A group project assignment, due Wednesday after Thanksgiving (November 28):
Your assignment is to create an educational tool that will help people evaluating responses to the argument or problem of evil, i.e., an educational tool to help people evaluate theodicies.
Create your own group of 3 or 4 students. If you cannot find a group, you will be assigned to one.
Create a webpage or blog (on Blogger, Wordpress, Google Sites, wherever)
where you do the following:
1. Explain the problem of evil or an argument for the non-existence of God from the existence of certain kinds of evils (do not consider an argument from the existence of evil in general: you need to focus on especially bad evils). That is, fully explain how someone might reason from the existence of certain kinds of evils - give examples - to the conclusion that God probably does not exist. You want to present the strongest version of this argument that you can, not a "straw man" version of the argument.
2. Identify least five critical responses to this argument, that is five theodicies. Please pick theodicies that you think are most important, most common and/or the strongest.
3. Critically evaluate these theodicies, in light of the following concerns:
- what outweighing good does the theodicy propose? (You will likely need to distinguish intrinsic goods and evils/bads versus instrumental goods and evils/bads: e.g. something can be intrinsically bad but instrumentally good)
- how good is that good, compared to the bad of the evil(s) in question? Is the good great enough to "outweigh" the evil in question?
- could that good have been achieved in some other way, without that evil, or as much of the evil, in question? That is, is that evil necessary for that good, or could that good have been achieved without that evil (especially by an an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good being?)?
- so does this theodicy succeed in showing what would morally justify an all-knowing, all-powerful, all good being in allowing that evil to occur? Does this theodicy succeed or fail?
4. Your page should have an introduction and a conclusion. Your conclusion should state and explain what you think someone should think about the argument from evil (and its implications for God's existence), in light of your evaluation of the theodicies that you discuss.
It should be developed in a way that someone interested in these important issues would be able to learn how to better attempt to rationally evaluate theodicies and think more philosophically -- i.e., critically, creatively and with an open mind -- about philosophy of religion.
5. Your page should be creative and look good!! :) The writing should be clear and straightforward and people should be able to learn from it.
Please email your link to Dr. Nobis, print it out and bring to class and post your link as a comment on this blog.
- Stairs chapter on the argument from evil
- Vuletic, A Tale of 12 Officers http://www.vuletic.com/hume/at/12.html
Daniel Howard Snyder, "Theodicy,"
in ed. Kelly James Clark,
in the Philosophy of Religion (Broadview 2008, 2nd edition)