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God, Evil and Design: An Introduction to the Philosophical Issues

God, Evil and Design: An Introduction to the Philosophical Issues

David O'Connor

ISBN: 978-1-405-15770-4 June 2008 Wiley-Blackwell 240 Pages


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Although vast and complex, the universe is orderly in many ways, and conditions at its beginning were right for the eventual evolution of life on this planet. But with life there is death, and with sentient life there is great pain and suffering, often with no apparent justification or purpose. Taking these things together, is it reasonable to conclude that the universe was brought about by God? Moreover, does the magnitude of seemingly pointless suffering square with the idea that God exists, or is it good reason to think there is no God? These questions come up for many people, not just religious believers, and are examined in this engaging and thought-provoking book.

Starting out with no pre-disposition to theism, atheism, or agnosticism, God, Evil, and Design takes up these questions in order to see where an impartial investigation leads. To achieve impartiality, the reader is invited to simulate ignorance insofar as his or her own religious preference is concerned. With this approach, God, Evil, and Design provides both a fresh look at important and controversial issues in philosophy and an excellent introduction to the contemporary debates surrounding them. Lively and non-technical, this book will be accessible to anyone with an interest in these topics.


Part I: Introduction:.

1. What We Are Going to Investigate and How.

2. Terminology.

Part II: The Logic of God and Evil:.

3. Is the Existence of God Impossible?.

4. A Free-Will Defense of the Possibility that God Exists.

Part III: Design and Evil:.

5. Natural Order, Natural Selection, and Supernatural Design (1).

6. Natural Order, Natural Selection, and Supernatural Design (2).

Part IV: Evil and Design (1):.

7. Is the Existence of God Improbable?.

8. Skeptical Defenses.

9. Evaluating Skeptical Defenses.

Part V: Evil and Design (2).

10. Greater-Good Defenses.

11. Evaluating Greater-Good Defenses.

Part VI: Taking Stock:.

12. Taking Stock.


“O’Connor’s book is written as an introduction to the topic, and is therefore easily readable.”  (The Heythrop Journal, 5 December 2014)

“O’Connor’s book ranks with the very best of the many introductions to the philosophy of religion that have been published over the past several decades. His selection and discussion of two main topics, the problem of evil, and the apparent design of the universe, convey especially well the importance of the question of God’s existence.” Quentin Smith, Western Michigan University

“This is a very clear and unusually objective examination of the problem of evil and its interface with the design argument. For those tired of theistic or atheistic apologetics masquerading as philosophy of religion, this book is highly recommended.” Paul Draper, Purdue University

“David O'Connor's God, Evil, and Design is a remarkably accessible opinionated introduction to the issues. His critique of skepticism about arguments from evil will be of interest to professionals as well. Highly recommended.” Daniel Howard-Snyder, Western Washington University

"It is aimed at the beginner, but is also of interest to more advanced readers." Times Higher Education Supplement

  • Effectively links the problem of evil to other issues in the epistemology of religious belief

  • Written by the author of God and Inscrutable Evil

  • Includes a chapter on the cosmological and design arguments for God's existence