Summary Of Evil And Atheism This Essay Is A Summary Of William L. Rowe's Paper "The Problem Of Evil And Some Varaties Of Atheism."

1335 words - 6 pages

In William L. Rowe's paper "The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism" he sets out to accomplish two main goals. The first goal is directed toward theists, while the second attempts to reach the very wellspring of an atheist's heart. Foremost, Rowe sets out to show that there is "an argument for atheism based on the existence of evil that may rationally justify someone in being an atheist" (335). After he has effectively addressed this first issue he moves on to try and convince the atheist that in light of all the evidence that theists are rationally justified (just as much as the atheist) and therefore that atheists should subscribe to what Rowe calls "friendly atheism."Rowe begins ...view middle of the document...

Rowe's argument for atheism leans heavily on the previous notion that suffering is evil. His argument is as follows:1. "There exist instances of intense suffering which an omnipotent, omniscient being could have prevented without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse.2. An omniscient, wholly good being would prevent the occurrence of any intense suffering it could, unless it could not do so without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse.3. There does not exist an omnipotent, omniscient, wholly good being (336).The structure of the argument, according to Rowe, is valid; therefore if someone were justified in believing its premises then atheism is justified.Rowe supports the second premise first because "this premise (or something not too distant from it) is, I think, held in common by many atheists and theists" (336). It is notable that Rowe draws attention to the fact that one need only state a necessary condition for a omniscient, wholly good being failing to prevent suffering and not a sufficient condition in order for this premise to hold.Rowe supports the first premise by inventing an analogy that will indeed outlive Rowe himself...the case of the fawn (as it has come to be known). The analogy simply put is suppose in a distant forest lightening strikes and starts a forest fire. During which a fawn is trapped, becomes horribly burned, suffers, and dies several days later. This is used by Rowe to show that "since the fawn's intense suffering was preventable and, so far as we can see, pointless, doesn't it appear that premise 1 of the argument is true" (337). He admits that the case of the fawn doesn't prove the truth of the premise (337), but proof was never his aim, only rationality. In fact Rowe says that it is beyond belief to think that none of the suffering in the world could have been prevented without losing a greater good or permitting an evil at least as bad (338).In the next section of his paper Rowe defends theism to the extent that theists are justified in their belief that God exists. The best defense of theism, according to Rowe is to employ the G. E. Moore shift. The G. E. Moore shift is constructed by using logical truths to arrive at a different conclusion. In this particular case the G. E. Moore shift changes Rowe's argument to:Not 32Not 1Using this technique it is impossible to question the validity of one form without calling into question the validity of the other. Rowe also includes two other possible objections to his...

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