Skepticaltheism is a popular response to arguments from evil. Many hold that it undermines a key inference often used by such arguments. However, the case for skepticaltheism is often kept at an intuitive level: no one has offered an explicit argument for the truth of skepticaltheism. In this article, I aim to remedy this situation: I construct an explicit, rigorous argument for the truth of skepticaltheism.
Arguments from evil purport to show that some fact about evil makes it (at least) probable that God does not exist. Skepticaltheism is held to undermine many versions of the argument from evil: it is thought to undermine a crucial inference that such arguments often rely on. Skeptical objections to skepticaltheism claim that it (skepticaltheism) entails an excessive amount of skepticism, and therefore should be rejected. In this article, I show (...) that skeptical objections to skepticaltheism have a very limited scope: only those who reject certain (apparently) popular epistemological theories will be threatened by them. (shrink)
Skeptical theists endorse the skeptical thesis (which is consistent with the rejection of theism) that we have no good reason for thinking the possible goods we know of are representative of the possible goods there are. In his newest formulation of the evidential arguments from evil, William Rowe tries to avoid assuming the falsity of this skeptical thesis, presumably because it seems so plausible. I argue that his new argument fails to avoid doing this. Then I (...) defend that skeptical thesis against objections, thereby supporting my contention that relying on its falsity is a weakness in an argument. (shrink)
Skepticaltheism claims that the probability of a perfect God’s existence isn’t at all reduced by our failure to see how such a God could allow the horrific suffering that occurs in our world. Given our finite grasp of the realm of value, skeptical theists argue, it shouldn’t surprise us that we fail to see the reasons that justify God in allowing such suffering, and thus our failure to see those reasons is no evidence against God’s existence (...) or perfection. Critics object that skepticaltheism implies a degree of moral skepticism that even skeptical theists will find objectionable and that it undermines moral obligations that even skeptical theists will want to preserve. I discuss a version of the first objection and defend a version of the second. (shrink)
Skeptical theists purport to undermine evidential arguments from evil by appealing to the fact that our knowledge of goods, evils, and their interconnections is significantly limited. Michael J. Almeida and Graham Oppy have recently argued that skepticaltheism is unacceptable because it results in a form of moral skepticism which rejects inferences that play an important role in our ordinary moral reasoning. In this reply to Almeida and Oppy's argument we offer some reasons for thinking that (...) class='Hi'>skepticaltheism need not lead to any such objectionable form of moral skepticism. (shrink)
One of the most prominent objections to skepticaltheism in recent literature is that the skeptical theist is forced to deny our competency in making judgments about the all-things-considered value of any natural event. Some skeptical theists accept that their view has this implication, but argue that it is not problematic. I think that there is reason to question the implication itself. I begin by explaining the objection to skepticaltheism and the standard response (...) to it. I then identify an assumption that is prevalent in much of the literature concerning the problem of evil, and show that it is a factor in motivating commitment to the implication I mean to question. I argue that the assumption is false, and that once it is rejected there is room to endorse the skeptical theist's strategy in responding to some arguments from evil without endorsing the putative implication that objectors find unacceptable. (shrink)
In the first section, I characterize skepticaltheism more fully. This is necessary in order to address some important misconceptions and mischaracterizations that appear in the essays by Maitzen, Wilks, and O’Connor. In the second section, I describe the most important objections they raise and group them into four “families” so as to facilitate an orderly series of responses. In the four sections that follow, I respond to the objections.
