ISBN : 9780197556412
For many of us, the question of whether or not God exists is one of the most perplexing and profound questions of our lives, and numerous philosophers and theologians have debated it for centuries. Laura Ekstrom here takes a new look at the issue of God's existence by examining it against the reality of human suffering, bringing to the fore contentious presuppositions concerning agency and value at the core of the matter. When we survey the world, we observe an enormous amount of pain, including virtually unspeakable kinds of maltreatment and agony, many instances of which seem patently unfair, unearned, and pointless. This book argues that, in light of these observations, it is reasonable to conclude that God does not exist. The book unravels the extent and power of arguments from evil. Ekstrom provides a close investigation of a largely overlooked claim at the heart of major free-will-based responses to such arguments, namely that free will is worth it: sufficiently valuable to serve as the good that provides a God-justifying reason for permitting evil in the world. Through fresh examinations of traditional theodicies, Ekstrom develops an alternative line called divine intimacy theodicy, and makes an extended case for rejecting skeptical theism. The book takes up an argument from evil concerning a traditional doctrine of hell, which reveals a number of compelling issues concerning fault, agency, and blameworthiness. In response to recent work contending that the problem of evil is toothless because God is indifferent to human beings, Ekstrom defends the essential perfect moral goodness of God. She further tackles the question of whether or not it is possible to live a religious life as an agnostic or as an atheist. Through rigorous reflection, with deep respect for religious thought and experience, and with sensitivity to the range and kinds of suffering so many endure, Ekstrom firmly advances discussion of the problem of evil and paves the way for further scholarship in the philosophy of religion.
Chapter 1: God and Suffering
Chapter 2: The Value of Free Will
Chapter 3: Divine Intimacy Theodicy
Chapter 4: Skeptical Theism
Chapter 5: Hell and Fault
Chapter 6: God's Ethics: A Workaround?
Chapter 7: Religion on the Cheap
Chapter 8: Conclusion