God, Suffering, and the Value of Free Will

ISBN : 9780197556412

Laura W. Ekstrom
264 ページ
156 x 235 mm

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


Laura W. Ekstrom is Francis S. Haserot Professor of Philosophy at William & Mary. Ekstrom is the author of Free Will: A Philosophical Study (Westview Press, 1999) and the editor of Agency and Responsibility: Essays on the Metaphysics of Freedom (Westview Press, 2000). Her articles on free agency, autonomy, moral responsibility, chance, suffering, and compassion have appeared in journals including Synthese, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, American Philosophical Quarterly, Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Philosophical Studies, and Australasian Journal of Philosophy, as well as in edited collections published by such presses as Blackwell, Cambridge University Press, and Oxford University Press.