Religious Studies

The structure of the contemporary debate on the problem of evil

a1 Department of Philosophy, Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, B4P 2R6, Canada

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wilks i   [Google Scholar] 


This paper concerns the attempt to formulate an empirical version of the problem of evil, and the attempt to counter this version by what is known as ‘sceptical theism’. My concern is to assess what is actually achieved in these attempts. To this end I consider the debate between them against the backdrop of William Rowe's distinction between expanded standard theism and restricted standard theism (which I label E and R respectively). My claim is that the empirical version significantly fails to challenge E in the way that a workable logical version would; and that sceptical theism significantly fails to defend R in the way that a workable theodicy would. My conclusion is that sceptical theism and the empirical argument play a significantly more limited role in the debate over evil than the arguments they are supposed to replace.

(Published Online August 11 2004)