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Arguments for Theism

Edited by Daniel von Wachter (International Academy of Philosophy)
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Summary Theism is generally taken to be the view that there is a person who is bodiless, omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, perfectly good, perfectly free, and who is the creator and sustainer of the universe. There are of course  different ways to spell out these attributes, for example some spell out ‘eternal‘ as ‘being outside of time‘, others as ‘everlasting‘. However, those who present arguments for or against the ‘existence of God‘ use the term ‘God’ similarly enough to be discussing the same question. Philosophers rather say that there is no God than using ‘God’ in a very different sense, for example in the sense of something other than a person. Most or all arguments for or against theism, today as well as in the past, are not assumed to make belief in God somehow ‘apodictically‘ certain. However, some arguments are deductive, others inductive.
Key works The most thorough defense of the existence of God is Swinburne 2004, who gives probabilistic, inductive instead of deductive arguments and who rejects the ontological as well as the moral argument from the existence of values or duties. Plantinga 1992 defends the ontological argument, Adams 1979 the moral argument. Mackie 1982 is still a much quoted defense of atheism. Rowe 2010 presents an atheistic position.
Introductions Most anthologies with the title ‘philosophy of religion’ contain articles that give the various arguments, for example Craig 2002 or Davies 2000, and also Copan & Meister 2007, Taliaferro & Meister 2010, and Copan & Moser 2003. A simplified defense of theism with various arguments is Swinburne 1996, Le Poidevin 1996 is an introductory defense atheism.
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Subcategories:See also:History/traditions: Arguments for Theism
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Arguments from Miracles
  1. Matthew C. Bagger (1997). Hume and Miracles. Journal of the History of Philosophy 35 (2):237 - 251.
    "Hume and Miracles" relates Hume’s essay "Of Miracles" to the Port-Royal ’Logic’ and John Locke. It argues that Hume did not, as is often supposed, intend to suggest that well-attested miracle reports defeat themselves by undermining the laws of nature they defy. Instead, Hume argues that the specifically ’religious’ nature of the testimony relating to miracle claims rules out their acceptance because of the frequency of fraud in religious matters. Hume’s views are too austere because one might wish to reject (...)
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  2. David Basinger (1990). Miracles as Evidence for Theism. Sophia 29 (1):56 - 59.
    In an ongoing dialogue, Robert Larmer and I have been discussing whether the undisputed occurrence of certain conceivable events would require all honest, thoughtful individuals to acknowledge that God has intervened in earthly affairs. I argue that there is no reason to believe that a nontheist who acknowledged certain healings to be strong evidence for theism but did not see such evidence as outweighing what she viewed as the stronger counterevidence, and thus remained a nontheist, could justifiably be accused of (...)
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  3. Tristan Casabianca (2016). Turin Shroud, Resurrection and Science: One View of the Cathedral. New Blackfriars 97 (1071):n/a-n/a.
    In a topic as controversial as the Turin Shroud, it is always surprising to note that there remains a large area of consensus among scholars who hold opposite opinions on the origin of this piece of fabric. According to the consensus view, neither science nor history can prove that the Turin Shroud shows signs of the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. However, the reasons provided for this important claim are not convincing, especially in light of recent developments in historiography and (...)
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  4. Tristan Casabianca, The Shroud of Turin, the Resurrection of Jesus and the Realm of Science: One View of the Cathedral. Workshop on Advances in the Turin Shroud Investigation.
    In a topic as controversial as the shroud of Turin, it is always surprising to notice that there still exists a large area of consensus among scholars holding opposite opinions on the topic. According to the consensus view, neither science nor history can ever prove that the Turin Shroud shows signs of the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. However, the reasons given for such an important claim are not convincing, especially in regard of recent developments in historiography and analytic philosophy.
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  5. Tristan Casabianca (2013). The Shroud of Turin: A Historiographical Approach. Heythrop Journal 54 (3):414-423.
    Criteria of historical assessment are applied to the Turin Shroud to determine which hypothesis relating to the image formation process is the most likely. To implement this, a ‘Minimal Facts’ approach is followed that takes into account only physicochemical and historical data receiving the widest consensus among contemporary scientists. The result indicates that the probability of the Shroud of Turin being the real shroud of Jesus of Nazareth is very high; historians and natural theologians should therefore pay it increased attention.
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  6. William Lane Craig & J. P. Moreland (eds.) (2009). The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Blackwell Pub.
    With the help of in-depth essays from some of the world's leading philosophers, _The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology_ explores the nature and existence of God through human reason and evidence from the natural world. Provides in-depth and cutting-edge treatment of natural theology's main arguments Includes contributions from first-rate philosophers well known for their work on the relevant topics Updates relevant arguments in light of the most current, state-of-the-art philosophical and scientific discussions Stands in useful contrast and opposition to the (...)
