Logical Arguments from Evil
According to logical arguments from evil, some known fact about evil is logically incompatible with God’s existence. (In contrast, evidential arguments from evil merely claim that some known fact about evil is evidence for God’s nonexistence.) Ever since Alvin Plantinga rebutted J. L. Mackie’s logical argument from evil, the majority of contemporary philosophers of religion have come to believe that logical arguments from evil are unsuccessful. This opinion is not unanimous, however. Philosophers Richard Gale, Quentin Smith, and Howard Jordan Sobel challenge the conventional view regarding the prospects for logical arguments from evil. Indeed, Smith has formulated a new version of the logical argument from evil to avoid the pitfalls of Mackie’s argument. Nevertheless, many philosophers remain highly skeptical regarding logical arguments from evil.
In this paper Horia Plugaru argues that theism is necessarily false because attributes usually ascribed to God, such as the property of being morally perfect, are incompatible with God’s alleged creation of sentient beings. Using the resources of contemporary debates on the ethics of procreation, Plugaru develops this new logical argument against theism on the foundation of David Benatar’s axiological asymmetry, which, on top of elegantly explaining four commonly held judgments, entails that sentient beings are always harmed by coming into existence. Since God is said to be responsible for bringing sentient beings into existence, even though he had no need to do so, he cannot be morally perfect; and if moral perfection is taken to be a defining attribute of God, then God cannot exist. After formally presenting the argument, Plugaru defends its crucial premises against possible objections in order to show just how much force the argument has against them.
“Possibly the strongest argument against the existence of the Christian god is contained in the theodicy problem, i.e., the problem of defending God in the presence of evil.” One of the most popular theistic responses to the argument from evil is the Free Will Defense. In this essay, Berggren argues that the free will defense is a failure and therefore, in the light of the argument from evil, theism should be rejected.
“It is my purpose to explore some of the problems concerning the relation between divine creation and creaturely freedom by criticizing various versions of the Free Will Defense.”
In The Miracle of Theism and elsewhere John L. Mackie argued that the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent, and wholly good God is logically incompatible with the existence of evil, as God could have created persons who always freely choose the good. Alvin Plantinga responded with his famous Free Will Defense, in which he claimed that, under certain conditions, it was impossible for God to create a world containing no evil whatsoever. In this refutation, Raymond D. Bradley notes that these conditions–such as actualizing a world containing significantly free creatures or one in which all of God’s creatures suffer from “transworld depravity”–were entirely up to God, in that he could have refrained from creating such a world. Since in virtue of his omniscience any such God would have known the consequences of creating the world that he did, he would bear command responsibility for all the evils that resulted from his creation–if he only existed in the first place. In other words, a morally perfect, omnipotent, and omniscient God does not now, and never did, exist.
In this paper Ryan Stringer makes the case for a logical inconsistency between the existence of evil or suffering and the existence of an eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, completely free, perfectly rational, and maximally good God. In essence, Stringer argues that because God is maximally good, the reality existing before the creation of the natural world, consisting as it does only of God and perhaps morally neutral necessary things or necessarily coexisting things, will be maximally good. Furthermore, as a maximally good being, God would never introduce any evil or anything that could produce evil into existence, for that would only serve to make reality worse. But there is in fact evil in the world; therefore God does not exist. Stringer considers several objections to the argument, but finds that none of them succeed.
In this paper Luke Tracey advances a logical argument from evil against the existence of God conceived of as a perfect being. Framing the argument in terms of considerations raised by the most famous critic of the logical argument from evil, Alvin Plantinga, Tracey focuses on defending the only really controversial premise of the argument before rebutting four general objections, two to the crucial premise of the argument and two to the argument itself. Tracey finds these objections inadequate for rejecting his logical argument from evil and concludes that perfect-being theism is untenable.
“[E]ven if theists can successfully respond to the evidential argument from evil, there is a further difficulty to be faced in the moral argument from evil. If evil is merely the harbinger of greater good, why should we be opposed to its occurrence, and why, indeed, should we be expected to prevent it?” Stretton’s argument from evil is classified as a logical argument from evil since it claims that God’s existence is logically incompatible with certain actual instances of evil.
Jordan Howard Sobel’s Logic and Theism is long, abstruse, and technical, but valuable for those who have an interest in its topics. Those looking for arguments based on empirical phenomena said to be best explained by the God hypothesis should look elsewhere. Sobel’s focus is, rather, issues of definition and logical structure. He addresses everything from the ontological argument to the fine-tuning argument, demolishing all of the main arguments for God’s existence. Moreover, he argues that the kind of omnipotence and omniscience that theists ascribe to God is incoherent, and defends both evidential and logical arguments from evil against the existence of God. Finally, he turns to a discussion of practical reasons for belief in God, such as those invoked by Pascal’s wager. No cutting-edge research on these topics should omit Sobel’s work.
Part of Gerkin’s comprehensive review of Lee Strobel’s The Case for Faith, Strobel’s interview with Peter Kreeft is analyzed and critiqued.
Objection #1: Since Evil & Suffering Exist, A Loving God Cannot (5th ed., 2020) by Paul Doland
Part of Doland’s comprehensive review of Lee Strobel’s The Case for Faith, Strobel’s interview with Peter Kreeft is analyzed and critiqued.
Commentary on Paul Doland’s Critique of Strobel’s Case for Faith (n.d.) by Avue (Off Site)
While Paul Doland’s critique of Lee Strobel’s The Case for Faith shows a decent understanding of current issues within the Christian Church and the socio-religious issues surrounding the Church, he does not show a good understanding of Christianity itself. He shows this, for example, in his discussions of God as heavenly father, original sin, and salvation.
In his earlier Secular Web critique of Lee Strobel’s The Case for Faith, Paul Doland concluded that by raising tough questions for Christianity but failing to adequately respond to them, Strobel (and his interviewees) inadvertently ending up producing a strong case against faith. A rejoinder to Doland’s critique was subsequently published on the God and Science website. In this response to that rejoinder, Doland defends his original conclusion that neither The Case for Faith in particular, nor Christianity in general, provide believable and coherent answers to the sorts of questions that Strobel originally raised. Nor, for that matter, does the attempt by the God and Science website to rehabilitate Strobel’s answers to Christianity’s toughest questions.
Smith argues that “There is evil” is logically incompatible with “God exists and is omnipotent, omniscient, and wholly good.” In other words, Smith defends a logical argument from evil. He argues that Plantinga’s free will defense does not defeat this argument.
Jeffery Jay Lowder maintains this page.