The Problem of Evil: Introduction
Adams (Marilyn McCord) & Adams (Robert Merrihew)
Source: Adams (Marilyn McCord) & Adams (Robert Merrihew) - The Problem of Evil: Introduction
Paper - Abstract

Paper StatisticsNotes Citing this PaperColour-ConventionsDisclaimer

Full Text


  1. Ordinary English reserves the term ‘evil' for what is morally sinister, but philosophers and theologians have for centuries lumped all of life's ‘minuses' together under that rubric, giving ‘evil' a very wide signification. They have distinguished ‘moral evils', such as wars and crimes and self-destructive vices and the damage they cause in human life, from ‘natural evils', such as diseases and the destructive effects of earthquakes and tornadoes. The inevitability of death itself is regarded by many as one of the greatest of natural evils. Anyone who reads or hears the news of the world knows of the existence of evils in this broad sense, and virtually all of us have, or will have, some agonizing experience of them in our own lives. Several problems, of different kinds, can be found in these facts.
  2. Clearly, the entrenchment of evils in our world poses a practical problem for living things generally: how to survive in such a seemingly hostile environment. Human beings, moreover, all face the existential problem of whether and how a life laced with suffering and punctuated by death can have any positive meaning. Evils, in the amounts and of the kinds and with the distribution found in our world, make urgent the question, what sort of posture a person ought to adopt to the basic conditions of human existence. Should one see evils as a challenge the overcoming of which adds zest to life in a basically good world? Or should one see life as nightmarish far beyond human powers to affect? Should one endure it with Stoic resignation, doing what one canto ease the pain? Or should one rebel against it in fierce opposition?
  3. Both practical and existential problems have a theoretical dimension. Their solution calls for theories about the structure of the world and the place of human beings in it, for explanations that locate the origin and/or explain the occurrence of evils, for accounts that suggest appropriate and effective human responses to them. Both science and religion have stepped into this role. As with all theories, their proposals have to be evaluated and reassessed against the data along the parameters of consistency, explanatory power, and (theoretical and practical) fruitfulness.
  4. Most discussions in Western philosophy (as indeed all the essays of this volume) have focused on the theoretical problem of evil as it arises within the context of biblical religion. It is often seen as the logical problem whether the theistic belief
    … (1) God exists, and is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good, is logically consistent with
    … (2) Evils exist.
    For initially it seems that
    … (P1) A perfectly good being would always eliminate evil so far as it could;
    … (P2) An omniscient being would know all about evils;
    … (P3) There are no limits to what an omnipotent being can do.
    But the conjunction of (1), (2), (P1), (P2), and (P3) forms an inconsistent quintet, so that it is possible to infer from any four the denial of the fifth. In particular, the last four entail the denial of the first, while the first combines with the last three to entail the denial of the second. Given (P1), (P2), and (P3), it seems to follow that either God does not exist or evil does not; and few have been prepared to deny the existence of evil!
  5. Such reasoning may be taken two ways, however. On the one hand, it may be construed aporetically, as generating a puzzle. One may remain convinced of the compatibility of (1) and (2), and yet see the above arguments as imposing, on anyone who rejects them, the burden of explaining how the prima-facie plausible premisses are not all so acceptable, the inferences not so evident as they seem. Approached this way, the philosophical problem of evil gives crisp focus to a philosophical difficulty in understanding the relationship between God and evil, one that arises not1 because there is an explicit logical contradiction between (1) and (2), but because our pre-analytic understandings of ‘perfectly good', ‘omniscient', and ‘omnipotent' construe the maximizations straightforwardly, in terms of (P1), (P2), and (P3), respectively. When taken aporetically, such arguments present a constructive challenge to probe more deeply into the logical relations among these propositions, to offer more rigorous and subtle analyses of the divine perfections. (PI), (P2), and (P3) are not held to have anything more than initial plausibility in their favour. And the aporetic inconsistent quintet serves the positive function of structuring the discussion and enabling one to pin-point and contrast various resolutions in a precise way. Even those who (like many of the great medieval philosophers) accepted (2) as empirically obvious and held (1) as demonstrable a priori or as a non-negotiable item of faith, could recognize a problem of understanding how (1) and (2) are compossible—of articulating (1), (2), and one's understanding of the divine attributes in such a way as to exhibit their compossibility.
  6. In the modern period, however, there has been a trend of using such considerations atheologically to mount an argument from evil to disprove the existence of God (and hence the truth of biblical religion2). Standing in this tradition, J. L. Mackie sets out to show, in his classic article ‘Evil and Omnipotence' (Chapter I of this volume), ‘not that religious beliefs lack rational support, but that they are positively irrational' by showing that ‘the several parts of the essential theological doctrine'—namely, (1) and (2)—‘are inconsistent with one another3' (p. 25). Recognizing that they are not explicitly contradictory, Mackie relies on (P1) and (P3) to argue for an implicit contradiction between (1) and (2). On Mackie's deployment of the argument, (P1) and (P3) are advanced, not as pre-analytic guesses as to what is meant by ‘omnipotence' and ‘perfect goodness', but as principles having presumption in their favour. He assigns the theologian the burden of proving that a modification of (Pl) and/or (P3) that would leave (1) and (2) consistent would not ‘seriously affect the essential core of the theistic position' (p. 37).
  7. In what follows, we shall use the term 'theodicy' broadly to cover any theistic response to questions about how theism can be true in view of the existence of evils. Theodicies whose main or exclusive aim is to rebut particular objections to theism may be called defences, while those which attempt a fuller positive account of divine goodness, its purposes in allowing, or its methods in overcoming evils may be called explanatory theodicies. We shall consider only theodicies that accept proposition (1) in a fairly traditional sense. In particular we shall not discuss theodicies based on the most radical revisions of the conceptions of God's power and the nature of divine action in the world—for instance, those that ascribe to God an extensive power to ‘persuade' but no power at all to compel. Such theodicies have been much discussed by theologians, but have been comparatively neglected, thus far, in the contemporary philosophical debate to which we offer here an introduction4.

