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
Related categories
Siblings:See also:History/traditions: The Argument from Evil

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  1. added 2019-02-10
    Divine Intentions and the Problem of Evil.Justin Mooney - forthcoming - Religious Studies:1-20.
  2. added 2019-02-02
    Is Animal Suffering Evil? A Thomistic Perspective.B. Kyle Keltz - forthcoming - Journal of Value Inquiry:1-19.
    The problem of animal suffering considers whether God would allow millions of years of animal pain, disease, and death. Philosophers who debate this issue often assume that pain and suffering are evils a loving God would not allow without good reason. Moreover, a considerable amount of the debate regarding the problem of animal suffering involves whether animals are capable of experiencing pain and suffering. But this raises the question of whether pain and suffering are intrinsically evil. In this essay I (...)
  3. added 2019-01-30
    Augustine, the Manichaean and the Problem of Evil.Hector M. Scem - 1988-1990 - Augustinian Panorama 5:76-86.
  4. added 2019-01-07
    Intentionality, Belief, and the Logical Problem of Evil.Kenneth L. Pearce - forthcoming - Religious Studies.
    This paper provides a new defence against the logical problem of evil, based on the naturalistic functional/teleological theory of mind (NFT). I argue that if the NFT is self-consistent then it is consistent with theism. Further, the NFT entails that it is not possible for created minds to exist in the absence of evil. It follows that if the NFT is self-consistent then the existence of God is consistent with the existence of evil.
  5. added 2018-12-18
    A Defense of Middle Knowledge.Richard Otte - 1987 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 21 (3):161 - 169.
    tionals, which means that he knows what actions would be necessary for him to perform in order to bring about a certain outcome. Because he is omnipotent, he can do whatever action is necessary to bring about a certain outcome that he desires. His benevolence implies that he will want to actualize the best possible world, or at least a world containing no evil. Given this scenario it is argued..
  6. added 2018-10-19
    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 (...)
  7. added 2018-10-14
    What Are the Odds That Everyone is Depraved?Scott Hill - forthcoming - American Philosophical Quarterly.
    [EMAIL ME IF YOU'D LIKE A COPY: hillscottandrew@gmail.com] Why does God allow evil? One hypothesis is that God prizes the existence and activity of free creatures but He was unable to create a world with such creatures and activity without also allowing evil. If Molinism is true, what probability should be assigned to this hypothesis? Some authors claim that we should assign a low probability to the hypothesis because there are an infinite number of possible people and because we have (...)
  8. added 2018-09-01
    Skeptical Theism and Morriston’s Humean Argument From Evil.Timothy Perrine - forthcoming - Sophia:1-21.
    There’s a growing sense among philosophers of religion that Humean arguments from evil are some of the most formidable arguments against theism, and skeptical theism fails to undermine those arguments because they fail to make the inferences skeptical theists criticize. In line with this trend, Wes Morriston has recently formulated a Humean argument from evil, and his chief defense of it is that skeptical theism is irrelevant to it. Here I argue that skeptical theism is relevant to Humean arguments. To (...)
  9. added 2018-07-22
    The Secular Problem of Evil.Paul Prescott - manuscript
    The existence of evil is often held to pose philosophical problems only for theism. 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 trust that the actual world is good-enough; (2) the actual world is not good-enough (i.e., sufficient evil exists). It follows that (3) successful human beings maintain a state of epistemic ignorance regarding the nature of the (...)
  10. added 2018-07-09
    Radically Insensitive Theists.Cameron Domenico Kirk-Giannini - forthcoming - Religious Studies:1-20.
    Sceptical theists attempt to meet the challenge to theism posed by evidential arguments from evil by appealing to the limitations of human cognition. Drawing on an exchange between William Rowe and Michael Bergmann, I argue that consistent sceptical theists must be radically insensitive to certain kinds of evidence about prima facie evils – that is, that they must endorse the claim that not even evidence of extreme and pervasive suffering could justify disbelief in theism. I show that Bergmann's attempt to (...)
  11. added 2018-06-21
    Transworld Depravity and Unobtainable Worlds.Richard Otte - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (1):165-177.
