Tackling The Problem Of Evil - Part 7: The Scale Leans Even More

In this series, we've been addressing an argument for atheism called "The Problem Of Evil" or "The Problem Of Suffering". In parts 2-6, I've been addressing the probabilistic version of the argument; which is that the presence of evil and suffering renders God's existence improbable. In the previous blog post and in this one, my argument is that relative to the full scope of the evidence, God's existence is very probable, in spite of the existence of suffering. If you were to imagine a scale with suffering on one side and the evidence for God on the other, the scale would be tipped dramatically to God's side. There are many sound arguments for God's existence (and Christianity in particular) which tip the scale mightily in His favor.

Last time, we briefly overviewed The Kalam Cosmological Argument, The Fine-Tuning Argument, and The Local Fine-Tuning Argument. In this blog post, I will overview 3 more arguments for the existence of God.

Exhibit D: The Existence Of Objective Morality

The Moral Argument argues that in the absence of God, objective right and wrong do not exist. Everything is nothing but mere opinion. However, given that objective right and wrong do exist, it follows that God exists. The argument for God from the existence of objective morality goes as follows

1: If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2: Objective moral values and duties do exist.
3: Therefore, God exists.

Before we continue, it would be good for us to define our terms.

Moral Values = good and bad.
Moral Duties = right and wrong.

The Difference: Values have to do with something’s’ worth. Duties have to do with your obligations. Just because something is good doesn’t mean you’re obligated to do it. It would be good for you to be a doctor, but you’re not morally obligated to become a doctor.

Objective = it is what it is regardless of what anyone thinks. Objective is the opposite of subjective. Subjective means that something is dependent on someone’s opinion. For example, it is objectively true that chocolate ice cream is brown. It is only subjectively true that it tastes better than vanilla.

Premise 1: If God Does Not Exist, Objective Moral Values And Duties Do Not Exist

Moral Values:
If atheism is true, then why would humans be objectively, intrinsically valuable? On atheism, man is just a biological organism. There are other biological organisms on the planet. Why would humans be of more worth than any other? How could the life of a man be more valuable than the life of a cockroach or a tree? Most people don’t believe you’re committing murder when you stomp on a cockroach or cut down a tree, but they do believe you’re committing murder when you end the life of a person. What basis is there for this on atheism? What basis is there for thinking that it’s okay to cut down a tree but evil to cut down a man?

On atheism, both man and the cockroach are made of the same material that sprang into being at The Big Bang. Both man and the cockroach evolved out of the same primordial slime billions of years ago. According to Darwinism, all life came out of the same primordial slime and is related to one another, so what makes humans more valuable than they?

Could it be that humans are more advanced? More complex? More intelligent? If you say this, then that only raises another question: why is complexity a criteria for an organism’s worth? Who or what decided that? Why is it not the simpler organisms that are of more value? I fail to see how on atheism, man’s life isn’t ontologically equal with the lowest life form alive. On the atheist’s worldview, man is just a bag of chemicals on bones thrust into existence through a blind, purposeless process on a tiny speck of a planet in a universe that cares not whether he lives or dies. Why is this bag of chemicals on bones worth loving, worth saving, worth taking care of, worth praising? Objective moral values are totally unintelligible on an atheistic worldview.

Moral Duties
If moral values cannot exist in the absence of God, then moral duties are thrown out the window as well. The denial of moral values entails the denial of moral duties. If man’s life is as worthless as a flea’s, then the holocaust cannot be said to be truly, objectively wrong. There was no moral difference between killing 6 million Jews and terminating a hill of ants. As ghastly as it is to say such a thing, this is the logical entailment of atheism.

As Dostoevsky put it: “If God does not exist, then all things are permitted.”1

Premise 2: Objective Moral Values And Duties Do Exist

Although good and evil and right and wrong cannot exist on the atheist’s worldview, deep down, we all know that they do exist.

We can sense that some things are truly good, and that others are truly evil. We have moral intuitions that tell us that taking care of a baby is morally right and torturing a baby is morally wrong. Just as our sensory experience tells us that a world of physical objects is real, so our moral sense tells us that good and evil are real.

Moreover, just as no one can get outside of their 5 senses to see for sure whether or not they are giving them reliable information, so we cannot get outside of our moral sense to test whether it’s giving us reliable information. But that should not give us reason to doubt whether physical objects or objective morality is real.