Skepticaltheism (ST) may undercut the key inference in the evidential argument from evil, but it does so at a cost. If ST is true, then we lose our ability to assess the all things considered (ATC) value of natural events and states of affairs. And if we lose that ability, a whole slew of undesirable consequences follow. So goes a common consequential critique of ST. In a recent article, Anderson has argued that this consequential critique is flawed. (...) Anderson claims that ST only has the consequence that we lack epistemic access to potentially God-justifying reasons for permitting a prima facie “bad” (or “evil”) event. But this is very different from lacking epistemic access to the ATC value of such events. God could have an (unknowable) reason for not intervening to prevent E and yet E could still be (knowably) ATC-bad. Ingenious though it is, this article argues that Anderson’s attempted defence of ST is flawed. This is for two reasons. First, and most importantly, the consequential critique does not rely on the questionable assumption he identifies. Indeed, the argument can be made quite easily by relying purely on Anderson’s distinction between God-justifying reasons for permitting E and the ATC value of E. And second, Anderson’s defence of his position, if correct, would serve to undermine the foundations of ST. (shrink)
Most a posteriori arguments against the existence of God take the following form: (1) If God exists, the world would not be like this (where 'this' picks out some feature of the world like the existence of evil, etc.) (2) But the world is like this . (3) Therefore, God does not exist. Skeptical theists are theists who are skeptical of our ability to make judgments of the sort expressed by premise (1). According to skepticaltheism, (...) if there were a God, it is likely that he would have reasons for acting that are beyond our ken, and thus we are not justified in making all-things-considered judgments about what the world would be like if there were a God. In particular, the fact that we don't see a good reason for X does not justify the conclusion that there is no good reason for X. 1 Thus, skepticaltheism purports to undercut most a posteriori arguments against the existence of God. What follows is an account of the nature of skepticaltheism, an application of skepticaltheism to both the argument from evil and the argument from divine hiddenness, and a review of the cases for and against skepticaltheism. (shrink)
Skepticaltheism seeks to defend theism against the problem of evil by invoking putatively reasonable skepticism concerning human epistemic limitations in order to establish that we have no epistemological basis from which to judge that apparently gratuitous evils are not in fact justified by morally sufficient reasons beyond our ken. This paper contributes to the set of distinctively practical criticisms of skepticaltheism by arguing that religious believers who accept skepticaltheism and take (...) its practical implications seriously will be forced into a position of paralysis or "aporia" when faced with a wide set of morally significant situations. It is argued that this consequence speaks strongly against the acceptance of skepticaltheism insofar as such moral "aporia" is inconsistent with religious moral teaching and practice. In addition, a variety of arguments designed to show that accepting skepticaltheism does not lead to this consequence are considered, and shown to be deficient. (shrink)
Skeptical theists purport to undermine evidential arguments from evil by appealing to the fact that our knowledge of goods, evils, and their interconnections is significantly limited. Michael J. Almeida and Graham Oppy have recently argued that skepticaltheism is unacceptable because it results in a form of moral skepticism which rejects inferences that play an important role in our ordinary moral reasoning. In this reply to Almeida and Oppy’s argument we offer some reasons for thinking that (...) class='Hi'>skepticaltheism need not lead to any such objectionable form of moral skepticism. (shrink)
Skepticaltheism is the view that God exists but, given our cognitive limitations, the fact that we cannot see a compensating good for some instance of evil is not a reason to think that there is no such good. Hence, we are not justified in concluding that any actual instance of evil is gratuitous, thus undercutting the evidential argument from evil for atheism. This paper focuses on the epistemic role of context and contrast classes to advance the debate (...) over skepticaltheism in two ways. First, considerations of context and contrast can be invoked to offer a novel defense of skepticaltheism. Second, considerations of context and contrast can be invoked to undermine the two most serious objections to skepticaltheism: the global skepticism objection and the moral objection. The gist of the paper is to defend a connection between context and contrast-driven views in epistemology with skeptical views in philosophy of religion. (shrink)
The most interesting thing about sceptical theism is its sceptical component. When sceptical theists use that component in responding to arguments from evil, they think it is reasonable for their non-theistic interlocutors to accept it, even if they don't expect them to accept their theism. This article focuses on that sceptical component. The first section explains more precisely what the sceptical theist's scepticism amounts to and how it is used in response to various sorts of arguments from evil. (...) The next section considers and responds to objections to sceptical theism. It is shown that just as there are non-theists who accept the sceptical theist's scepticism, so also are there theists who reject it. (shrink)