  1. In his influential paper ‘Hume on Evil' (Chapter II of this volume), Nelson Pike examines the Humean atheistic argument from evil, and finds that it requires reformulation. Contrary to (P1), Pike maintains, our ordinary moral intuitions support the following view:

      As a general statement, a being who permits (or brings about) an instance of suffering might be perfectly good providing only that there is a morally sufficient reason for his action. (p. 41)

    If God had a morally sufficient reason for permitting (bringing about) instances of suffering, then His non-prevention of such evils would not count against His perfect goodness. To generate a logical contradiction from (1) and (2), one would have to appeal to
    … (P4) It is logically impossible for an omniscient, omnipotent being to have a morally sufficient reason for permitting (bringing about) evils,
    a premiss whose plausibility derives from the fact that morally legitimate excuses usually arise from the agent's ignorance or weakness.
  2. Having thus clarified the atheistic argument from evil, Pike offers the believer what may be labelled an 'epistemic defence' against it. Assuming that (2) refers not merely to some evil or other but to evils in the amounts and of the kinds found in the actual world, Pike rules out as unpromising the piece-work approach of arguing that this sort of evil could be logically connected with this sort of good (e.g. injury with forgiveness) and that sort with some other sort of good (e.g. danger with courage). If the atheologian cannot prove (P4) by enumerating putative excuses for permitting (bringing about) evils and rejecting them one by one, because he ‘could never claim to have examined all the possibilities' (p. 41), so also it is hopeless to list the evils and display the logically necessary connection of each with great enough particular goods. Far more promising, Pike thinks, is the search for a single good that could at once provide a ‘general' morally sufficient reason for the permission of all the evils.
  3. Taking his inspiration from Leibniz, Pike proposes the Best of All Possible Worlds (= BPW) as such a comprehensive good. By ‘possible world' is meant a complex state of affairs, whether (as for Plantinga) a completely determinate, maximal consistent state of affairs, or (as for Leibniz and perhaps for Pike) an aggregate of finite or created things together with their whole history. What is important for present purposes is that the least variation in world history constitutes a different possible world. According to Leibniz, what God does in creating is to actualize a possible world. But, he reasons,
    … (P5) God, being a perfectly good, omniscient, and omnipotent being, would create the BPW,
    and it may be that
    … (P6) The BPW contains instances of suffering as logically indispensable components.
    Pike argues that if (P5) and (P6) were true, they would state a morally sufficient reason—namely, the aim of creating the BPW—that even an omniscient and omnipotent being could have for permitting (or even bringing about) evils. Thus, the conjunction of (P5) and (P6) entails the falsity of (P4); just as the conjunction of (1) with (P5 and P6) entails (2) (pp. 45-6).
  4. If we could know (P5) and (P6) to be true, or even possible, we would be in a position not only to refute the above atheistic argument from evil (by showing (P4) to be false), but also to demonstrate the compossibility of (1) and (2) (let us call this a ‘demonstrative defence'). The trouble is that (P6) seems to be a proposition that is not even possibly true unless it is necessarily true.- Seeing no way to establish the truth (or hence even the possibility) of (P6) apart from (P5) and an a priori proof for the existence of God (such as Leibniz thought he had), Pike would have to admit that these materials from the BPW theodicy do not entitle us to the positive assertion that (1) and (2) are compossible. But since the atheist is in no better position to show (P6) false than the theist is to prove it true, Pike can conclude that the atheist is not entitled to his claim of inconsistency either: for all he or the theist knows (P6) is true and (P4) is false (pp. 46-8).
  5. There is more to be said, however, about the tenability of the view that the BPW may contain evil. Much of the interest of the idea of a BPW, in connection with the problem of evil, derives from the following consideration. If there is a BPW and it includes an evil, we may say that that world is the better for including the evil. A world that lacked the evil would be a different world—and an inferior one, since we are supposing that the world that contains the evil is the best. This evil would thus be necessary for a very great good (indeed, the greatest good)—and not just causally necessary, in the way that a painful medical procedure may be causally necessary for a great benefit to someone's health, but necessary as a constitutive or integral part of the good to be obtained. Even an omnipotent being, therefore, for whom merely causal requirements do not provide compelling reasons, would have a reason for causing or permitting such an evil to occur.
  6. We may wonder, however, whether something bad can really contribute, in a non-causal way, to the goodness of a whole of which it is a part. This is an issue about how the value of a whole is related to the value of its parts. If we think of a whole as the sum of its parts, we may be tempted to suppose that the only way in which a whole that has a bad part could be good is by having a quite separate good part whose value is great enough to outweigh the badness of the bad part. On this view, the whole might be good, but its value would have to fall somewhere between the values of the good and bad parts; and one would necessarily get a better whole by omitting the bad part. This is a case of what Roderick Chisholm, in his address on ‘The Defeat of Good and Evil' (Chapter III of this collection), calls the ‘balancing off' of evil by good. It is clear that if this is the only way in which the value of a whole can be related to the value of its parts, a world containing an evil cannot be the best possible; for one would get a better world by omitting the evil.
  7. A number of philosophers (among them Chisholm and G. E. Moore) have maintained that there is another way in which the value of a whole, and specifically of a state of affairs, can be related to the value of its parts. Consider the following states of affairs:
    … (A) Jones thinking about a report (false, as it happens, though Jones believes it true) of a misfortune having befallen Smith;
    … (B) Jones feeling happy about what Jones is thinking about;
    … (C) Jones feeling unhappy about what Jones is thinking about.
    All the following claims seem plausible: feeling happy is good; feeling unhappy is bad; nevertheless it is better for a person to feel unhappy about a misfortune he or she believes to have befallen someone else, than to feel happy about it. And this is not just because feeling unhappy about someone else's misfortune is likely to have better consequences than feeling happy about it. We think it is intrinsically better to feel unhappy about another person's distress than to feel happy about it.
  8. If these claims are true, it follows that (B) is good and (C) is bad, but the complex state of affairs consisting of (A) + (C) is better than that consisting of (A)+(B). It appears that the complex (A)+(C) is the better for containing the evil (C), and the complex (A)+ (B) is the worse for containing the good (B). In terms defined by Chisholm in Chapter III, the goodness of (B) is at least partially defeated by the inferior value of (A) + (B), and the badness of (C) is at least partially defeated by the superior value of (A)+(C). If (A)+(B) as a whole is bad (as seems likely), Chisholm would say that the goodness of (B) is simply defeated by the badness of (A) + (B). Likewise the badness of (C) is simply defeated by the goodness of (A) + (C), if the latter is indeed good as a whole (as may be more doubtful).
  9. An evil could be included in the BPW if its badness were defeated, in something like Chisholm's sense, by the goodness of that world; and in Chisholm's view that is the only way in which the BPW could include an evil. It is debated, however, whether it is really tenable to claim that evil might, for all we know, be globally defeated in this way by good. Four issues for a BPW theodicy will be noted here, beginning with two doubts that are raised about the very idea of a Best of All Possible Worlds.
