This book is an interesting addition to the anti-evolution literature. (For a nice survey of this literature up until 1992, see Tom McIver's Anti-Evolution: A Reader's Guide to Writings Before and After Darwin Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.) I shall provide a fairly detailed examination of it here, divided into sections according to the table of contents. Those who don't wish to read the whole review should skip to the bits in which they are most interested. Those who only (...) want a final verdict should skip to my concluding remarks. The discussion of Moreland's introduction is particularly long, because this is where most of the philosophically interesting material is contained; some readers may just want to skip this bit. (shrink)
Chapter 1: "Reason for Hope (in the Post-modern World)" by Michael J. Murray Chapter 2: "Theistic Arguments" by William C. Davis Chapter 3: "A Scientific Argument for the Existence of God: The Fine- Tuning Design Argument" by Robin Collins Chapter 4: "God, Evil and Suffering" by Daniel Howard Snyder Chapter 5: "Arguments for Atheism" by John O'Leary Hawthorne Chapter 6: "Faith and Reason" by Caleb Miller Chapter 7: "Religious Pluralism" by Timothy O'Connor Chapter 8: "Eastern Religions" by Robin Collins (...) Chapter 9: "Divine Providence and Human Freedom" by Scott A. Davison Chapter 10: "The Incarnation and the Trinity" by Thomas D. Senor Chapter 11: "The Resurrection of the Body and the Life Everlasting" by Trenton Merricks Chapter 12: "Heaven and Hell" by Michael J. Murray Chapter 13: "Religion and Science" by W. Christopher Stewart Chapter 14: "Miracles and Christian Theism" by J. A. Cover Chapter 15: "Christianity and Ethics" by Frances Howard-Snyder Chapter 16: "The Authority of Scripture" by Douglas Blount.. (shrink)
In "Reply To Smith: On The Finitude Of The Past" , Professor William Craig writes: I reiterate that Smith has yet to deal with my strongest arguments in favour of the impossibility of the existence of an actual infinite, those based on inverse operations performed with transfinite numbers.  I think that this claim is mistaken; for: (i) there is no problem about allowing the inverse operations in question--subtraction, division, extracting roots, etc.--into transfinite ordinal arithmetic; and (ii) there is no (...) problem about the exclusion of these operations from transfinite cardinal arithmetic. I shall take up these points in turn. (shrink)
As the chapter headings--and title--reveal, the book is about the role of causation and chance in modern science, and, in particular, in modern cosmology. However, because the book is shot through with serious conceptual confusion, anyone who is interested in actually learning something about the role of causation and chance in modern science is advised to look elsewhere.
Perhaps almost all non-theists will agree that ‘the problem of evil’ has some role in their reasons for rejecting traditional Western theism. When they consult their intuitions, non-theists typically do not find it credible to suppose that this is the kind of world which could have been created by an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good being. Moreover, when they review their reasons for non-belief, non-theists typically find that a catalogue of the amounts and kinds of evils which are to be found in (...) the world adds some weight to the case against the existence of such a being. (shrink)
Consider truth predicates. Minimalist analyses of truth predicates may involve commitment to some of the following claims: (i) truth “predicates” are not genuine predicates -- either because the truth “predicate” disappears under paraphrase or translation into deep structure, or because the truth “predicate” is shown to have a non-predicative function by performative or expressivist analysis, or because truth “predicates” must be traded in for predicates of the form “true-in-L”; (ii) truth predicates express ineligible, non-natural, gerrymandered properties; (iii) truth predicates express (...) metaphysically lightweight properties; (iv) truth predicates have thin conceptual roles; (v) truth predicates express properties with no hidden essence; (vi) truth predicates express properties which have no causal or explanatory role in canonical formulations of fundamental theories. (shrink)
The status of premise 1 is controversial: friends of two dimensional modal logic (and others) will be reluctant to grant that the proposition that I exist is both contingent and knowable a priori (even by me). Instead, they will insist that all that I know a priori is that the sentence "I exist" expresses some true proposition or other when I token it. But, of course, even that will suffice for the purposes of the argument. Provided that I know a (...) priori that the sentence "I exist" expresses some true singular proposition or other -i.e. some proposition or other which contains an individual -then I have an a priori guarantee that there are some individuals, and so I am entitled to assert 2. Of course, it will remain true that there are some people who refuse to accept 2: consider, for example, those ontological nihilists who think that the proper logical form of every sentence can be given in a feature placing language.  However, many people will be prepared to grant that we can know a priori that there are at least some individuals -and that it enough to sustain interest in our argument to this point. (shrink)
To judge from the dust-jacket, this book has received a considerable amount of praise--and not just from the usual suspects. In particular, the publishers seem keen to promulgate the view that there is widespread support for the claim that Overman makes a clear, compelling, and well-argued case for the conclusions which he wishes to defend. However, it seems to me that those cited on the dust-jacket--Pannenberg ("lucid and sobering arguments"), Polkinghorne ("scrupulously argued"), Nicholi ("compelling logic and carefully reasoned argument"), Kaita (...) ("cogent and lucid"), Gingerich ("interesting and convincing"), Behe ("compelling case"), and McGrath ("clear and informed arguments")--cannot have been commenting on the book which I am currently in the process of reviewing. True enough, the book is well-organised and mostly easy to read; moreover, the book clearly demonstrates that Overman is thoroughly acquainted with popular presentations of recent work in a variety of scientific fields. But the crucial question is whether it makes a clear, compelling, and well-argued case for the conclusions which Overman wishes to defend. I shall claim in this review that the book fails on all three counts. (shrink)
