There is No God

Mon, Nov 04

In our last class, we considered arguments that we can demonstrate to every rational person that God exists.  In this session we consider natural a-theology: arguments that no rational person should believe that a god exists.  In particular, we will focus on the Problem of Evil.  To guide our thinking, we will consider some real world tragedies and the burden that theists have in understanding them. We'll also consider one of the most important meditations on evil in the history of literature: Ivan's "Rebellion" speech in Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov.

By the end of class:

  1. You will understand the philosophical "problem of evil" and some leading theodicies.
  2. You will reflect on whether there are any morally satisfying resolutions to the problem of evil, given the actual evils we find in the world.
  3. You will reflect on the appropriate effect evils should have on theistic faith.
  4. You will debate in class whether specific theological assumptions should be appealed to in efforts to prove the argument from evil is unsound.

Read This:


Book V, Chap IV "Rebellion" The Brothers Karamazov (Dostoyevsky)


"Its Like a Nightmare: For Bombing Survivors, Anguish That Won't Stop" (NYTimes)

OPTIONAL  "Hell is the Absence of God" (Ted Chiang)

Do This:

Complete the following questions in your GGL Journal:

  1. What are some reasons God (if He exists) might allow evil in the world?
  2. How might these reasons explain the evils Ivan thinks about?  How might they explain the evils in the NYTimes articles?
  3. Do you think these explanations are good ones, given the moral theories we studied earlier this semester?  
  4. OPTIONAL: Is you read the Chiang story, do you think the problem of evil is a problem of having enough evidence to rationally believe God exists?  Would there still be a problem of evil even if we were certain?  

Watch This: