Those who believe that miracles (temporary suspensions of some law of nature accomplished by divine power) have occurred typically hold that they are rare and that only a small percentage of all people have been eyewitnesses to them or been direct beneficiaries of them. Although a claim that they occur far more frequently would be empirically highly implausible, I argue that the claim that God performs miracles in such a pattern unavoidably implies that God is guilty of unfairness. I articulate (...) a criterion of fairness, discuss various types of miracles, and defend my conclusion against a variety of possible rejoinders. (shrink)
This paper continues a debate about the relation between Christian philosophers and theologians begun by Gordon Kaufman, who argued that Christian theologians need not be interested in “evidentialism.” In particular it replies to a paper by William Hasker charging that an earlier defense of Kaufman’s position introduced tensions because it required judgments about the merits of “evidentialism” which could be defended only by using the evidentialist arguments whose importance Kaufman denied. This reply denies that there are the tensions Hasker claims (...) and argues that the judgments need not rest on a detailed assessment of evidentialist arguments. (shrink)
This paper provides an answer to this question: is the Christian of today rationally justified in using the views expressed in the Bible as a (or the) standard for what she should accept for her own beliefs and practices. I argue against trying to answer this question on thebasis of some alleged character of the biblical writings (e.g., their inerrancy or inspiredness). Such a thesis would itself have to be rationally justified, as would the interpretations and applications of biblical writings (...) made by a Christian of today who held the thesis. Instead she should seek to understand how the writers’ faith was expressed in their views and use that understanding to guide her as she constructs (or adopts) a set of beliefs by which to express her faith today. I argue that using the Bible in this way and the conclusions reached in doing so are rationally justified. (shrink)
In a recent paper, Gilbert Meilaender argues that Christian ethics must not be consequentialist. Though Meilaender does indicate some problems which may exist with certain consequentialist theories, those problems do not exclude all types of consequentialist theories from consideration as Christian ethical theories. A consequentialism like R. M. Hare’s offers virtually all the advantages Meilaender claims for his Christian deontological view. Moreover. Meilaender has overlooked certain advantages of consequentialism and certain disadvantages of the sort of deontological theory he espouses.
In discussions of the probabilistic argument from evil, some defenders of theism have recently argued that evil has no evidential force against theism. They base their argument on the claim that there is no reason to think that we should be able to discern morally sufficient reasons which God presumably has for permitting the evil which occurs. In this paper I try to counter this argument by discussing factors which suggest that we should generally be able to discern why God (...) permits evil events. I close by suggesting that the theist use the evidential force which evil does have as a reason to question her understanding of the divine attributes. (shrink)
In a recent issue of Faith and Philosophy, Stephen Davis argues that it is rational for supernaturalists, though not for naturalists, to believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ in (roughly) the sense of an event which happened to Jesus in which Jesus, though he had truly died, was restored to life and consciousness and after which his living body left the tomb. After making some clarifications regarding supernaturalism and the concept of a miracle, I argue that Davis has not (...) shown this. My case against Davis rests essentially on two claims: (1) we cannot today reconstruct what the resurrection involved because there is no clear, historically reliable account of what the resurrection was thought to be by those who directly experienced the Easter event; and (2) we do not have sufficient evidence to make it rational to believe that the resurrection is part of a pattern of nonnatural events in which God has acted for similar ends, yet belief that there is such a pattern is needed if belief in the resurrection in Davis’ sense is to be rational. (shrink)
In a recent article in FAITH AND PHILOSOPHY, Alvin Plantinga advised Christian philosophers to philosophize in light of their fundamental beliefs as Christians. Believing that his discussion does not give proper weight to the necessary role of secular beliefs in modifying our Christian beliefs, in this article I propose that Christian beliefs and secular beliefs should be related more dialectically than Plantinga suggests--i.e., that neither should always be given precedence. I defend this proposal with several examples on a variety of (...) topics from the history of Christian thought and suggest how much weight to give to beliefs of each type. (shrink)
In Foundationalism, Coherentism, and the Levels Gambit, David Shatz argued that foundationalists must countenance a circular mediate justification of perceptual beliefs which the foundationalist holds are already immediately justified. Because the circularity of coherentist accounts of the justification of beliefs is a major basis of foundationalist criticism of coherentism, Shatz's claim is a serious challenge to foundationalism. In this paper, using a moderate foundationalism with a reliabilist conception of justification, I give an account of immediately and mediately justified beliefs which (...) shows that such a foundationalism need not accept such a circular justification (and in crucial cases cannot do so) and that Shatz's claim is therefore incorrect. (shrink)