I hold that the considerations adduced in kalam cosmological arguments do not embody reasons for reflective atheists and agnostics to embrace the conclusion of those arguments, viz. that the universe had a cause of its existence. I do not claim to be able to show that reflective theists could not reasonably believe that those arguments are sound; indeed, I am prepared to concede that it is epistemically possible that the arguments procede validly from true premises. However, I am prepared to (...) make the same concession about the following argument: Either 2+2=5 or God exists; 2+2?5; therefore God exists . But nobody could think that this argument deserves to be called a proof of its conclusion (even if it is sound). Of course, this latter argument is obviously circular: (almost) no one who was not antecedently persuaded of the truth of the conclusion would (have reason to) believe the first premise. But this fact does not entail that admittedly non circular arguments, such as the kalam cosmological arguments, cannot fail to be equally dialectically ineffective. And, indeed, that is the view which I wish to defend: there is not the slightest reason to think that kalam cosmological arguments should be dialectically effective against reasonable and reflective opponents. (shrink)
At p.23, Leftow argues that, as a matter of physical necessity, no parcel of matter follows a discontinuous spatial path. He then uses this conclusion as a premise in a further argument to the conclusion that no non-theistic scenarios involving contingently existing entities could yield a sure way to gain evidence that a second time series exists. I think that there may be non-theistic scenarios involving contingently existing entities which yield ways of gaining evidence of other time series -- it (...) could be for example that our best theories about the very early universe entail that there are many disconnected regions of spacetime, each with its own time series -- so I think that the further argument cannot be any good. However, the point I want to insist on here is that his argument for the conclusion that, as a matter of physical necessity no parcel of matter follows a discontinuous spatial path, is seriously flawed. (shrink)
Among challenges to Molinism, the challenge posed by divine prophecy of human free action has received insufficient attention. We argue that this challenge is a significant addition to the array of challenges that confront Molinism.
This critical study focusses on chapter eight ("Science and Strong Physicalism") and chapter nine ("AC, Dualism and the Fear of God") in J. P. Moreland’s ’Consciousness and the Existence of God: A Theistic Argument’ (Routledge, 2008), but also pays some attention to material in chapter two ("The Argument from Consciousness"). I argue against Moreland’s ’autonomy thesis’ (roughly, the claim that, in principle, most philosophical questions can be answered without relying on science), and his contention that it is fear of God (...) rather than intellectual considerations that explain current support for naturalism and physicalism. (shrink)
Anselmian theists claim (a) that there is a being than which none greater can be conceived; and (b) that it is knowable on purely—solely, entirely—a priori grounds that there is a being than which none greater can be conceived. In this paper, I argue that Anselmian Theism gains traction by conflating different interpretations of the key description ‘being than which no greater can be conceived’. In particular, I insist that it is very important to distinguish between ideal excellence and maximal (...) possible excellence. At the end of my paper, I illustrate the importance of this distinction by applying my discussion to the recent defence of Anselmian Theism in Nagasawa (Philos Q 58:577–591, 2008). (shrink)
We present a probabilistic extension to active path analyses of token causation (Halpern & Pearl 2001, forthcoming; Hitchcock 2001). The extension uses the generalized notion of intervention presented in (Korb et al. 2004): we allow an intervention to set any probability distribution over the intervention variables, not just a single value. The resulting account can handle a wide range of examples. We do not claim the account is complete --- only that it fills an obvious gap in previous active-path approaches. (...) It still succumbs to recent counterexamples by Hiddleston (2005), because it does not explicitly consider causal processes. We claim three benefits: a detailed comparison of three active-path approaches, a probabilistic extension for each, and an algorithmic formulation. (shrink)
There has been a recent explosion of interest in the epistemology of disagreement. Much of the recent literature is concerned with a particular range of puzzle cases (discussed in the Cases section of my paper). Almost all of the papers that contribute to that recent literature make mention of questions about religious disagreement in ways that suggest that there are interesting connections between those puzzle cases and real life cases of religious disagreement. One important aim of my paper is to (...) cast doubt on that suggestion. More generally, the aim of my paper is to give a reasonably full account of the recent literature on the epistemology of disagreement, and then to give a serious discussion of some of the epistemological issues that are raised by real world religious disagreements. (shrink)
Some people -- including the present author -- have proposed and defended alternative restricted causal principles that block Robert Koons’s ’new’ cosmological argument without undermining the intuition that causation is very close to ubiquitous. In "Epistemological Foundations for the Cosmological Argument", Koons argues that any restricted causal principles that are insufficient for the purposes of his cosmological argument cause epistemological collapse into general scepticism. In this paper I argue, against Koons, that there is no reason to suppose that my favourite (...) restricted causal principle precipitates epistemological collapse into general scepticism. If we impose the ’same kinds’ of restrictions on causal epistemological principles and on principles of general causation, then we cannot be vulnerable to the kind of argument that Koons develops. (shrink)
Bruce Langtry's ‘God, the Best and Evil’ is a fine contribution to the literature. Here, I review the contents of the book, and then provide some critical remarks that, as fas as I know, have not been made elsewhere. In particular, I argue that his criticism of my formulations of logical arguments from evil (in my Arguing about Gods) is unsuccessful.
