Ronald L. Hall
Published online: 31 July 2017
Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017
Clearly one of the most serious challenges that theism faces is the problem of evil.
So, it is not surprising that in this journal much attention is devoted to following
exchanges between philosophers of religion who offer proposals for rescuing theism
and the sharp rebukes by those who do not think that these proposals manage to
dispose of the issue. This is not to say that all of the critics of proposals that are
offered to reconcile the existence of God and the fact of seemingly gratuitous and
horrendous human suffering do not sympathize with the ambition to save theism;
indeed, many do, and many do not. For me, it is a mark of great merit that
philosophers of religion on either side of the issue, will not allow rescues or
refutations of theism to pass without careful and thorough examination.
In this issue, we have further testimony to this merit. You will ﬁnd here new
arguments advanced regarding this very old issue. The ﬁrst two articles concern the
analogy between God and a loving parent. This analogy is used by defenders of
skeptical theism to show that we humans are in a place relative to God as very
young children are relative to their parents. Parents may allow suffering but always
do so for a good that is obscure to their children given their undeveloped cognitive
abilities and their undeveloped moral understanding. Critics of this defense of
skeptical theism have found the parent analogy wanting.
Our ﬁrst article by Jonathan Curtis Rutledge discusses the objections to the
analogy raised by Trent Dougherty. As Dougherty frames it, the issue is between
obscurity and transparency. He thinks that the parent analogy works only if the
probability of obscurity is greater than the probability of transparency. But he
argues that the way that sceptical theists understand it, both are equally probable.
Clearly a good parent will want his permission of suffering to become more and
more transparent as the child matures. Following Stephen Wykstra, Rutledge thinks
& Ronald L. Hall
Department of Philosophy, Stetson University, Deland, FL 32723, USA
Int J Philos Relig (2017) 82:1–3