God and Evil: An Introduction to the Issues

God and Evil: An Introduction to the Issues

God and Evil: An Introduction to the Issues

God and Evil: An Introduction to the Issues


This concise, well-structured introductory survey examines the problem of evil in the context of the philosophy of religion. One of the core topics in the philosophy of religion, the problem of evil is an ever-present dilemma that Western philosophers have pondered for almost two thousand years. The main problem of evil consists in reconciling belief in one's theistic deity while believing in the existence of evil at the same time. Michael Peterson presents this issue through a series of questions & cites theodicy as an appropriate response to the various arguments of evil. Peterson concludes with a discussion of how the problem of evil has evolved, where it stands today, & in what direction it is headed. Contents: THE PROBLEM OF EVIL & ITS PLACE IN PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION. Evil in Human Existence. Evil & Religious Belief. The Classification of Evil. THE LOGICAL PROBLEM OF EVIL. The Structure of the Problem. Versions of the Problem. Locating the Burden of Proof. THE FUNCTION OF DEFENSE. The Free Will Defense. Reformed Epistemology. The Current State of the Debate. THE EVIDENTIAL PROBLEM OF EVIL. The Structure of the Problem. Versions of the Problem. The Argument from Gratuitous Evil. IMPORTANT THEODICIES. The Prospects for Theodicy. Augustine's Free Will Theodicy. Leibniz's Best Possible World Theodicy. Griffin's Process Theodicy. Hick's Soul-Making Theodicy. THE EXISTENTIAL PROBLEM OF EVIL. Various Kinds of Existential Problems. Key Existential Questions Related to Evil. The Relation Between Rational Argument & Religious Faith. The Ongoing Discussion.


This volume is an introduction to the problem of evil as it is currently discussed in professional philosophy. I have designed the book for use in an academic setting, with hopes that both student and scholar may find many points interesting and provocative. I also trust that the serious and thoughtful person outside academia may benefit from my treatment of this perennially important subject.

No project of this sort is a purely private undertaking. Over the years, I have benefited from helpful discussions on the problem of evil with Alvin Plantinga, Edward Madden, Peter Hare, William Hasker, David Basinger, Bruce Reichenbach, and Jerry Walls. I have appreciated the encouragement of the Asbury College administration during my writing. I am also thankful to Pew Charitable Trusts for funding my research during the 1992-1993 academic year.

I am not completely sure why I continue to be fascinated by the problem of evil in all of its permutations. In part, I am astonished by the great profusion of suffering and evil around us and am driven to ponder it on behalf of those who ask, "Why?" And, in part, I am staggered at the capacity for evil within us and am thereby drawn to the issues concerning God and evil. Although I am conscious of the strange mixture of good and evil in our world, I am more mindful of how important it is to orient oneself properly toward these realities.

I dedicate this book to my sons, Aaron and Adam, in whom I take great pleasure and delight. They are certainly two immeasurable goods in my life that show me just how much value there is in a world that contains evil. Their goodness even makes me a better person. My fatherly hope for them is that they will resist evil in all its forms and that they will love and seek the good in all things.

Michael L. Peterson . . .

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