The Problem of Evil and the Moral Argument

Room G03 - The Alan Walters Building
Wednesday 31 May 2023 (17:00-18:30)
Paul Copan

Professor Paul Copan (Palm Beach Atlantic University) gives the Public Lecture of the Global Philosophy of Religion project


Theists and atheists alike would probably agree with philosopher Richard Gale that "the widespread existence of evil is the greatest challenge to the rationality of belief in the God of traditional theism.” As such, evil would appear to undermine the moral argument for God's existence, which begins with some feature of our own moral experience or awareness and concludes that a good or supremely valuable Being offers the best or more likely explanation for it. However, evil is a problem for every worldview, and so we must consider which worldview provides the more adequate metaphysical context and the most robust resources to help us better make sense of evil.  It turns out that strict naturalism—the mainstream view in the academy—has no category for evil given its materialism and determinism; thus, no problem of evil exists on this view. Atheistic alternatives are likewise ill-equipped to offer an adequate context for evil as they appear to borrow from a worldview like theism, which is far better able to account for a "way things ought to be," the dignity of human persons, and other considerations related to the problem of evil. A more likely context for making sense of evil is biblical theism, which proves far more adequate for the task. Indeed, the very existence of evil itself serves as a pointer in the direction of God rather than away from God. 

Professor Paul Copan  

Dr Copan is a Christian theologian, analytic philosopher, apologist, and author. He is currently a professor at the Palm Beach Atlantic University and holds the endowed Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics. He has written and edited over 40 books in the area of philosophy of religion, apologetics, theology, and ethics in the Bible. He has contributed a great number of articles to various professional journals and has written many essays for edited books. For six years he served as the president of the Evangelical Philosophical Society.