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  7. Hent de Vries (2001). Of Miracles and Special Effects. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 50 (1-3):41 - 56.
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  8. Yiftach J. H. Fehige (2008). Review Of: O. Gingerich: God’s Universe. [REVIEW] Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy 11:232-234.
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  9. William Grey (1993). Hume, Miracles, and the Paranorrnal. Cogito 7 (2):100-105.
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  10. Daniel Howard-Snyder (2003). On Hume's Philosophical Case Against Miracles. In Christopher Bernard (ed.), God Matters: Readings in the Philosophy of Religion. Longman Publications
    According to the Christian religion, Jesus was “crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again”. I take it that this rising again—the Resurrection of Jesus, as it’s sometimes called—is, according to the Christian religion, an historical event, just like his crucifixion, death, and burial. And I would have thought that to investigate whether the Resurrection occurred, we would need to do some historical research: we would need to assess the reliability of (...)
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  11. Anders Jeffner (1966). Butler and Hume on Religion: A Comparative Analysis. Diakonistyrelsens.
    TOPICS DISCUSSED INCLUDE THE ARGUMENT FROM DESIGN, THE THEOLOGICAL IMPORTANCE OF THE NEW NATURAL SCIENCES, ARGUMENTS FROM MIRACLES, THE MEANING OF STATEMENTS ABOUT GOD, THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE IDEA OF GOD AND VARIOUS APOLOGETIC ARGUMENTS, AND ETHICAL AND META-ETHICAL THEORIES. (BP, EDITED).
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  12. Robert Larmer (1999). Miracles As Evidence for God. In God and Argument. Univ Ottawa Pr
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  13. K. T. Maslin (1995). David Hume, 'of Miracles'. Cogito 9 (1):83-89.
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  14. Timothy McGrew & Lydia McGrew (2009). The Argument From Miracles: A Cumulative Case for the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. In William Lane Craig & J. P. Moreland (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Blackwell Pub 593--662.
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  15. Peter Millican, Hume, Miracles, and Probabilities: Meeting Earman's Challenge.
    The centrepiece of Earman’s provocatively titled book Hume’s Abject Failure: The Argument against Miracles is a probabilistic interpretation of Hume’s famous ‘maxim’ concerning the credibility of miracle reports, followed by a trenchant critique of the maxim when thus interpreted. He argues that the first part of this maxim, once its obscurity is removed, is simply trivial, while the second part is nonsensical. His subsequent discussion culminates with a forthright challenge to any would-be defender of Hume to ‘point to some thesis (...)
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  16. N. N. (2005). Review of The Resurrection of God Incarnate. [REVIEW] Faith and Philosophy 22 (2):235-238.
    Whether or not Jesus rose bodily from the dead remains perhaps the most critical and contentious issue in Christianity. Until now, argument has centered upon the veracity of explicit New Testament accounts of the events following Jesus� crucifixion, often ending in deadlock. In Richard Swinburne�s new approach, though, ascertaining the probable truth of the resurrection requires a much broader approach to the nature of God and to the life and teaching of Jesus.
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  17. Douglas Odegard (1982). Miracles and Good Evidence. Religious Studies 18 (1):37-46.
    EVEN IF ’MIRACLE’ MEANS A VIOLATION OF A LAW OF NATURE, A CASE CAN BE MADE FOR THINKING THAT MIRACLES ARE POSSIBLE, DETECTABLE, AND COMPATIBLE WITH SCIENCE. THE CASE WORKS BY DEFINING A LAW-VIOLATION AS AN EVENT OF A KIND THAT IS EPISTEMICALLY IMPOSSIBLE UNLESS THERE IS GOOD EVIDENCE OF A GOD’S PRODUCING AN INSTANCE. HUMAN AND NON-HUMAN OBJECTIONS ARE CONSIDERED AND ANSWERED.
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  18. Christine Overall (2006). Miracles, Evidence, Evil, and God: A Twenty-Year Debate. Dialogue 45 (2):355-366.
    This paper is the latest in a debate with Robert Larmer as to whether the occurrence of a miracle would provide evidence for the existence of God or against the existence of God. Whereas Larmer’s view is categorical (miracles occur and are evidence for the existence of God), mine is hypothetical (if the events typically described as miracles were to occur -- although I do not believe they do -- they would be evidence against the existence of God). The reason (...)
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  19. Christine Overall (1985). Miracles as Evidence Against the Existence of God. Southern Journal of Philosophy 23 (3):347-353.
    AN ASSUMPTION IN DEBATES ABOUT THE PHILOSOPHICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF MIRACLES IS THAT IF A MIRACLE (A VIOLATION OF NATURAL LAW OR A PERMANENTLY INEXPLICABLE EVENT) WERE TO OCCUR, IT WOULD BE EVIDENCE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF THE CHRISTIAN GOD. THE PAPER EXPLORES RESERVATIONS BY SEVERAL PHILOSOPHERS ABOUT THIS CONNECTION BETWEEN GOD AND MIRACLES, AND PRESENTS ARGUMENTS TO SHOW THAT IF A MIRACLE WERE TO OCCUR THERE WOULD BE GOOD REASON TO DENY THAT GOD EXISTS.
