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Replying to the anti-God challenge: a God without moral character acts well


Several authors, including Stephen Law in this journal, have argued that the case for an evil God is (about) as strong as for a good God. In this article I take up the challenge on behalf of theists who, like Richard Swinburne, argue for an agent of unrestricted power and knowledge as the ultimate explanation of all contingent truths. I shall argue that an evil God is much less probable than a good one. I do so by (1) distinguishing the analogical predication of ‘good’ or ‘evil’ of God from the literal predication, (2) interpreting ‘acting in a morally good way’ to mean ‘acting like a good consequentialist’, and (3) relying on an axiarchist thesis about agency that is congenial to theists and perhaps even presupposed by theism.

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Peter Forrest (2007) Developmental Theism: From Pure Will to Unbounded Love (Oxford: Clarendon Press).

Timothy O'Connor (2008) Theism and Ultimate Explanation: The Necessary Shape of Contingency (Oxford: Blackwell).

Richard Swinburne (1994) The Christian God (Oxford: Clarendon Press).

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