There is a good a priori argument for the doctrine of the Trinity, from the need for any divine being to have another divine being to love suffi ciently to provide for him a third divine being whom to love and by whom to be loved. But most people who have believed the doctrine of the Trinity have believed it on the basis of the teaching of Jesus as interpreted by the church. The only reason for believing this teaching would (...) be if Jesus led the kind of life which a priori we would expect an incarnate God to live in order to identify with our suffering, make atonement for our sins, and to reveal truth to us; culminated by a miracle which God alone could do and which would also authenticate the teaching. Given good a posteriori evidence for the existence of God, there is enough historical evidence to make it probable that Jesus did live that sort of life, and so to believe the doctrine of the Trinity. (shrink)
Do humans have a free choice of which actions to perform? Three recent developments of modern science can help us to answer this question. First, new investigative tools have enabled us to study the processes in our brains which accompanying our decisions. The pioneer work of Benjamin Libet has led many neuroscientists to hold the view that our conscious intentions do not cause our bodily movements but merely accompany them. Then, Quantum Theory suggests that not all physical events are fully (...) determined by their causes, and so opens the possibility that not all brain events may be fully determined by their causes, and so maybe - if neuroscience does not rule this out - there is a role for intentions after all. Finally, a theorem of mathematics, Godel's theory, has been interpreted to suggest that the initial conditions and laws of development of a mathematician's brain could not fully determine which mathematical conjectures he sees to be true. Papers by Patrick Haggard, Tim Bayne, Harald Atmanspacher and Stefan Rotter, Solomon Feferman, and John Lucas investigate these issues. The extent to which human behaviour is determined by brain events may well depend on whether conscious events, such as intentions, are themselves merely brain events, or whether they are separate events which interact with brain events (perhaps in the radical form that intentions are events in our soul, and not in our body). The papers of Frank Jackson, Richard Swinburne, and Howard Robinson investigate these issues. The remaining papers, of Galen Strawson, Helen Steward, and R.A. Duff, consider what kind of free will we need in order to be morally responsible for our actions or to be held guilty in a court of law. Is it sufficient merely that our actions are uncaused by brain events, or what? (shrink)
Jeremy Gwiazda made two criticisms of my formulation in terms of Bayes’s theorem of my probabilistic argument for the existence of God. The first criticism depends on his assumption that I claim that the intrinsic probabilities of all propositions depend almost entirely on their simplicity; however, my claim is that that holds only insofar as those propositions are explanatory hypotheses. The second criticism depends on a claim that the intrinsic probabilities of exclusive and exhaustive explanatory hypotheses of a phenomenon must (...) sum to 1; however it is only those probabilities plus the intrinsic probability of the non-occurrence of the phenomenon which must sum to 1. (shrink)
Inanimate explanation is to be analysed in terms of substances having powers and liabilities to exercise their powers under certain conditions; while personal explanation is to be analysed in terms of persons, their beliefs, powers, and purposes. A crucial criterion for an explanation being probably true is that it is (among explanations leading us to expect the data) the simplest one. Simplicity is a matter of few substances, few kinds of substances, few properties (including powers and liabilities), few kinds of (...) properties, and mathematically simple relations between properties. Explanation of the existence of the universe by the agency of God provides the simplest kind of personal explanation there can be, and one simpler than any inanimate explanation. I defend this view more thoroughly than previously in light of recent challenges. (shrink)
This paper defends (especially in response to Brian Leftow’s recent attack) logical nominalism, the thesis that logically necessary truth belongs primarily to sentences and depends solely on the conventions of human language. A sentence is logically necessary (that is, a priori metaphysically necessary) iff its negation entails a contradiction. A sentence is a posteriori metaphysically necessary iff it reduces to a logical necessity when we substitute for rigid designators of objects or properties canonical descriptions of the essential properties of those (...) objects or properties. The truth-conditions of necessary sentences are not to be found in any transcendent reality, such as God’s thoughts. "There is a God" is neither a priori nor a posteriori metaphysically necessary; God is necessary in the sense that His existence is not causally contingent on anything else. (shrink)