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  20. Terence Penelhum (2004). Review of Robert J. Fogelin, A Defense of Hume on Miracles, Princeton. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2004 (1).
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  21. Richard L. Purtill (1976). Proofs of Miracles and Miracles as Proofs. Christian Scholar’s Review 6.
    AS AGAINST HUME’S VIEW THAT "A MIRACLE CAN NEVER BE PROVED SO AS TO BE THE FOUNDATION OF A SYSTEM OF RELIGION" I ARGUE THAT THE POSSIBILITY OF MIRACLES CAN BE DEFENDED ON PHILOSOPHICAL GROUNDS, THAT THERE IS HISTORICAL EVIDENCE FOR THE OCCURRENCE OF CERTAIN MIRACLES AND THAT SUCH MIRACLES CAN IN FACT GIVE GROUNDS FOR THE PREFERENCE OF ONE SYSTEM OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF OVER ANOTHER.
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  22. Victor Reppert (1989). Miracles and the Case for Theism. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 25 (1):35 - 51.
    THIS PAPER IS A DISCUSSION OF MACKIE’S HUMEAN ARGUMENT THAT MIRACLES CANNOT PLAY A ROLE IN A CASE FOR THEISM. I ARGUE THAT MACKIE IS MISTAKEN IN CONTENDING THAT MIRACLES CANNOT FORM PART OF A CASE FOR THEISM. IF THERE IS EVIDENCE THAT CERTAIN EVENTS DEVIATE FROM THE ORDINARY COURSE OF NATURE, AND IF AFFIRMING THE EXISTENCE OF GOD WOULD RENDER THAT EVIDENCE MORE COMPREHENSIBLE THAN OTHERWISE, THEN IT MUST BE ADMITTED THAT EVIDENCE THAT THESE EVENTS HAVE OCCURRED IS EVIDENCE (...)
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  23. Jordan Howard Sobel (2004). Logic and Theism: Arguments for and Against Beliefs in God. Cambridge University Press.
    This is a wide-ranging book about arguments for and against belief in God.
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  24. James E. Taylor (2007). Hume on Miracles: Interpretation and Criticism. Philosophy Compass 2 (4):611–624.
    Philosophers continue to debate about David Hume’s case against the rationality of belief in miracles. This article clarifies semantic, epistemological, and metaphysical questions addressed in the controversy. It also explains the main premises of Hume’s argument and discusses criticisms of them. The article concludes that one’s evaluation of Hume’s argument will depend on one’s views about (a) the definitions of ’miracle’ and ’natural law’; (b) the type of reasoning one ought to employ to determine the probability that a particular miracle (...)
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  25. J. C. Thornton (1984). Miracles and God's Existence. Philosophy 59 (228):219 - 229.
    THE AUTHOR ARGUES THAT THE HUMEAN "A PRIORI" ATTACK ON MIRACLES IS INTENDED TO SHOW THE INCOHERENCE OF THE NOTION OF A WELL-ATTESTED MIRACULOUS EVENT (NOT THE INCOHERENCE OF THE CONCEPT OF A MIRACLE). THOUGH THIS TYPE OF ATTACK CAN BE PRESENTED IN A POWERFUL FORM, IT SUFFERS FROM AN UNDULY NARROW ASSUMPTION CONCERNING THE NATURE OF EVIDENCE AND EXPLANATION, FOR IT "IS" POSSIBLE TO DESCRIBE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH IT WOULD BE REASONABLE TO CONCLUDE THAT A MIRACLE HAS OCCURRED. HOWEVER, (...)
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Cosmological Arguments for Theism
  1. B. A. (1998). Philip E. Devine. Human Diversity and the Culture Wars: Philosophical Perspectives on Contemporary Cultural Conflict. (Wesport, Connecticut: Praeger.) Pp. 192. £43.95. [REVIEW] Religious Studies 34 (2):231-234.
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  2. N. W. A. (1982). Dzieje Filozofii Europejskiej XV Wieku, Vol. IV. Review of Metaphysics 36 (1):204-206.
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  3. Roy Ahmed-Jackson (1998). Speculations on the Cosmological Argument. The Philosophers' Magazine 3 (3):32-33.
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  4. David Alexander (2008). The Recent Revival of Cosmological Arguments. Philosophy Compass 3 (3):541–550.
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  5. George Allan (2008). Cosmological and Civilized Harmonies. In Michel Weber (ed.), Handbook of Whiteheadian Process Thought. De Gruyter 41-54.