In my experience, atheists who try to cast doubt on our moral intuitions (and therefore, the ability to confirm this premise) typically make arguments that, if applied to our physical senses, would remove our ability to know things about the external world. For example, “People disagree on whether X is right or wrong!” – Imagine this being applied to our physical sense of sight. You would not be able to know whether color is an objective part of the physical world. After all, some people are color blind and others aren’t! Some people can perceive color, but disagree on a particular shade of color, such as when I disagreed on whether a certain anime character’s hair is blue or purple with someone. The reduction ad absurdum shows that this is not a valid response.

Conclusion: Therefore, God Exists.

Given the truth of the two premises, the conclusion follows by the rules of logic. The argument follows the logical rule “Modus Tollens” which looks like this when symbolized:

1: If P, then Q.
2: Not Q.
3: Therefore, Not P.

God is the best explanation for why objective morality exists. His moral character is the standard of good and evil, and His commandments are a reflection of His character, and these determine right and wrong.

Ironically, this argument tips the scale in favor of God's existence in a way that the other arguments looked at in this series do not. The Moral Argument shows that if God does not exist, then there really is no such thing as evil. If there's no such as evil, then there is no problem of evil. If there's no problem of evil, then there's no argument in favor of atheism. Ironically, the atheist has to borrow a concept that can only exist on the Christian worldview in order to argue against the Christian worldview, or as Frank Turek once put it "The atheist has to sit in God's lap in order to slap His face."

Just look at The Moral Argument when phrased in the following way: 

1: If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2: Evil exists.
3: Therefore, objective moral values and duties exist.
4: Therefore, God exists.

So, it seems that the atheist's only hope is to affirm objective morality and find some way to knock down premise 1. But I have never seen anyone give a satisfying ontological foundation for objective morality other than God. The irony here is that evil doesn't serve as evidence against God's existence, it serves as evidence for God's existence! 

Exhibit E: The Possibility That God Exists 

If you're new to Christian Apologetics, new to this website, or new to philosophy, then the above subheader probably raised an eyebrow. You're probably thinking "The possibility that God exists proves that God exists? What the Sam Hill are you talkin' about?" The argument I'm about to overview is known as The Ontological Argument for God's Existence. It was originally formulated by a Benedictine monk named St. Anselm and has gone through several revisions over the centuries. Anselm's version wasn't very persuasive, and it was, in my opinion, sort of silly. However, he laid the groundwork for future philosophers to take His concept of a "Greatest Conceivable Being" and make it into a robust argument for God's existence. The version I'll defend is called the "Modal Ontological Argument". It's most famous contemporary defenders are William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga. 

Now, before I go on to list and defend the premises of the argument, let me first explain some of the unique terminology that will come into play. The Ontological Argument employs terms like “Possible Worlds” and “Maximally Great Being”. It is important to understand what these terms mean or else you won’t understand the argument.

Possible Worlds = A maximal description of the way the world could be. It is simply a complete list of logically possible states of affairs that could be true of reality. At least one of these lists of logically possible states of affairs will be true of reality. If you still find the term “Possible Worlds” confusing, just substitute it for the term “Possible Lists” instead. Imagine you have multiple sheets of notebook paper, and each list has a sentence describing a logically coherent state of affairs which could be true of reality, such as “Evan Minton is typing his blog post series on the problem of evil and suffering”, “Evan is wearing a greyish blue shirt with green stripes while he types”, “Evan's Echo Dot is playing the sound of a Box Fan for background noise while he types”, “Evan’s cat is resting on the back of his computer chair”, and so on. These statements listed one after another on your notebook paper are all states of affairs that could exist, and so form a possible list. I’ll confess, all of the prior statements are not only true of a possible world/list, they’re true of the actual world/list. Now, if you change some statements on your sheet of paper, you arrive at a different list. This is really all a possible world is: an exhaustive list of statements that could be true of reality.

Maximally Great Being = This is a being that has all properties or attributes that go to make a person great (e.g power, knowledge, presence, moral goodness) and it has these properties to the greatest extent possible (i.e omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, morally perfect). If an attribute would make a person great if he had it, a Maximally Great Being will have that attribute, and moreover, will have it to the greatest extent possible.

Now that we’ve defined our terms, let’s look at the premises of this argument.