    Alvin Plantinga's free will defense is based on the idea of transworld depravity. Plantinga claims that if every essence suffers from transworld depravity, then it is not possible for God to actualize a world in which there is moral good but no moral evil. I describe possible worlds that imply it is impossible for every essence to suffer from transworld depravity. I then show how to modify the concept of transworld depravity to avoid this problem, and formulate an alternative free (...)
  12. added 2018-06-16
    How To Be a Skeptical Theist and a Commonsense Epistemologist.Perry Hendricks - 2018 - Faith and Philosophy 35 (3):345-355.
    Trent Dougherty has argued that commonsense epistemology and skeptical theism are incompatible. In this paper, I explicate Dougherty’s argument, and show that (at least) one popular form of skeptical theism is compatible with commonsense epistemology.
  13. added 2018-05-13
    God’s Purpose for the Universe and the Problem of Animal Suffering.B. Kyle Keltz - forthcoming - Sophia:1-18.
    Proponents of the problem of animal suffering state that the great amount of animal death and suffering found in Earth’s natural history provides evidence against the truth of theism. In particular, philosophers such as Paul Draper have argued that regardless of the antecedent probability of theism and naturalism, animal suffering provides positive evidence for the truth of naturalism over theism. While theists have attempted to provide answers to the problem of animal suffering, almost none have argued that animal suffering and (...)
  14. added 2018-05-11
    Plato on the Rhetoric of Philosophers and Sophists. By Marina McCoy and Plato and the Art of Philosophical Writing. By Christopher Rowe: Book Reviews. [REVIEW]Robin Waterfield - 2009 - Heythrop Journal 50 (3):511-511.
  15. added 2018-05-11
    Moral Evil: The Comparative Response.C. Stephen Layman - 2003 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 54 (1):1-23.
    Theists may argue that, although theism does not explain the presence of all evils well, it provides an explanation that is as good as (or better than) the explanation provided by some (or all) of theism’s metaphysical rivals. Let us call this approach “The Comparative Response” since it involves comparing theistic explanations of evil with explanations provided by theism’s metaphysical rivals. The Comparative Response has received little attention in recent discussions of the problem of evil, and I propose to develop (...)
  16. added 2018-04-25
    False Optimism? Leibniz, Evil, and the Best of All Possible Worlds.Lloyd Strickland - 2010 - Forum Philosophicum: International Journal for Philosophy 15 (1):17-35.
    Leibniz’s claim that this is the best of all possible worlds has been subject to numerous criticisms, both from his contemporaries and ours. In this paper I investigate a cluster of such criticisms based on the existence, abundance or character of worldly evil. As several Leibniz-inspired versions of optimism have been advanced in recent years, the aim of my investigation is to assess not just how Leibniz’s brand of optimism fares against these criticisms, but also whether optimism as a philosophy (...)
  17. added 2018-04-18
    The Problem of Religious Evil: Does Belief in God Cause Evil?Lloyd Strickland - 2018 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 84 (2):237-250.
    Daniel Kodaj has recently developed a pro-atheistic argument that he calls “the problem of religious evil.” This first premise of this argument is “belief in God causes evil.” Although this idea that belief in God causes evil is widely accepted, certainly in the secular West, it is sufficiently problematic as to be unsuitable as a basis for an argument for atheism, as Kodaj seeks to use it. In this paper I shall highlight the problems inherent in it in three ways: (...)
  18. added 2018-04-06
    Sceptical Theism and the Evil-God Challenge.Perry Hendricks - 2018 - Religious Studies 54 (4):549-561.
    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 (...)
  19. added 2018-03-31
    Therapeutic Theodicy? Suffering, Struggle, and the Shift From the God’s-Eye View.Amber L. Griffioen - 2018 - Religions 9:99ff..
    From a theoretical standpoint, the problem of human suffering can be understood as one formulation of the classical problem of evil, which calls into question the compatibility of the existence of a perfect God with the extent to which human beings suffer. Philosophical responses to this problem have traditionally been posed in the form of theodicies, or justifications of the divine. In this article, I argue that the theodical approach in analytic philosophy of religion exhibits both morally and epistemically harmful (...)
