Purdue University Graduate School
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Skeptical Theism, God, and Evidence

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posted on 2022-10-13, 18:52 authored by Perry C HendricksPerry C Hendricks

Skeptical theism is an important position (or set of positions) that—if true—has significant implications in the philosophy of religion regarding the epistemic status of theism and atheism. Broadly speaking, skeptical theists are theists who are skeptical about the ability of humans to discern, by certain methods, the probability of God permitting certain states of affairs. In this dissertation, I argue in favor of two types of skeptical theism and consider their implications. In Chapter 1, I explain two types of skeptical theism—Axiological Skeptical Theism and Deontological Skeptical Theism—and argue in favor of each position. I consider numerous objections to these views, arguing that they all fail. This, however, only matters if these positions have a significant upshot. Accordingly, in Chapter 2, I argue that Axiological and Deontological Skeptical Theism undermine both axiological and deontological ‘noseeum’ arguments from evil, the equiprobability argument from evil, and both axiological and deontological Humean arguments from evil. So, the upshot of Axiological and Deontological Skeptical Theism is significant. Chapter 3 considers whether Axiological and Deontological Skeptical Theism result in too much skepticism: I consider whether these views provide a defeater for our commonsense beliefs. In doing so, I consider numerous types of defeaters, arguing that neither Axiological nor Deontological Skeptical Theism provide such defeaters. In Chapter 4, I consider whether one can consistently accept both Axiological and Deontological Skeptical Theism while making predictions about how God would act—a crucial aspect of theodicy and natural theology. I argue that there are two ways that one can do so: one way involving intuition and another way involving metaethics. The way involving intuition is, I argue, narrowsince it will have a limited scope. By contrast, the way involving metaethics, I argue, has a broad scope. Finally, Chapter 5 considers the so-called commonsense problem of evil. Some philosophers have argued that the commonsense problem of evil is untouched by all types of skeptical theism. I argue that the traditional commonsense problem of evil fails, but that a revamped version of it poses more of a threat. However, I claim that the revamped argument ultimately fails as well


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Philosophy

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Michael Bergmann

Additional Committee Member 2

Paul Draper

Additional Committee Member 3

Patrick Kain

Additional Committee Member 4

Jan Cover

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