The article “The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism” was written by William Leonard Rowe, a professor of philosophy of religion at Purdue University. The article was first published in the 1979 issue of the American Philosophical Quarterly journal and was later reprinted in the 1996 publication The Evidential Argument from Evil, edited by Daniel Howard-Snyder and published by Indiana University Press.
The article “The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism” was written by William Leonard Rowe, a professor of philosophy of religion at Purdue University. The article was first published in the 1979 issue of the American Philosophical Quarterly journal and was later reprinted in the 1996 publication The Evidential Argument from Evil, edited by Daniel Howard-Snyder and published by Indiana University Press. The article examines the problem of evil, an age long question in theological studies that attempts to establish whether it is possible to have a deity like the one portrayed in Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism) who is omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient and at the same time has the amount of evil and suffering that is evidenced today in the world.
Many philosophers who oppose the idea that there is an all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good God, as portrayed in Christianity, Islam, Judaism and a host of other theistic religions, have often observed that such a God cannot possibly co-exist with the evil that exists today. In their argument, the philosophers argue that God is portrayed as being perfectly good omniscient and omnipotent. They then argue that a perfectly good deity would want to prevent occurrence of all evils. An omniscient deity would know every way in which evil can occur. An all-powerful being is the one who knows each and every way that evil has the power to stop its occurrence. If there exists an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being, consequently, no evil would exist. Since evil exists, then they are of the view that no such deity exists (Trakakis 2009). It is the view that many other philosophers have vehemently countered with equally strong arguments. Epicurus Gottfried Leibniz, David Hume, Thomas Robert Malthus, Immanuel Kant and Victor Cousin are some of the scholars and philosophers who have written extensively on this matter.
Rowe, however, subscribes to the school of thought that is of the view that no Judeo-Christian deity exists. As a professor of philosophy majoring in philosophy of religion, he was prompted to write this article to contribute to the age-long debate on the existence of God. It was important that Rowe take a firm and clear stand on the issue as he is one of the most learned scholars in this discipline who the world looks up to in order to put this matter into perspective. It was also equally imperative that Rowe raise reasons that are strong enough to support his views given the level of debate that the matter attracts and the feeling and emotion that it elicits. Rowe articulates his views in a concise and clear manner without appearing to undermine the views of the other scholars who hold a view contrary to his.
In this article, Rowe targets religious scholars, especially those that deal with Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Bahaism and other theistic religions. The article also targets people who profess to these faiths and encourages them to question their belief in order to have deeper understanding of their religions. He claims that it is through raising such questions that one is able to gain more profound understanding as the questions call for seeking answers that aid in getting to know one’s religion better. The article also targets other religions and their followers as it raises questions of existence of deities. It also targets philosophers challenging them to come up with the other logical explanations as to the origin of the universe since it disapproves the creation theory by suggesting that there is no God and logical explanation to explain supernatural occurrences. The author raises rhetorical questions that further support his view. However, this being an academic paper, the author is careful to keep his language moderate.
The article makes a rich use of linguistic features. One such use is allusion as the author widely alludes to historical occurrences of evil and suffering such as the Holocaust and world wars. This is in order to get his point across. Rowe also alludes to the various holy books including quoting from the Bible and the Qur’an to portray their depiction of God. He also makes allusions to earlier writings on the matter including those of the ancient philosopher Epicurus. The use of this feature enables him to make a strong case. The author makes use of logic in which he presents related ideas in a sequence where the latter ideas support the former idea.
The article is rhetorically effective as it enables the reader to identify with the issues raised. The fact that the article is centered on religion, which affects many people on their day-to-day activities and that it makes reference to issues and occurrences that reader can easily identify with, makes the article interesting and objective. The fact that the article puts into perspective an issue that is often discussed and which has no definite and proven answer urges the reader to read on. This coupled with the simple language and the concise presentation of ideas makes the article easy to understand and follow. The author therefore achieves his chief objective of airing his opinion in the matter.
Rowe, William L. “The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism.” The Evidential Argument from Evil. 1996: 24-37. Print
Trakakis, Nick. The Evidential Problem of Evil .The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 21 June 2009 Web. 4 Feb 2013