Modal basics -- Some solutions -- Theist solutions -- The ontology of possibility -- Modal truthmakers -- Modality and the divine nature -- Deity as essential -- Against deity theories -- The role of deity -- The biggest bang -- Divine concepts -- Concepts, syntax, and actualism -- Modality: basic notions -- The genesis of secular modality -- Modal reality -- Essences -- Non-secular modalities -- Theism and modal semantics -- Freedom, preference, and cost -- Explaining modal status -- Explaining (...) the necessary -- Against theistic platonism -- Worlds and the existence of God. (shrink)
One central claim of orthodox Christianity is that in Jesus of Nazareth, God became man. On Chalcedonian orthodoxy, this involves one person, God the Son, having two natures, divine and human. If He does, one person has two properties, deity and humanity. But the Incarnation also involves concrete objects, God the Son (GS), Jesus’s human body (B) and—I will assume—Jesus’s human soul (S). If God becomes human, GS, B and S somehow become one thing. It would be good to have (...) a metaphysical account of their oneness. I have suggested one. Thomas Senor has criticized my suggestion. I now reply to his case. (shrink)
I display the historical roots of perfect being theology in Greco-Roman philosophy, and the distinctive reasons for Christians to take up a version of this project. I also rebut a recent argument that perfect-being reasoning should lead one to atheism.
William Hasker replies to my arguments against social Trinitarianism, offers some criticism of my own view, and begins a sketch of another account of the Trinity. I reply with some defence of my own theory and some questions about his.
William Rowe and others argue that if ours is a possible world than which there is a better, it follows that God does not exist. If this is correct, then if there is no best possible world, it is not so much as possible that God exist. I reject the key premise of Rowe's argument. The key to seeing that it is false, I suggest, is seeing that God is subject to something fairly called moral luck. In this first part (...) of the article, I set up Rowe's argument, indicate my strategy, introduce the notion of moral luck and show how it bears on Rowe's claims. (shrink)
William Rowe and others argue that if this is a possible world than which there is a better, it follows that God does not exist. I now reject the key premise of Rowe's argument. I do so first within a Molinist framework. I then show that this framework is dispensable: really all one needs to block the better-world argument is the assumption that creatures have libertarian free will. I also foreclose what might seem a promising way around the ‘moral-luck’ counter (...) I develop, and contend that it is in a way impossible to get around. (shrink)
Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), Benedictine monk and the second Norman archbishop of Canterbury, is regarded as one of the most important philosophers and theologians of the Middle Ages. The essays in this volume explore all of his major ideas both philosophical and theological, including his teachings on faith and reason, God's existence and nature, logic, freedom, truth, ethics, and key Christian doctrines. There is also discussion of his life, the sources of his thought, and his influence on other thinkers. New (...) readers will find this the most convenient, accessible guide to Anselm currently available. Advanced students and specialists will find a conspectus of recent developments in the interpretation of Anselm. (shrink)
Latin models of the Trinity begin from the existence of one God, and try to explain how one God can be three Persons. I offer an account of this based on an analogy with time-travel. A time-traveler returning to the same point in time repeatedly might have three successive events in his/her life occurring at that one location in public time. So too, God’s life might be such that three distinct parts of His life are always occurring at once, though (...) without any succession between them, and this might give God the triune structure Christian theology believes He has. (shrink)
In The Metaphysics of Creation and The Metaphysics of Theism, Norman Kretzmann defends an argument for God's existence which he claims to find in Aquinas. I assess this argument's key premise, a principle of sufficient reason, that: ‘PSR2: Every existing thing has a reason for its existence either in the necessity of its own nature or in the causal efficacy of some other beings’. PSR2 requires God's nature to explain His existence. Kretzmann does not tell us how this explanation is (...) supposed to go. I examine such ways as I can envision that God's own nature might explain His existence. None pan out. I argue contra Kretzmann that if God is simple, as Aquinas understood this, His nature does not explain His existence, and while His existence is in itself per se notum (‘self-evident’) this does not entail that it has an explanation. If this is correct, we ought not to read Aquinas as committed to PSR2. Further, if I'm right that it's impossible for ‘the necessity of a thing's nature’ to explain its existence, PSR2 is true only if every existing thing has a reason for its existence in the causal efficacy of some other beings. So, if I'm right, theists ought to steer clear of PSR2, at least read in terms of genuine explanation. I finally offer a weaker reading of ‘a reason for its existence’ which does not generate the problems of the stronger reading Kretzmann seems to have in mind. This too, though, turns out to have its problems. (shrink)
Anselm is commonly credited with two a priori arguments for God's existence, the non-modal argument of Proslogion 2 and a modal argument some find in Proslogion 3. But his Reply to Gaunilo contains a third. The argument as Anselm gives it has flaws, but they are not fatal, and its main premise can serve as the basis of a simpler, stronger argument.
Both Copleston and Duhem—I believe—claim that for Thomas Aquinas, there cannot be an infinity of anything. In this essay I argue that Thomas allows that there can be an infinity of some sorts of item and, more, that there actually are infinities of some items.
This paper examines Anselm’s reply to this argument in order to shed light on a number of issues in philosophical theology, including the metaphysics of the Incarnation, the relation between perfect being theology and the doctrines of the Incarnation and the Atonement, the senses in which the Christian God might be impassible, and the nature of God’s perfect rationality and wisdom. (edited).
Anselm's "Cur Deus" Homo argues that only by the Incarnation can God save humanity. This seems to sit ill with the claim that God is omnipotent and absolutely free, for this entails that God could save humanity in other ways. I show that features of Anselm's concept of God and treatment of necessity make the claim that the Incarnation is a necessary means of salvation problematic. I then show that for Anselm, all conditions which make the Incarnation necessary for human (...) salvation stem from God's nature and prior choices. If so, the Incarnation's necessity restricts neither God's freedom nor His power. For that the Incarnation is necessary given God's actual choices does not entail that it would have been necessary had God made other choices, or that God could not have made choices which would have made the Incarnation non-necessary. (shrink)
Among the objections to the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation which Anselm takes up in ’Cur Deus Nomo’ is an argument that a wise God would not act so, because it is inefficient. I explicate Anselm’s reply to this. It is (I argue) that the Incarnation is an elegant way to achieve a large set of goods including human salvation, and that God might well be wise to treat a sort of beauty the Incarnation involves as a value more important (...) than efficiency. (shrink)
Before Duns Scotus, most philosophers agreed that God is identical with His necessary intrinsic attributes--omnipotence, omniscience, etc. This Identity Thesis was a component of widely held doctrines of divine simplicity, which stated that God exemplifies no metaphysical distinctions, including that between subject and attribute. The Identity Thesis seems to render God an attribute, an abstract object. This paper shows that the Identity Thesis follows from a basic theistic belief and does not render God abstract. If also discusses how one might (...) move from the Identity Thesis to the full doctrine of divine simplicity and shows that the Identity Thesis generates a new ontological argument. (shrink)