God and the problem of evil

As you can see, therefore, there are many different approaches on offer when it comes to the topic of God and evil. Can we abjudicate between them? If we are concerned with truth, we presumably ought to try to do so. But how should we proceed? My view is that we cannot proceed to any good effect if we do not start by returning to what, in the Introduction to this book, I referred to as certain 'basics'. When it comes to the problem of evil we cannot, I think, bypass the question 'Is there any reason to believe in God before we start talking about God and evil?' We cannot, I think, make good progress when trying to think about God and evil if we do not (and apart from the issue of evil) ask if there are positive grounds for believing in God to start with. If there are such grounds, the next obvious question to ask is 'What should we suppose God to be?' God is often (though certainly not always) said to be omnipotent, omniscient, and good. But how, when it comes to God, should we construe 'omnipotent', 'omniscient', and 'good'? You might, reply: 'It is obvious, is it not?' My view, however, is that it is not obvious. If we are right to think (as I believe we are) that cats are animals which fear water, that is because of what we know of actually existing cats. No sensible scientist would dream of telling us what X, Y, and Z are without copious study of them. By the same token, so it seems to me, talk of God's omnipotence, omniscience and goodness needs to be grounded (should this be at all possible) in a study of God - something, in turn, that needs to come before a discussion of God and evil (or the problem of evil). When turning to such a discussion one needs some serious context. In the next chapter, therefore, I begin to spell out what I think we should take this to be.

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