  10. (i) Perhaps there is no best among possible worlds. The maximum value might belong to several worlds (as Augustine thought), or there might (as Thomas Aquinas believed5) be no limit to the value of the worlds that God could create. Either of these hypotheses would impose complications on a BPW theodicy, but neither would radically subvert it. For if we think that, for all we know, the BPW might include an evil, we can equally well suppose that all possible worlds whose values exceed a certain level might contain evils. It has been argued, moreover, that theodicy might actually be helped by the assumption that every possible world, no matter how excellent, is inferior to others that are even better. For in that case the observation that God could have actualized a better world (a better total state of affairs) could not reasonably be used as a moral criticism of God, since it would have been true no matter what God did6
  11. (ii) The BPW theodicy, however, could hardly survive abandonment of the assumption that possible worlds can be compared as better and worse, in themselves and as wholes; and this assumption is questioned. The worlds, in these discussions, are conceived as extremely comprehensive states of affairs; and Chisholm's account of the defeat of good and evil depends on the assignment of values to states of affairs. Many ethical theorists evaluate states of affairs, including the most comprehensive, as better and worse in themselves; typical consequentialists are particularly committed to the possible truth of such evaluations. But at least one eminent philosopher has recently argued that states of affairs in general are not good or bad, better or worse, in themselves, though they can be good or bad, better or worse, for particular persons or projects, and can ground diverse moral assessments of particular agents7. And even if states of affairs can ordinarily have values in themselves, there might be some reason why such extraordinary states of affairs as possible worlds cannot.
  12. (iii) A well-known paper by Terence Penelhum (Chapter IV of this anthology), framed with specific reference to the views of Pike and Chisholm, shows one way in which someone who grants that there is a best among possible worlds might still doubt that it could really contain those evils that are actual. Penelhum argues (a) that the scheme of values that theists ascribe to God must agree with that which they hold for themselves, and (b) that the religious beliefs of most theists include ethical commitments that sharply limit what they could consistently regard as goods by which evils might be defeated. It follows (c) that evils not defeasible by those goods could not be defeated at all, or included in the BPW, according to the theists' ethical principles.
  13. Possibilities for the defeat of evils, and hence for theodicy, may be both enlarged and limited in different ways by specific features of theistic theories of value. Inasmuch as theists believe that God, and certain relationships with God, are goods far surpassing all others, they may see the world as containing goods that can defeat greater evils than could be defeated on other views. (Ideas related to this point are developed by Diogenes Allen and Marilyn Adams in Chapters XI and XII below.) But Penelhum emphasizes the limits that theists' ethics may impose on their theodicy.
  14. Specifically he claims that ‘certain forms of spiritual life and relationship have the highest place' in a Christian system of values, and that Christians are therefore committed to ‘regarding all evils as justified, if God exists, by the possibility of some spiritual benefit of which they are the necessary condition' (p. 80). But there might be reason to think that some evils (e.g. animal pain) are not defeasible by such goods. Penelhum's paper does not defend a definite conclusion about the existence or non-existence of God, but we shall see the example of animal pain used, by William Rowe, in an explicitly atheistic argument in Chapter VII of the present collection.
    Questions can be raised about the adequacy and the implications of Penelhum's views about the ethical commitments of Christianity. In asking them, we shall not be quarrelling with his observations about the structure of the problem of evil, but trying to relate the problem to specific theological positions in the way that he has argued is necessary. Must Christians really suppose that ‘spiritual benefits' are the only goods by which the suffering of any creature could be defeated? Does that suggest too anthropocentric a view of God's purposes? And how high a value can Christians consistently assign to certain aesthetic or quasi-aesthetic goods—a type of good that Penelhum might (but perhaps need not) be interpreted as disparaging8?
  15. Aesthetic values are particularly interesting in relation to the defeat of good and evil because the aesthetic value of quite a large whole so often depends on an opposite value of one or more of its parts. Such aesthetic benefits as beautiful singing and ‘a charming pink flush', as Penelhum argues, are surely not weighty enough to defeat (or balance off) the evils of tuberculosis. But if we think of the possible ‘beauty' (or even the ‘meaningfulness') of human lives, or perhaps of communal histories, as wholes, we are dealing with an aesthetic or quasi-aesthetic value which it is not obviously wrong to rank among the highest from a moral or a Christian point of view.
  16. (iv) Suppose we grant, not only that there is a best among possible worlds, but also that it may, for all we know, contain such evils as actually occur. It is still not beyond question that the creation of the BPW would provide God with a morally sufficient reason for causing or allowing those evils to occur. Here we touch one of the most fundamental disagreements in ethical theory. Consequentialists are committed to the view that one ought always to do what will have the best results on the whole; and they must presumably conclude that any being who could create the BPW would have a morally sufficient reason to do so, despite any evils that would be actualized thereby. But many other ethical theorists think it is sometimes wrong to do something, even though it is necessary for obtaining the best result on the whole. They believe, as popular morality puts it, that ‘the end does not always justify the means'. Suppose the BPW would contain one innocent creature whose life was absolutely miserable; might it not be unjust to that creature to cause or allow such misery even for the sake of creating the BPW? If so, a non-consequentialist might argue, God would not have a morally sufficient reason for causing or permitting that evil, despite its inclusion in the BPW.
  17. On the other hand, rejection of consequentialism might also have some advantages for theodicy. The assumption that a God who could create the BPW must do so in order to be perfectly good lays a burden on theodicy, inasmuch as many find it implausible to suppose that the actual world is the best possible. And it can be argued that Christians and Jews have reason to reject the assumption because their conception of God's goodness emphasizes grace, or unmerited love, rather than the production of the best results. If one regards grace, as a disposition to love that is independent of the merit of the beloved, as part of the divine perfection, it would be somewhat incongruous to think that choosing to make and to love less excellent creatures than one could have must manifest some imperfection. Historically, in saying ‘What is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou dost care for him?' (Psalm 8: 4) Jews and Christians have thanked and praised God for creating and caring for them, while apparently acknowledging that God could have made better things instead of them. This implies a conception of a divine goodness that is not concerned to maximize value, and that therefore would not necessarily choose to actualize the BPW9. Related both to this argument and to Penelhum's argument is the fact that Jewish and Christian conceptions of divine goodness have generally been more concerned with God's love and beneficence toward human individuals than with the global excellence of the world as an artefact. The idea of the defeat of evil by good within individual lives may therefore be more important for Christian and Jewish theodicy than the hypothesis that we live in the Best of All Possible Worlds.

