What Rowe has failed to see, according to Wykstra, is that “if we think carefully about the sort of being theism proposes for our belief, it is entirely expectable – given what we know of our cognitive limits – that the goods by virtue of which this Being allows known suffering should very often be beyond our ken” (1984: 91). Hoffman, Joshua, and Gary S. Rosenkrantz. An increasing number of theists, however, are beginning to question Rowe’s theological premise. Even though we lack a clear grasp of what this good involves, and even though we cannot be sure that such a good will ever obtain, we do well to include this good amongst the goods we know of. The most common analogy, and the one favoured by Wykstra, involves a comparison between the vision and wisdom of an omniscient being such as God and the cognitive capacities of members of the human species. But if this is the case, then even if there were outweighing goods connected in the requisite way to the instances of suffering appealed to by Rowe, that we should discern most of these goods is just as likely as that a one-month-old infant should discern most of her parents’ purposes for those pains they allow her to suffer – that is to say, it is not likely at all. A necessary condition, however, for this developmental process to take place is that humanity be situated at an “epistemic distance” from God. This, however, need not mean that God does not play dice at all. Evidential arguments from evil seek to show that the presence of evil in the world inductively supports or makes likely the claim that God (or, more precisely, the God of orthodox theism) does not exist. 1967. The evidential problem of evil. Rowe then proceeds to state his argument for atheism as follows: This argument, as Rowe points out, is clearly valid, and so if there are rational grounds for accepting its premises, to that extent there are rational grounds for accepting the conclusion, that is to say, atheism. How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! For one can simply modify this premise so that it ranges either over particular instances of evil or (to accommodate cases where particular evils admit of no divine justification) over broadly defined evils or evil-kinds under which the relevant particular evils can be subsumed. (Therefore) There does not exist an omnipotent, omniscient, wholly good being. In an influential paper entitled, “The Humean Obstacle to Evidential Arguments from Evil,” Stephen Wykstra raised a formidable objection to Rowe’s inference from P to Q. Wykstra’s first step was to draw attention to the following epistemic principle, which he dubbed “CORNEA” (short for “Condition Of ReasoNable Epistemic Access”): (C) On the basis of cognized situation s, human H is entitled to claim “It appears that p” only if it is reasonable for H to believe that, given her cognitive faculties and the use she has made of them, if p were not the case, s would likely be different than it is in some way discernible by her. Stump, Eleonore. God therefore runs the risk that his creation will come to be infested with gratuitous evils, that is to say, evils he has not intended, decreed, planned for, or even permitted for the sake of some greater good. They present an “either/or” dilemma: either God…show more content… He therefore selects “intense human and animal suffering” as this occurs on a daily basis, is in great plenitude in our world, and is a clear case of evil. “Ruminations about Evil,”. Some account, however, can be given of these terms as they are employed in discussions of the problem of evil. But one common feature in these accounts that is relevant to the theodicist’s task is the experience of complete felicity for eternity brought about by intimate and loving communion with God. Write. Similarly with Alston’s second set of analogies, where our inability to map the territory within which to look for x is taken to preclude us from inferring from our inability to find x that there is no x. And the final condition expresses the idea, prominent in Augustine and Aquinas, that evil is not a substance or entity in its own right, but a privatio boni: the absence or lack of some good power or quality which a thing by its nature ought to possess. Briefly put, the fact in question is that there exist instances of intense suffering which are gratuitous or pointless. The central question, therefore, is: Grounds for belief in God aside, does evil render the truth of atheism more likely than the truth of theism? What is the evidential problem of evil? The evil of extensive animal suffering exists. In this sense, the acts I perform freely are genuinely “up to me” – they are not determined by anything external to my will, whether these be causal laws or even God. On what grounds does Rowe think that P is true? Terms in this set (5) Premise 1. if a perfectly good and omnipotent God exists, then no gratuitous evil exists. The real battle is in the evidential existence of suffering and evil, and what the skeptic sees as the gratuitous amount of pain and suffering, to our minds, undeserved. Not necessarily, for at least two further options would be available to such a theist. Is he both able and willing? On this view, God, as an absolutely perfect being, must possess the following perfections or great-making qualities: The God of traditional theism is also typically accorded a further attribute, one that he is thought to possess only contingently: According to orthodox theism, God was free not to create a world. We shall spend most of this chapter examining Or there may be goods we are not aware of, to which the fawn’s suffering is intimately connected. The second