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Challenges to Moral and Religious BeliefDisagreement and Evolution$
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Michael Bergmann and Patrick Kain

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199669776

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199669776.001.0001

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If Everything Happens for a Reason, Then We Don’t Know What Reasons Are

If Everything Happens for a Reason, Then We Don’t Know What Reasons Are

(p.172) 9 If Everything Happens for a Reason, Then We Don’t Know What Reasons Are
Challenges to Moral and Religious Belief

Sharon Street

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that theism — understood as the position that there is a God in the sense of an omniscient, omnipotent, and morally perfect being — leads to a crippling normative skepticism and therefore must be rejected. First it argues that if theism is true, then (as the saying goes) ‘everything happens for a reason.’ Second, that if everything happens for a reason, then we are hopeless judges of what reasons there are — indeed, to such an extent that if we are theists and some horrendous evil starts to unfold in front of us, then we should be in doubt as to whether there is any good reason for us to try to stop it from happening. Since this conclusion is unacceptable, we must abandon theism. This chapter suggests the view that atheism emerges as the most plausible moral theory.

Keywords:   God, evil, morality, theism, atheism, normative reasons, normative skepticism, moral skepticism, skeptical theism, metaethics

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