  1. We have not touched, thus far, on one of the main traditional themes of theodicy, the idea that (some or all) evil originates in wrong or evil choices of a being or beings distinct from God. In dualistic theodicies, such as those of Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism, the good God is not omnipotent and is opposed by a malevolent being of comparable power. Monotheistic religious traditions have generally rejected such dualism, but have often suggested that evil springs from the free will of creatures—that is, of beings created by an omnipotent God. The creatures, moreover, unlike the anti-God of dualistic traditions, are not essentially evil.
  2. This hypothesis about the origin of evil has been employed for various purposes in the history of theodicy. Sometimes it has been used to distance God from responsibility for the existence of evil. Some or all evil, it is said, is not caused, but only permitted, by God. God did not intend that there should be any evil at all. In the beginning, according to the traditional story of ‘the Fall', God created only good things, including humans and angels, rational creatures who were appropriately allowed to control many things by their free choice. They were set in Utopian environments, and God's preference was that they should use their free will only to choose what is right and good. Their freedom meant, however, that it was up to them whether they chose right or wrong. In fact they often chose wrong, and this was the origin of all the evil in the world. The existence of evil is therefore our fault, not God's, and is consistent with God's perfect goodness. A major attraction of this sort of story is that in it God appears less ambivalent about evil, more unambiguously opposed to it, than in a BPW theodicy, in which it is apt to seem that those evils that are integral parts of the BPW are intended by God, and that God prefers on the whole that they should occur, in order that the BPW should be actualized.
  3. Despite the intrinsic interest of these ideas, the various questions that have been raised about both the plausibility and the ethical implications of the story of the Fall need not detain us here. For the best-known contemporary development of a Free Will Defence is Alvin Plantinga's, represented in this collection by Chapter V. And while Plantinga sometimes alludes to the story of the Fall, the main line of his argument can be presented (and will be here) without any use of the story or its associated themes of the ‘original righteousness' and 'original bliss' of the first free creatures, and without any implication that the actuality of a world containing evils may not have been fully intended by God, or that the distinction between what one causes and what one permits is morally important. The importance of the free will of creatures for Plantinga is not that it distances God from the causation10 of evils, but that it may limit what God can achieve. Like BPW defences, Plantinga argues that a perfectly good God may have caused or permitted evils in order to achieve a good enough result obtainable in no other way.
  4. His version of the Free Will Defence differs from BPW defences, however, in at least two ways: (i) The valued result on which his arguments turn is not the BPW as such, but the existence of a (very good) world in which creatures freely do good. Indeed Plantinga is explicitly not committed to there being a best among possible worlds (p. 87). (ii) He also does not try to show that evils may have been absolutely necessary for greater goods in such a way as to be defeated, in something like Chisholm's sense, by the goods. His claim is rather that, by virtue of facts about free will, the occurrence of the greater goods without the evils, while perhaps possible in itself, may have been unobtainable even by an omnipotent God.
  5. As to the ethics of the matter, Plantinga assumes (i) that ‘A world containing creatures who are [free in some matters of moral significance] (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being equal, than a world containing no free creatures at all' (p. 85). He is therefore also committed to the assumption (ii) that possible worlds as wholes can be evaluated as more and less valuable, at least along some parameters. In addition, his defence seems committed to the proposition (iii) that it is consistent with perfect goodness for God to actualize a world, despite any evils it contains, if it is good enough as a whole, on the relevant parameters, and better, on those parameters, than any that God could have actualized without the evils. Assumptions (ii) and (iii), of course, must also be numbered among the assumptions of BPW theodicies.
  6. These ethical assumptions are controversial, but Plantinga's contribution is mainly focused on the more metaphysical issues involved in defending the claim that he regards as ‘really characteristic and central to the Free Will Defence ... that God, though omnipotent, could not have created just any possible world he pleased' (p. 87). How could that be true? Plantinga's answer to this question depends on his incompatibilist view of the nature of free action.
  7. Philosophers disagree as to whether free action is compatible with causal determinism. According to compatibilists, an action is free, whether or not it was causally determined, provided only that it was done by an agent whose faculties were operating normally, and was done because the agent chose or preferred to do it. It is relatively uncontroversial that many actions satisfy these requirements. According to incompatibilist theories of free action, on the other hand, a free action must not only have been done because an agent whose faculties were operating normally chose or preferred to do it; the agent's choice or preference must also not have been causally determined (though it may certainly have been influenced) by other events or states of affairs. It is highly controversial whether any actions satisfy this additional requirement.
  8. Plantinga believes that our normal conception of free action is incompatibilist. What his argument commits him to, however, is just that there could be creatures free in an incompatibilist sense (whether or not it is the normal sense), and that that would be a very good thing (at least if they did more good than evil). Because it is the most relevant sense for his Free Will Defence, we shall henceforth use ‘free' and ‘freely' in an incompatibilist sense, unless otherwise indicated. It will be convenient also to follow Plantinga (p. 85) in saying that a person who is both free to act rightly and free to act wrongly, from a moral point of view, in some one respect, is significantly free in that respect.
  9. On the basis of an incompatibilist conception of freedom we can give a preliminary explanation of how an omnipotent God could be unable to create a possible world containing free creatures but not containing evils. For any possibly free action A, we can say that even an omnipotent God could not cause a creature to do A freely. For in order to do that, God would have to cause the creature to do A. And if God causes the creature to do A, the creature does not do A freely. This suggests that in order to have creatures who freely abstain from wrongdoing, an omnipotent God would have to leave it up to them whether they do right or wrong, and might thusbe unable to prevent their wrongdoing while maintaining their freedom. Plantinga's argument makes use of this idea.
  10. He sees a further complication to be dealt with, however, before he can dismiss Mackie's contention that God had ‘the ... possibility of making beings who would act freely but always go right11'. For even if no one can causally determine (or, in Plantinga's terminology, strongly actualize) another agent's free action, a subtler alternative might be available to God. In weak actualization God uses knowledge of what a creature would freely do under certain conditions to achieve the desired outcome without causally determining the creature's choice. This could happen, Plantings suggests, if ‘God knows that if he creates you free with respect to A in some set S of circumstances, you will refrain from A'. If God then creates you in S with that freedom, you will of course refrain from A. In this case, Plantinga holds, your refraining from A is free because God does not cause you to refrain; but God does ‘in a broader sense' bring it about that you refrain (pp. 90-1). Plantinga must therefore consider whether God could not weakly actualize a world in which significantly free creatures would always do right—a world containing plenty of moral good but no evil.
  11. He replies that whether God could do that depends on the facts about what the various possible free creatures would freely do in the various possible situations in which they could be placed. If God could weakly actualize sinless free creatures, it would be by knowing that certain possible creatures would always do right if created free in certain situations, and so creating them in such situations. But God cannot have this knowledge unless it is true about some possible creatures that they would always do right if created free in certain situations. Plantinga argues that it is possible that this condition is not satisfied.
