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The problem of religious evil: Co-winner of the 2014 Religious Studies Postgraduate Essay Prize


The article argues that evils perpetrated in the name of God (‘religious evils') generate a special version of the problem of evil, and a concomitant evidential argument, that cannot be solved by any of the current defences and theodicies. The article draws on historical examples to clarify the concept of religious evil, it shows that religious evil is a candidate defeater of theism, and it claims that the resulting evidential argument cannot be defused by defences and theodicies currently on offer. The last section outlines a solution.

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William P. Alston (1991) ‘The inductive argument from evil and the human cognitive condition’, Philosophical Perspectives, 5, 2967.

Michael Bergmann (2001) ‘Skeptical theism and Rowe's new evidential argument from evil’, Noûs, 35, 278296.

Brian P. Levack (ed.) (2013) The Oxford Handbook of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe and Colonial America (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Eleonore Stump (1985) ‘The problem of evil’, Faith and Philosophy, 2, 392423.

Eleonore Stump (1997) ‘Saadia Gaon on the problem of evil’, Faith and Philosophy, 14, 523549.

Richard Swinburne (1998) Providence and the Problem of Evil (Oxford: Clarendon Press).

Peter van Inwagen (2006) The Problem of Evil (Oxford: Clarendon Press).

Stephen J. Wykstra (1984) ‘The Humean obstacle to evidential arguments from suffering’, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 16, 7393.

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Religious Studies
  • ISSN: 0034-4125
  • EISSN: 1469-901X
  • URL: /core/journals/religious-studies
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