  20. added 2018-03-23
    The Problem of Evil: New Philosophical Directions.Benjamin W. McCraw & Robert Arp (eds.) - 2015 - Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
    The Problem of Evil: New Philosophical Directions brings together a diversity of philosophical views, methods, and approaches to the much-discussed topic of evil and its bearing on religious belief. Through both general and specific examinations of the problem of evil, this book proposes new directions for philosophical thought.
  21. added 2018-03-11
    Non-Identity Theodicy.Vincent Raphael Vitale - 2017 - Philosophia Christi 19 (2):269-90.
    I develop a theodicy (Non-Identity Theodicy) that begins with the recognition that we owe our existence to great and varied evils. I develop two versions of this theodicy, with the result that some version is available to the theist regardless of her assumptions about the existence and nature of free will. My defense of Non-Identity Theodicy is aided by an analogy between divine creation and human procreation. I argue that if one af rms the morality of vol- untary human procreation, (...)
  22. added 2018-03-10
    Leibniz and Bayle on Divine Permission.Joseph Anderson - 2015 - In Christian Leduc, Paul Rateau & Jean-Luc Solere (eds.), Leibniz et Bayle: confrontation et dialogue. Stuttgart, Germany: Franz Steiner Verlag. pp. 383-396.
    In popular opinion, Leibniz’s work on the problem of evil is thought to begin and end with the claim that this is the best of all possible worlds, as if this were all that Leibniz needed to defend the justice of God. In many places, however, Leibniz is concerned to remove from God the actual agency for the evils in the world. By examining Leibniz’s uses of the concept of divine permission, one might find a Leibniz for whom the best-possible-world (...)
  23. added 2018-03-05
    Cartesian Privations: How Pierre-Sylvain Regis Used Material Causation to Provide a Cartesian Account of Sin.Joseph Anderson - 2016 - Journal of Early Modern Studies 5 (2):81-100.
    Descartes’s very brief explanations of human responsibility for sin and divine innocence of sin include references to the idea that evil is a privation rather than a real thing. It is not obvious, though, that privation fits naturally in Descartes’s reductionistic metaphysics, nor is it clear precisely what role his privation doctrine plays in his theodicy. These issues are made clear by contrasting Descartes’s use of privations with that of Suarez, particularly in light of reoccurring objections to privation theory. These (...)
  24. added 2018-03-05
    The Problem of Evil.Trent Dougherty & Scott Cleveland - 2014 - Oxford Bibliographies.
    This is a reference guide to contemporary work on the problem of evil with Oxford Bibliographies Online.
  25. added 2018-02-27
    On the Socratic Injunction to Follow the Argument Where It Leads.Jason Marsh - 2017 - In Paul Draper & J. L. Schellenberg (eds.), Renewing Philosophy of Religion: Exploratory Essays. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 187-207.
    This chapter examines a common objection to the philosophy of religion, namely, that it has not sufficiently embraced the injunction of Socrates to follow the argument where it leads. Although a general version of this charge is unfair, one emerging view in the field, which I call religious Mooreanism, nonetheless risks running contrary to the Socratic injunction. According to this view, many people can quickly, easily, and reasonably deflect all known philosophical challenges to their core religious outlooks, including arguments from (...)
  26. added 2018-02-17
    The Promise of a New Past.Samuel Lebens & Tyron Goldschmidt - 2017 - Philosophers' Imprint 17:1-25.
    In light of Jewish tradition and the metaphysics of time, we argue that God can and will change the past. The argument makes for a new answer to the problem of evil and a new theory of atonement.
  27. added 2018-02-17
    Schelling's Dialogical Freedom Essay: Provocative Philosophy Then and Now.Bernard Freydberg - 2008 - State University of New York Press.
    _Explores Schelling’s Essay on Human Freedom, focusing on the themes of freedom, evil, and love, and the relationship between his ideas and those of Plato and Kant._.
  28. added 2018-02-17
    The Atheist's Free Will Offence.J. L. Schellenberg - 2004 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 56 (1):1-15.
    This paper criticizes the assumption, omnipresent in contemporary philosophy of religion, that a perfectly good and loving God would wish to confer on finite persons free will. An alternative mode of Divine-human relationship is introduced and shown to be as conducive to the realization of value as one involving free will. Certain implications of this result are then revealed, to wit, that the theist's free will defence against the problem of evil is unsuccessful, and what is more, that free will, (...)
