Religious Studies

Reply to Richard Gale

a1 Oriel College, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 4EW


I am most grateful to Richard Gale for the detailed attention which he has paid to my detailed arguments, and for the kind remarks between which he sandwiches his hard-hitting criticisms. The first of the latter is that I ‘slosh back and forth’ (211) between different theses, Ss, Sw, and W. I hope not, but I agree that I may not have made the relation between these sufficiently clear. I am certainly committed to, and sought to argue for, the strong version of the strong thesis:

Ss For every instance of evil, God is justified in allowing it.

But I cannot examine every instance of evil in order to show that – I do not know of all the evils, let alone have time or space to discuss each of them. So I need to produce an inductive argument for Ss, and I seek to do so by considering the various kinds of evil, and trying to show that God is justified in allowing any evil of that kind. Hence I consider the evils of having bad desires, making wrong choices which cause suffering to oneself, making wrong choices which cause suffering to others, suffering occurring through natural processes, ignorance of God etc. I divide evils into kinds, in such a way that the morally significant differences between evils of a given kind is simply one of degree – different instances of suffering occurring through natural processes differ in respect of their intensity and the period of time they last.