Respondents to the argument from evil who follow Michael Bergmann’s development of skepticaltheism hold that our failure to determine God’s reasons for permitting evil does not disconfirm theism at all. They claim that such a thesis follows from the very plausible claim that we have no good reason to think our access to the realm of value is representative of the full realm of value. There are two interpretations of ST’s strength, the stronger of which leads (...)skeptical theists into moral skepticism and the weaker of which fails to rebut the argument from evil. As I demonstrate, skeptical theists avoid the charge of moral skepticism while also successfully rebutting the argument from evil only by embracing an equivocation between these two interpretations of ST. Thus, as I argue, skeptical theists are caught in a troubling dilemma: they must choose between moral skepticism and failure to adequately respond to the argument from evil. (shrink)
I define an ‘evidential argument from evil’ as an attempt to show that something we know about evil, while not provably incompatible with theism, is evidence against theism in the precise sense that it lowers the epistemic probability of theism being true. Such arguments must show that, for some statement e about evil that we know to be true, the antecedent probability of e given the denial theism – Pr(e/~G) – is greater than the antecedent probability (...) of e given theism – Pr(e/G). To show that e is strong evidence against theism, such arguments must show that Pr(e/~G) is many times greater than Pr(e/G). Skeptical theists seek to refute such arguments by denying that Pr(e/G) can be assessed with sufficient specificity to draw any interesting conclusions about how it compares to Pr(e/~G). Skeptical atheists seek refute such arguments by denying that Pr(e/~G) can be assessed with sufficient specificity to draw any interesting conclusions about how it compares to Pr(e/G). I argue that skeptical atheism is the more serious challenge of the two. I close by briefly discussing the implications of these results for the project of constructing a successful argument from evil against theism. (shrink)
Arguments strong enough to justify skepticaltheism will be strong enough to justify the position that every claim about God is empirically unfalsifiable. This fact is problematic because that position licenses further arguments which are clearly unreasonable, but which the skeptical theist cannot consistently accept as such. Avoiding this result while still achieving the theoretical objectives looked for in skepticaltheism appears to demand an impossibly nuanced position.
Skepticaltheism 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 skepticaltheism—three different ways of “filling in” (...) those two claims—and describes their role in responding to evidential arguments of evil due to William Rowe and Paul Draper. But skepticaltheism has been subject to a variety of criticisms, several of which raise interesting issues and puzzles not just in philosophy of religion but other areas of philosophy as well. Consequently, we discuss some of these criticisms, partly with an eye to bringing out the connections between skepticaltheism and current topics in mainstream philosophy. Finally, we conclude by situating skepticaltheism within our own distinctive methodology for evaluating world views, what we call “worldview theory versioning.”. (shrink)
There’s a growing sense among philosophers of religion that Humean arguments from evil are some of the most formidable arguments against theism, and skepticaltheism 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 skepticaltheism is irrelevant to it. Here I argue that skeptical (...)theism is relevant to Humean arguments. To do this, I reveal the common structure of skepticaltheism’s critiques. Seeing the common structure reveals why some versions of skepticaltheism are irrelevant to Humean arguments from evil. It also points the way forward to formulating a relevant version. By combining skepticaltheism with a plausible principle concerning reasonable belief, I formulate a version of skepticaltheism that undermines Morriston’s argument that is also immune from his objections. (shrink)
Skeptical theists hold that we should be skeptical about our ability to know the reasons that God would have for permitting evil, at least in particular cases. They argue for their view by setting aside actions that are wrong in themselves and focusing their attention on actions that are purportedly right or wrong simply in terms of their consequences. However, I argue in this paper that once skeptical theists are led to take into account actions that are (...) wrong in themselves, as they must, they cannot escape the conclusion that there is a logical contradiction between the existence of an all-good, all-powerful God and what would have to be God’s permission of the significant and horrendous evil consequences of immoral actions found in our world. (shrink)
Skepticaltheism combines theism with skepticism about our capacity to discern God’s morally sufficient reasons for permitting evil. Proponents have claimed that skepticaltheism defeats the evidential argument from evil. Many opponents have objected that it implies untenable moral skepticism, induces appalling moral paralysis, and the like. Recently Daniel Howard-Snyder has tried to rebut this prevalent objection to skepticaltheism by rebutting it as an objection to the skeptical part of skeptical (...)theism, which part he labels “Agnosticism” (with an intentionally capital “A”). I argue that his rebuttal fails as a defense of Agnosticism against the objection and even more so as a defense of skepticaltheism. (shrink)
According to Michael Almeida and Graham Oppy, adherents of skepticaltheism will find their sense of moral obligation undermined in a potentially ‘appalling’ way. Michael Bergmann and Michael Rea disagree, claiming that God’s commands provide skeptical theists with a source of moral obligation that withstands the skepticism in skepticaltheism. I argue that Bergmann and Rea are mistaken: skeptical theists cannot consistently rely on what they take to be God’s commands.
