The latest Reasonable Doubts series with Vyckie Garrison (who blogs at No Longer Quivering) is really compelling because her story is so painful, but because things seem to have worked out well in the end for her and her children.
Her interview in RD Episode 119 where she started talking about “spiritual abuse” it struck me as being related to a counter-apologetic argument – the idea that skeptical theism leads to moral paralysis.
This seems to be a very real instantiation of that argument playing out in real life, much to the detriment of Vyckie and other women like her in the Quiverfull movement.
For those that don’t know Skeptical Theism is the idea that humans have such a large chasm of knowledge between themselves and the mind of an infinite god that they should not expect to know what reasons god has to permit evils to obtain some greater good.
The argument is that such a view would lead to moral paralysis because on this view, we don’t know whether or not any given evil that we seemingly come across is being used by god to fulfill a greater good. So if we were to come across an instance of evil (like say a mugging), we wouldn't know whether or not to intervene or otherwise act on our moral intuitions because the mugging may be part of gods greater plan.
This relates directly to Vyckie’s account of “spiritual abuse” where she internalizes the problems with her marriage and the problems with her children that came about as a result of following what she thought was “god’s plan” for the family. When she speaks about recognizing opportunities to object to or escape the Quiverful doctrine she wouldn’t do so, because she would think “what if god needs me here to intervene in the life of my husband/child/etc.”
It seems to be a terrible real life instantiation of the epistemic problems that would plague someone who took the skeptical theist answer to the problem of evil seriously and consistently. I think this is significant because the kinds of problems that pop up in the Quiverfull movement would probably be acknowledged as problems by more progressive or moderate Evangelical Christians. The issue for them is they would then have to deal with the epistemic problem that arises from the skeptical theism view that the people in the Quiverfull movement take so seriously.
I’d even start to wonder if people in the Quiverfull movement go to such extreme lengths because they take the epistemic issues brought up by their views on the bible so seriously.