How to Use the Argument From Evil

The problem of evil can be used in two different ways.  It can be used offensively; that is, in an attempt to criticize and undermine theistic belief, to show that theism is false and that belief in God is unfounded. But it can also be used defensively, i.e., to show that atheism is epistemically warranted, justified, or reasonable.  Of these two distinct uses, the first is by far the most common. But I think that the almost exclusive use of the problem of evil as part of an offensive attack has … [Read more...]

The VICTIMs of Christian Apologetics

My latest video, "The VICTIMs of Christian Apologetics: The Things Apologists Falsely Say Depend on God, But, if God Exists, God Depends on Them," is now available on YouTube. It is a narration of some of the many hundreds of PowerPoint slides I created in preparation for my recent debate with Frank Turek on naturalism vs. theism.This video presentation is a (roughly) 2 hour 30 minute critique of Frank Turek's latest book, Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case. T … [Read more...]

Our Knowledge of Gratuitous Evil

How do we know that some instance of evil is gratuitous? I think that there is much to say in favor of the idea that we simply see that the evil is gratuitous. That is, in observing some bad event, I observe directly that this event is neither necessary for the occurrence of some compensating good nor for the prevention of some worse evil. I see, for example, a child fall while trying to climb a tree and then start crying because of a sliver stuck in the palm of her hand. I don’t think, “Well, ma … [Read more...]

An Evidential Argument from Evil: Natural Inequality

I want to quickly sketch an evidential (aka "explanatory" aka "abductive" aka "F-Inductive") argument from evil, one which focuses exclusively on natural inequality.  The argument is not mine; it belongs to Moti Mizrahi.The key point of Mizrahi's argument, which he credits to an insight of John Rawls, is this: ... natural endowments are undeserved.Now, if natural endowments are undeserved, then the fact that one person is more innately endowed than another is arbitrary from a moral point of … [Read more...]

Correction to “Are Atheism and Moral Realism Logically Incompatible?”

The introduction to my post, "Are Atheism and Moral Realism Logically Incompatible?", probably gave readers an impression I did not intend, namely, that, in my exchange at Victor Reppert's Dangerous Idea blog, Steve linked arguments from moral ontology (for theism) and arguments from evil (from atheism).  Steve didn't do that there and I'm sorry if I created that impression. My introduction was aimed at other theists, not necessarily Steve, who I think employ a double standard when refuting so- … [Read more...]

LINK: A New Problem of Evil: Authority and the Duty of Interference

Abstract: The traditional problem of evil sets theists the task of reconciling two things: God and evil. I argue that theists face the more difficult task of reconciling God and evils that God is specially obligated to prevent. Because of His authority, God's obligation to curtail evil goes far beyond our Samaritan duty to prevent evil when doing so isn't overly hard. Authorities owe their subjects a positive obligation to prevent certain evils; we have a right against our authorities that they … [Read more...]

LINK: The Problem of Animal Pain and Suffering

Abstract: Here I discuss some theistic responses to the problem of animal pain and suffering with special attention to Michael Murray’s presentation in Nature Red in Tooth and Claw. The neo-Cartesian defenses he describes are reviewed, along with the appeal to nomic regularity and Murray’s emphasis on the progression of the universe from chaos to order. It is argued that despite these efforts to prove otherwise the problem of animal suffering remains a serious threat to the belief that an all … [Read more...]

LINK: The Problem of Natural Inequality: A New Problem of Evil

Abstract: In this paper, I argue that there is a kind of evil, namely, the unequal distribution of natural endowments, or natural inequality, which presents theists with a new evidential problem of evil. The problem of natural inequality is a new evidential problem of evil not only because, to the best of my knowledge, it has not yet been discussed in the literature, but also because available theodicies, such the free will defense and the soul-making defense, are not adequate responses in the … [Read more...]