In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section The Problem of Evil

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Reference Works
  • Anthologies

Philosophy The Problem of Evil
Trent Dougherty, Scott Cleveland
  • LAST REVIEWED: 08 October 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 July 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0211


“The problem of evil” is a multifaceted problem. But the problem for theistic philosophers is that there are plausible arguments starting from plausible claims about evil to the conclusion that there is no God. These arguments have taken many forms, as have the replies to them. This bibliography covers primarily the most important contemporary treatments.

General Overviews

Peterson 1998 and Dougherty and Walls 2013 provide accessible introductions to the topic. McBrayer and Howard-Snyder 2013 give an opinionated introduction to the major response of the major figures in the field. Dougherty 2011 offers an in-depth survey of recent literature. O’Connor 1998 surveys challenges and responses with the purpose of defending that theism or atheism may be justified depending on a person’s epistemic position. Howard-Snyder 1996 is a highly influential anthology containing seminal works on all sides of the issue. While sometimes highly technical, Plantinga and Tooley 2008 is a lively debate between two leading figures.

  • Dougherty, Trent. “Recent Work on the Problem of Evil.” Analysis 71.3 (July 2011): 560–573.

    DOI: 10.1093/analys/anr059

    This article states and evaluates the major lines of the debate concerning the problem of evil in the ten years leading up to its publication.

  • Dougherty, Trent, and Jerry L. Walls. “Arguments from Evil.” In The Routledge Companion to Theism. Edited by Charles Taliaferro, Victoria S. Harrison, and Stewart Goetz, 369–382. New York: Routledge, 2013.

    Offers an accessible introduction to a variety of arguments from evil, both for and against the existence of God. Includes an argument for God’s existence from the pattern of suffering in the world.

  • Howard-Snyder, Daniel. The Evidential Argument from Evil. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.

    An anthology of highly influential essays, the title of which came to name the family of arguments from evil focused on arguing from the probable existence of gratuitous or unjustified particular evils to God’s nonexistence. Contains both seminal early works promoting and responding to this family of argument as well as pieces written specifically for it.

  • McBrayer, Justin, and Daniel Howard-Snyder, eds. Blackwell Companion to the Problem of Evil. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.

    Contains chapters giving opinionated treatments of most major issues relating to the problem of evil by major scholars.

  • O’Connor, David. God and Inscrutable Evil: In Defense of Theism and Atheism. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1998.

    Surveys a number of challenges and responses. Offers a defense of the view that theism or atheism could be justified for a person given that person’s epistemic position. Argues that the skeptical theist response undermines natural theology.

  • Peterson, Michael L. God and Evil: An Introduction to the Issues. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1998.

    A somewhat dated but excellent and very accessible orientation to the main issues pertaining to the problem of evil.

  • Plantinga, Alvin, and Michael Tooley. Knowledge of God. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.

    DOI: 10.1002/9781444301304

    A lively, if sometimes highly technical, debate-style exchange between two leading figures in the field.

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