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  6. Thomas Aquinas (2000). A Thirteenth Century Cosmological Argument. In Brian Davies (ed.), Philosophy of Religion: A Guide and Anthology. OUP Oxford
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  7. Peter A. Bertocci (1967). The Cosmological Argument—Revisited and Revised. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 41:149-159.
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  8. Lionel Blain (1967). The Cosmological Argument. World Futures 5 (4):82-83.
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  9. Christopher Alan Bobier (2013). God, Time and the Kalām Cosmological Argument. Sophia 52 (4):593-600.
    The Kalām cosmological argument deploys the following causal principle: whatever begins to exist has a cause. Yet, under what conditions does something ‘begin to exist’? What does it mean to say that ‘X begins to exist at t’? William Lane Craig has offered and defended various accounts that seek to establish the necessary and sufficient conditions for when something ‘begins to exist.’ I argue that all of the accounts that William Lane Craig has offered fail on the following grounds: either (...)
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  10. Vernon J. Bourke (1980). The Kalam Cosmological Argument. By Wilham Lane Craig. Modern Schoolman 57 (4):371-371.
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  11. Raymond D. Bradley, Cosmological Arguments.
    Although most cogently formulated by philosophers such as St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), al Ghazali (1058-1111), and Gottfried Leibniz (1646- 1716), cosmological arguments have a powerful appeal also to those nonphilosophers who feel that the "ultimate" explanation for the existence of the natural universe is that it was created by some sort of supernatural entity, viz., God.
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  12. Anthony Brueckner (2001). Van Inwagen on the Cosmological Argument. Philosophical Papers 30 (1):31-40.
    Abstract In his book Metaphysics, Peter van Inwagen constructs a version of the Cosmological Argument which does not depend on the Principle of Sufficient Reason. He goes on to reject the argument. In this paper, I construct an alternative version of the Cosmological Argument that uses some of van Inwagen's insights and yet is immune to his criticisms. If we suppose that for each contingent truth, there is some at least partial explanation, then it follows that there is some necessary (...)
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  13. Donald R. Burrill (1967). The Cosmological Arguments. Garden City, N.Y.,Anchor Books.
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  14. E. B. C. (1981). The Kaläm Cosmological Argument. Review of Metaphysics 35 (2):376-378.
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  15. James Cain (1995). The Hume-Edwards Principle. Religious Studies 31 (3):323 - 328.
    The Leibniz-Clarke version of the cosmological argument allows for the possibility that there might be a beginningless succession of objects, each produced by earlier objects in the succession, but it is held that a causal question would then arise as to what brought this whole succession of objects into being. This line of thought is commonly said to be confused and an appeal is made to a principle that if a causal explanation has been provided for each member of a (...)
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  16. Anselm of Canterbury (2000). A Concise Cosmological Argument From the Eleventh Century. In Brian Davies (ed.), Philosophy of Religion: A Guide and Anthology. OUP Oxford
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  17. William E. Carroll (2012). Cosmology and Creation: From Hawking to Aquinas. Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 15 (1):134-149.
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  18. Brian Coffey (1952). Notes on Cosmological Speculation. Modern Schoolman 29 (3):183-196.
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  19. Robin Collins, Objections to Smith's Cosmological Argument (2008).
    In his opening case , Quentin Smith has presented an ingenious argument for the claim that the universe is self caused, and hence its existence is self explanatory. He then goes on to claim that the fact that the universe is self caused, and hence self explanatory, is inconsistent with theism. His main argument is based on the assumption that each temporal part of the universe has an explanation in terms of the temporal parts existing prior to it. The fundamental (...)
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  20. L. Hughes Cox (1974). Composition and the Cosmological Argument. New Scholasticism 48 (3):365-370.
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  21. L. W. Craig (2003). The Cosmological Argument. In Paul Copan & Paul K. Moser (eds.), Noûs. Routledge 114--115.
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  22. William L. Craig (1979). Wallace Matson and the Crude Cosmological Argument. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 57 (2):163 – 170.
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  23. William Lane Craig (2011). Graham Oppy on the Kalam Cosmological Argument. International Philosophical Quarterly 51 (3):303-330.
    Graham Oppy has emerged as one of the kalam cosmological argument’s most formidable opponents. He rejects all four of the arguments drawn from metaphysics and physics for the second premiss that the universe began to exist. He also thinks that we have no good reason to accept the first premiss that everything that begins to exist has a cause. In this response, I hope to show that the kalam cosmological argument is, in fact, considerably stronger than Oppy claims, surviving even (...)
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  24. William Lane Craig (2008). The Cosmological Argument. In Paul Copan & Chad V. Meister (eds.), Philosophy of Religion: Classic and Contemporary Issues. Blackwell Pub.
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  25. William Lane Craig (2002). The Kalam Cosmological Argument. In Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie. Rutgers University Press 383-383.
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