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
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History/traditions: The Argument from Evil

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1839 found
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1 — 50 / 1839
  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. 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. 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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  7. 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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  8. Two Dozen Compossibles.Jude Arnout Durieux - manuscript
    Religious world-views tend to make many seemingly contradictory claims. A well-known pair is God’s absolute goodness and the existence of intense evil. We present a simple model to show the compossibility of middle knowledge, grounded truth, libertarian free will, physical laws, predestination, evil, hell, a sin-free heaven, God being perfectly just, free, praiseworthy, and necessarily omni­benevolent, omni­scient, and omni­potent, this world being both replete with injustice and the best of all possible worlds, heinous suffering, no-one unjustly suffering, God’s grace for (...)
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  9. 10 Theodicies in Christian Thought.Paul Mayer - manuscript
    The problem of evil is one of the most significant challenges to theism and Christianity in particular, asking why there seems to be so much evil if an omnibenevolent (all good), loving God exists. The problem of evil, as posed by many atheists and agnostics today, (following Epicurus) often asserts that the following premises cannot all be true: 1. God exists, and is omnipotent (all-powerful) 2. God exists, and is omnibenevolent (all-good) 3. God exists, and is omniscient (all-knowing) 4. Evil (...)
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  10. 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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  11. 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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  12. 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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  13. Suffering as Divine Punishment.Tong Zhang - manuscript
    This article presents a theodicy based on a revision of the popular concept of God’s benevolence. If we follow the Protestant tradition by assuming that God is the exclusive source of virtue, the benevolence of God has to be radically different from the benevolence of a human being. A benevolent and almighty God who wishes to reward virtue and punish evil would design the world order similar to that in the allegory of the long spoons. Divine punishment is unforgiving, merciless, (...)
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  14. 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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  15. 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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  16. Human attitudes toward suffering.Theodore Bovet - forthcoming - Humanitas.
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  17. Suffering and the origins of religion.John Bowker - forthcoming - Humanitas.
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  18. In Defence of the.Erik Carlson - forthcoming - Mind.
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  19. 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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  20. Skeptical Theism: New Essays.Trent Doughtery & Justin McBrayder (eds.) - forthcoming - Oxford University Press.
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  21. How Much Suffering Is Enough?Bryan Frances - forthcoming - Religious Studies.
    Isn’t there something like an amount and density of horrific suffering whose discovery would make it irrational to think God exists? Use your imagination to think of worlds that are much, much, much worse than you think Earth is when it comes to horrific suffering. Isn’t there some conceivable scenario which, if you were in it, would make you say “Ok, ok. God doesn’t exist, at least in the way we thought God was. We were wrong about that”? Pursuing this (...)
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  22. Summaries of selected works on human response to suffering.Carolyn Gratton - forthcoming - Humanitas.
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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. 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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  25. Sceptical Theism, Divine Commands, and Love.Ho-Yeung Lee - forthcoming - Religious Studies.
    Sceptical theists respond to the problem of evil by arguing that we should be sceptical of our abilities to understand God's plan and the justifying reasons for his actions. A major difficulty faced by sceptical theism is the problem of moral paralysis. Some sceptical theists have proposed a divine command response: theists can appeal to God's commands in acting, and this circumvents the need to exercise value judgement in moral deliberations. This article provides an objection to the divine command response (...)
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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. Philosophy… History December 10, 2007 Erickson “Religion, Philosophy and the Problem of Evil”.Marcia McWilliams - forthcoming - Philosophy.
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  28. 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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  29. Evil and Embodiment: Towards a Latter-day Saint Non-Identity Theodicy.Taylor-Grey Miller & Derek Christian Haderlie - forthcoming - Religious Studies.
    We offer an account of the metaphysics of persons rooted in Latter-day saint scripture that vindicates the essentiality of origins. We then give theological support for the claim that prospects for the success of God’s soul making project are bound up in God creating particular persons. We observe that these persons would not have existed were it not for the occurrence of a variety of evils (of even the worst kinds), and we conclude that Latter-day saint theology has the resources (...)
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  30. 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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  31. The mythic narratives of Candomblé Nagô and what they imply about its Supreme Being.José Eduardo Porcher - forthcoming - Religious Studies:1-17.
    In this article, I explore the mythic narratives of the Yoruba-derived tradition of Candomblé Nagô to discern the attributes of its Supreme Being. I introduce Candomblé, offering an overview of its central beliefs and practices, and then present theological perspectives on the Supreme Being in African Traditional Religion as a basis for comparison with the myths I will examine. I consider the primary creation myths of Candomblé, emphasizing references to the tradition's Supreme Being and, analysing these myths, I argue that (...)
