Does Sceptical Theism Rebut the Atheological Inductive Argument from Evil?
Keywords:Sceptical theism, Gratuitous evil, Suffering, Moral scepticism, Theodicy
Four decades ago, a debate started about the cogency of William Rowe’s inductive argument from evil: there probably are gratuitous evils; God would prevent the existence of gratuitous evils; therefore, probably God does not exist. This argument has deserved various responses from the sceptical theism arena. It is mainly objected that our knowledge of the realm of value, of the scope and global impact of actions and states of affairs, and finally of the divine reasons and designs is so precarious that we can draw no atheist conclusion from the apparently gratuitous suffering. Nevertheless, such approach has prompted several criticisms, most prominently the charge of leading into some moral scepticism that would paralyse our actions or, at least, would leave them unjustified. I recap here the essential contributions to this debate, assessing the arguments of either party, and I conclude that the charge of moral scepticism is well grounded. In addition, although the appearance of gratuitousness does not prove that such evils are genuinely so and should have been avoided by God, the mere appearance of pointless suffering, especially being so appalling, counts as an additional evil to be justified. Weighing all objections, I claim sceptical theism does not hold.