Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, and a Special Version of the Problem of Soteriological Evil

Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, and a Special Version of the Problem of Soteriological Evil March 15, 2018

Unless you’ve been in a cave, you’ve heard by now the news that Stephen Hawking died. Richard Dawkins recently tweeted about an alleged Christian, going by the pseudonym positiva.tea, who described Hawking’s suffering in Hell.

I can’t find the original tweet Dawkins is quoting, so I don’t know if it’s authentic. I also make no claims about how representative (or unrepresentative) positiva.tea’s beliefs are of “Christians” as a whole. Nevertheless, there’s a special version of problem of evil here: certain versions of theism say that nonbelievers like Hawking experience suffering in this life and no compensation in the next. Indeed, some versions of theism say that nonbelievers (like Hawking) will not only be compensated in the afterlife for suffering in this life, but they will be punished for eternity. On the assumption that God exists, what moral justification would God have for allowing such uncompensated suffering in this life and unending punishment in the next?

Related Reading:

In Defense of an Evidential Argument from Evil: A Reply to William Lane Craig” (2017) by yours truly — see especially section 3.3.2.3.

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