Skepticaltheism contends that, due to our cognitive limitations, we cannot expect to be able to determine whether there are reasons which justify God’s permission of apparently unjustified evils. Because this is so, the existence of these evils does not constituted evidence against God’s existence. A common criticism is that the skeptical theist is implicitly committed to other, less palatable forms of skepticism, especially moral skepticism. I examine a recent defense against this charge mounted by Michael Bergmann. (...) I point out that the Bergmannian skeptical theist is unable to determine concerning any event or feature of the world whether that feature or event is good or evil all-things-considered. Because of this the skeptical theist must abandon any attempt to act in such a way that the world becomes better rather than worse as a result. These, I claim, are seriously skeptical conclusions, and should cause us to be skeptical about skepticaltheism itself. (shrink)
Inductive arguments from evil claim that evil presents evidence against the existence of God. Skeptical theists hold that some such arguments from evil evince undue confidence in our familiarity with the sphere of possible goods and the entailments that obtain between that sphere and God’s permission of evil. I argue that the skeptical theist’s skepticism on this point is inconsistent with affirming the truth of a given theodicy. Since the skeptical theist’s skepticism is best understood dialogically, I’ll (...) begin by sketching the kind of argument against which the skeptical theist’s skepticism is pitched. I will then define ‘skeptical theistic skepticism’, offer a precise definition of ‘theodicy’, and proceed with my argument. (shrink)
Recently there has been a good deal of interest in the relationship between common sense epistemology and SkepticalTheism. Much of the debate has focused on Phenomenal Conservatism and any tension that there might be between it and SkepticalTheism. In this paper I further defend the claim that there is no tension between Phenomenal Conservatism and SkepticalTheism. I show the compatibility of these two views by coupling them with an account of defeat (...) – one that is friendly to both Phenomenal Conservatism and SkepticalTheism. In addition, I argue that this account of defeat can give the Skeptical Theist what she wants – namely a response to the evidential argument from evil that can leave one of its premises unmotivated. In giving this account I also respond to several objections from Trent Dougherty (2011) and Chris Tucker (this volume) as well as to an additional worry coming from the epistemology of disagreement. (shrink)
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 skepticaltheism, 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 two revised versions of Plantinga’s argument for his religious epistemology. I call the first a 'religion-based argument' and the second an 'intention-based argument'. Both are compatible with skepticaltheism, and both can be used to respond to debunking arguments. They apply only to theistic beliefs of actual persons who have what I call 'doxastically valuable relationships' with God – valuable relationships the goods of which entail the belief that God exists. (shrink)
The evidential argument from evil seeks to show that suffering is strong evidence against theism. The core idea of the evidential argument is that we know of innocent beings suffering for no apparent good reason. Perhaps the most common criticism of the evidential argument comes from the camp of skepticaltheism, whose lot includes William Alston, Alvin Plantinga, and Stephen Wykstra. According to skepticaltheism the limits of human knowledge concerning the realm of goods, evils, (...) and the connections between values, undermines the judgment that what appears as pointless evil really is pointless. For all we know the suffering of an innocent being, though appearing pointless, in fact leads to a greater good. In this paper I argue that no one who accepts the doctrines of skepticaltheism has a principled way of avoiding moral skepticism. (shrink)
What we call “the evidential argument from evil” is not one argument but a family of them, originating (perhaps) in the 1979 formulation of William Rowe. Wykstra’s early versions of skepticaltheism emerged in response to Rowe’s evidential arguments. But what sufficed as a response to Rowe may not suffice against later more sophisticated versions of the problem of evil—in particular, those along the lines pioneered by Paul Draper. Our chief aim here is to make an earlier version (...) of skepticaltheism more responsive to the type abductive atheology pioneered by Draper. In particular, we suggest a moderate form of skepticaltheism may be able to resist Draper’s abductive atheology. (shrink)
Natural disasters would seem to constitute evidence against the existence of God, for, on the face of things, it is mysterious why a completely good and all-powerful God would allow the sort of suffering we see from earthquakes, diseases, and the like. The skeptical theist replies that we should not expect to be able to understand God's ways, and thus we should not regard it as surprising or mysterious that God would allow natural evil. I argue that skeptical (...)theism leads to moral paralysis: accepting skepticaltheism would undermine our ability to make any moral judgments whatsoever. Second, and more briefly, I argue that skepticaltheism would undercut our ability to accept any form of the argument from design, including recent approaches based on fine-tuning. (shrink)
Trent Dougherty has argued that commonsense epistemology and skepticaltheism are incompatible. In this paper, I explicate Dougherty’s argument, and show that (at least) one popular form of skepticaltheism is compatible with commonsense epistemology.