  12. As we have described it thus far, his argument deals with a highly abstract form of the problem of evil, in that it purports to explain only how an omnipotent, omniscient God might be perfectly good in actualizing a world containing some evil. It can be adapted, however, to deal with the more concrete problem of how God might have a good enough reason for actualizing a world containing the amount of evil that the actual world contains. It can be argued that God might be unable to actualize any of those (indefinitely many) possible worlds that contain significantly free creatures, and that are at least as good as the actual world with respect to the amount and balance of moral good and evil occurring in them, but contain less evil altogether than the actual world does. That follows if it could possibly be true about every such world W that if God did everything God would have to do in (weakly) actualizing W, W would not in fact result because some creature would fail to perform at least one of the free actions that make W what it is. It might be thought consistent with perfect goodness, in that case, to create the actual world with all its evil. This seems to us to be the main line of argument proposed by Plantinga in sections 9 and 10 of Chapter12 V.
  13. The most widely discussed objection to the metaphysics of Plantinga's argument attacks his assumption of the possible truth of counterfactuals of freedom, which say what certain possible creatures would freely do under conditions that will never be actualized. He regards such propositions, if true, as contingently true; some philosophers ask what would explain their truth. God cannot cause them to be true, if the actions in question are to be free. And those that are about possible creatures who will never exist can hardly be caused to be true by actions of the (non-existent) creatures. Doubts are also raised about what it would be for the propositions to be true. Many philosophers (unlike Plantinga) think that counterfactual conditional facts need some reduction; the truth of such a conditional, it is suggested, consists in a logically or causally necessary connection between the antecedent and the consequent. But either sort of necessary connection would be inconsistent with the freedom of the action under discussion, and thus with Plantinga's use of these conditional hypotheses. This objection has been pressed in several forms, and Plantinga and others have responded to it.
  14. Robert Merrihew Adams, in an essay reprinted as Chapter VI of this anthology, presents and defends the objection. He draws on a similar debate in philosophical theology in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries about whether it is possible for God to have what has historically been called ‘middle knowledge', which is knowledge of what every possible free creature would freely do in any situation in which that creature might possibly find itself. This is the sort of knowledge on which God is supposed to rely in weakly actualizing states of affairs. Obviously middle knowledge is not possible if the relevant conditionals cannot be true.
  15. Plantinga argues that the assumption of the possible truth of counterfactuals of freedom is not indispensable to the Free Will Defence (pp. 99100). And it is true that if no such propositions are true, divine projects of weak actualization face an uncertainty that could cause any of them to fail. It might be true that if God followed a certain procedure P in making significantly free creatures, they would probably always freely do right. But they also might sin. Neither ‘If God followed P, free creatures would always do right' nor ‘If God followed P, free creatures would sometimes do wrong' would be true. God could try to make significantly free but sinless creatures by following P, but could fail in the attempt. Thus even an omnipotent God's best attempt to weakly actualize a morally perfect world could end in failure. This conclusion seems to favour a Free Will Defence, but we would need a fuller development of the Defence on the assumption of the falsity of the relevant conditionals.
  16. In particular, it is not obvious how Plantinga's argument regarding the amount of evil is to be rendered independent of the possible truth of the conditionals. For if virtually any combination of the relevant counterfactuals about free actions could possibly be true, as he supposes, then there is no net balance of moral virtue in significantly free creatures that could not happen to be unobtainable by an omnipotent God with less evil than the actual world contains. But if these conditionals are all false, then even an omniscient God must base decisions on what free creatures ‘would probably do' under the various possible conditions. It would take much discussion of such probabilities to determine whether a world containing as much evil as the actual world does could possibly have resulted from God's ‘best attempt' to realize a desirable state of affairs13.
  17. Even philosophers who agree with Plantinga that counterfactuals of freedom can in principle be true may of course doubt the truth of those that are important to his defence (as R. Adams points out in the concluding section of Chapter VI). How plausible is it, for instance, that if God had placed significantly free creatures in more idyllic circumstances, with less evil on the whole, than in the actual world, then (no matter how God went about this) the balance of moral good over moral evil in their behaviour would have been less favourable than it is in the actual world? Plantinga's main answer to such questions is clear. The Free Will Defence that we are discussing was developed as a solution to the logical problem of evil. It is an answer to the charge that the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good God is logically inconsistent with the facts of evil. In response, Plantinga develops a hypothesis about what free creatures would do in various situations. The hypothesis, he contends, is such that if it were true, an omnipotent, omniscient God could be perfectly good in actualizing a world containing evil (or even as much evil as there is in the actual world). In order to accomplish the purpose of showing the consistency of theism with the facts of evil, the hypothesis about what free creatures would do ‘need not be true or known to be true; it need not be so much as plausible. All that is required of it is that it be consistent with [theism]', which of course requires that it be possible in itself (p. 84).
  1. Our discussion thus far has indeed been mainly concerned with questions bearing on the consistency of theism with the facts of evil. Recently, however, the opinion has become more prevalent that the most serious form of the problem of evil has to do with the evidential rather than the purely logical relation between evil and theism. Even if it is possible that God has a morally sufficient reason for creating the sort of world we experience, it is charged, the facts of evil constitute evidence against the hypothesis that the world was created, and is governed, by an omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good God. This evidence, according to some philosophers, provides the basis of an inductive or empirical argument that shows theism to be implausible. These issues of plausibility are addressed in various ways in Chapters VII–XII of the present collection.
  2. William Rowe's forceful development of an empirical argument against theism in Chapter VII turns on the conception of ‘intense suffering which an omnipotent, omniscient being could have prevented without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse' (p. 127). By way of abbreviation, it will be convenient to follow Rowe in referring to such suffering as ‘pointless' (without meaning to beg any questions as to whether it necessarily is pointless in a non-technical sense). Rowe claims that God (an omnipotent, omniscient, wholly good being) would prevent all suffering that is pointless in this sense, and therefore there would be none if God existed. Some theists (perhaps including the authors of Chapters X–XII below) might question this claim. But those who grant it must conclude, as Rowe does, that if pointless suffering exists, God does not, and hence that any evidence for the existence of pointless suffering is evidence against the existence of God.
    Rowe finds such evidence in what he regards as apparently pointless suffering. For instance, when a fawn dies slowly of burns suffered in a forest fire, ‘there does not appear to be any greater good' that omnipotence could have served best by not preventing the fawn's agony (p. 130). He acknowledges that there could in fact be such a good even though it is not apparent to us. That is why the argument does not have demonstrative force, and cannot do more than establish a probability. But in Rowe's opinion, the great number and variety of instances of ‘apparently pointless' suffering in our experience makes it quite implausible to maintain that no genuinely pointless suffering exists, and thus constitutes compelling evidence against the existence of God.
  3. Theists may respond to this argument in several ways. In a piecemeal approach, they may try to find greater goods that could plausibly be thought to defeat the evil of particular sorts of suffering that have been thought to be pointless. If they succeed in a number of important cases, that may also increase the plausibility of supposing that defeating goods are present even for sufferings for which we have not yet discovered any—and hence of supposing that there is no genuinely pointless suffering. With regard to the misfortunes of animals they may try, for instance, to show that animals and other physical and biological systems, as we know them, could not exist and act out their own natures without many incidents that are damaging to their individual interests. The existence and autonomous (though not usually voluntary) activity of such creatures themselves, it is argued, are great enough goods to defeat the evils they suffer14.
  4. Some theodicists propose a more general solution, attempting to sever the whole epistemological root of empirical arguments from evil. In an influential exemplar of this approach (Chapter VIII of this collection), responding specifically to Rowe's argument for the existence of pointless suffering, Stephen Wykstra argues for the following Condition of Reasonable Epistemic Access (CORNEA, for short):