1: It is possible that a Maximally Great Being exists.

2: If it is possible that a Maximally Great Being exists, then a Maximally Great Being exists in some possible world.

3: If a Maximally Great Being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.

4: If a Maximally Great Being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.

5: If a Maximally Great Being exists in the actual world, then a Maximally Great Being exists.

6: Therefore, a Maximally Great Being exists.

This is a logically valid argument. The conclusion follows from the premises by the rules of logic.

Premise 1: It is possible that a Maximally Great Being Exists

By possible, I mean that something like a Maximally Great Being (MGB) could exist in reality. I don’t mean it like a weak agnostic that says “Well, it’s possible that a Maximally Great Being exists and it’s possible that He doesn’t.” I mean that an MGB is metaphysically or logically possible. It does seem to me that this premise is true. I don’t see any reason to think that it isn’t possible that an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, morally perfect, necessarily existent being exists. Such an entity seems intuitively possible.

Premise 2: If It Is Possible That A Maximally Great Being Exists, Then A Maximally Great Being Exists In Some Possible World

This premise follows from the first. If the existence of anything is logically possible, then it exists in some possible world. The only way it would exist in no possible world would be if the thing in question were logically impossible, such as a square circle, one ended stick, a married unmarried man, or a physical object with no shape. Such things are contradictions. A shape is either a square or a circle, but not both. A man is either married or unmarried, but he can’t be both! A stick always has two ends. These things violate the laws of logic and therefore exist in no possible world. By contrast, things like a little green alien or a unicorn, while these don’t exist in the actual world, they do exist in some possible worlds because their existence is possible. If God’s existence is possible (see premise 1), then He at least exists in some possible worlds.

Premise 3: If A Maximally Great Being exists in some possible world, then He exists in every possible world.

This premise is true because of how one defines an MGB. A Maximally Great Being is, by virtue of being maximally great, necessarily existent. A Being who is necessarily existent is intuitively greater than one who is contingently existent. When something necessarily exists, this means that it could not possibly fail to exist. Its non-existence is impossible. Many mathematicians think that numbers, sets, and other mathematical entities exist in this way. If they exist, they have to exist and could not possibly fail to exist.

Now, if a necessary being exists in some possible world, it is impossible for it to not exist in all other possible worlds. 2+2=4 is a logically necessary truth. If it’s necessarily true in some possible world, it will be true in all of them. 2+2=4 is a logically necessary truth. If it’s necessarily true in some possible world, it will be true in all of them. 2+2 will not equal 4 in some possible worlds, but 5 in others. Necessary truth and necessarily existent being either exist in all possible worlds.

Premise 4: If A Maximally Great Being Exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.

This premise follows from the previous one. If a Maximally Great Being exists in every possible world, then, of course, it will exist in the actual world. The actual world is a possible world. We know this precisely because it is actual. If it were an impossible world (like a world with a square circle) then it would not and could not exist. Given that it does exist, we know that it certainly is logically possible.

Premise 5: If A Maximally Great Being Exists In The Actual World, then a Maximally Great Being Exists.

Obviously, if something exists in the actual world, it actually exists.

Premise 6: Therefore, A Maximally Great Being Exists.

An omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, morally perfect, necessarily existent being exists in the actual world. 

Now, the atheist may try to use the logical version of the problem of evil to argue against that first premise, but as we saw in the first installment of this series; there is no logical incompatibility between God and suffering. God and suffering are logically compatible, and even the majority of atheist philosophers now realize this and have abandoned that version of the problem of evil. Most atheist philosophers defend the probabilistic version of the problem of evil that I've been addressing in the past 6 blog posts. What's interesting about The Ontological Argument is that it is 100% immune to the probabilistic version of the problem of evil. This argument shows that if it's even possible that God exists, then it follows that God exists. If it's even possible that God exists, then God exists. Probability is irrelevant. God's existence may be very, very improbable, or it might be very, very probable. It makes no difference to The Ontological Argument. All that's needed for The Ontological Argument to succeed is that the concept of God be logically possible. In fact, this reminds me of a blog post my friend Richard Bushey wrote about the argument. He titled it "If God Is Improbable, Then God Exists". 

So, while the logical version of the problem of evil would be a counter to The Ontological Argument if it succeeded (and it does not), the probabilistic version cannot be used as a counter at all!