  29. added 2018-02-17
    Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion.Michael L. Peterson & Raymond J. VanArragon (eds.) - 2003 - Wiley-Blackwell.
  30. added 2018-02-17
    The Formalities of Evil and a Finite God: Corregenda.Michael Martin - 1978 - Critica 10 (28):133-135.
  31. added 2018-02-16
    Explaining Evil: Four Views.W. Paul Franks - 2019 - New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
    In Explaining Evil four prominent philosophers, two theists and two non-theists, present their arguments for why evil exists. Taking a "position and response" format, in which one philosopher offers an account of evil and three others respond, this book guides readers through the advantages and limitations of various philosophical positions on evil, making it ideal for classroom use as well as individual study. -/- Divided into four chapters, Explaining Evil covers Theistic Libertarianism (Richard Brian Davis), Theistic Compatibilism (Paul Helm), Atheistic (...)
  32. added 2018-02-16
    Suffering Art Gladly: The Paradox of Negative Emotions in Art.Jerrold Levinson (ed.) - 2014 - Palgrave/Macmillan.
  33. added 2018-02-15
    God and the Meaning of Human Suffering Based on Calvin's Theological Perspective: A Theodicy.Thiago Machado Silva - 2015 - Puritan Reformed Journal 7:79–94.
  34. added 2018-02-14
    Plantinga's Defence and His Theodicy Are Incompatible.Richard Brian Davis & W. Paul Franks - 2018 - In KIaas Kraay (ed.), Does God Matter? Essays on the Axiological Consequences of Theism. New York: Routledge. pp. 203–223.
    In this paper, we attempt to show that if Plantinga’s free will defence succeeds, his O Felix Culpa theodicy fails. For if every creaturely essence suffers from transworld depravity, then given that Jesus has a creaturely essence (as we attempt to show), it follows that Incarnation and Atonement worlds cannot be actualized by God, in which case we have anything but a felix culpa.
  35. added 2018-01-15
    An Apophatic Response to the Evidential Argument From Evil.Brown Joshua Matthan - 2017 - International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 78 (4-5):485-497.
    I argue that Christian apophaticism provides the most powerful and economical response to the evidential argument from evil for the non-existence of God. I also reply to the objection that Christian apophaticism is incoherent, because it appears to entail the truth of the following contradiction: it is both possible and impossible to know God’s essential properties. To meet this objection, I outline a coherent account of the divine attributes inspired by the theology of the Greek Father’s and St. Gregory Palamas.
  36. added 2018-01-11
    The Problem of Evil - A Socratic Dialogue.Brent Silby - 2017 - Cafe Philosophy.
    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, suitable to an introductory audience, explores a popular version of the argument from evil.
  37. added 2018-01-10
    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.
  38. added 2018-01-03
    God and Possible Worlds: The Modal Problem of Evil.Theodore Guleserian - 1983 - Noûs 17 (2):221-238.
    Using four principles common to several theories about possible worlds, It is argued that the necessary existence of a divine being that is essentially omnipotent, Omniscient, And morally perfect is impossible. The central argument employs the premise that there are possible worlds that any divine being ought not to actualize (because of their evil contents). This premise is then defended on the grounds that the same sort of justification that we give for other modal statements that we accept can be (...)
  39. added 2017-11-18
    The Copernican Principle, Intelligent Extraterrestrials, and Arguments From Evil.Samuel Ruhmkorff - forthcoming - Religious Studies:1-21.
    The physicist Richard Gott defends the Copernican principle, which claims that when we have no information about our position along a given dimension among a group of observers, we should consider ourselves to be randomly located among those observers in respect to that dimension. First, I apply Copernican reasoning to the distribution of evil in the universe. I then contend that evidence for intelligent extraterrestrial life strengthens four important versions of the argument from evil. I remain neutral regarding whether this (...)
  40. added 2017-11-18
    Sufferer-Centered Requirements on Theodicy and All-Things-Considered Harms.Dustin Crummett - 2017 - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion 8:71-95.
