David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 48 (1):1-10 (2000)
Recent discussion of the problem of evil has centered around what is known as the probabilistic or evidential argument from evil. According to this argument the evil in our world is evidence against the existence of God, even though evil is logically consistent with God’s existing. Based on this it is claimed it is irrational to believe one of the traditional theistic religions, unless there is overwhelming positive evidence to counter this negative evidence. One of the most important and widely discussed versions of this argument is due to Paul Draper.1 In this paper I will look at Draper’s argument and argue that he has made a simple fundamental error; as a result his argument is irrelevant to most theists. After discussing this error in Draper’s argument, I will discuss probabilistic arguments from evil from the perspective of confirmation theory. The error in Draper’s argument is easily made and could occur in any probabilistic argument from evil; looking at confirmation theory and probabilistic arguments from evil will provide insight into reasoning about evil and belief in God.
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