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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. Introduction to "Hume’s ‘Dialogues concerning Natural Religion’: A Critical Guide".Paul Russell - forthcoming - In Hume’s ‘Dialogues concerning Natural Religion’: A Critical Guide. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    This introduction provides a brief overview of the issues and arguments that arise in Hume's _Dialogues concerning Natural Religion_ (1779). It also provides a few brief comments relating to the historical context in which this text should be interpreted , as well as an account of the place of the _Dialogues_ in relation to Hume's other philosophical works.
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  34. Ambiguity and "Atheism" in Hume's Dialogues.Paul Russell - forthcoming - In Hume’s ‘Dialogues concerning Natural Religion’: A Critical Guide. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    This paper considers the question of “atheism” as it arises in Hume’s _Dialogues_. It argues that the concept of “atheism” involves several signficiant ambiguities that are indicative of philosophical and interpretive disagreements of a more substantial nature. It defends the view that Philo’s general sceptical orientation accurately represents Hume’s own “irreligious” and “atheistic” commitments, both in the _Dialogues_ and in his other (“earlier”) writings. While Hume was plainly a “speculative atheist”, his “practical atheism” was targeted more narrowly against “superstition” - (...)
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  35. Exploring Human Suffering: Why the Reluctance?E. Timothy - forthcoming - Bioethics Forum.
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  36. 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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  37. Can I Both Blame and Worship God?Robert H. Wallace - forthcoming - In Aaron Segal & Samuel Lebens (eds.), The Philosophy of Worship: Divine and Human Aspects. Cambridge University Press.
    In a well-known apocryphal story, Theresa of Avila falls off the donkey she was riding, straight into mud, and injures herself. In response, she seems to blame God for her fall. A playful if indignant back and forth ensues. But this is puzzling. Theresa should never think that God is blameworthy. Why? Apparently, one cannot blame what one worships. For to worship something is to show it a kind of reverence, respect, or adoration. To worship is, at least in part, (...)
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  38. November 20, 2012 Philosophy 1000 Problem of Evil.Emily Waters - forthcoming - Philosophy.
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  39. Murphy's Anselmian theism and the problem of evil.Luke Wilson - forthcoming - Religious Studies:1-15.
    Mark Murphy has recently defended a novel account of divine agency on which God would have very minimal requiring reasons and a wide range of merely justified reasons. This account grounds his response to the problem of evil. If God would not have requiring reasons to promote the well-being of creatures, Murphy argues, then the evil we observe would not count as evidence against theism. I argue that Murphy's conclusion, if successful in undermining the problem of evil, also undermines probabilistic (...)
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  40. God's Role Toward Genocides: Refuting Richard Swinburne's Theodicy.Mark Maller - 2024 - Secular Studies 6 (1):84-99.
    -/- This article analyzes Richard Swinburne’s arguments in the problem of evil and raises new criticism and understanding regarding genocides, especially the Holocaust. Genocides are the greatest challenge for theodicies and free-will defenses, yet they are rarely addressed in the scholarship. My empirical approach questions why a loving omnipotent God permits genocides of evil. Swinburne argues that evils are necessary for good free acts, such as the creation of moral virtues. However, future goods do not justify the millions of horrific (...)
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  41. Empirical Challenges to the Evidential Problem of Evil.Blake McAllister, Ian M. Church, Paul Rezkalla & Long Nguyen - 2024 - In Shaun Nichols & Joshua Knobe (eds.), Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy, Volume 5. 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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  42. A Naturalistic Theodicy for Sterba’s Problem of Natural Evil.Dwayne Moore - 2024 - Sophia 63 (1):169-188.
    In a series of writings, James Sterba introduces several novel arguments from evil against the existence of God (Sterba, 2019; Sterba Sophia 59, 501–512, 2020; Sterba International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 87, 203–208, 2020b; Sterba International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 87, 223–228, 2020c; Sterba Religions 12, 536, 2021). According to one of these arguments, the problem of natural evil, God must necessarily prevent the horrendous evil consequences of natural evil such as diseases and hurricanes; however, these horrendous evil (...)
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  43. Methodological worries for humean arguments from evil.Timothy Perrine - 2024 - Philosophical Studies 181 (5).
    Humean arguments from evil are some of the most powerful arguments against Theism. They take as their data what we know about good and evil. And they argue that some rival to Theism better explains, or otherwise predicts, that data than Theism. However, this paper argues that there are many problems with various methods for defending Humean arguments. I consider Philo’s original strategy; modern strategies in terms of epistemic probability; phenomenological strategies; and strategies that appeal to scientific and metaphysical explanations. (...)
