The problem of evil as a moral objection to theism

Betenson, Toby George (2015). The problem of evil as a moral objection to theism. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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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: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Department of Philosophy
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion


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