I defend the view that it is possible for reality to have a contingent initial state under the causal relation even though it is impossible for any other (non-overlapping) parts of reality to have no cause. I claim that, while there are good theoretical and commonsense grounds for maintaining that it is simply not possible for non-initial parts of reality to have no cause, these good grounds do not require one to claim that it is impossible that reality has an (...) uncaused initial state. (shrink)
Hypotheses about the shape of causal reality admit of both theistic and non-theistic interpretations. I argue that, on the simplest hypotheses about the causal shape of reality—infinite regress, contingent initial boundary, necessary initial boundary—there is good reason to suppose that non-theism is always either preferable to, or at least the equal of, theism, at least insofar as we restrict our attention merely to the domain of explanation of existence. Moreover, I suggest that it is perfectly proper for naturalists to be (...) undecided between these simple hypotheses about the causal shape of reality: contrary to the proponents of cosmological arguments, there are no decisive objections to any of these simple hypotheses. (I argue this case in detail in connection with objections offered by William Lane Craig; however, I believe that the case holds quite generally.). (shrink)
First, I suggest that it is possible to make some further improvements upon the Gödelian ontological arguments that Pruss develops. Then, I argue that it is possible to parody Pruss's Gödelian ontological arguments in a way that shows that they make no contribution towards 'lowering the probability of atheism and raising the probability of theism'. I conclude with some remarks about ways in which the arguments of this paper can be extended to apply to the whole family of Gödelian ontological (...) arguments. (shrink)
v. 1. Ancient philosophy of religion -- v. 2. Medieval philosophy of religion -- v. 3. Early modern philosophy of religion -- v. 4. Nineteenth-century philosophy of religion -- v. 5. Twentieth-century philosophy of religion.
This paper presents an attempt to integrate theories of causal processes—of the kind developed by Wesley Salmon and Phil Dowe—into a theory of causal models using Bayesian networks. We suggest that arcs in causal models must correspond to possible causal processes. Moreover, we suggest that when processes are rendered physically impossible by what occurs on distinct paths, the original model must be restricted by removing the relevant arc. These two techniques suffice to explain cases of late preëmption and other cases (...) that have proved problematic for causal models. (shrink)
This paper discusses recent work on higher-order ontological arguments, including work on arguments due to Gödel, Maydole and Pruss. After setting out a range of these arguments, the paper seeks to highlight the principal difficulties that these kinds of arguments confront. One important aim of the paper is to cast light on Gödel's ontological argument by way of an examination of a range of related higher-order arguments.
In "The Ontological Argument", Philosophy 63, 1988, pp.83 91) Stephen Makin offers a defence of what he calls "Anselm's Ontological Argument". I am not much interested in the question whether the argument which Makin defends can properly be attributed to St. Anselm, though I suspect that there is considerable room for disagreement on this score; rather, I want to suggest that the argument which Makin offers is quite clearly invalid (and hence unsound) -and I also want to suggest that it (...) is very plausible to suppose that any version of "the ontological argument" is vitiated by the same fallacy in which Makin's argument is entrapped. (shrink)
This paper provides a detailed examination of Michael Martin’s Atheism: A Philosophical Justification (1990). I argue that Martin’s project in this book is seriously damaged by his neglect of high-level theoretical considerations about rationality, justification, and argumentation. Furthermore, I suggest that this failing is endemic to recent discussions of arguments about the existence of God: there is no prospect of making progress in this area unless much more attention is paid to high-level theoretical questions about the connections between rationality, justification, (...) and argumentation. (shrink)
In “On Oppy’s Objections to the Modal Perfection Argument,” Philo 8, 2, 2005, 123–30, Robert Maydole argues that his modal perfection argument—set out in his “The Modal Perfection Argument for a Supreme Being,” Philo 6, 2, 2003, 299–313—“remains arguably sound” in the face of the criticisms that I made of this argument in my “Maydole’s 2QS5 Argument,” Philo 7, 2, 2004, 203–11. I reply that Maydole is wrong: his argument is fatally flawed, and his attempts to avoid the criticisms that (...) I have made of his argument are to no avail. (shrink)
Millican (Mind 113(451):437–476, 2004) claims to have detected ‘the one fatal flaw in Anselm’s ontological argument.’ I argue that there is more than one important flaw in the position defended in Millican (Mind 113(451):437–476, 2004). First, Millican’s reconstruction of Anselm’s argument does serious violence to the original text. Second, Millican’s generalised objection fails to diagnose any flaw in a vast range of ontological arguments. Third, there are independent reasons for thinking that Millican’s generalised objection is unpersuasive.