This short book is a lively dialogue between a religious believer and a skeptic. It covers all the main issues including different ideas of God, the good and bad in religion, religious experience and neuroscience, pain and suffering, death and life after death, and includes interesting autobiographical revelations.
In this paper I discuss critically Richard Swinburne’s concept of God, which I find to be incoherent, and his understanding of Christianity, which I find to be based on a precritical use of the New Testament.
Having cited Dionysius as one of the many Christian thinkers who affirm the ineffability, or transcategoriality, of God in God's ultimate inner being, I respond to Timothy D. Knepper's claim that this is a mistake. Whilst accepting much that he says about Dionysius, I still prefer the standard interpretation of the Dionysian texts as teaching the total transcategoriality of the Transcendent as 'surpassing all discourse and all knowledge'.
This a response to D. Z. Phillips's stringent critique of theodicies, including that suggested by myself. I offer counters to his array of arguments, and point to what I see as a fundamental flaw in his philosophy of religion. He appealed to religious language as used by ordinary religious persons. But his account of the meaning of this language was not that of the ordinary religious believer. He thus claimed, by implication, to know better than they did what they really (...) meant. I conclude that he was a non-realist concerning both religious language and the reality of God. (shrink)
This is the first major response to the new challenge of neuroscience to religion. There have been limited responses from a purely Christian point of view, but this takes account of eastern as well as western forms of religious experience. It challenges the prevailing naturalistic assumption of our culture, including the idea that the mind is either identical with or a temporary by-product of brain activity. It also discusses religion as institutions and religion as inner experience of the Transcendent, and (...) suggests a form of spirituality for today. (shrink)
I argue that Meeker is mistaken in two crucial respects. First, contrary to both myself and Plantinga, he treats exclusivism as a theory about the relation between the religions, and then claims that it is superior to the pluralist theory. But he does not say what his exclusivist theory is. Second, he bases his claim of a fundamental self-contradiction in my pluralist position on a view which I disavow, namely that altruism is the core of religion. He omits the central (...) idea of a profound reorientation in response to the Real, of which altruism is a manifestation. (Published Online April 7 2006). (shrink)
This is a collection of John Hick's essays on the understanding of the world's religions as different human responses to the same ultimate transcendent reality. Hicks is in dialogue with contemporary philosophers (some of whom contribute new responses); with Evangelicals; with the Vatican and other both Catholic and Protestant theologians. The book is alive with current argument for all interested in contemporary philosophy of religion and theology.
Within each of the major world religions a distinction is drawn between the ultimate ineffable Godhead or Absolute and the immediate object of worship or focus of religious meditation. I examine the notion of ineffability, or transcategoriality, in the influential Christian mystic Pseudo-Dionysius, who reconciles the divine ineffability with the authority of the Bible by holding that the biblical language is metaphorical, its function being to draw us towards the Godhead. If we extend this principle to other faiths we have (...) gone half way towards making the global history of religions intelligible. The other half consists in a recognition of the different human conceptualities and spiritual practices that give concrete form to the divine reality within religious experience. However, William Rowe, and Christopher Insole, have criticized this use of ineffability, and their arguments are responded to here. (shrink)
A critique of responses to the problem posed to Christian philosophy by the fact of religious plurality by Alvin Plantinga, Peter van lnwagen, and George Mavrodes in the recent Festschrift dedicated to William Alston, and of Alston’s own response to the challenge of religious diversity to his epistemology of religion. His argument that religious experience is a generally reliable basis for belief-formation is by implication transformed by his response to this problem into the principle that Christianity constitutes the sole exception (...) to the general rule that religious experience is an unreliable basis for belief-formation, thus undermining his central thesis. Plantinga’s and van Inwagen’s defenses of the logical and moral permissability of Christian exclusivism fail to address the problem posed by the existence of other equally well-based religious belief-systems with equally valuable fruits in human life. Mavrodes’ discussion of polytheism, and his clarifying questions about religious pluralism, are also discussed. (shrink)
This paper is a reply to D'Costa's article ("Religious Studies," 32, pp. 223-32) in which he argues that there is no such position as religious pluralism because in distinguishing between, e.g., Christianity or Buddhism, and Nazism or the Jim Jones cult, a criterion is involved and to use a criterion is a form of exclusivism. In reply I point out that this sense of 'exclusivism', as consisting in the use of criteria, is self-destructive; that the pluralistic hypothesis, as a meta-theory (...) about the religions, has a different logical status from the creeds of the historical religions; and I also show the origin of the ethnical criterion used by the religious pluralist who stands within one or other of the great world faiths. (shrink)
In 'Religious Pluralism and the Divine: Another Look at John Hick's Neo-Kantian Proposal' ("Religious Studies", xxx, 1994) Paul Eddy argues against the ultimate ineffability of the Real, and claims that a neo-Kantian epistemology leads to a Feuerbachian non-realism. In response I stress (a) the impossibility of attributing to the Real the range of incompatible characteristics of its phenomenal (i.e. experienceable) manifestations, so that it must lie beyond the range of our human religious categories, and (b) the distinction, which (...) Eddy fails to observe, between grounds for believing in the Divine, and reasons for thinking that the Divine can be differently conceived and experienced. (shrink)
The view that religious experience is a valid ground of basic religious beliefs inevitably raises the problem of the apparently incompatible belief-systems arising from different forms of religious experience. David Basinger's and William Alston's responses to the problem present the Christian belief-system as the sole exception to the general rule that religious experience gives rise to false beliefs. A more convincing response presents it as an exemplification of the general rule that religious experience gives rise (subject to possible defeaters) to (...) true beliefs. This requires a two-level' conception. (shrink)
This is a critique of Thomas Morris’s proposal in The Logic of God Incarnate (1986) that the idea of divine incarnation can be understood on the model of two minds, a human mind enclosed within a divine mind, with the latter having full cognitive access to the former but the former only occasional access to the latter. The critique, which suggests the failure of Morris’s attempt to render a Chalcedonian-type dogma intelligible, claims that cognitive access is not sufficient to constitute (...) incarnation, and that Morris is unable to explain how, since two wills are also required, Jesus was genuinely free to sin and yet necessarily sinless. (shrink)
Let us approach the problems of religious pluralism through the claims of the different traditions to offer salvation-generically, the transformation of human existence from self-centeredness to Reality-centeredness. This approach leads to a recognition of the great world faiths as spheres of salvation; and so far as we can tell, more or less equally so. Their different truth-claims express (a) their differing perceptions, through different religio-cultural ‘lenses,’ of the one ultimate divine Reality; (b) their different answers to the boundary questions of (...) origin and destiny, true answers to which are however not necessary for salvation, and (c) their different historical memories. (shrink)
This article outlines a religious interpretation of the fact that there is a plurality of religious traditions each of which seems to be, more or less equally, a context of salvific human transformation. the theory hinges upon the distinction between the ultimate divine reality as it is in itself and that reality as humanly conceived, experienced, and responded to in a variety of ways, the differences between which arise from human cultural differences.