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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.

-- Jeffrey Jay Lowder

Does the Free Will Defense Constitute a Sound Theodicy? (1997) by Niclas Berggren

"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.

Freedom and the Free Will Defense (1990) by Richard M. Gale

"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."

The Free Will Defense Refuted and God's Existence Disproved (2007) by Raymond D. Bradley

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.

A Logical Argument from Evil (2013) by Ryan Stringer

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.

A Logical Argument from Evil and Perfection (2012) by Luke Tracey

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.

The Moral Argument from Evil (1999) by Dean Stretton

"[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.

Review of Jordan Howard Sobel's Logic and Theism (2006) by Theodore M. Drange

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.

Objections Sustained! Objection #1: Since Evil & Suffering Exist, A Loving God Cannot (2001) by Kyle Gerkin

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 (4th ed., 2006) 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.

A Sound Logical Argument from Evil (1997) (Off Site) by Quentin Smith

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.

See also:

Reviews of Books about Arguments from Evil [ Index ]

Jeffery Jay Lowder maintains this page.

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