An introduction to the evidential problem of evil

It is necessary to first formulate the argument and explain some of its history. Second, the refutations of various criticisms to AE are generalised in such a way that the reader is able to provide a critique of many of defences and theodicies himself.

An introduction to the evidential problem of evil

God is perfectly good Evil exists. Propositions 11 - 14 form an essential part of the orthodox conception of God, as this has been explicated in Section 1 above. But theists typically believe that the world contains evil. 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.

In each case, a different version of the logical problem of evil, and hence a distinct charge of logical incompatibility, will be generated.

Philosophy, One Thousand Words at a Time

The alleged incompatibility, however, is not obvious or explicit. Rather, the claim is that propositions 11 - 15 are implicitly contradictory, where a set S of propositions is implicitly contradictory if there is a necessary proposition p such that the conjunction of p with S constitutes a formally contradictory set.

Those who advance logical arguments from evil must therefore add one or more necessary truths to the above set of five propositions in order to generate the fatal contradiction.

By way of illustration, consider the following additional propositions that may be offered: A perfectly good being would want to prevent all evils. An omniscient being knows every way in which evils can come into existence.

The Problem of Evil

An omnipotent being who knows every way in which an evil can come into existence has the power to prevent that evil from coming into existence. A being who knows every way in which an evil can come into existence, who is able to prevent that evil from coming into existence, and who wants to do so, would prevent the existence of that evil.

From this set of auxiliary propositions, it clearly follows that If there exists an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good being, then no evil exists.

It is not difficult to see how the addition of 16 - 20 to 11 - 15 will yield an explicit contradiction, namely, Evil exists and evil does not exist. If such an argument is sound, theism will not so much lack evidential support, but would rather be, as Mackie The subject of this article, however, is the evidential version of the problem of evil also called the a posteriori version and the inductive versionwhich seeks to show that the existence evil, although logically consistent with the existence of God, counts against the truth of theism.

An introduction to the evidential problem of evil

As with the logical problem, evidential formulations may be based on the sheer existence of evil, or certain instances, types, amounts, or distributions of evil. Evidential arguments from evil may also be classified according to whether they employ i a direct inductive approach, which aims at showing that evil counts against theism, but without comparing theism to some alternative hypothesis; or ii an indirect inductive approach, which attempts to show that some significant set of facts about evil counts against theism, and it does this by identifying an alternative hypothesis that explains these facts far more adequately than the theistic hypothesis.

A useful taxonomy of evidential arguments from evil can be found in Russell Evidential arguments purport to show that evil counts against theism in the sense that the existence of evil lowers the probability that God exists.

The strategy here is to begin by putting aside any positive evidence we might think there is in support of theism for example, the fine-tuning argument as well as any negative evidence we might think there is against theism that is, any negative evidence other than the evidence of evil.

The aim is to then determine what happens to the probability value of "God exists" once we consider the evidence generated by our observations of the various evils in our world. 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?

A recent debate on the evidential problem of evil was couched in such terms: But if evil counts against theism by driving down the probability value of "God exists" then evil constitutes evidence against the existence of God. Evidential arguments, therefore, claim that there are certain facts about evil that cannot be adequately explained on a theistic account of the world.

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.Introduction to Philosophy. Chapter 6: Philosophy of Religion. Search for: Problem of Evil (Logical and Evidential Problem) Logical problem of evil.

Originating with Greek philosopher Epicurus, the logical argument from evil is as follows: Evidential problem of evil. The Evidential Problem of Evil Other philosophers hold that evil does not prove that God does not exist, but instead, that it provides good evidence against His existence (Rowe ; Draper ; Tooley § .

The Problem of Evil is an ideal introduction to contemporary debates over one of the most gripping perennial questions.

Read either on its own or alongside the primary materials it deftly covers, students and scholars will find this volume a terrific resource for understanding the challenges to religious belief raised by evil.5/5(2).

The Problem of Evil – Introduction. John Stott has said that “the fact of suffering undoubtedly constitutes the single greatest challenge to the Christian faith.” It is unquestionably true that there is no greater obstacle to faith than that of the reality of evil and suffering in the world.

The Evidential Problem of Evil. While most. The book is short only pages but in its brief compass it provides an excellent introduction to the Problem of Evil. The book argues very effectively that the nature and extent of Evil does not provide sufficient evidence to conclude that the God of traditional theism (good, all Reviews: 4.

Because the evidential argument from evil only tries to show that God’s existence is improbable (and not impossible), then it is only fair that the evidence for the existence of God be factored into the discussion.

The Evidential Argument from Evil