    Both Marilyn Adams and Eleonore Stump have endorsed requirements on theodicy which, if true, imply that we can never suffer all-things-considered harms. William Hasker has offered a series of arguments intended to show that this implication is unacceptable. This chapter evaluates Hasker’s arguments and finds them lacking. However, it also argues that Hasker’s arguments can be modified or expanded in ways that make them very powerful. The chapter closes by considering why God might not meet the requirements endorsed by Stump (...)
  41. added 2017-11-15
    Does God Have the Moral Standing to Blame?Patrick Todd - 2018 - Faith and Philosophy 35 (1):33-55.
    In this paper, I introduce a problem to the philosophy of religion – the problem of divine moral standing – and explain how this problem is distinct from (albeit related to) the more familiar problem of evil (with which it is often conflated). In short, the problem is this: in virtue of how God would be (or, on some given conception, is) “involved in” our actions, how is it that God has the moral standing to blame us for performing those (...)
  42. added 2017-10-29
    Is the Problem of Evil a Deontological Problem?Justin Mooney - 2017 - Analysis 77 (1):79-87.
    Recently, some authors have argued that experiences of poignant evils provide non-inferential support for crucial premisses in arguments from evil. Careful scrutiny of these experiences suggests that the impermissibility of permitting a horrendous evil might be characterized by a deontological insensitivity to consequences. This has significant implications for the project of theodicy.
  43. added 2017-10-27
    Karma, Rebirth, and the Problem of Evil.Whitley R. P. Kaufman - 2005 - Philosophy East and West 55 (1):15-32.
    : The doctrine of karma and rebirth is often praised for its ability to offer a successful solution to the Problem of Evil. This essay evaluates such a claim by considering whether the doctrine can function as a systematic theodicy, as an explanation of all human suffering in terms of wrongs done in either this or past lives. This purported answer to the Problem of Evil must face a series of objections, including the problem of anylackofmemoryofpastlives,the lack of proportionality between (...)
  44. added 2017-10-21
    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 (...)
  45. added 2017-10-13
    The Problem of Evil in Virtual Worlds.Brendan Shea - 2017 - In Mark Silcox (ed.), Experience Machines: The Philosophy of Virtual Worlds. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 137-155.
    In its original form, Nozick’s experience machine serves as a potent counterexample to a simplistic form of hedonism. The pleasurable life offered by the experience machine, its seems safe to say, lacks the requisite depth that many of us find necessary to lead a genuinely worthwhile life. Among other things, the experience machine offers no opportunities to establish meaningful relationships, or to engage in long-term artistic, intellectual, or political projects that survive one’s death. This intuitive objection finds some support in (...)
  46. added 2017-10-07
    Reply to Oppy on God, the Best and Evil.Bruce Langtry - 2011 - Sophia 50 (1):211-219.
    My reply corrects one misstatement in Oppy’s summary of my book, abandons a footnote in the light of one of Oppy’s criticisms, and argues that Oppy’s other criticisms do not succeed in showing either that my claims are mistaken or that the arguments by which I supported them are defective.
  47. added 2017-08-23
    Not Skeptical Theism, but Trusting Theism.John McClellan - 2016 - Southwest Philosophy Review 32 (1):233-244.
  48. added 2017-07-26
    Plantinga’s Religious Epistemology, Skeptical Theism, and Debunking Arguments.Andrew Moon - 2017 - Faith and Philosophy 34 (4):449-470.
    Alvin Plantinga’s religious epistemology has been used to respond to many debunking arguments against theistic belief. However, critics have claimed that Plantinga’s religious epistemology conflicts with skeptical theism, a view often used in response to the problem of evil. If they are correct, then a common way of responding to debunking arguments conflicts with a common way of responding to the problem of evil. In this paper, I examine the critics’ claims and argue that they are right. I then present (...)
  49. added 2017-06-07
    Skeptical Theism.Timothy Perrine & Stephen Wykstra - 2017 - In Paul K. Moser & Chad Meister (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the Problem of Evil. Cambridge University Press. pp. 85-107.
    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 (...)
  50. added 2017-03-25
    Thomas Jay Oord, The Uncontrolling Love of God: An Open and Relational Account of Providence[REVIEW]Elijah Hess - 2016 - Journal of Analytic Theology 4 (1):473-479.
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