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The Problem of Evil

Daniel Speak

ISBN: 978-0-745-66407-1 November 2014 Polity 200 Pages



The most forceful philosophical objections to belief in God arise from the existence of evil. Bad things happen in the world and it is not clear how this is compatible with the existence of an all-powerful and perfectly loving being. Unsurprisingly then, philosophers have formulated powerful arguments for atheism based on the existence of apparently unjustified suffering. These arguments give expression to what we call the problem of evil.

This volume is an engaging introduction to the philosophical problem of evil. Daniel Speak provides a clear overview of the main lines of reasoning in this debate and argues for the defensibility of theistic belief in the face of evil. He fleshes out the distinction between theodicy and defense and guides the reader through the logical, evidential, and hiddenness versions of the problem. In an accessible and beautifully written account, Speak describes the central issues surrounding the problem of evil in a way that clarifies both the complex reasoning and specialised terminology of the topic.

The Problem of Evil is an ideal introduction to contemporary debates over one of the most gripping perennial questions. Read either on its own or alongside the primary materials it deftly covers, students and scholars will find this volume a terrific resource for understanding the challenges to religious belief raised by evil.

1. The Problem(s) of Evil
2. The Logical Problem
3. The Evidential Problem
4. The Problem of Divine Hiddenness
5. The Project of Theodicy
6. Tentative Conclusions and Beyond

Philosophical investigations during the last 50 years have shed a good deal of new light on the ancient problem of evil. Daniel Speak?s judicious book covers all these developments, beginning with Plantinga?s free-will defense and working through all of the most important contributions to the subject up to the present day. He discusses Rowe?s evidential argument from evil, the skeptical theists? response to Rowe, Schellenberg?s divine hiddenness challenge, and much more. This book will be a great resource for anyone interested in the compatibility of God and evil, from true believer to die-hard atheist.
Dean Zimmerman, Rutgers University

In this admirably clear and accessible book, Dan Speak focuses on the strategic. Overviewing discussions among analytic philosophers since the mid-twentieth century, Speak x-rays the dialetical structure of both defense and theodicy and supports a version of skeptical theism. Those who want to delve into the logical and evidential problems of evil and the problem of divine hiddenness will find it an extremely valuable map.
Marilyn McCord Adams, formerly, Regius Professor of Divinity, Oxford