The probabilistic problem of evil is generally considered to be the greatest challenge facing theism in the contemporary philosophical literature. But given that the factors needed to establish the conclusion of the probabilistic problem of evil are beyond human knowledge (as skeptical theists have been quick to point out), the problem arguably rests primarily on several key intuitions regarding human nature, the amount of evil that is in the world, the likelihood that God exists given that amount of evil, etc.
In recent years, experimental philosophy has powerfully called into question the theoretical import of any philosophical intuitions that are not shared across various demographics—cultural, ethnic, socioeconomic, etc. Many philosophers once assumed that certain philosophical intuitions were more or less universal and aptly theory-guiding. But through empirical research, experimental philosophy has powerfully argued that perhaps the intuitions of philosophers are not nearly as universal as we might have hoped—potentially undermining the theoretical import of such intuitions.
This project aims to explore just how broadly the key intuitions of the probabilistic problem of evil are shared across relevant demographics and to evaluate the statistical relationships between those intuitions and beliefs regarding the divine, human nature, and more. While the problem of evil has an ancient pedigree, it has recently emerged as the central hurdle for theism within the academic literature. Our hypothesis is that cultural and demographic factors are playing a significant role in this phenomenon and that the driving intuitions of the probabilistic problem of evil are perhaps not shared broadly outside of Western academia. If this is right, the proposed project will provide the material for significantly undermining what is generally considered to be the greatest challenge facing theism.