Moderately Sceptical Theism and the Problem of (the Sheer Quantity of) Evil

Praxis 2 (1):57-71 (2009)

Andrew Stephenson
University of Southampton
One way to rebut the standard evidential problem of evil is to develop a sceptical form of theism. The resulting position – sceptical theism – is a sophisticated philosophical elaboration on the traditional claim that God works in mysterious ways. Yet sceptical theism is contentious because it has a quite natural tendency to entail a degree of scepticism in other areas of discourse that is normally taken to be unacceptable. To curb this tendency a moderately sceptical theism can be developed that nevertheless retains the benefit of rebutting the standard evidential problem of evil – the moderately sceptical theist attempts to steer a middle course between the Charybdis of mysticism and the Scylla of evil. However, a new evidential problem can be developed and reworked in a formal Bayesian framework. There are various ways to mitigate the new evidential problem and my reworked version, but none of these ways is open to the moderately sceptical theist – her particular ship, I argue, sails too close to Scylla. The moral is quite intuitive: if evil matters at all, then the sheer quantity of evil ensures that it matters a lot.
Keywords Sceptical Theism  Evil  Rowe  God  Skeptical Theism  Bayesian  evidence  Quantity  Bergmann
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