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  44. Morality and Revelation in Islamic Thought and Beyond: A New Problem of Evil.Amir Saemi - 2024 - New York: Oxford University Press.
    If God commanded you to do something contrary to your moral conscience, how would you respond? Many believers of different faiths face a similar challenge today. While they take scripture to be the word of God, they find scriptural passages that seem incompatible with their modern moral sensibilities. In Morality and Revelation in Islamic Thought and Beyond, philosopher Amir Saemi identifies this as the problem of divinely prescribed evil. -/- Saemi unpacks two approaches to answering this problem. In the first (...)
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  45. Wes Morriston’s ‘Skeptical Demonism’ Argument from Evil and Timothy Perrine’s Response.Michael Tooley - 2024 - Sophia 63 (1):57-83.
    Wes Morriston has argued that given the mixture of goods and evils found in the world, the probability of God’s existence is much less than the probability of a creator who is indifferent to good and evil. One of my goals here is, first, to show how, by bringing in the concept of dispositions, Morriston’s argument can be expressed in a rigorous, step-by-step fashion, and then, second, to show how one can connect the extent to which different events are surprising (...)
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  46. God as Both Hierarchical and Egalitarian: A Kierkegaardian Proposal Based on Philosophical Fragments.Jaeha Woo - 2024 - Toronto Journal of Theology 40 (1):63-73.
    After highlighting Søren Kierkegaard's emphasis on the absolute difference between God and humans, this article presents his explanation of why we can readily embrace our inferior position to God, which appeals to his understanding of love as involving the desire to be the guilty party. But this argument can be turned around to make a case that God would desire to be the guilty party in relation to us. This fits well with the story of God's love in Kierkegaard's pseudonymous (...)
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  47. Kantian-Kierkegaardian Hope for the Savior in History: A Moral-Psychological Christology in the Irenaean Spirit.Jaeha Woo - 2024 - Dissertation, Claremont School of Theology
    I make a case for the hope that God is the supremely guilty person whose death on the cross represents God's apology to us in history. I motivate this hope by examining Kant's quest to find satisfaction in humans' moral life. After explaining why moral satisfaction is so significant in his practical philosophy, I point out that the human moral vocation in his second Critique boils down to endless progress toward the highest good, governed by God as the moral ruler. (...)
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  48. Tanrı ve Diğer Zihinler.Musa Yanık & Alvin Plantinga - 2024 - Ankara: Fol Yayınları. Translated by Musa Yanık.
    “1950’li yıllarda dönemin büyük felsefecileri arasında dinsel inancı savunan bir kişi bile yoktu. 1990’lı yıllarda Yale’den UCLA’ya, Oxford’dan Heidelberg’e kadar birçok yerde insanın manevi yanını savunan ve geliştiren yüzlerce kitap yazılacak, sel olup akacaktı. Aradaki 40 yıllık süre zarfındaysa sadece ve sadece Alvin Plantinga vardı.” Kelly James Clark Tanrı’nın veya tanrıların varlığı sorusu felsefenin ezeli sorularından biri olagelmişse de Nietzsche’nin Tanrı’nın ölümünü ilan ettiği günden bu yana onu doğrularcasına yaşanan acılar, savaşlar, kötülükler bu konudaki tartışmaların sesini uzun süre bastırdı. Ama (...)
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  49. Dialetheism and the Problem of Evil.Ben Blumson - 2023 - In Soraj Hongladarom, Jeremiah Joven Joaquin & Frank J. Hoffman (eds.), Philosophies of Appropriated Religions: Perspectives from Southeast Asia. Springer Nature Singapore. pp. 69-79.
    According to dialetheism, some contradictions are true. In a recent paper, Aaron Cotnoir has suggested that theists who are also dialetheists can resolve the paradox of the stone by accepting a contradiction, and arguing that God both can and can't make the stone. However, Zach Weber has replied that dialetheism is no help for avoiding one of the most serious problems for theism, namely the problem of evil. In this paper, I argue the situation is even worse than this for (...)
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  50. A threefold response to the evidential argument from evil.Han Jen Chang - 2023 - Dissertation, University of Birmingham
    In this thesis, I develop a threefold response to the evidential argument from evil. I first raise a new version of skeptical theism, data-based skeptical theism, to defend theism from the evidential argument from evil, but it works only under certain conditions. Data-based skeptical theism needs to be supplemented by other arguments. I then raise the evidential argument from evil against naturalism to reduce the explanatory power of naturalism over evil. Finally, I develop the divine justice theodicy to enhance theism’s (...)
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1 — 50 / 1839