Skeptical theism and divine permission: a reply to Anderson
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Skeptical theism (ST) may undercut the key inference in the evidential argument from evil, but it does so at a cost. If ST is true, then we lose our ability to assess the all things considered (ATC) value of natural events and states of affairs. And if we lose that ability, a whole slew of undesirable consequences follow. So goes a common consequential critique of ST. In a recent article, Anderson has argued that this consequential critique is flawed. Anderson claims that ST only has the consequence that we lack epistemic access to potentially God-justifying reasons for permitting a prima facie “bad” (or “evil”) event. But this is very different from lacking epistemic access to the ATC value of such events. God could have an (unknowable) reason for not intervening to prevent E and yet E could still be (knowably) ATC-bad. Ingenious though it is, this article argues that Anderson’s attempted defence of ST is flawed. This is for two reasons. First, and most importantly, the consequential critique does not rely on the questionable assumption he identifies. Indeed, the argument can be made quite easily by relying purely on Anderson’s distinction between God-justifying reasons for permitting E and the ATC value of E. And second, Anderson’s defence of his position, if correct, would serve to undermine the foundations of ST.
KeywordsSkeptical theism Moral ignorance Problem of evil All things considered value
The author would like to thank Stephen Maitzen and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.
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