to the Problem of Evil. In William Wainwright & Robert Audi (eds.), Rationality, Religious Belief, and Moral Commitment. Cornell University Press
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  10. Marilyn McCord Adams & Stewart Sutherland (1989). Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 63 (1):297 - 323.
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  11. Robert Adams (1977). ``Middle Knowledge and the Problem of Evil&Quot. American Philosophical Quarterly 14 (2):109-117.
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  12. Robert Merrihew Adams (2006). Love and the Problem of Evil. Philosophia 34 (3):243-251.
    The focus of this paper is the virtual certainty that much of what we must prize in loving any human person would not have existed in a world that did not contain much of the evil that has occurred in the history of the actual world. It is argued that the appropriate response to this fact must be some form of ambivalence, but that lovers have reason to prefer an ambivalence that contextualizes regretted evils in the framework of what we (...)
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  13. Robert Merrihew Adams (1996). Schleiermacher on Evil. Faith and Philosophy 13 (4):563-583.
    Schleiermacher’s theology of absolute dependence implies that absolutely everything, including evil, including even sin, is grounded in the divine causality. In addition to God’s general, creative causality, however, he thinks that Christian consciousness reveals a special, teleologically ordered divine causality which is at work in redemption but not in evil. He identifies good and evil, respectively, with what furthers and what obstructs the development of the religious consciousness in human beings. Mere pains and natural ills are not truly evil, in (...)
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  14. Robert Merrihew Adams (1987). The Virtue of Faith and Other Essays in Philosophical Theology. Oxford University Press.
    Robert Merrihew Adams has been a leader in renewing philosophical respect for the idea that moral obligation may be founded on the commands of God. This collection of Adams' essays, two of which are previously unpublished, draws from his extensive writings on philosophical theology that discuss metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical issues surrounding the concept of God--whether God exists or not, what God is or would be like, and how we ought to relate ourselves to such a being. Adams studies the (...)
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  15. Robert Merrihew Adams (1979). Existence, Self-Interest, and the Problem of Evil. Noûs 13 (1):53-65.
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  16. W. E. Addis (1904). A. S. Peake, The Problem of Suffering in the Old Testament. [REVIEW] Hibbert Journal 3:619.
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  17. M. B. Ahern (1967). God and Evil— A Note. Sophia 6 (3):23-26.
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  18. M. B. Ahern (1963). An Approach to the Problem of Evil. Sophia 2 (1):18-26.
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  19. Scott F. Aikin (2014). Environmental Ethics and the Expanding Problem of Evil. Think 13 (36):33-39.
    The problem of evil is that morally gratuitous suffering and destruction is evidence against a benevolent and potent god. Often cases of this evil are restricted to human suffering, but if the moral universe is expanded in the fashion associated with environmental ethics, the scope of morally significant suffering and destruction grows. Consequently, the wider the scope of the moral universe, the problem of evil becomes harder for theists to solve.
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  20. Muhammad Al-Ghazali (1997). The Problem of Evil: An Islamic Approach. In William Cenkner (ed.), Evil and the Response of World Religion. Paragon House 70--79.
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  21. Michael Almeida (2008). Critically Muddled. Philo 11 (1):120-129.
    In a recent article in Philo I critique William Rowe’s new evidential argument from evil. Richard Carrier claims I advance an argument for theism in that article and proposes a counterexample to that argument. I show that Carrier’s counterexample fails for reasons that are fairly obvious. I then offer help. The best chance for a counterexample to the argument I offer comes from the possibility of cryptid creatures. But it is not difficult to show that counterexamples from cryptic creatures also (...)
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  22. Michael Almeida (2006). Rowe's Argument From Improvability. Philosophical Papers 35 (1):1-25.
    William Rowe has argued that if there is an infinite sequence of improving worlds then an essentially perfectly good being must actualize some world in the sequence and must not actualize any world in the sequence. Since that is impossible, there exist no perfectly good beings. I show that Rowe's argument assumes that the concept of a maximally great being is incoherent. Since we are given no reason to believe that the concept of a maximally great being is incoherent we (...)
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  23. Michael Almeida (2004). The New Evidential Argument Defeated. Philo 7 (1):22-35.
    In his most recent version of the evidential argument from evil, William Rowe argues that the observation of no outweighing goods for certain evils constitutes significant evidence against theism. I show that the new evidential argument cannot challenge theism unless it is also reasonable to believe that no good we know of justifies God in permitting any evil at all. Since the new evidential argument provides no reason at all to believe that God is not justified in permitting any existing (...)
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  24. Michael J. Almeida (2013). A Frightening Love: Recasting the Problem of Evil. [REVIEW] Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (3):607-610.
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  25. Michael J. Almeida (2013). A Frightening Love: Recasting the Problem of Evil by Gleeson Andrew. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (3):607 - 610.
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  26. Michael J. Almeida (2012). The Logical Problem of Evil Regained. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 36 (1):163-176.
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  27. Michael J. Almeida (2004). Ideal Worlds and the Transworld Untrustworthy. Religious Studies 40 (1):113-123.
    The celebrated free-will defence was designed to show that the ideal-world thesis presents no challenge to theism. The ideal-world thesis states that, in any world in which God exists, He can actualize a world containing moral good and no moral evil. I consider an intriguing two-stage argument that Michael Bergmann advances for the free-will defence, and show that the argument provides atheologians with no reason to abandon the ideal-world thesis. I show next that the existence of worlds in which every (...)
