Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Lewis & Clark College

van Inwagen's Skeptical Theism

Added on by jay odenbaugh.

Peter van Inwagen in his The Problem of Evil argues that the argument from evil (or rather, arguments) are failures. That is, he thinks that ideal agnostics would not be persuaded to accept any of these arguments as sound based on the defense he offers. In effect, he argues that for all we know there is a God who has good moral reasons for allowing certain evils (e.g. horrors, suffering of sentient creatures, etc.). This is in contrast to a theodicy which offers what actual moral reasons God has for allowing certain evils. 

One worry that philosophers have raised against skeptical theism is that if for all we know there are moral reasons for why God allows certain evils then one could be equally skeptical about ordinary morality. For example, suppose a parent allows their child to run in the street and is hit by a car. One might defend their action (or inaction) by saying that for all we know they have good reasons for what they did. Thus, one cannot be a skeptical theist and also not be a moral skeptic in general. 

Do you think this is a reasonable criticism of skeptical theism?