The Problem of Evil: Balancing between theism and atheism

by Alexander Pruss

The problem of evil consists of three main parts:

1. The problem of suffering.

2. The problem of evil choices.

3. The problem of hiddenness (which is an evil at most conditionally on God’s existing).

The theist has trouble explaining why there is so much suffering. The atheist, however, has trouble explaining why there is any suffering, given that suffering presupposes consciousness, and the atheist has trouble explaining why there is any consciousness.

Of course, there are atheist-friendly naturalistic accounts of consciousness. But they all face serious difficulties. This parallels the fact that theists have theodical accounts of why God permits so much suffering, accounts that also face serious difficulties.

So, on the above, considerations of suffering are a net tie between theism and atheism.

The theist does not actually have all that much trouble explaining why there are evil choices. Libertarian free will does the job. Of course, there are some problems with libertarian accounts of free will. These problems are not, I think, nearly as serious as the problems that theists have with explaining why there is so much suffering or atheists have with explaining why there is consciousness. Moreover, there is a parallel problem for the atheist. Evil choices can only exist given free will. Prima facie the most plausible accounts of free will are libertarian agent-causal ones. But those are problematic for the atheist…
 
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The Problem of Evil: Balancing between theism and atheism