Why is the philosophy of religion important? -- Is God real? -- How can God be known? -- Faith and reason or faith vs. reason? -- What is religious experience? -- Who is religious and what is faith? -- What is God? -- Does religion need the supernatural? -- Do miracles occur? -- What is evil and why does it exist? -- What happens after death? -- What is spirituality? -- How does religion affect personal ethics? -- How does religion (...) affect social ethics? -- What is a religious life? (shrink)
Challenging the assumption that the concept of divine action is necessarily paradoxical, on the grounds that God is radically transcendent of finitude, or can perform only a master act of creating and sustaining the universe, Frank Kirkpatrick defends as philosophically credible the Christian conviction that God is a personal Agent who also acts in particular historical moments to further the divine intention of fostering universal community. Kirkpatrick claims that God and the world are distinct realities "together bound" in a mutual (...) relationship of reciprocal historical action. In this relationship, God both acts upon and responds to human beings in specific moments in their history. The implications of this claim for understanding the biblical narrative, the problem of evil, cosmological theories, and the realism of Christian community are pursued. (shrink)
What do we mean when we talk about "God?" Does this term actually refer to anything in our experience? This book opens up significant new approaches to one of the most important problems confronting theology and the philosophy of religion, namely, the problem of "God-language." Current philosophical concerns over language have intensified the difficulty of talking about God: The necessity of formally proving the "meaningfulness" of statements about God has led to theological dead ends on the one hand and a (...) retreat to mysticism or irrationality on the other. This book moves the discussion of God-language to a new plane, arguing that God-language cannnot be understood within a traditional "theistic" framework. Instead, a "grammar" of God-language must be identified, and in doing this Jennings reaches a fresh view of language, one that is applicable to all religions and all human experience--the religious as well as the secular. (shrink)
Faith versus knowledge and knowledge versus faith.--Experience and experiment in theology.--Religious and philosophical knowledge of God.--Doubt and certainty in the knowledge of God.--The historical character of the knowledge of God.
Is belief in God justified? That’s the fundamental question at the heart of this volume of the Great Debates in Philosophy series. Alvin Plantinga and Michael Tooley each tackle the matter with distinctive arguments fromopposing perspectives. The book opens with an explanation of the philosophers’ viewpoints, followed by a lively and engaging conversation in which each directly responds to the other's arguments.
Part 1. Human capability in light of God's power -- Divine power and the creation -- God's will and human destiny -- Part 2. Human capability to understand God -- Human knowledge -- Human knowledge of God -- Part 3. Human capability in relation to doctrinal ordination -- Criteria of Christian authorities -- Philosophical freedom and doctrinal minimalism : two test cases -- Conclusion.
pt. A. The supreme mind of God -- First origin and final source -- The knowledge of a true beginning -- The mystic pen and the guarded tablet -- pt. B. The universal body of God -- Man against the last horizons -- Inside the world of nature -- Reading the messages of natural symbols -- pt. C The human image of God -- The symbolic image of man -- Man's true nature -- Behind the face of man.
I examine the central atheistic argument of Richard Dawkins’s book The God Delusion (“Dawkins’s Gambit”) and illustrate its failure. I further show that Dawkins’s Gambit is a fragment of a more comprehensive critique of theism found in David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Among the failings of Dawkins’s Gambit is that it is directed against a version of the God Hypothesis that few traditional monotheists hold. Hume’s critique is more challenging in that it targets versions of the God Hypothesis that (...) are central to traditional monotheism. Theists and atheists should put away The God Delusion and pick up Hume’s Dialogues. (shrink)
Whether God exists is a metaphysical question. But there is also a neglected evaluative question about God’s existence: Should we want God to exist? Very many, including many atheists and agnostics, appear to think we should. Theists claim that if God didn’t exist things would be far worse, and many atheists agree; they regret God’s inexistence. Some remarks by Thomas Nagel suggest an opposing view: that we should want God not to exist. I call this view anti-theism. I explain how (...) such view can be coherent, and why it might be correct. Anti-theism must be distinguished from the argument from evil or the denial of God’s goodness; it is a claim about the goodness of God’s existence. Anti-theists must claim that it’s a logical consequence of God’s existence that things are worse in certain respects. The problem is that God’s existence would also make things better in many ways. Given that God’s existence is likely to be impersonally better overall, anti-theists face a challenge similar to that facing nonconsequentialists. I explore two ways of meeting this challenge. (shrink)
