Meticulous Providence and Gratuitous Evil

Neal Judisch

in Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion Volume 4

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199656417
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191742163 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion Volume 4

Meticulous Providence and Gratuitous Evil

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The argument from gratuitous evil may be the most significant challenge to theism. It states that some evils are simply pointless or purposeless, in the sense that they are neither needed for nor productive of any greater goods, and that, if there were a morally upright deity with the wherewithal to prevent them, such evils would not be permitted to occur. Because many apparently gratuitous evils seem preventable enough, this argument provides powerful evidence against the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good God. According to the so-called General Thesis: theories of General Providence make it easier for the theist to rebut the argument from gratuitous evil than do theories of Meticulous Providence; other things equal, therefore, theories of General Providence are preferable to theories of Meticulous Providence. This chapter discusses a specific instance of this thesis, which invokes a particular theory of general providence and a particular theory of meticulous providence, namely, Open Theism and Molinism. It considers the claim that Open Theism makes it easier to rebut the argument from gratuitous evil than does Molinism, and that (other things equal) Open Theism is therefore to be preferred over Molinism. The chapter calls this the Specific Thesis. It analyzes the relations between risk, luck, and control, as they have arisen within the contest between Open Theists and Molinists. This analysis makes way for a diagnosis of why the Specific Thesis fails, and also why some of the more enthusiastic Molinist expressions of divine providential control are overdrawn.

Keywords: God; divine providence; Open Theism; Molinism; general providence; risk; luck; control

Chapter.  10660 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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