The Problem of Evil

Peter van Inwagen

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9780195138092
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835348 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 The Problem of Evil

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In this chapter, the problem of evil is understood in a narrow, intellectual sense: as the problem of how a theist can best reply to various arguments for the non-existence of God that are based on the fact that the world contains evil (bad things). Two such arguments are examined. One proceeds from a general fact about the world: that it contains a vast amount of truly horrendous evil (the argument being that God, if he existed, would not permit the world to contain a vast amount of truly horrendous evil). The other proceeds from a particular horrible event (the argument being that God, if he existed, would not have permitted that event to occur unless it was—as it manifestly is not—metaphysically necessary for some good that outweighed it or for the prevention of some other evil at least as bad). It is argued that each of these arguments is a “failure” in this sense: ideally rational agnostics, having reflected on the argument, could, without any offense against reason, remain agnostics.

Keywords: evil; free will defense; God; philosophical theology; problem of evil; theodicy and defense

Chapter.  15922 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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