Chapter

Suffering and Evil

Alvin Plantinga

in Warranted Christian Belief

Published in print February 2000 | ISBN: 9780195131932
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199867486 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195131932.003.0014
Suffering and Evil

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Continuing an examination of proposed defeaters for Christian belief, I consider in this chapter the question of whether knowledge of the facts of evil (i.e., knowledge of the amount, variety, and distribution of suffering and evil in the world) constitutes a defeater for theistic and Christian belief. In the first section of the chapter, I focus on versions of the evidential argument from evil, which claims not that the existence of God and the existence of evil are logically incompatible, but only that the facts of evil offer powerful evidence against the existence of God. I first examine two such arguments due to William Rowe and then turn to one due to Paul Draper; I argue that all three fail. In the second section, I consider what we might call a nonargumentative defeater based on suffering and evil; essentially, the claim at issue here is that one who is properly sensitive and properly aware of the sheer horror of the evil displayed in the world will simply see that no being of the sort God is alleged to be could possibly permit it. After exploring and responding to this claim, I close with a brief look at some relevant themes in the Book of Job.

Keywords: Christian belief; Draper; evidential argument from evil; evil; Job; Rowe; suffering

Chapter.  21026 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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