premise is sometimes called “the theological premise” as it expresses a belief about what God as a perfectly good being would do under certain circumstances. E2: the case of Sue A similar point could be made about stories that attempt to explain evil as the work of Satan and his cohorts. If there exists an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good being, then no evil exists. This may be applicable to cases like the isolated tribesman’s search for life outside his forest or our search for extraterrestrial life, for in such scenarios there is no prior expectation that the objects of our search are of such a nature that, if they exist, they would make themselves manifest to us. Evidential Problem of Evil. It is this point that C* intends to capture by insisting that a noseeum inference is permissible only if it is likely that one would detect or discern the item in question if it existed. But what, exactly, is wrong with this premise? But that does not entitle me to infer that he had no sufficient reason for doing so. On this view, even if there are goods secured by God’s permission of evil, it is likely that these goods would be beyond our ken. An omniscient being knows every way in which evils can come into existence. “God, Evil and Mystery,”. This aspect of the problem of evil comes in two broad varieties: the logical problem and the evidential problem. (2001b: 157). A variant of above defenses is that the problem of evil is derived from probability judgments since they rest on the claim that, even after careful reflection, one can see no good reason for co-existence of God and of evil. (This, of course, is the famous free will defence put forward in Plantinga 1974: ch.9). Posts about evidential problem of evil written by jsobertsylvest. Alston’s analogies, therefore, not only fail to advance the case against RNA but also suggest a line of thought in support of RNA. McNaughton, David. “William Alston on the Problem of Evil,” in Thomas D. Senor (ed.). It is therefore unreasonable to request a reason (even a possible reason) for God’s permission of a particular event that is specific to this event and that goes beyond some general policy or plan God might have for permitting events of that kind. Although open theists accept the orthodox conception of God, as delineated in Section 1.a above, they offer a distinct account of some of the properties that are constitutive of the orthodox God. 1988. Swinburne, Richard. This good, as we saw, plays an important role in Hick’s theodicy, and it also finds a central place in Marilyn Adams’ account of horrendous evil. (2) Free will. An even more radical approach would be to posit a “dark side” in God and thus deny that God is perfectly good. Davis, Stephen T. 1987. After all, if God can get what He wants without permitting some particular horror (or anything comparably bad), why on earth would He permit it?”. Let’s suppose that Rowe’s evidential argument from evil succeeds in providing strong evidence in support of the claim that there does not exist an omnipotent, omniscient, wholly good being. Of course, God is responsible for creating the conditions under which moral evil could come into existence. “Knowledge from Experience, and the Problem of Evil,” in William J. Abraham and Steven W. Holtzer (eds), Tooley, Michael. ), Sennett, James F. 1993. The operative notion, however, behind this form of theism is that God is perfect, where to be perfect is to be the greatest being possible or, to borrow Anselm’s well-known phrase, the being than which none greater can be conceived. ), Russell, Bruce. Postmortem, the victims are ushered into a relation of beatific intimacy with God, an incommensurable good that “redeems” their past participation in horrors. God is omnipotent, omniscient and wholly good. If this correct, then there is room for theists to accept the view that at least some evils are chancy or gratuitous in the sense that there is no specific reason as to why these evils are permitted by God. Theism is thus treated as a large-scale hypothesis or explanatory theory which aims to make sense of some pertinent facts, and to the extent that it fails to do so it is disconfirmed. But then a non-theist who also happens to be a non-realist in ethics cannot help herself to some of the central premises found in evidential arguments from evil (such as “If there were a perfectly good God, he would want a world with no horrific evil in it”), as these purport to be objectively true moral judgments (see Nelson 1991). The problem of evil is certainly the greatest obstacle to belief in the existence of God. Necessarily, God can actualize an evolutionary perfect world. Deism is popularly thought of as the view that a supreme being created the world but then, like an absentee landlord, left it to run on its own accord. And so it is not open to God to cause or determine just what actions I will perform, for if he does so those actions could not be free. Much more, of course, can be said both in support of and against Rowe’s case for atheism. Rowe claims in P that, so far as we can see, no goods justify God’s permission of E1 and E2, and from this he infers that no goods whatever justify God’s permission of these evils. Most philosophers have given up attacking theism on mere logical grounds - thanks to the awesome works of men like Plantinga. “The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism,”. The theodicist, however, is not so much interested in libertarian freedom as in libertarian freedom of the morally relevant kind, where this consists of the freedom to choose between good and evil courses of action. The theodicist’s freedom, moreover, is