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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Collection of Papers, January 23, 2012
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This review is from: The Problem of Evil (Oxford Readings in Philosophy) (Paperback)
Edited by Marilyn and Robert Adams and published in 1991 by Oxford University Press "The Problem of Evil" is a compilation of essays on the problem of evil. Contributions are from many of the leading theistic and atheistic commentators in the field (Rowe, Mackie, Plantinga etc.)

Within the philosophy of religion the problem of evil is generally recognized to be the strongest argument against theism (belief in an all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good God). It asks the simple but profound question, if God exists why is the world characterized by death, disease, disability and a litany of other ills? There are three broad formulations of the argument from evil; 1) the logical argument - God and evil are incompatible, 2) the evidential argument - God is unlikely given evil; and, 3) the existential argument - the impact of evil on belief. Many of essays in this collection are concerned with the logical argument.

Premise A. An all-powerful, all-knowing God could create a world without evil
Premise B. An all-good God would desire a world without evil
Premise C. Evil exists
Conclusion. An all-good, all-knowing and all-powerful God does not exist

Simply put the logical argument asserts that God and evil cannot co-exist. The logical argument is not contending that evil provides evidence against God, or that God is less likely in a world with evil than in a world without evil, rather, it is making a much bolder claim; the claim that God and evil are mutually exclusive, if one exists then the other cannot. And, since evil appears to exist God does not. While it possesses some prima facie plausibility, the logical argument has proven to be doubly flawed. On the one hand, the Free-Will Defence (presented in an excerpt by Plantinga) strongly suggests that even an omnipotent God may not be able to actualize a world with moral good that does not also possess the possibility for evil, while on the other hand, there appears to be a range of potential reasons why an all-good God might allow evil to exist, natural law, free will, soul building etc.

And, though the logical version of the argument has largely disappeared from serious philosophical consideration the problem of evil lives on in the evidential argument which contends that while evil and God are not logically incompatible, evil nonetheless makes the existence of God unlikely. An excellent companion to this text for readers seeking more of this version of the argument is "The Evidential Argument from Evil" edited by Howard-Snyder another outstanding small anthology.

While this is an excellent collection I offer a few thoughts for potential purchasers. First, while probably a moot point for young eyes, the font in the paperback version is small. Second, most of the contributions have been previously published and some are available on-line for free. Third and finally, texts such as this will probably be of most interest of folks that enjoy philosophy and appreciate examining issues from multiple viewpoints.

Overall, this is an excellent accessible collection of some classic essays on the problem of evil. Highly recommended.
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