EVENT: Mini conference – “God, Evil and Suffering”
DATE: Friday, March 9
TIME: 11:00 a.m.-3:45 p.m.
LOCATION: 1030 CB
Dr. Bruce Russell (Wayne State University) – “From Evil to Atheism via Inference to the Best Explanation”
The problem of evil is the problem of how an all-knowing, all-powerful, wholly good God could allow the existence of so many bad things, especially the suffering of innocent people and animals. After discussing the nature of suffering and what makes it bad, I offer three versions of the argument from evil against the existence of God, the last of which concludes that God does not exist because there is way more suffering in the world than he need allow to achieve important goods. I consider defenses against this version of the argument that hold that we are in no position to judge that the suffering is unnecessary, and then consider replies to them that claim that the defenses lead to unacceptable forms of moral or epistemic skepticism. In the last section I consider arguments against Theism based on Bayes’s theorem, partly criticize an argument against Theism put forth by Paul Draper, and end by arguing that Theism, even when supplemented by certain auxiliary hypotheses, should be rejected.
Dr. Joseph Anderson (Central Michigan University) – “Leibniz on Privation and The Reality of Evil”
Early in Leibniz’s career, he rejects the usefulness of the idea that evil is a privation in a defense of the justice of God. In the Theodicy, however, this doctrine plays a key role. Here I examine this shift in perspective, not from a metaphysical point of view but a moral one. In Leibniz’s early theodical works, he rejects the reality of evil altogether, claiming that sins are not properly evil since God brings them about only for the improvement of the world. Leibniz has no need to protect the holiness of God from involvement in evil since there is no evil. It is only once Leibniz comes to recognize the reality of evil that he has need of such metaphysical niceties as privation because now Leibniz has to explain the ethics of God’s relationship with evil. Surprisingly, Leibniz must say that evil is a privation only because he recognizes its reality.
Dr. Imran Aijaz (The University of Michigan-Dearborn) – “A Critical Appraisal of an Islamic Theodicy”
In a recent discussion of the problem of evil, Mohammad Ali Mobini articulates and defends an Islamic theodicy. Although Mobini’s theodicy is perhaps the most detailed and thoughtful one offered by a contemporary Islamic philosopher, I shall argue that it is ultimately unsuccessful. The gist of my criticism is that Mobini does not pay sufficient attention to the different problems of evil that can be presented against theism. More powerful versions of the problem of evil, such as those that focus on specific, concrete cases of suffering (e.g. what Marilyn Adams calls horrendous evils), can be accommodated by the sort of theodicy proffered by Mobini only if one accepts an inadequate conception of God.