      On the basis of cognized situation s, human H is entitled to claim ‘It appears that p' only if it is reasonable for H to believe that, given her cognitive faculties and the use she has made of them, if p were not the case, s would likely be different than it is in some way discernible by her. (p. 152)

    Wykstra claims that, on the basis of CORNEA, we are not entitled to Rowe's claim that it appears that some suffering is pointless. He argues that if there were outweighing goods ‘connected in the requisite way' to the sufferings Rowe takes as evidence, it is not very likely ‘that this should be apparent to us', in view of the fact that the goods at issue are such as would be purposed by a being whose vision, wisdom, and powers vastly exceed our understanding (p. 155).
  5. Rowe has taken Wykstra's objection very seriously, and responded to it in a paper reprinted here as Chapter IX. Rowe accepts CORNEA as an appealing principle, in view of much recent work in epistemology. He argues, however, that it is indeed likely that, if God existed, our situation with regard to suffering would be different in ways discernible by us. Rowe's and Wykstra's arguments provide an important entry into the issue, currently much debated, whether sufferings, or more broadly evils, constitute evidence of any sort against the existence of God.

  1. In his book Evil and the God of Love (parts of which constitute Chapter X of this collection), John Hick approaches the argument from evil aporetically, offering a theodicy which is definitely of the explanatory type and which attempts to meet both logical and empirical problems at once. It is not an attempt to justify the ways of God, as if God owed humans an explanation or had obligations to us in creation. Hick's aim is rather to understand how it is that evils in the amounts and of the kinds found in this world coexist with God, who is omnipotent and omniscient by nature and whose character is love. In keeping with most traditions of theodicy, Hick thinks this understanding will be found in moral considerations that explain why God would permit such evils.
  2. He seeks it in terms of a divine goal that essentially involves significantly free creatures15. More explicitly than Plantinga, however, he declines to use the traditional story of the Fall to distance God from responsibility for the origin of evil. Indeed he offers a critique of Fall theodicies, arguing that the notion of perfect free creatures introducing evil by perverse misuse of free choice is incredible or even unintelligible. In Hick's own theodicy the idea of free will is subordinated to that of ‘soul-making', from which his approach takes its usual name.
  3. God's primary creative project, as Hick envisions it, culminates in a process of spiritual development in which autonomous created persons, with their own free participation, are perfected, fashioned into God's likeness, formed towards the pattern of Christ (pp. 168-9, 171). Hick emphasizes that his concept of the goal is individualistic: he is not posing a progressive development of the human race as a whole (a thesis he finds empirically unsupportable), but only of individuals in every age and time (p. 169). (In keeping with his conception of God's goals, Hick is not committed to assigning values to possible worlds as wholes.) He sees God's choice of such a developmental process, with all its pains, as underwritten by one or both of two assumptions. Sometimes Hick mentions the metaphysical presupposition that human persons cannot be ‘ready made' perfect by divine fiat, ‘but only through the uncompelled responses and willing cooperation of human individuals in their actions and reactions in the world in which God has placed them' (p. 168). More prominently, Hick commends the value-judgement:

      one who has attained to goodness by meeting and eventually mastering temptations, and thus by rightly making responsible choices in concrete situations, is good in a richer and more valuable sense than would be one created ab initio in a state either of innocence or of virtue. (p. 168-9)