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  28. Michael J. Almeida & Graham Oppy (2003). Sceptical Theism and Evidential Arguments From Evil. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (4):496 – 516.
    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.
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  29. William Alston (1991). The Inductive Problem of Evil. Philosophical Perspectives 5 (65):59.
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  30. William P. Alston (1991). The Inductive Argument From Evil and the Human Cognitive Condition. Philosophical Perspectives 5:29-67.
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  31. Susan L. Anderson (1981). Plantinga and the Free Will Defense. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 62 (3):274.
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  32. Steven S. Aspenson (1989). Reply to O'Connor. Faith and Philosophy 6 (1):95-98.
    In this reply I consider David O’Connor’s article “A Variation on the Free Will Defense” in which he tries to show that natural evil is necessary for free will by showing that it is required for the possibility of “morally creditable free choice.” I argue that O’Connor’s reply to an anticipated objection was unsuccessful in showing that humans can be moral without the property he calls “p.” that an altered understanding of what “morally creditable free choice” is would not help. (...)
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  33. Catalin Avramescu (2011). Chapter Three. Creatures of Evil. In An Intellectual History of Cannibalism. Princeton University Press 70-104.
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  34. Ham Idrez A. Ayatollahy (2006). Principality of Existence and the Problem of Evil. Journal of Islamic Philosophy 2 (1):183-193.
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  35. Mahmoud Ayoub (1977). The Problem of Suffering in Islam. Journal of Dharma 2 (3):267-294.
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  36. Lynne Rudder Baker (2009). The Second-Person Account of the Problem of Evil. In Kevin Timpe & Eleonore Stump (eds.), Metaphysics and God: Essays in Honor of Eleonore Stump. Routledge
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  37. David Basinger (1991). Process Theism Versus Free-Will Theism. Process Studies 20 (4):204-220.
  38. David Basinger (1987). Evil and a Finite God. Philosophy Research Archives 13:285-287.
    P.J. McGrath has recently challenged the standard claim that to escape the problem of evil one need only alter one’s conception of God by limiting his power or his goodness. If we assume that God is infinitely good but not omnipotent, then God can scarcely be a proper object of worship. And if we assume that if God is omnipotent but limited in goodness, he becomes a moral monster. Either way evil remains a problem for theistic belief. I argue that (...)
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  39. David Basinger (1982). Plantinga's "Free-Will Defense" as a Challenge to Orthodox Theism. American Journal of Theology and Philosophy 3 (2):35 - 41.
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  40. David Basinger (1982). Divine Omniscience and the Best of All Possible Worlds. Journal of Value Inquiry 16 (2):143-148.
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  41. David Basinger (1981). Evil As Evidence Against God's Existence. Modern Schoolman 58 (3):175-184.
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  42. David Basinger & Randall Basinger (1982). Divine Determinateness and the Free Will Defense. Philosophy Research Archives 8:531-534.
    Proponents of The Free Will Defense frequently argue that it is necessary for God to create self-directing beings who possess the capacity for producing evil because, in the words of F.R. Tennant, “moral goodness must be the result of a self-directing developmental process.” But if this is true, David Paulsen has recently argued, then the proponent of the Free Will Defense cannot claim that God has an eternally determinate nature. For if God has an eternally determinatenature and moral goodness must (...)
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  43. Robert Bass, Modal Evil and Divine Necessity.
    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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  44. Robert Bass (2014). Inscrutable Evils: Still Numerous, Still Relevant. International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 75 (4):379–384.
    Jamie Carlin Watson has recently challenged my Bayesian formulation of the evidential argument from evil. My approach depends upon certain critical assumptions, but Watson argues that I am not entitled to those assumptions. I reply briefly, showing why I am entitled to those assumptions, and thus, why my argument survives his critique.
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  45. Nicholas Beale (2009). Freewill, Free Process, and Love. Think 8 (23):115-124.
    Of all the philosophical challenges to theism in general and Christianity in particular, the one that Christians take most seriously is the Problem of Evil. It is clearly not logically contradictory to hold that there exists a Loving Ultimate Creator; and nevertheless there is a very substantial amount of evil and suffering in the world. But it is certainly problematic. Deeper scientific understandings of physics and evolution shed some light on this. It is also useful to reflect more deeply on (...)
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  46. Michael D. Beaty (1988). The Problem of Evil. Southwest Philosophy Review 4 (1):57-64.
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  47. Michael D. Beaty (1988). The Problem of Evil. Southwest Philosophy Review 4 (1):57-64.
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  48. James R. Beebe, Logical Problem of Evil. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    The existence of evil and suffering in our world seems to pose a serious challenge to belief in the existence of a perfect God. If God were all-knowing, it seems that God would know about all of the horrible things that happen in our world. If God were all-powerful, God would be able to do something about all of the evil and suffering. Furthermore, if God were morally perfect, then surely God would want to do something about it. And yet (...)
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  49. S. Beggiani (1971). Frederick Sontag, "The God of Evil: An Argument From the Existence of the Devil". [REVIEW] The Thomist 35 (2):347.
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  50. Brother Benignus (1943). St. Thomas and the Problem of Evil. New Scholasticism 17 (2):193-194.
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