Some theodicists, skeptical theists, and friendly atheists agree that God-justifying reasons for permitting evils would have to have an instrumental structure: that is, the evils would have to be necessary to secure a great enough good or necessary to prevent some equally bad or worse evil. D.Z. Phillips contends that instrumental reasons could never justify anyone for causing or permitting horrendous evils and concludes that the God of Restricted Standard Theism does not exist—indeed, is a conceptual mistake. After considering Phillips’ (...) and other objections in the neighborhood, I argue that the Expanded Theism of Christian theology does forward a God who ‘digs in’ and eternally answers for horrors. (shrink)
Anselm inherited a Platonizing approach to philosophy from Augustine and Boethius. But he characteristically reworked what he found in their texts by questioning and disputing it into something more rigorous. In this paper, I compare and contrast Anselm’s treatment of the trope ‘evil is nothing, not a being’ withBoethius’s use of it in The Consolation of Philosophy. In the first section, I expose a fallacious argument form common to them both: paradigm Fness is identical with paradigm Gness; X participates in (...) paradigm Fness and so is F; therefore, X participates in paradigm Gness and so is G. In the second section, I contrast Philosophy’s “strong medicine”—‘evil is nothing,’ ‘evil-doings are nothing,’ ‘evil humans do not exist’—with Anselm’s development of the point that injustice is a privation and so parasitic on the beings that are deprived. By contrast with Boethius, Anselm emphasizes that the willinstrument, will-power, the will’s action and turnings are something and so from God. Likewise, Anselm insists—pace Boethius—that Adam’s fallen race is still the human race. In the final section, I turnto Anselm’s distinction between injustice (iniustitia) and disadvantage (incommoda), his concession that some disadvantages are something, and his explanation of happiness in terms of advantage or bona sibi. For Anselm, happiness and justice break apart, so that it is possible in this world for the just to lack advantage. Moreover, in the world to come, the damned will suffer radical deprivation—not only of the justice, which they deserted, but of advantages. I contrastthis with Boethius’s insistence (based on the argument in section I) that virtue suffices for happiness and vice for unhappiness, and that there is no such thing as bad fortune. I conclude by pondering why Anselm treated disadvantage as a something rather than as a misfit between somethings. (shrink)
This short source describes the history of the kalam and how it was adopted by Muslims. Furthermore it outlines an argument made by al-Ghazali in defense of the existence of a Creator. The chapter as a whole concerns the kalam cosmological argument, which holds that there is a reason for the existence of the universe.
How can the Body and Blood of Christ, without ever leaving heaven, come to be really present on eucharistic altars where the bread and wine still seem to be? Thirteenth and fourteenth century Christian Aristotelians thought the answer had to be "transubstantiation." -/- Acclaimed philosopher, Marilyn McCord Adams, investigates these later medieval theories of the Eucharist, concentrating on the writings of Thomas Aquinas, Giles of Rome, Duns Scotus, and William Ockham, with some reference to Peter Lombard, Hugh of St. Victor, (...) and Bonaventure. She examines how their efforts to formulate and integrate this theological datum provoked them to make significant revisions in Aristotelian philosophical theories regarding the metaphysical structure and location of bodies, differences between substance and accidents, causality and causal powers, and fundamental types of change. Setting these developments in the theological context that gave rise to the question draws attention to their understandings of the sacraments and their purpose, as well as to their understandings of the nature and destiny of human beings. -/- Adams concludes that their philosophical modifications were mostly not ad hoc, but systematic revisions that made room for transubstantiation while allowing Aristotle still to describe what normally and naturally happens. By contrast, their picture of the world as it will be (after the last judgment) seems less well integrated with their sacramental theology and their understandings of human nature. (shrink)
In “Supralapsarianism, or ‘O Felix Culpa,’” Alvin Plantinga turns from defensive apologetics to the project of Christian explanation and offers a supralapsarian theodicy: the reason God made us in a world like this is that God wanted to create a world including the towering goods of Incarnation and atonement—goods which are appropriate only in worlds containing a sufficient amount of sin, suffering, and evil as well. Plantinga’s approach makes human agents and their sin, suffering and evil, instrumental means to the (...) end of God’s cosmic aims. I press the objection that means/end conceptuality is inadequate to explain how God is loving and merciful (as opposed to abusive) towards human sinners and sufferers. Plantinga’s theodicy remains under-developed without an explanation of how Incarnation and atonement benefit them. (shrink)
[Marilyn McCord Adams] In this paper I begin with Aristotle's Categories and with his apparent forwarding of primary substances as metaphysically special because somehow fundamental. I then consider how medieval reflection on Aristotelian change led medieval Aristotelians to analyses of primary substances that called into question how and whether they are metaphysically special. Next, I turn to a parallel issue about supposits, which Boethius seems in effect to identify with primary substances, and how theological cases-the doctrines of the Trinity, the (...) Incarnation, and of the human soul's separate survival between death and resurrection-call into question how and to what extent supposits are metaphysically special. I conclude with some reflections on various senses of being metaphysically special and how they pertain to primary substances and supposits. /// [Richard Cross] Scotus's belief that any created substance can depend on the divine essence and/or divine persons as a subject requires him to abandon the plausible Aristotelian principle that there is no merely relational change. I argue that Scotus's various counterexamples to the principle can be rebutted. For reasons related to those that arise in Scotus's failed attempt to refute the principle, the principle also entails that properties cannot be universals. (shrink)
From some philosophical points of view, the Incarnation is difficult to motivate. From others, a host of reasons appear, raising the problem of how to choose among and/or prioritize them. In this paper I examine how different substantive commitments and starting points combine with contrasting understandings of method in philosophical theology, to generate different analyses and answers to Christianity’s crucial question: cur Deus homo?