Skepticaltheism is a popular - if not universally theistically endorsed - response to the evidential problem of evil. Skeptical theists question how we can be in a position to know God lacks God-justifying reason to allow the evils we observe. In this paper I examine a criticism of skepticaltheism: that the skeptical theists skepticism re divine reasons entails that, similarly, we cannot know God lacks God-justifying reason to deceive us about the external (...) world and the past. This in turn seems to supply us with a defeater for all our beliefs regarding the external world and past? Critics argue that either the skeptical theist abandon their skepticaltheism, thereby resurrecting the evidential argument from evil, or else they must embrace seemingly absurd skeptical consequences, including skepticism about the external world and past. I look at various skeptical theist responses to this critique and find them all wanting. (shrink)
Skeptical theists argue that no seemingly unjustified evil (SUE) could ever lower the probability of God's existence at all. Why? Because God might have justifying reasons for allowing such evils (JuffREs) that are undetectable. However, skeptical theists are unclear regarding whether or not God's existence is relevant to the existence of JuffREs, and whether or not God's existence is relevant to their detectability. But I will argue that, no matter how the skeptical theist answers these questions, it (...) is undeniable that the skeptical theist is wrong; SUEs lower the probability of God's existence. To establish this, I will consider the four scenarios regarding the relevance of God's existence to the existence and detectability of JuffREs, and show that in each—after we establish our initial probabilities, and then update them given the evidence of a SUE—the probability of God's existence drops. (shrink)
In this paper I articulate and defend a new anti-theodicy challenge to SkepticalTheism. More specifically, I defend the Threshold Problem according to which there is a threshold to the kinds of evils that are in principle justifiable for God to permit, and certain instances of evil are beyond that threshold. I further argue that SkepticalTheism does not have the resources to adequately rebut the Threshold Problem. I argue for this claim by drawing a distinction (...) between a weak and strong version of SkepticalTheism, such that the strong version must be defended in order to rebut the Threshold Problem. However, the skeptical theist’s appeal to our limited cognitive faculties only supports the weak version. (shrink)
In a recent article, Erik Wielenberg has argued that positive skepticaltheism fails to circumvent his new argument from apparent gratuitous evil. Wielenberg’s new argument focuses on apparently gratuitous suffering and abandonment, and he argues that negative skeptical theistic responses fail to respond to the challenge posed by these apparent gratuitous evils due to the parent–child analogy often invoked by theists. The greatest challenge to his view, he admits, is positive skepticaltheism. To stave off (...) this potential problem with his argument, he maintains that positive skepticaltheism entails divine deception, which creates insuperable problems for traditional theism. This essay shows that Wielenberg is mistaken. Although positive skepticaltheism claims that we should expect the appearance of gratuitous evil given Christian theism, this does not entail divine deception. I maintain that God is not a deceiver on positive skepticaltheism because God does not meet two requirements to be a deceiver: God does not intend to cause people to believe any false propositions and God does not provide evidence for someone to justifiably believe a false proposition. Consequently, Wielenberg’s new argument from evil fails and positive skepticaltheism remains a viable response to the evidential argument from evil. (shrink)
In recent years skepticaltheism has gained currency amongst theists as a way to escape the problem of evil by invoking putatively reasonable skepticism concerning our ability to know that instances of apparently gratuitous evil are unredeemed by morally sufficient reasons known to God alone. After explicating skepticaltheism through the work of Stephen Wykstra and William Alston, I present a cumulative-case argument designed to show that skepticaltheism cannot be accepted by theists insofar (...) as it crucially undermines epistemic license to the very theism it is invoked to defend. I also argue that attempts to defend a theism-friendly moderate version of skepticaltheism either fail to halt the spread of damaging skepticism, or lack philosophical validity. (shrink)
Over the last three decades, a vast literature has amassed debating the merits of skepticaltheism, and it is easy to get the sense that the rationality of theism itself depends crucially on the viability of the skeptical theist response. I will argue that this is mistaken, as there is no need for theists to maintain that non-theists are wrong to treat inscrutable evils as compelling evidence for atheism. I will show that theists instead need only (...) take themselves to have grounds for rejecting the existence of gratuitous evils and that they may look for these grounds among their more personal reasons for sustaining their trust in the theistic God rather than the more generally available skeptical considerations appealed to by skeptical theists. Accordingly, I call this alternative approach “trusting theism.” I will also show that the viability of trusting theism seems crucial to the rationality of theism whether or not skepticaltheism is successful. Finally, I will show that trusting theism does not render theism impervious to possible counterevidence in the way skepticaltheism has been accused of doing. (shrink)