Mark Johnston’s book, Saving God (Princeton University Press, 2010) has two main goals, one negative and the other positive: (1) to eliminate the Old Gods of the major Western monotheisms (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) as candidates for the role of “the Highest One”; (2) to introduce the real Highest One, a panentheistic deity worthy of devotion and capable of extending to us the grace needed to transform us from inwardly-turned sinners to practitioners of agape. In this review, I argue that (...) Johnston’s attack upon traditional forms of monotheism has less force than the criticism of those he calls “undergraduate atheists” (e.g., Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins); and that his candidate for Highest One is not the greatest possible being, and could not play the redemptive role cast for it by Johnston. (shrink)
Hobbes denies in Leviathan that we have an idea of God. He does think, though, that God exists, and does not even deny that we can think about God, even though he says we have no idea of God. There is, Hobbes thinks, another cognitive mechanism by means of which we can think about God. That mechanism allows us only to think a few things about God though. This constrains what Hobbes can say about our knowledge of God, and grounds (...) his belief in a fairly strong version of the thesis that God is incomprehensible. (shrink)
To figure out whether the main empirical question “Is our brain hardwired to believe in and produce God, or is our brain hardwired to perceive and experience God?” is answered, this paper presents systematic critical review of the positions, arguments and controversies of each side of the neuroscientific-theological debate and puts forward an integral view where the human is seen as a psycho-somatic entity consisting of the multiple levels and dimensions of human existence (physical, biological, psychological, and spiritual reality), allowing (...) consciousness/mind/spirit and brain/body/matter to be seen as different sides of the same phenomenon, neither reducible to each other. The emergence of a form of causation distinctive from physics where mental/conscious agency (a) is neither identical with nor reducible to brain processes and (b) does exert “downward” causal influence on brain plasticity and the various levels of brain functioning is discussed. This manuscript also discusses the role of cognitive processes in religious experience and outlines what can neuroscience offer for study of religious experience and what is the significance of this study for neuroscience, clinicians, theology and philosophy. A methodological shift from “explanation” to “description” of religious experience is suggested. This paper contributes to the ongoing discussion between theologians, cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists. (shrink)
Richard Swinburne presents a substantially rewritten and updated edition of his most celebrated book. No other work has made a more powerful case for the probability of the existence of God. Swinburne gives a rigorous and penetrating analysis of the most important arguments for theism: the cosmological argument; arguments from the existence of laws of nature and the 'fine-tuning' of the universe; from the occurrence of consciousness and moral awareness; and from miracles and religious experience. He claims that while none (...) of these arguments are deductively valid, they do give inductive support to theism and that, even when the argument from evil is weighed against them, taken together they offer good grounds to support the probability that there is a God. The overall structure of the discussion and its conclusion have been retained for this new edition, but much has been changed in order to strengthen the argumentation and to take account of Swinburne's subsequent work on the nature of consciousness and the problem of evil, and of the latest philosophical and scientific writing, especially in respect of the laws of nature and the argument from fine-tuning. This is now the definitive version of a classic in the philosophy of religion. (shrink)
The question of whether or not God exists is endlessly fascinating and profoundly important. Now two articulate spokesmen--one a Christian, the other an atheist--duel over God's existence in a lively and illuminating battle of ideas. In God?, William Lane Craig and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong bring to the printed page two debates they held before live audiences, preserving all the wit, clarity, and immediacy of their public exchanges. With none of the opaque discourse of academic logicians and divinity-school theologians, the authors make (...) claims and comebacks that cut with precision. Their arguments are sharp and humorous, as each philosopher strikes quickly to the heart of his opponent's case. For example, Craig claims that we must believe in God to explain objective moral values, such as why rape is wrong. Sinnott-Armstrong responds that what makes rape wrong is the harm to victims of rape, so rape is immoral even if there is no God. From arguments about the nature of infinity and the Big Bang, to religious experience and divine action, to the resurrection of Jesus and the problem of evil, the authors treat us to a remarkable display of intelligence and insight--a truly thought-provoking exploration of a classic issue that remains relevant to contemporary life. (shrink)
In his Beweisgrund (1762), Kant presents a sketch of "the only possible basis" for a proof of God's existence. In this essay, I attempt to present that proof as a valid and sound argument for the existence of God.
