Tuesday, December 16, 2008

God, Probability, and Evil: A Response to Alvin Plantinga

I know... the title is lame. I got tired of working on it and decided to not bother coming up with something better.

Evil, Probability, and God:
A Response to Plantinga

     In his “Epistemic Probability and Evil,”1 Alvin Plantinga responds to the argument that the overwhelming amount of evil in the world makes the probability of God's existence to be extremely low, and that because of this probability a belief in God exceeds reason and is irrational. In attempting to critique this problem, Plantinga appeals to the possibility of unknown free creatures, possible transactions God may have with those creatures, the possibility of Plantinga's own free-will defense, and the possibility of God's allowance of greater goods for this and the afterlife. Plantinga argues that the mere possibility of these things sufficiently responds to the criticism that God is improbable, and that it is thus not irrational to believe in God. The appeal to these purported possibilities however are problematic, especially when Plantinga is not just defending simple theism, but is also defending the theism of Christianity. While perhaps these things may be logically possible, they are problematic in themselves and do solve the problem that Plantiga is trying to avert. However, in light of Plantinga's response to this problem the probability of God's existence and the question of the rationality of a belief in God, especially in a Christian context, must be understood differently than in its simple form as initially and traditionally presented.


1Alvin Plantinga, “Epistemic Probability and Evil,” in The Evidential Problem from Evil, ed. Daniel Hawthorne-Snyder (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996), 69-96.

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