The parent–child analogy and the limits of skeptical theism
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I draw on the literature on skeptical theism to develop an argument against Christian theism based on the widespread existence of suffering that appears to its sufferer to be gratuitous and is combined with the sense that God has abandoned one or never existed in the first place. While the core idea of the argument (that the existence of a certain sort of suffering casts doubt on the existence of God) is hardly novel, key elements of the argument are importantly different from other influential arguments against Christian theism. After explaining that argument, I make the case that the argument is untouched by traditional skeptical theism. I then consider (DePoe’s, in: Skeptical theism: new essays, 2014) positive skeptical theism, arguing that while DePoe’s view might provide a response to my argument, it entangles the theist in worries about divine deception. Because traditional skeptical theism and DePoe’s positive skeptical theism constitute the most promising extant strategies for answering my argument, the argument constitutes a serious challenge for the Christian theist. My overall aim, then, is to draw on various strands of the skeptical theism literature to present a challenge for all Christian theists, not just those in the skeptical theist camp, while at the same time revealing some important limitations of skeptical theism.
KeywordsSkeptical theism Evil Rowe Wykstra Bergmann DePoe
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