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Free Will, the Holocaust, and The Problem of Evil

David Kyle Johnson

Vol. 4, No. 1

Summer 2022

Pages: 81‒96

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2022.vol4.no1.06


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Philosophy of Religion

Shoah, Holocaust, Judaism, Jewish Studies, Holocaust Studies, Problem of Moral Evil, Problem of Natural Evil, Free Will, Open Theism, Deism, Alvin Plantinga

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In this paper, I ask whether the occurrence of the Holocaust is good reason to doubt the existence of God. To do so, I will explore different varieties of the problem of evil to determine exactly what kind of argument the problem of the Holocaust is. I will then explore proposed solutions to the relevant varieties of the problem of evil to see if they can solve the problem of the Holocaust. The logical problem of the Holocaust, I will argue, can only be solved at the cost of embracing an unorthodox (heretical?) “open” view of God. The evidential problem of the Holocaust can be solved, but only at the cost of embracing a deistic view of God that would entail that he might as well not exist. What’s more, both solutions are rooted in the idea of free will. Consequently, either the theist will have to answer the myriad of arguments which suggest that libertarian free will doesn’t exist, or embrace a compatibilist notion of free will which renders the above solutions moot and turns the problem of the Holocaust into a version of the logical problem of natural evil—a problem which has not yet been satisfactorily solved.


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