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The incompatibility of God and gratuitous evil: implications for the termination of civilizations


Setting aside the discussion of whether the biblical destruction of the Canaanites actually occurred or was ordered by God, there still remains the philosophical question of whether any good at all justifies an omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good being in permitting or orchestrating the destruction of an entire society. If we grant that the existence of God is incompatible with gratuitous evil, then God must terminate a society when it reaches a point in its history where the net moral value of permitting it to continue becomes negative. This raises at least four concerns which are discussed here.

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Durston, K. (2006) ‘The complexity of history and evil: a reply to Trakakis’, Religious Studies, 42, 8799.
Hasker, W. (1986) ‘A refutation of middle knowledge’, Noûs, 20, 545557.
Hasker, W. (2010) ‘Defining ‘gratuitous evil’: a response to Alan R. Rhoda’, Religious Studies, 46, 303309.
Mann, W. E. (1975) ‘The divine attributes’, American Philosophical Quarterly, 12, 151159.
Plantinga, A. (1979) The Nature of Necessity (Oxford: Clarendon University Press).
Rhoda, A. R. (2010) ‘Gratuitous evil and divine providence’, Religious Studies, 46, 281302.
Trakakis, N. (2003) ‘Evil and the complexity of history: a response to Durston’, Religious Studies, 39, 451458.
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Religious Studies
  • ISSN: 0034-4125
  • EISSN: 1469-901X
  • URL: /core/journals/religious-studies
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