Exhibit F: The Resurrection Of Jesus

Contrary to popular opinion, belief in Jesus' resurrection isn't something one has to believe on blind faith alone. One can confirm the resurrection on the basis of powerful historical evidence. The resurrection is important because if Jesus has risen from the dead, then God has put His stamp of approval on everything Jesus said and did. God agrees with Jesus' ministry. This means that we can put great stock into anything Jesus taught about, such as His claim to be God, the existence of angels and demons, the existence of Heaven and Hell, and that He Himself is the only way to get to Heaven. It gives good reason to believe The Bible is divinely inspired, for Jesus Himself quoted from the Old Testament and taught that it is the word of God, and He commissioned apostles who would go on to write The New Testament. After all, who would be in a better position to know whether or not the Old Testament is divinely inspired than God Himself? And since Jesus chose Matthew, Paul, Peter, etc. it makes sense to think that God put His stamp of approval on their teachings as well. So, if Jesus rose from the dead, that gives good grounds for believing in the inspiration of The Bible and for accepting whatever The Bible teaches.

Historical Method, Not "Using The Bible To Prove The Bible"

I want to make it clear from the outset that while I will be appealing to New Testament documents to make my arguments, I will not, I repeat, not, be "using The Bible to prove The Bible". What I'll be doing is taking The New Testament documents and treating them just like I would any ancient document that claims to be telling history. I'll be treating The New Testament documents the same way that a historian would treat secular documents. When historians are examining historical documents and are trying to figure out what's history and what's fiction, they'll apply certain principles to the text called "The Criteria Of Authenticity" or "The Principles Of Authenticity". And if one or more of these criteria can be applied to a particular recorded incident, then the historian concludes that it is far more likely that this event actually occurred than it did not. 

For example, let's say we had a letter written by George Washington. In this letter, he recounts an incident where he was riding his horse out in the open country, and while he was out, he had a bad case of diarrhea and soiled himself. He said that he went behind a tree, removed his undergarments and went commando for the rest of the day. A historian reading this document would conclude that it is very likely that this event really occurred. Why? Because this is something rather awkward and embarrassing for Washington to admit. Why would he make this up if it weren't true? The historian would, therefore, conclude that this incident is true on the basis of the principle of embarrassment. Now, if we had 3 other documents written by friends of Washington, the historian would be even more convinced that this event happened. Why? Because of the "Principle Of Multiple Attestation". It is highly, highly unlikely that 3 independent sources (4, if you include Washington himself) made up the same lie. 

A few of the principles of authenticity are listed as follows:

1: Multiple Attestation -- If an event is mentioned in 2 or more independent documents, it is far more likely that the event occured.

2: The Principle Of Embarrassment -- If a recorded event is embarrasing to the author, hurts an argument he's trying to make, or embarrasses someone he cares about, then it's very likely to be true. 

3: The Principle Of Early Testimony -- The earlier a document is relative to the event it records, the more reliable it is, as there's less of a chance for things to get distorted.

The Principle Of Historical Fit -- If a recorded incident fits well with known and established historical facts of the particular time and place that the historical document talks about, then that favor's the document's event's historicity. 

Two Step Process To The Resurrection Inference

In the case for the resurrection, there are two steps.

1: What Are The Facts To Be Explained?
2: What Is The Best Explanation Of The Facts?

Fact 1: Jesus Died By Crucifixion

*Jesus' death by Roman crucifixion is multiply attested in 7 independent documents. 4 of those sources are secular, 3 of them are from The New Testament.

Secular Sources -- Josephus, Tacitus, Mara-Bar Serapian, Lucian Of Samosata.

NT Sources -- The Synoptic Gospels, The Gospel Of John, Paul's Epistles.

This makes it overwhelmingly more probable that Jesus' crucifixion is an event of history. It is statistically impossible for 7 independent sources to all make up the same story. Denial of crucifixion's historicity entails that 7 sources fabricated the same lie independent of each other.

*Jesus' crucifixion is attested to by sources hostile to Christianity (i.e Tacitus and Lucian).

These sources would have nothing to gain by saying Jesus' crucifixion really happened if it didn't. In fact, they are ridiculing Christianity in the very same context of their passages referring to the crucifixion of Jesus.

*Historical Fit makes it plausible that Jesus died by crucifixion.

Secular History attests to the fact that Romans crucified people in the first century. That Jesus was crucified fits well with what we know of first-century crucifixions.

Fact 2: The Empty Tomb

*The Jerusalem Factor

If Jesus' body was not absent from the tomb, the enemies of Christianity could have easily stomped out the movement by removing Jesus' body from the tomb and showing it to everyone. If they did that, Christianity would have died before it even began. It did not die back then. We can infer from this fact that they did not take Jesus' body out of the tomb in order to parade it down the street to prove to everyone that the resurrection claims of the disciples were false. Why didn't they do this? Most likely because Jesus' body was not even in the tomb to be taken out.

*All four gospels feature women as witnesses to the empty tomb.

Women were considered second class citizens back then and their testimony was considered worthless. The empty tomb narrative is most likely historical because it would have been awkward for the early church to have women as the chief witnesses when their testimony wasn't considered valid back then. They would have made males the first ones on the scene if they were just conjuring up this narrative.

*The enemies of Christianity claimed that the disciples stole the body. This presupposes the empty tomb.

Even though our knowledge of this claim comes from Matthew 28, we can still count this as enemy attestation. Matthew said they were spreading the story "to this day", which means if Matthew said the Pharisees were saying this when they really weren't, he would be easily found out by those alive "to this day". Matthew wouldn't open himself up to such easy falsification. Secondly, people don't usually respond to accusations unless someone actually made that accusation of them. For example, you wouldn't deny stealing your friend's car unless he accused you of stealing it.

Fact 3: Jesus' Postmortem Appearances To The Disciples

*Paul's List Of Appearances In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 Gives Us Powerful Reason To Believe These Appearances Occurred.

"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born." - 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

In this passage, Paul is citing an early creed that he himself received. We know this is a creed because he says "For what I received, I passed onto you as of first importance" This is ancient rabbinic language employed whenever oral tradition was being passed on. Plus, Paul's word usage in verses 3-8 is foreign to Paul in the rest of his epistles. On top of that, Parallelism (long sentence followed by a short sentence followed by a long sentence again) implies that this is a creed since this structure was common to oral tradition to contribute to easy memorization.

Paul most likely got the creed from Peter and James during his fact finding mission that he recounts in Galatians 1:18-19, which would mean this creed goes back to eyewitnesses of the resurrection. That this is when Paul received this creed is plausible from the fact that Peter and James are two individuals explicitly named, plus Paul's use of "historieasi" which indicates they were talking about recent events.

Therefore, the creed goes back to within only a few years of Jesus' crucifixion. This list of appearances is so early that anyone skeptical about them could question the witnesses to see if the creed were accurate. If these people did not see Jesus as the creed claims, then the cat would be out of the bag and Christianity would be discredited. Many scholars have noted that Paul's mentioning of many of the witnesses still being alive is most likely a challenge from Paul to question these witnesses as if Paul were essentially saying "Don't believe me? Go talk to them yourselves! Go ask them yourselves!"

*The Appearance Narratives In The Gospels Provide Multiple, Independent Attestation Of The Appearances.

The appearances to the disciples are mentioned in 3 independent sources.

1: 1 Corinthians 15
2: The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
3: The Gospel Of John.

It is highly unlikely that three independent sources would all fabricate the same lie. Given that we have at least three sources for the postmortem appearances to the disciples, we have good grounds for confirming that the disciples believed they saw the risen Jesus.

Fact 4: The Postmortem Appearance To Paul

*Saul Of Tarsus was hired by the Jewish Sanhedrin to persecute Christians by beating them, throwing them into prison, stoning them to death, etc.

Principle of Embarrassment makes it highly likely that he was indeed a persecutor. People don't make up horrible things about themselves, and usually don't admit them even if they're true. Yet in 3 different epistles, Paul says that he was a harsh persecutor of Christians before his conversion (see 1 Corinthians 15:9, Galatians 1:13, 1 Timothy 1:13).

Multiple Attestation -- Both Paul's epistles and the book of Acts say that Paul was a persecutor of the church.

*Saul Converted To Christianity all of a sudden and became an active evangelist who suffered for his faith.

Multiple Attestation -- Paul attests to his own suffering for the sake of the gospel in his epistles. The book of Acts also records Paul's suffering.

The early church fathers, Polycarp, Tertullian, Clement of Rome, and several others record the account of Paul's martyrdom under the emperor Nero.

