All too skeptical theism



Skeptical theism contends that, due to our cognitive limitations, we cannot expect to be able to determine whether there are reasons which justify God’s permission of apparently unjustified evils. Because this is so, the existence of these evils does not constituted evidence against God’s existence. A common criticism is that the skeptical theist is implicitly committed to other, less palatable forms of skepticism, especially moral skepticism. I examine a recent defense against this charge mounted by Michael Bergmann. I point out that the Bergmannian skeptical theist is unable to determine concerning any event or feature of the world whether that feature or event is good or evil all-things-considered. Because of this the skeptical theist must abandon any attempt to act in such a way that the world becomes better rather than worse as a result. These, I claim, are seriously skeptical conclusions, and should cause us to be skeptical about skeptical theism itself.


Skeptical theism Evidential argument from evil Inductive skepticism Moral skepticism Unjustified evil 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bergmann M. (2001) Skeptical theism and Rowe’s new evidential argument from evil. Noûs 35(2): 228–296Google Scholar
  2. Bergmann M. (2009) Skeptical theism and the problem of evil. In: Thomas T. P., Rea M. (eds) The oxford handbook of philosophical theology. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 374–399CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chisholm R. M. (1990) The defeat of good and evil. In: Adams M. M., Adams R. M. (eds) The problem of evil. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 53–68Google Scholar
  4. Howard-Snyder D. (2010) Epistemic humility, arguments from evil, and moral skepticism. In: Kvanvig J. (eds) Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Religion. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 17–57Google Scholar
  5. Rowe, W. L. (1979). The problem of evil and some varieties of atheism. American Philosophical Quarterly, 16, 335–341 (Reprinted in D. Howard-Snyder (Ed.), The evidential argument from evil. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Rowe W. L. (1988) Evil and theodicy. Philosophical Topics 16: 119–132Google Scholar
  7. Rowe W. L. (1991) Ruminations about evil. Philosophical Perspectives 5: 69–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Rowe W. L. (1996) The evidential argument from evil: a second look. In: Howard-Snyder D. (eds) The evidential argument from evil. Indiana University Press, BloomingtonGoogle Scholar
  9. Rowe W. L. (1986) The empirical argument from evil. In: Audi R., Wainwright W. (eds) Rationality, religious belief, and moral commitment. Cornell University Press, IthacaGoogle Scholar
  10. Swinburne R. (1998) Providence and the problem of evil. The Clarendon Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyHuntington CollegeHuntingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations