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  • Cited by 5
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    This chapter has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Maitzen, Stephen 2009. Skeptical theism and moral obligation. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 65, Issue. 2, p. 93.

    Bishop, John and Perszyk, Ken 2011. The normatively relativised logical argument from evil. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 70, Issue. 2, p. 109.

    Pereboom, Derk 2012. On Fischer’s Our Stories. Philosophical Studies, Vol. 158, Issue. 3, p. 523.

    Pereboom, Derk 2014. The Blackwell Companion to the Problem of Evil. p. 411.

    Maitzen, Stephen 2014. The Blackwell Companion to the Problem of Evil. p. 444.

  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: July 2009

3 - Free Will, Evil, and Divine Providence


Traditional theists in our environment, and christians in particular, tend to endorse libertarianism about free will, according to which we have the free will required for moral responsibility, free will of this sort is incompatible with determinism, and determinism is false. Divine determinism is nonetheless well represented in the history of traditional theism – and by “divine determinism” I mean to specify the position that God is the sufficient active cause of everything in creation, whether directly or by way of secondary causes such as human agents. This position is either obviously or arguably held by Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, and Schleiermacher, among others. Yet despite the historical prominence of this view, there is an obvious and compelling reason for rejecting it. The consequence that God is the sufficient active cause of all the evils that occur threatens to make divine determinism unconscionable from the very outset. Now if an available alternative were the position that we have libertarian free will, that God is not omnipotent, and that there are evil forces in the universe, other than mere willings, against which God needs to struggle, then one can see why rejecting the determinist perspective would seem attractive. Yet even if this Zoroastrian alternative remains the de facto position of some, it is outside the bounds of traditional Christian, Jewish, and Islamic orthodoxy.

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God and the Ethics of Belief
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