WILLIAM L. ROWE AND ?THE POINTLESSNESS OF THE EVIL?

Abstract

Author(s): ?smail ??M?EK

The problem of evil is one of the oldest and most important issues of the history of thought. Particularly regarding the theistic understanding, in which God is believed to be omnipotent, omniscient and absolutely perfect, explaining the presence of evil consistently with an existent possessing those characteristics still continues to be relevant as a problem. The problem has been handled and examined, in philosophical terms, by several philosophers and theologians from ancient times until today. Each philosopher or theologian, who tackled the subject, evaluated the issue within the framework of his own belief, culture and fund of knowledge. The subject has begun to gain a ground within the history of thought especially with Epicurus, and has been discussed until our days as David Hume systematically set it forth. The theists tried to show, on the one hand, that the real presence of evil is not an inconsistency with regard to the belief in an omnipotent, omniscient and absolutely perfect existent, the atheists argued, with reference to the real presence of evil, that the existence of a God within the form believed in by the theist is not rational on the other. While many philosophers, like Mackie and McCloskey, try to ground their understanding on the idea that the presence of evil is logically inconsistent with a number of propositions believed in theistic thought (e. g., that God is omnipotent, omniscient and absolutely good, and that evil exists), philosophers like Rowe suggested, with reference to evidence-based criticism, that the belief in God is not rational. In philosophical thinking, Mackie’s and McCloskey’s views have an important place for the atheistic thought, whereas the “Free Will Defense”, which is put forward by Alvin Plantinga against these two philosopher’s views, gained a ground with regard to the theistic understanding. Plantinga has tried not only to show that the ideas, put forward to claim that theism is inconsistent in logical terms, are unreasonable but also to prove that the evidence-based criticisms are untrue. Until the end of the 1970s and even the beginning of the 1980s, the problem has almost solely been handled and evaluated within the context of evidence-based criticism and on the idea that evil is logically inconsistent. In 1978 in his Philosophy of Religion: An Introduction and then in 1979 in his “Friendly Atheism, Skeptical Theism, and the Problem of Evil”, Rowe argued, for the first time, with reference to the meaninglessness of the evil existing in the world, that the belief in God within the form adopted by the theist is not rational. Therefore, the problem of evil has remained as an issue to be solved for theistic systems just as it preserved its relevancy for the atheists, who are not believing in God, as a matter in need of being solved. It can even be said that the problem of evil has been one of the most important basis of the faithlessness in terms of atheistic thought. In this study, we will examine and asses the ideas, that are favoring atheism on the basis of the meaninglessness of the evils present in our world, propounded by William Rowe who holds and important place in the contemporary philosophical thought regarding the subject.

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