The Evidential Argument from Evil
Howard-Snyder (Daniel), Ed.
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BOOK ABSTRACT:

Cover Blurb

  1. Is evil evidence against the existence of God? Even if God and evil are compatible, it remains hotly contested whether evil renders belief in God unreasonable.
  2. The Evidential Argument from Evil places five classic statements on this issue by eminent philosophers and theologians in dialogue with eleven new essays, reflecting new thinking by these and other scholars.
  3. The volume focuses on two versions of the argument.
    • The first affirms that there is no reason for God to permit certain specific horrors or the variety and profusion of undeserved suffering.
    • The second asserts that the biological role of pleasure and pain shows that hypotheses other than theism better explain those phenomena.

Preface
  1. When I was a student at Syracuse University, I once told an acquaintance in the English Department that my dissertation was on the problem of evil. I recall her reply as though I heard it yesterday: "The problem of evil? Isn't that old hat? I mean, what more can be said after Ivan Karamazov?" Apparently, quite a bit. Barry Whitney recently published a bibliography of over 4,200 philosophical and theological writings on the topic, all published from 1960 to 1990. That's nearly one publication every two and a half days. One might rightly wonder how much of this torrent of literature is any good, but one certainly cannot seriously question whether the problem of evil continues to capture the interest of philosophers and theologians alike. It's hardly "old hat."
  2. Philosophical study of the problem of evil has shifted from issues having to do with the compatibility of theism and evil to what is often called "the evidential problem of evil." My aim in collecting the essays of this book has been to bring together recent work on the latter topic. But I didn't want just another collection of previously published pieces. Rather, I wanted a handful of the very best previously published essays to act as a stage upon which dialogue might progress, a place where new work might be done. However, I also wanted a collection that a student or educated layperson could understand, with only minimal assistance from an instructor or a course or two in basic philosophy. Each of the authors has written with these goals in mind. An instructor might easily use many of the essays of this book in an undergraduate course in the philosophy of religion.
  3. A book of this sort requires the cooperation of many individuals. Each new essay was refereed by at least one other contributor, but usually more. Moreover, many other philosophers cajoled, provoked, challenged and otherwise pressed the contributors to do better than they had initially done.

Amazon Customer Review
  1. The Evidential Argument from Evil is a collection of scholarly articles written by the top philosophers currently writing in the field. It includes both defenders and critics of the evidential argument from evil. Many of the contributions are excellent and greatly enhance the discussion.
  2. For the most part, the theistic critics of the Problem of Evil tend not to focus directly on the issue of theodicy – providing reasons why God may permit evil in the world. Richard Swinburne is the only contributor who attempts to offer a full-fledged theodicy, though Eleanore Stump offers a discussion on the book of Job that approaches a theodicy as well. The main emphasis is on defences - merely logically possible accounts - and an appeal to our cognitive limitations. Basically, most of the theistic writers try to demonstrate that we are simply not in a cognitive position to judge with any certainty whether or not God has a sufficient reason for the evils that exist in the world. Since we have no idea whether or not God has a reason, it is a bit hasty to conclude from the existence of unexplained evil in the world that God probably does not exist.
  3. This is one aspect of the Problem of Evil that I do not tend to emphasize in my own analysis of this issue. I tend to think that a bare appeal to our cognitive limitations is inadequate. While it is legitimate to point out that we should not expect to understand God's reasons for any particular evil, it is not legitimate to avoid offering any sorts of plausible reasons why evil and suffering in general exists in the world.
  4. Nevertheless, the theistic critics make a good case that we should not truly be surprised if we are unable to think of the reasons why God allows so much evil and suffering in the world. Thus, when the defender of the Problem of Evil jumps from the premise that we don't know why so much evil exists, to the premise that God does not have a sufficient reason for permitting the evil that exists, they improperly assume that we are in the type of cognitive situation where we should expect to find reasons even if they existed.
  5. The atheist defenders of the problem offer several different formulations of the argument throughout the volume. As Bruce Russell notes, there are several different formulations of the evidential argument from evil, so theistic critics must be careful not to jump the gun and assume that a critique of one type constitutes a critique of all types. Of particular note is the type of argument developed by Paul Draper. Draper does not challenge the theist to explain apparently gratuitous evil; he offers a hypothesis competing with theism that he believes explains the evidence concerning the distribution of pain and pleasure in the world better than theism. This is a powerful argument that must be addressed, and it cannot simply be lumped together with all other types of arguments from evil.
  6. Ultimately, I would have liked more authors to attempt the development of substantial theodicies like the soul-making theory or the free will defence. These seem to be critical aspects of the problem of evil that were not really addressed. Nevertheless, this book contains a number of excellent essays that advance the discussion of the problem of evil. Many of the essays are quite technical and challenging, but for the reader who is prepared for such an advanced discussion, this book will prove useful. However, for a comprehensive overview of the problem of evil, the reader may have to look elsewhere.

Contents
    Preface – ix
    Introduction: The Evidential Argument From Evil (Daniel Howard-Snyder) – xi
  1. The Problem Of Evil And Some Varieties Of Atheism (William L. Rowe) – 1
  2. Pain And Pleasure: An Evidential Problem For Theists (Paul Draper) – 12
  3. Some Major Strands Of Theodicy (Richard Swinburne) – 30
  4. Aquinas On The Sufferings Of Job (Eleonore Stump) – 49
  5. Epistemic Probability And Evil (Alvin Plantinga) – 69
  6. The Inductive Argument From Evil And The Human Cognitive Condition (William P. Alston) – 97
  7. Rowe's Noseeum Arguments From Evil (Stephen John Wykstra) – 126
  8. The Problem Of Evil, The Problem Of Air, And The Problem Of Silence (Peter Van Inwagen) – 151
  9. The Skeptical Theist (Paul Draper) – 175
  10. Defenseless (Bruce Russell) – 193
  11. Some Difficulties In Theistic Treatments Of Evil (Richard M. Gale) – 206
  12. Reflections On The Chapters By Draper, Russell, And Gale (Peter Van Inwagen) – 219
  13. On Being Evidentially Challenged (Alvin Plantinga) – 244
  14. The Evidential Argument From Evil: A Second Look (William L. Rowe) – 262
  15. The Argument From Inscrutable Evil (Daniel Howard-Snyder) – 286
  16. Some (Temporarily) Final Thoughts On Evidential Arguments From Evil (William P. Alston) – 311
  17. Bibliography – 333
    Contributors – 351
    Index – 353



"Alston (William) - Some (Temporarily) Final Thoughts On Evidential Arguments From Evil"

Source: Howard-Snyder (Daniel) - The Evidential Argument from Evil



"Alston (William) - The Inductive Argument From Evil and the Human Cognitive Condition"

Source: Howard-Snyder (Daniel) - The Evidential Argument from Evil

COMMENT: Philosophical Perspectives, Vol. 5, Philosophy of Religion (1991), pp. 29-67



"Draper (Paul) - Pain And Pleasure: An Evidential Problem For Theists"

Source: Howard-Snyder (Daniel) - The Evidential Argument from Evil



"Draper (Paul) - The Skeptical Theist"

Source: Howard-Snyder (Daniel) - The Evidential Argument from Evil



"Gale (Richard) - Some Difficulties In Theistic Treatments Of Evil"

Source: Howard-Snyder (Daniel) - The Evidential Argument from Evil



"Howard-Snyder (Daniel) - The Argument From Inscrutable Evil"

Source: Howard-Snyder (Daniel) - The Evidential Argument from Evil



"Howard-Snyder (Daniel) - The Evidential Argument from Evil: Introduction"

Source: Howard-Snyder (Daniel) - The Evidential Argument from Evil



"Plantinga (Alvin) - Epistemic Probability And Evil"

Source: Howard-Snyder (Daniel) - The Evidential Argument from Evil



"Plantinga (Alvin) - On Being Evidentially Challenged"

Source: Howard-Snyder (Daniel) - The Evidential Argument from Evil



"Rowe (William L.) - The Evidential Argument From Evil: A Second Look"

Source: Howard-Snyder (Daniel) - The Evidential Argument from Evil



"Rowe (William L.) - The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism"

Source: Rowe & Wainwright - Philosophy of Religion

COMMENT: Also in "Howard-Snyder (Daniel), Ed. - The Evidential Argument from Evil".



"Russell (Bruce) - Defenseless"

Source: Howard-Snyder (Daniel) - The Evidential Argument from Evil



"Stump (Eleonore) - Aquinas On The Sufferings Of Job"

Source: Howard-Snyder (Daniel) - The Evidential Argument from Evil



"Swinburne (Richard) - Some Major Strands Of Theodicy"

Source: Howard-Snyder (Daniel) - The Evidential Argument from Evil



"Van Inwagen (Peter) - Reflections On The Chapters By Draper, Russell, And Gale"

Source: Howard-Snyder (Daniel) - The Evidential Argument from Evil



"Van Inwagen (Peter) - The Problem of Evil, The Problem of Air, and the Problem of Silence"

Source: Howard-Snyder (Daniel) - The Evidential Argument from Evil

COMMENT: Philosophical Perspectives, Vol. 5, Philosophy of Religion (1991), pp. 135-165



"Wykstra (Stephen) - Rowe's Noseeum Arguments From Evil"

Source: Howard-Snyder (Daniel) - The Evidential Argument from Evil



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