intended to be morally significant, not only providing one with the capacity to bring about good and evil, but also making possible a range of actions that vary enormously in moral worth, from great and noble deeds to horrific evils. For as the above comparison between God’s intellect and the human mind indicates, even if there were outweighing goods served by certain instances of suffering, such goods would be beyond our ken. Of course, (15) can be specified in a number of ways – for example, (15) may refer to the existence of any evil at all, or a certain amount of evil, or particular kinds of evil, or some perplexing distributions of evil. One’s underlying ethical theory may have a bearing on one’s approach to the problem of evil in at least two ways. A great deal of what normally passes as natural evil is brought about by human wrongdoing or negligence. “The problem of evil is often divided between the logical and evidential problems.” At the heart of each problem is the belief that the existence of God and the existence evil are incompatible. In particular, some members of the currently popular movement known as open theism have rallied behind the idea that the theistic worldview is not only compatible with, but requires or demands, the possibility that there is gratuitous evil (for the movement’s “manifesto,” see Pinnock et al. “Some (Temporarily) Final Thoughts on the Evidential Arguments from Evil,” in Daniel Howard-Snyder (ed.). The first and perhaps most important step of this stage-setting process will be to identify and clarify the conception of God that is normally presupposed in contemporary debates (at least within the Anglo-American analytic tradition) on the problem of evil. Thus, a flood caused by human pollution of the environment will be categorized a natural evil as long as the agents involved could not be held morally responsible for the resultant evil, which would be the case if, for instance, they could not reasonably be expected to have foreseen the consequences of their behavior. For as he acknowledges, it is quite possible that there is some familiar good outweighing the fawn’s suffering and which is connected to that suffering in a way unbeknown to us. 2001. To paraphrase Einstein, God does not play dice with our lives. Open theists, however, argue that this risk is kept in check by God’s adoption of various general strategies by which he governs the world. Such arguments are not to be confused with logical arguments from evil, which have the more ambitious aim of showing that, in a world in which there is evil, it is logically impossible—and not just unlikely—that God exists. 2000. This position – sometimes labelled “skeptical theism” or “defensive skepticism” – has generated a great deal of discussion, leading some to conclude that “the inductive argument from evil is in no better shape than its late lamented deductive cousin” (Alston 1991: 61). There exist instances of intense suffering which an omnipotent, omniscient being could “Pastoral Implications of Open Theism,” in Douglas Wilson (ed. Before delving into the deep and often murky waters of the problem of evil, it will be helpful to provide some philosophical background to this venerable subject. In fact, if the theist thinks that the evidence in support of theism is quite strong, she may employ what Rowe (1979: 339) calls “the G.E. They attempt to show that the assumed propositions lead to a logical contradiction and therefore cannot all be correct. Beginning with Alston’s first group of analogies, where a noseeum inference is unwarranted due to a lack of expertise, there is typically no expectation on the part of the neophyte that the reasons held by the other party (for example, the physicist’s reasons for drawing conclusion x, Kasparov’s reasons for making move x in a chess game) would be discernible to her. The term “God” is used with a wide variety of differentmeanings. As an example, a critic of Plantinga’s idea of “a mighty nonhuman spirit” causing natural evils may concede that the existence of such a being is not … Such a theodicy, however, raises many further questions relating to the existence of natural evil and the existence of so much horrendous moral evil. However, this kind of commitment to gratuitous evil is entirely innocuous for proponents of Rowe’s theological premise. It is also important to note that it is the notion of a “horrendous moral evil” that comports with the current, everyday use of “evil” by English speakers. 2002. The heart of Wykstra’s critique is that, given our cognitive limitations, we are in no position to judge as improbable the statement that there are goods beyond our ken secured by God’s permission of many of the evils we find in the world. Evidential arguments purport to show that evil counts against theism in the sense that the existence of evil lowers the probability that God exists. 