*Saul -- who later became known as Paul -- claimed that he went from being a Christian destroyer to being a Christian maker because the risen Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus. This is the most reasonable explanation for why he went from being someone who killed Christians to being a Christian himself virtually overnight.

Fact 5: Jesus' Postmortem Appearance To James

*Jesus had a brother named James who did not believe He was God incarnate or the messiah during Jesus' lifetime.

Multiple Attestation -- The Gospel Of John (chapter 7) and The Gospel Of Mark (chapter 3) both attest to Jame's skepticism. It is very unlikely that they both fabricated the same lie independent of each other.

The Principle Of Embarrassment – This casts Jesus in a bad light given the stigma back then of any Rabbi whose family opposed his teaching. Casts James in a bad light, particularly in John 7 because in John 7, James and Jesus' other brothers are trying to goad Him into a death trap by showing himself publicly at a feast when they were well aware that the Jewish authorities were seeking to kill Him. Why would John paint James and Jesus' other brothers in such a bad light if this is not what actually happened?

*A short time after Jesus' death, James came to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead

Multiple Attestation -- The book of Acts as well as Paul's letter to the Galatians (Galatians 2:9) reveals that James had become a leader of the church in Jerusalem.

*James was Martyred for his Christian faith

Josephus, Hegesippus, and Clement Of Alexandria all record that James was murdered by the Jewish Sanhedrin for his belief in Jesus as the risen Messiah.

*The Most Likely Explanation for why James went from being a skeptic to being a believer virtually overnight is because the risen Jesus appeared to him as 1 Corinthians 15:7 says.

This is the historical evidence for the 5 facts undergirding the inference to the resurrection. The hypothesis "God raised Jesus from the dead" is the best explanation of these 5 facts. It meets all 6 of the standard criteria for confirming a historical theory.

1: It has great explanatory power.
2: It has great explanatory scope.
3: It is plausible.
4: Not ad-hoc.
5: It is in accord with accepted beliefs.
6: It out strips rival theories in criteria 1-5. None of the naturalistic theories raised over the last 2,000 years to explain these 5 facts are tenable. They all fail. Click here to see why. 

Other Arguments To Examine

The 6 arguments overviewed in this series are not the only arguments for God's existence that there are. There are others. These are just my favorites. I would advise the interested reader to also look at  The Argument From ScienceThe Transcendental ArgumentThe Contingency Argument, The Evolutionary Argument Against NaturalismThe FreeThinking Argument, and The Argument From Desire. All of these militate against atheism and work in favor of the Christian Worldview.


Once again, I want to alert the readers that these are mere overviews of these arguments. The atheist readers may have some objections to these arguments and may leave them in the comment section. I want to point the interested reader to a writing of mine where I dive into these arguments in more detail. It's my book Inference To The One True God: Why I Believe In Jesus Instead Of Other Gods. I devote entire chapters to each one of these 6 arguments, so in this work, I do a far more in depth examination of the arguments than I was able to in this blog post and the previous one. 

Here's my conclusion: Relative to the full scope of the evidence, God’s existence is probable. Probabilities are relative to what background information you consider. For example, suppose Bob is a member of Bakersfield Baptist Church and consider also that a statistics dude tells us that 95% of Bakersfield Baptist Church members are Young Earth Creationists. Relative to this information it is highly probable that Joe is a Young Earth Creationist. But then suppose we also learn that Bob is a biologist and that 99% of biologists affirm Darwin's theory of evolution. Suddenly the probability of Bob’s being a Young Earth Creationist has diminished drastically! You would conclude that Bob is most likely in that 5% of Bakersfield Baptist Church members who affirm other views of the doctrine of creation, such as evolutionary creationism.

Likewise, if all you consider for background information is the evil and suffering in the world, then it’s no wonder that God’s existence seems to be improbable relative to that. But is God’s existence improbable relative to the all of the evidence? I would say that in light of all of the evidence, God's existence is overwhelmingly more probable. The evidence for God just simply drowns the problem of evil's potential to make God's existence improbable.


1: Fyodor Dostoyevsky, "A Hymn and a Secret", Part 4, Book 11, Chapter 4

2: Frank Turek said this in a lecture at an Apologetics conference I attended once. I don't know if the phrase was ever put into writing though.