Religious Studies



Evil and the complexity of history: a response to Durston


NICK TRAKAKIS a1
a1 Department of Philosophy, Monash University, Wellington Road, Clayton, VIC 3800, Australia

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Abstract

Kirk Durston recently presented an argument aimed against evidential arguments from evil predicated on instances of suffering that appear to be gratuitous; ‘The consequential complexity of history and gratuitous evil’, Religious Studies, 36 (2000), 65–80. He begins with the notion that history consists of an intricate web of causal chains, so that a single event in one such chain may have countless unforeseen consequences. According to Durston, this consequential complexity exhibited by history negatively impacts on our grasp of the data necessary to determine whether or not an evil is gratuitous. He therefore concludes that our epistemic condition poses an insurmountable barrier towards the inference from inscrutability to pointlessness. By way of reply, I contend that Durston's argument is flawed in two significant respects, and thus the evidential argument emerges unscathed from his critique.