    Nowhere does he note that if the metaphysical thesis is true, the value comparison loses its point.
  4. Hick then tries to explain divine permission of suffering-generating features of this world in terms of their being necessary for the spiritual growth and development of souls (pp. 170-1). Hick's approach here is piecemeal, taking up the major types of evil—moral evil, pain, higher forms of human suffering—in turn and indicating how each is a consequence of the soul-making project and the environment required for it. Not surprisingly, it runs into the difficulty that led Pike and Plantinga to approach matters 'on a quite general level16': namely, that it is not possible fully to account for evils in the amounts and with the distribution found in this world (pp. 1805). Hick meets this difficulty with the ingenious solution that the very occurrence of 'dysteleological' evils creates a context of mystery which is itself conducive to soul-making (pp. 185-8).
  5. Even if such evils contribute to, their amounts, kinds, and distributions being necessary for, the environment of soul-making, a cost-benefit analysis would have to be done to show how permission of them could be compossible with Omnipotent Love. At first glance, it seems obvious that so far from facilitating spiritual progress, conditions in this world severely deface the image of Christ in many, and effectively obstruct growth into His likeness. Moreover, of the souls that do make progress, few reach the perfection of which Hick speaks by the time of their death. As Hick insists that Omnipotent Love would not accept failure in any soul It created, he must either (i) claim that all souls make progress in this world, whether we recognize it or not; or (ii) assert that the process of soul-making continues beyond the grave. The first (i) undermines the strategy of Hick's soul-making theodicy: for if we cannot recognize progress and regress, then we are epistemically in a poor position to tell whether or how various features of the world contribute to the maturation of souls. In fact, Hick happily embraces the eschatological scenario (ii).
  6. If souls make better progress in alternative post-mortem environments, however, we may ask why God did not place us in such settings from the beginning. Hick might appeal to the above-mentioned value-judgement and repeat that God puts a positive value on the moral struggle engendered by our present environment; alternatively, he might contend that it is metaphysically impossible for mature human beings to exist apart from beginnings in this sort of environment (as much as without initial life in the womb). The latter claim about human nature would be difficult to establish, and both answers would be subject to renewed cost-benefit analyses as to whether the soul-making project could be worth all the suffering it involves. Hick's reply seems ultimately to be that the glory of the eschatological consummation will justify these means17.

  1. Most philosophical discussion of the problem of evil focuses on reasons-why God might permit evils. Our two remaining authors, however, argue that pressing the why-question can be unfruitful. They also direct our attention (as Hick does in part) to the relation of evils to specifically religious values.
  2. Diogenes Allen (in Chapter XI) rehearses Epictetus' warning that focus on such theoretical why-questions is spiritually inadvisable because it prevents us from learning from suffering (and so obstructs our solution of the practical and existential problems of evil). In fact, Allen argues, suffering has instrumental value as the occasion for a kind of soul-making that is neglected in Hick's account (pp. 203-6). Borrowing from the Stoics and other spiritual writers, Allen describes three types of actions the taking of which makes it reasonable for the performer not to take his or her suffering as evidence against divine love (pp. 189-93).
  3. All three approaches begin with the belief that divine goodness is shown by its production of a harmoniously ordered cosmos in which humans play a part by exercising their natural abilities, even though that order does not ‘cater' to the well-being of living creatures.
  4. (i) The Stoic Epictetus makes the further assumption that human abilities and human suffering are well matched, so that a person can meet any adversity with dignity and without being crushed or degraded by it (pp. 192, 200). The recommended Stoic action takes suffering as an occasion to reflect on the truly small place of humans in the world, and to respond to this reality with an act of acceptance, which is the beginning of humility. At the same time, human ability to discern order in the cosmos and to recognize and accept our vulnerability to disease, aging, decay, and death, makes it possible for us to transcend nature, and gives us reason to thank God for His goodness in giving us the abilities we need to accept and bear our place with dignity (pp. 193-5).
  5. (ii) Allen finds some spiritual writers referring to a second type of action: a humble person with an entrenched belief in God's love may yield herself to natural suffering as to a reality that obeys God, and (it is claimed) through this act of submission a gracious presence, a feeling of divine love and of felicity beyond all calculation is experienced. Persons who perform this second act believe suffering logically compossible with divine love because simultaneous with the experience of it (pp. 195-7).
  6. (iii) The third action is one taken in the face of what Simone Weil calls ‘affliction'. This is an extreme suffering that contradicts Epictetus' optimistic estimate of human capacity for dignity. For it goes beyond pain and anguish to damage or destroy social relations and even self-respect (pp. 198-9). Nevertheless, Weil was convinced, as she reflected on the cross of Christ, (a) that affliction is contact with the incommensurate good of divine love, as with a friend whose grip is so tight as to be painful (p. 201). Further, she maintains (b) that affliction has instrumental value as an opportunity to love God for Himself (pp. 203, 208).
  7. Allen's claim is not only that the spiritually mature are able to cope with suffering and affliction at the practical level by meeting them with actions of acceptance, praise, and love (pp. 203, 207-8). In addition, those who perform such spiritual exercises may reasonably find no logical incompossibility between such experiences and God's love for them, and thereby resolve the theoretical problem raised by human suffering and affliction. Moreover, because the experience of divine love is recognized in the presence of suffering, this assurance of compossibility rests on no eschatological appeal the way Hick's approach does (pp. 203-6).
  8. Allen's sensitive treatment leaves the scope of the alleged theoretical resolution unclear. At one level, it amounts to a substitution of alternative attribute analyses for (P1) and (P3) above. Early in his paper Allen contrasts two understandings of divine goodness: (i) a 'Humean' one according to which omnipotent goodness would have to show itself, not only in ordering the cosmos into a harmonious whole, but by choosing an arrangement which would ‘cater' to the welfare of living things; and (ii) a Stoic one according to which God shows Himself to be good by ordering the cosmos into a harmonious whole, and/or to have been good to human beings by giving them the abilities which if exercised enable us to meet suffering and death with dignity (pp. 190-3). In reviewing his second and third types of spiritual action, he notes (iii) an understanding of divine love which is not taken to imply any insurance against human suffering or affliction, but which implies (a) harmonious ordering of the cosmos, (b) endowment of humans with abilities to recognize the order, and to engage in spiritual exercises, and (c) God's presence with those who suffer, a presence which can be recognized and/or experienced by those who perform the actions of acceptance, praise, and love (p. 206). Since these alternative understandings of divine goodness and love carry no implications about human welfare in the sense of immunity to suffering, affliction, and death, human vulnerability to the latter is not incompatible with omnipotent goodness and love thus understood.
  9. Sometimes Allen verges on the further claim that the felicitous experience of God's presence through the acceptance of suffering and recognized contact with Him in affliction are an incommensurate good for created persons, and thus guarantee, by constituting, God's incommensurate goodness to them. Such persons and others who share their beliefs might be reasonable in finding their suffering and affliction logically compossible not only with divine goodness or love in senses (ii) and (iii) above, but also with incommensurate divine goodness-to or love-for them. Whether divine presence in suffering and in affliction likewise guarantees divine goodness-to or love-for spiritually immature victims, who do not recognize it because they perform none of the three prescribed actions, Allen does not say. If the defeat of suffering and affliction does depend on the victims' response, then presumably the experiences of the spiritually mature do not make reasonable the belief that God is incommensurately good and loving to those who are suffering and afflicted but spiritually immature.