Skepticaltheism is a popular response to arguments from evil. Recently, Matthew A. Benton, John Hawthorne, and Yoaav Isaacs have argued that the theses that ground skepticaltheism are either false or limited in scope. In this article, I show that their objections rest on dubious assumptions about the nature of skepticaltheism. Along the way, I develop and clarify the ambiguous parts of skepticaltheism. The upshot of this is that—once the (...) nature of skepticaltheism is made clearer—it is far more difficult to resist. (shrink)
Some skeptical theists use Wykstra’s CORNEA constraint to undercut Rowe-style inductive arguments from evil. Many critics of skepticaltheism accept CORNEA, but argue that Rowe-style arguments meet its constraint. But Justin McBrayer argues that CORNEA is itself mistaken. It is, he claims, akin to “sensitivity” or “truth-tracking” constraints like those of Robert Nozick; but counterexamples show that inductive evidence is often insensitive. We here defend CORNEA against McBrayer’s chief counterexample. We first clarify CORNEA, distinguishing it from a (...) deeper underlying principle that we dub “CORE.” We then give both principles a probabilistic construal, and show how, on this construal, the counterexample fails. (shrink)
The thesis of this short paper is that skepticaltheism does not look very plausible from the perspective of a common sense epistemology. A corollary of this isthat anyone who finds common sense epistemology plausible and is attracted to skepticaltheism has some work to do to show that they can form a plausiblewhole. The dialectical situation is that to the degree that this argument is a strong one, to that same degree (at least) the theorist (...) who would like to combinecommon sense epistemology with skepticaltheism has some work to do. (shrink)
According to skeptical theists, our failure to find morally justifying reasons for certain of the world's evils fails to constitute even prima facie evidence that these evils are gratuitous. For even if such reasons did exist, it is not to be expected that our limited intellects would discover them. In this article I consider whether skepticaltheism leads to other, more radical forms of skepticism.
I defend the position that the appearance of a conflict between common-sense epistemology and skepticaltheism remains, even after one fully appreciates the role defeat plays in rational belief. In particular, Matheson’s recent attempt to establish peace is not fully successful.
Recently Trent Dougherty has claimed that there is a tension between skepticaltheism and common sense epistemology—that the more plausible one of these views is, the less plausible the other is. In this paper I explain Dougherty’s argument and develop an account of defeaters which removes the alleged tension between skepticaltheism and common sense epistemology.
Critics of skepticaltheism often claim that if it (skepticaltheism) is true, then we are in the dark about whether (or for all we know) there is a morally justifying for God to radically deceive us. From here, it is argued that radical skepticism follows: if we are truly in the dark about whether there is a morally justifying reason for God to radically deceive us, then we cannot know anything. In this article, I show (...) that skepticaltheism does not entail that we are in the dark about whether (or for all we know) there is a morally justifying reason for God to deceive us. And hence arguments against skepticaltheism that make use of this assumption fail. (shrink)
I draw on the literature on skepticaltheism to develop an argument against Christian theism based on the widespread existence of suffering that appears to its sufferer to be gratuitous and is combined with the sense that God has abandoned one or never existed in the first place. While the core idea of the argument is hardly novel, key elements of the argument are importantly different from other influential arguments against Christian theism. After explaining that argument, (...) I make the case that the argument is untouched by traditional skepticaltheism. I then consider positive skepticaltheism, arguing that while DePoe’s view might provide a response to my argument, it entangles the theist in worries about divine deception. Because traditional skepticaltheism and DePoe’s positive skepticaltheism constitute the most promising extant strategies for answering my argument, the argument constitutes a serious challenge for the Christian theist. My overall aim, then, is to draw on various strands of the skepticaltheism literature to present a challenge for all Christian theists, not just those in the skeptical theist camp, while at the same time revealing some important limitations of skepticaltheism. (shrink)