Skeptical theism and the challenge of atheism

  • James P. SterbaEmail author


Skeptical theists hold that we should be skeptical about our ability to know the reasons that God would have for permitting evil, at least in particular cases. They argue for their view by setting aside actions that are wrong in themselves and focusing their attention on actions that are purportedly right or wrong simply in terms of their consequences. However, I argue in this paper that once skeptical theists are led to take into account actions that are wrong in themselves, as they must, they cannot escape the conclusion that there is a logical contradiction between the existence of an all-good, all-powerful God and what would have to be God’s permission of the significant and horrendous evil consequences of immoral actions found in our world.


Skeptical theism Pauline Principle Problem of evil 


  1. Bergmann, M. (2001). Skeptical theism and Rowe’s new evidential argument from evil. Noûs, 35, 278–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bergmann, M. (2009). Skeptical theism and the problem of evil. In T. Flint & M. Rea (Eds.), Oxford handbook of philosophical theology (pp. 375–399). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bergmann, M. (2012). Commonsense skeptical theism. In K. Clark & M. Rea (Eds.), Science, religion, and metaphysics: New essays on the philosophy of Alvin Plantinga. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bergmann, M. (2014). Skeptical theism, atheism and total evidence skepticism. In D. Trent & M. Justin (Eds.), Skeptical theism: New essays (pp. 209–220). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dostoyevski, F. (1966). Brothers Karamazov. New York: Airmont Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  6. Draper, P. (1996). The skeptical theist. In D. Howard-Snyder (Ed.), The evidential argument from evil (pp. 175–192). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Finnis, J. (1991). Moral absolutes. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Sterba, J. (2012). Introducing Ethics. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc.Google Scholar
  9. Sterba, J. (2013). From Rationality to Equality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Sterba, J. (forthcoming). Is a Good God Logically Possible?Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

Personalised recommendations