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The problem of evil as a moral objection to theism

Betenson, Toby George (2015)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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I argue that the problem of evil can be a moral objection to theistic belief. The thesis has three broad sections, each establishing an element in this argument. Section one establishes the logically binding nature of the problem of evil: The problem of evil must be solved, if you are to believe in God. And yet, I borrow from J. L. Mackie’s criticisms of the moral argument for the existence of God, and argue that the fundamentally evaluative nature of the premises within the problem of evil entails that it cannot be used to argue for the non-existence of God. Section two establishes the moral objectionability of many responses to the problem of evil (theodicies). I discuss the work of the moral ‘anti-theodicists’, and support some of the key premises within their arguments via appeal to the moral philosophy of Raimond Gaita. I combine the claims of section one and section two, and conclude that theism inherits the moral objectionability of theodicy. In section three, I establish the plausibility of a morally motivated non-cognitive atheism, offering an example (Dostoevsky’s Ivan Karamazov), before finally distilling the central claims of this thesis into the form of a slogan: God lacks humanity.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Nagasawa, Yujin
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Department of Philosophy
Subjects:B Philosophy (General)
BJ Ethics
BL Religion
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:5610
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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