The Problem of Evil

Paul Draper

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199596539
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 The Problem of Evil

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This article focuses on questions about evil which are both theological and doxastic, and more specifically alethic – i.e., questions about whether what we know about evil can be used to establish the falsity or probable falsity of the belief or proposition that God exists. Such a focus is natural for agnostics. More generally, it is natural for anyone who is engaged in genuine inquiry about whether or not God exists. A specific concept of God is employed – it is assumed that to assert that God exists, or that ‘theism’ is true, is to assert that there exists a supernatural person who created the natural world and who is perfect in power (‘omnipotent’), perfect in knowledge (‘omniscient’), and perfect in moral goodness (‘morally perfect’). This is obviously a narrow sense of the words ‘God’ and ‘theism’, but it is common in the philosophical literature. The article also uses a common strategy to investigate alethic problems of evil: it constructs and evaluates a variety of ‘arguments from evil’ for the conclusion that God does not exist or that His existence is improbable.

Keywords: God's existence; evil; alethic; theism

Article.  9946 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion ; Religious Studies

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