  1. Marilyn McCord Adams (in Chapter XII) argues that the existence of disproportionate suffering makes it theoretically unfruitful to press the why-question. She distinguishes the two dimensions of divine goodness we have noted in discussing Allen: ‘production of global goods' and ‘goodness to' or ‘love of individual created persons'. Adapting Chisholm's notions, she contrasts two dimensions of overbalance/defeat: the overbalance/defeat of evil by good on the global scale, and the overbalance/defeat of evil by good within the context of an individual person's life; and she separates two problems of evil parallel to these. Where Weil identifies the disproportionate evil of affliction, M. Adams defines the category of horrendous evils: evils the participation in which (either as agent or as victim) by a person x constitutes objective prima-facie reason to believe that x's life cannot be a great good to x on the whole—in contrast to evils whose negative value seems obviously defeasible within the context of the individual's life.
  2. M. Adams complains that Pike and Plantinga have addressed themselves only to the first problem of evil, defending divine goodness along the first dimension by suggesting logically possible strategies for the global defeat of evils. But given the existence of horrendous evils, establishing God's excellence as a producer of global goods does not automatically solve the second problem. For, on her understanding, God cannot be said to be good or loving to any created persons within whose lives horrendous evils remain undefeated. And yet, she contends parallel to Weil (p. 200), where horrors are concerned, not only are we ignorant of the actual reason-why God permits them; we cannot even think of any plausible candidate reasons-why compatible with the second dimension of divine goodness.
  3. M. Adams's alternative strategy for solving the second problem of evil is to focus on the question of how God could defeat horrendous evils, not only within the context of the world as a whole, but within the framework of the individual participant's life. According to her, the latter defeat would involve God's giving participants in horrors lives that were great goods to them on the whole and within which horrors were made meaningful. Insisting that no package of non-transcendent goods could overbalance, much less defeat horrendous evils, M. Adams joins Hick and Allen in appealing to the created person's relation to God, the incommensurate good. Where Allen focuses on spiritual giants, M. Adams shares Hick's conviction that divine love can be vouched safe to every created person, despite his or her participation in horrors and regardless of lack of spiritual progress before death, and so she reintroduces the eschatological perspective.
  4. The beatific vision, an explicit and overwhelmingly felicitous vision of God, is an incommensurate good for any created person and would thus ‘overbalance' even horrendous evils and ensure that that person's life was a great good to him or her on the whole. But horrors could also be defeated by being made meaningful through integration into that person's, on the whole overwhelmingly felicitous, relationship with God. Whereas Allen follows Weil in regarding affliction itself as contact with the incommensurate good, M. Adams draws on the suggestions of mystical literature that all suffering (horrendous or otherwise) is itself a mystical identification with the suffering of Christ and/or a vision into the inner life of God, whether it is recognized as such at the time or not. As a point of intimate contact with God, all suffering will have a positive aspect, although as suffering it will have an (even horrendously) evil aspect as well. M. Adams suggests that when participants in horrors view them retrospectively from the vantage-point of the beatific vision, they will find positive meaning in them, because they will not wish away from their life histories any occasions of intimacy with God. Likewise, Julian of Norwich envisions a heavenly divine welcome in which God greets the elect with the words, ‘Thank you for your suffering, the suffering of your youth.' She claims that such divine gratitude is a good incommensurate with both temporal goods and earthly woes, and so by Chisholm's criteria would defeat the latter.

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Cf. Alvin Plantinga, 'Self-Profile', in James E. Tomberlin and Peter van Inwagen (eds.), Profiles: Alvin Plantinga (Dordrecht: Reidel, 1985), 38.

Footnote 2: A major landmark in this trend is David Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, pt. 10.

Footnote 3: Italics ours. Parenthetical page references in this Introduction are to the present volume.

Footnote 4: For literature about them, see section 10 of the Bibliography below.

Footnote 5: 5Augustine, De Libero Arbitrio (On Free Choice of Will), Bk. III, ch. ix, 94-9; Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, pt. i, qu. 25, art. 6.

Footnote 6: This is the most persuasive part of the argument of George Schlesinger's much discussed article, ‘The Problem of Evil and the Problem of Suffering', American Philosophical Quarterly, 1 (1964), 244-7.

Footnote 7: Philippa Foot, ‘Utilitarianism and the Virtues', Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association, 57 (1983-4), 273-83. Foot's argument is explicitly intended as the foundation of a critique of consequentialism.

Footnote 8: The issues of anthropocentrism and aesthetic value in relation to the problem of evil are taken up by Diogenes Allen in Chapter XI below.

Footnote 9: This line of argument is developed by Robert M. Adams, 'Must God Create the Best?' Philosophical Review, 81 (1972), 317-32, and criticized by Philip L. Quinn, 'God, Moral Perfection, and Possible Worlds', in Frederick Sontag and M. Darrol Bryant (eds.), God: The Contemporary Discussion (New York: Rose of Sharon Press, 1982), 197-215.

Footnote 11: p. 33 below; quoted by Plantinga, p. 86 below.

Footnote 12: If we are right about this, the hypothesis that all evil is due to the sins of free creatures, which Plantinga introduces in section 10, is an unnecessary complication which plays no essential part in the main line of argument. Cf. Robert M. Adams, ‘Plantinga on the Problem of Evil', in Tomberlin and van Inwagen (eds.), Profiles: Alvin Plantinga, pp. 235 f. Other approaches to the relation (important to the Free Will Defence) between moral and natural evils are represented in the items cited in section 6 of the Bibliography.

Footnote 13: Cf. R. M. Adams, ‘Plantinga on the Problem of Evil', pp. 234 f., and Plantinga, 'Self-Profile', p. 50 in Tomberlin and van Inwagen (eds.), Profiles: Alvin Plantinga.

Footnote 14: For the richly suggestive beginnings of an argument along these lines, in a modernized Aristotelian dress, see Austin Farrer, Love Almighty and Ills Unlimited (London: Collins, 1961), chs. 4 and 5.

Footnote 15: Hick's understanding of freedom may be different from Plantinga's, however. Cf. Hick, Evil and the God of Love, rev. edn. (New York: Harper & Row, 1978), ch. 13.

Footnote 16: Cf. Plantinga, 'Self-Profile', pp. 34-5.

Footnote 17: Hick, Evil and the God of Love, pp. 363 f.

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

© Theo Todman, June 2007 - Sept 2020. Please address any comments on this page to File output:
Website Maintenance Dashboard
Return to Top of this Page Return to Theo Todman's Philosophy Page Return to Theo Todman's Home Page