In this paper, I argue that Ockham’s seemingly pessimistic epistemological assessments of what we can know about the human soul and its relation to the body reflect a sound appreciation of what is involved in the theoretical development of philosophy and natural science. In order to make my argument, I first undermine the idea that demonstration was a norm that scholastic disputation regularly expected to achieve; and second, I examine Ockham’s treatment of three major topics in psychology (thus illustrating how (...) alternative intellectual standards were in play in scholastic disputation). (shrink)
The problem of evil is one of the most discussed topics in the philosophy of religion. For some time, however, there has been a need for a collection of readings that adequately represents recent and ongoing writing on the topic. This volume fills that need, offering the most up-to-date collection of recent scholarship on the problem of evil. The distinguished contributors include J.L. Mackie, Nelson Pike, Roderick M. Chisholm, Terence Penelhum, Alvin Plantinga, William L. Rowe, Stephen J. Wykstra, John Hick, (...) and Diogenes Allen. Including an introductory essay and a selected bibliography, this comprehensive and completely up-to-date collection is an invaluable guide to current scholarship in this highly debated area of the philosophy of religion. Oxford Readings in Philosophy aims to bring together important recent writings in major areas of philosophical inquiry, selected from a variety of sources, mostly periodicals, which may not be conveniently available. (shrink)
The argument that(1) God exists, and is omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly goodand(2) Evil existsare logically incompatible, can be construed aporetically (as generating a puzzle and posing the constructive challenge of finding a solution that displays their compatibility) or atheologically (as a positive proof of the non-existence of God). I note that analytic philosophers of religion over the last thirty years or so have focused on the atheological deployment of the argument from evil, and have met its onslaughts from the posture (...) of defense. I take Nelson Pike (in his article “Hume on Evil”) and Alvin Plantinga (in The Nature of Necessity, “Self-Profile,” and other pieces) as paradigm defenders, analyse their approaches, and try to make explicit parameters and assumptions within which these defenses have been conducted. In particular, both writers seem to attempt a reply within the parameters of a religion-neutral value theory and on the assumption that God has obligations to do one thing rather than another in creation-both of which conspire to defend God as a producer of global goods and shift attention off the more pressing question of His agent-centered goodness. I then argue that value-theory pluralism explodes the myth of shared values, and so complicates the structure of fair-minded debate about the problem of evil as to significantly limit the utility of defense. I invite Christian philosophers to approach the problem aporetically, and to exhibit the compossibility of (1) and (2) by formulating their own beliefs about how God is solving the problem of evil using the valuables within a Christian value theory to defeat evils. After sketching a strategy for doing this, I answer the objection that my recommendation conflates Christian philosophy and theology, and try to show how it affords a continuity between the so-called philosophical and existential problems of evil. (shrink)
Over the past thirty years, analytical philosophers of religion have confronted the problem of evil in the guise of the atheistic argument from evil against the existence of God. Many have met it from the posture of defense, constructing logically possible morally sufficient reasons for divine permission of evils from the materials of religion-neutral value-theory. At best, such defenses vindicate divine goodness along the dimension “producer of global goods,” while neglecting the religiously more relevant dimension of His goodness to individual (...) suffering creatures. My methodological recommendation is that we Christian philosophers shift away from defense and concentrate on formulating what we really believe about the goodness of God and how He is solving the problem of evil. If successful, our accounts would not only exhibit how divine permission of evils is logically consistent with His goodness to creatures, but also advertise Him as a character worthy of worship. Failures would pinpoint more precisely where and how evil is a problem for us. I illustrate this method by examining Duns Scotus’ many-faceted conception of divine goodness and measure its power to explain the compossibility of God and evil. (shrink)