1987. In evidential arguments, however, the evidence only probabilifies its conclusion, rather than conclusively verifying it. There appears, then, to be an obligation on the part of a perfect being to not keep his intentions entirely hidden from us. I will now turn to some considerations that have been offered by skeptical theists against RNA. Premise 3. thus, a perfectly god and omnipotnet God doesn't exit. Hume summarizes Epicurus's version of the problem as follows: "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? The G.E. Test. A theodicy is intended to be a plausible or reasonable explanation as to why God permits evil. [23] This is also referred to the Darwinian problem of evil,[24][25] after Charles Darwin who expressed it as follows:[26]. The Evidential Problem of Evil is related to the Logical Problem of Evil in that it tries to show that the characteristics of God, as He is commonly conceived, are inconsistent with what we observe in the world. Dystheism is the belief that God is not wholly good. An important distinction is often made between a defence and a theodicy. James Sennett (1993: 220), for example, views Rowe’s argument as “the clearest, most easily understood, and most intuitively appealing of those available.” Terry Christlieb (1992: 47), likewise, thinks of Rowe’s argument as “the strongest sort of evidential argument, the sort that has the best chance of success.” It is important to note, however, that Rowe’s thinking on the evidential problem of evil has developed in significant ways since his earliest writings on the subject, and two (if not three) distinct evidential arguments can be identified in his work. Most philosophical debate has focused on the propositions stating that God cannot exist with, or would want to prevent, all evils (premises 3 and 6), with defenders of theism (for example, Leibniz) arguing that God could very well exist with and allow evil in order to achieve a greater good. “Evil and Theodicy,”, Rowe, William L. 1991. “The Evidential Argument from Evil: A Second Look,” in Daniel Howard-Snyder (ed.). On Hick’s view, in other words, if we were initially created in the direct presence of God we could not freely come to love and worship God. In contrast to moral evil, natural evil is evil that results from the operation of natural processes, in which case no human being can be held morally accountable for the resultant evil. Adams, Marilyn McCord. Atheologians like Mackie and McCloskey, in maintaining that the logical problem of evil provides conclusive evidence against theism, are claiming that theists are committed to an internally inconsistent set of beliefs and hence that theism is necessarily false. Flashcards. Notice that the central claims of this defence – namely, (3), (4), and (5) – are only held to be possibly true. Evidential arguments, therefore, claim that there are certain facts about evil that cannot be adequately explained on a theistic account of the world. They are only making the weaker claim that, if we temporarily set aside such positive reasons, then it can be shown that the evils that occur in our world push the probability of God’s existence significantly downward. Condition (e) relates evil to immoral choices or acts. Thus, Rowe attempts to establish the truth of the factual premise by appealing to P. At least one question to be addressed when considering this inference is: What exactly do P and Q assert? Email: Nick.Trakakis@acu.edu.au Rather, an environment that is able to produce the finest characteristics of human personality – particularly the capacity to love – must be one in which “there are obstacles to be overcome, tasks to be performed, goals to be achieved, setbacks to be endured, problems to be solved, dangers to be met” (Hick 1966: 362). Later the boyfriend attacked the woman again, and this time she knocked him unconscious. some harm (whether it be minor or great) being done to the physical and/or psychological well-being of a sentient creature; the unjust treatment of some sentient creature; loss of opportunity resulting from premature death; anything that prevents an individual from leading a fulfilling and virtuous life; a person doing that which is morally wrong; some improvement (whether it be minor or great) in the physical and/or psychological well-being of a sentient creature; the just treatment of some sentient creature; anything that advances the degree of fulfillment and virtue in an individual’s life; a person doing that which is morally right; the optimal functioning of some person or thing, so that it does not lack the full measure of being and goodness that ought to belong to it. The key issue, then, is whether we should accept RNA. Alternatively, and perhaps more precisely, an evil will be deemed a natural evil only if no non-divine agent can be held morally responsible for its occurrence. Rowe (1996: 264) therefore instructs us to not limit the set of goods we know of to goods that we know have occurred in the past or to goods that we know will occur in the future. “Defenseless,” in Daniel Howard-Snyder (ed. A second problem concerns the worship-worthiness of the sort of deity being proposed. Here I will briefly consider a series of analogies that were first formulated by Alston (1996). “An Irenaean Theodicy” and “Response to Critiques,” in Stephen T. Davis (ed.). 1994; see also Sanders 1998, Boyd 2000, and Hasker 2004). Jordan, Jeff. His doctoral research, undertaken at Monash University, concentrated on the so-called 'evidential problem of evil', that is, the problem of determining whether the existence of human and animal suffering provides good evidence against the existence of God. A defence, by contrast, is only intended as a possible explanation as to why God permits evil. What follows from this? Beginning with the notion of evil, this is normally given a very wide extension so as to cover everything that is negative and destructive in life. The unemployed man returned from the party at 3:45 a.m. and found the 5-year old dead. intuitively plausible moral principles (for example, generally, punishment should not be significantly disproportional to the offence committed). Howard-Snyder, Daniel, and Paul K. Moser (eds). (For an excellent account of the difficulties faced by theists in relation to the problem of evil when the ethical framework is restricted to deontology, see McNaughton 1994.). 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