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The Monist

Volume 96, Issue 3, July 2013

Naturalizing Religious Belief

John Teehan
Pages 325-348
DOI: 10.5840/monist201396315

The Cognitive Bases of the Problem of Evil

The problem of evil is a central issue in the philosophy of religion, for countless believers and skeptics alike. The attempt to resolve the dilemma of positing the existence of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, creator while recognizing the presence of evil in the world has engaged philosophers and theologians for millennia. This article will not seek to resolve the dilemma but rather to explore the question of why there is a problem of evil. That is, why is it that gods are conceived in ways that give rise to this dilemma? The topic will be approached using insights into the religious mind being developed by the disciplines contributing to the Cognitive Science of Religion. The thesis to be developed is that this problem is a product of natural cognitive processes that give rise to god-beliefs, beliefs that are shaped by evolved moral intuitions.