The existence of natural laws, whether deterministic or indeterministic, and whether exceptionless or ceteris paribus, seems puzzling because it implies that mindless bits of matter behave in a consistent and co-ordinated way. I explain this puzzle by showing that a number of attempted solutions fail. The puzzle could be resolved if it were assumed that natural laws are a manifestation of God’s activity. This argument from natural law to God’s existence differs from its traditional counterparts in that, whereas the latter (...) seek to explain the fact of natural laws, the former seeks to explain their possibility . The customary objections to the traditional arguments cannot be successfully adapted to counter this new argument, with one exception which has only limited effect. I rebut four claims that the theistic solution to the puzzle about natural laws is paradoxical, though I concede that one of these claims has merit. I consider four objections to the new argument but find three of them more or less unsatisfactory. The fourth, if successful, would undermine our claims to know the truth about the world. (shrink)
Quentin Smith argues that if God exists, He had a duty to ensure life's existence; and He couldn't rationally have done so and made a big bang unless a counter-factual like "If God had made a big bang, there would have been life," was true pre-creation. But such counter-factuals are not true pre-creation. I argue that God could have made a big bang without irrationality; and that He could have ensured life without making big bangs non-random. Further, a proper understanding (...) of the truth-conditions of counter-factuals like the one above lets them have determinate truth-values pre-creation. But the explanation of how the above counter-factual can be true pre-creation is more complicated than that offered by William Lane Craig. (shrink)
Basing his argument for the existence of God on the continuous nature of the temporal world, Braine here posits that the philosophy of religion cannot be continued as a separate discipline: the solution of its problems will be the fruit of the correct telesis of the problems of general philosophy in their complex interrelationships.
Throughout history, many people, including Mother Teresa, have been troubled by God’s silence. In spite of the conflicting interpretations of the Bible, God has remained silent. What are the implications of divine silence for a meaning of life? Is there a good reason that explains God’s silence? If God created humanity to fulfill a purpose, then God would have clarified his purpose and our role by now, as I will argue. To help God carry out his purpose, we would need (...) to have a clear understanding of our role. Thus, by failing to clarify our role, God would be undermining himself in achieving the purpose he conceived, which would not make sense. Because God, if he exists, would not engage in this self-defeating behavior, this suggests that humanity was not created by God to fulfill a purpose. (shrink)
This article spells out the reasons for calling God a substance and argues that theism nevertheless does not require substance ontology. It is compatible with an alternative ontology which I call stuff ontology.
Paley’s ‘proof’ of the existence of God, or some supposed version of it, is well known. In this paper I offer the real thing and two objections to it. One objection is Hume's, and the other is provided by Darwin.
John Foster presents a clear and powerful discussion of a range of topics relating to our understanding of the universe: induction, laws of nature, and the existence of God. He begins by developing a solution to the problem of induction - a solution whose key idea is that the regularities in the workings of nature that have held in our experience hitherto are to be explained by appeal to the controlling influence of laws, as forms of natural necessity. His second (...) line of argument focuses on the issue of what we should take such necessitational laws to be, and whether we can even make sense of them at all. Having considered and rejected various alternatives, Foster puts forward his own proposal: the obtaining of a law consists in the causal imposing of a regularity on the universe as a regularity. With this causal account of laws in place, he is now equipped to offer an argument for theism. His claim is that natural regularities call for explanation, and that, whatever explanatory role we may initially assign to laws, the only plausible ultimate explanation is in terms of the agency of God. Finally, he argues that, once we accept the existence of God, we need to think of him as creating the universe by a method which imposes regularities on it in the relevant law-yielding way. In this new perspective, the original nomological-explanatory solution to the problem of induction becomes a theological-explanatory solution. The Divine Lawmaker is bold and original in its approach, and rich in argument. The issues on which it focuses are among the most important in the whole epistemological and metaphysical spectrum. (shrink)
This book is a unique contribution to the philosophy of religion. It offers a comprehensive discussion of one of the most famous arguments for the existence of God: the ontological argument. The author provides and analyses a critical taxonomy of those versions of the argument that have been advanced in recent philosophical literature, as well as of those historically important versions found in the work of St Anselm, Descartes, Leibniz, Hegel and others. A central thesis of the book is that (...) ontological arguments have no value in the debate between theists and atheists. There is a detailed review of the literature on the topic (separated from the main body of the text) and a very substantial bibliography, making this volume an indispensable resource for philosophers of religion and others interested in religious studies. (shrink)
Mark Johnston’s book, Saving God (Princeton University Press, 2010) has two main goals, one negative and the other positive: (1) to eliminate the Old gods of the major Western monotheisms (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) as candidates for the role of “the Highest One”; (2) to introduce the real Highest One, a panentheistic deity worthy of devotion and capable of extending to us the grace needed to transform us from inwardly-turned sinners to practitioners of agape. In this review, we argue that (...) Johnston’s attack on traditional forms of monotheism has less force than his criticism of the “undergraduate atheists” (e.g., Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins); and that his candidate for Highest One is not the greatest possible being, and could not play the role Johnston casts for it. -/- . (shrink)