The orderliness of the universe and the existence of human beings already provides some reason for believing that there is a God - as argued in Richard Swinburne's earlier book Is There a God ? Swinburne now claims that it is probable that the main Christian doctrines about the nature of God and his actions in the world are true. In virtue of his omnipotence and perfect goodness, God must be a Trinity, live a human life in order to share (...) our suffering, and found a church which would enable him to tell all humans about this. It is also quite probable that he would provide his human life as an atonement for our wrongdoing, teach us how we should live and tell us his plans for our future after death. Among founders of religions, Jesus satisfies uniquely well the requirement of living the sort of human life which God would need to have lived. But to give us adequate reason to believe that Jesus was God, God would need to put his 'signature' on the life of Jesus by an act which he alone could do, for example raise him from the dead. There is adequate historical evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. The church which he founded gave plausible interpretations of his basic message. Therefore Christian doctrines are probably true. (shrink)
Argumento neste artigo que embora existam muitas maneiras diferentes de descrever o mundo ou algum segmento dele, qualquer maneira que deixe de acarretar logicamente uma separabilidade do corpo e da alma como os dois componentes de cada ser humano conhecido (o corpo sendo uma parte contingente e a alma a parte essencial do homem) deixará de fornecer uma descriçáo completa do mundo. T ítulo original do artigo: “ What makes me me? A Defense os Substance Dualism ”. Apresentado no I (...) Seminário Internacional de Filosofia Analítica Contemporânea, realizado em Natal de 19 a 21 de novembro de 2007. Traduçáo provisória de Jaimir Conte.]. (shrink)
Jeremy Gwiazda has criticized my claim that God, understood as an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly free person is a person ’of the simplest possible kind’ on the grounds that omnipotence, etc., as spelled out by me are omnipotence, etc., of restricted kinds, and so less simple forms of these properties than maximal forms would be. However, the account which I gave of these properties in ’The Christian God’ (although not in ’The Coherence of Theism’) shows that, when they are defined (...) in certain ways, they all follow from one property of ’pure, limitless, intentional power’. I argue here that a person who has these properties so defined is a person ’of the simplest possible kind’. (shrink)
The great religions often claim that their books or creeds contain truths revealed by God. How could we know that they do? In the second edition of Revelation, renowned philosopher of religion Richard Swinburne addresses this central question. But since the books of great religions often contain much poetry and parable, Swinburne begins by investigating how eternal truth can be conveyed in unfamiliar genres, by analogy and metaphor, within false presuppositions about science and history. In the final part of the (...) book, Swinburne then applies the results of Parts I and II to assessing the evidence that the teaching of the Christian Church constitutes a revelation from God. -/- In the course of his philosophical exploration, Swinburne considers how the church which Jesus founded is to be identified today and presents a sustained discussion of which passages in the Bible should be understood literally and which should be understood metaphorically. -/- This is a fuller and entirely rewritten second edition of Revelation, the most notable new feature of which is a long chapter examining whether traditional Christian claims about personal morality (divorce, homosexuality, abortion, etc.) can be regarded as revealed truths. A formal appendix shows how the structure of evidence supporting the Christian revelation can be articulated in terms of the probability calculus (and shows that Plantinga's well-known argument from 'dwindling probabilities' against probabilistic arguments of this kind is not cogent). (shrink)
Events are the instantiations of properties in substances at times. A full history of the world must include, as well as physical events, mental events (ones to which the substance involved has privileged access) and mental substances (ones to the existence of which the substance has privileged access), and, among the latter, pure mental substances (ones which do not include a physical substance as an essential part). Humans are pure mental substances. An argument for this is that it seems conceivable (...) that I could exist without my body. An objection to this argument is that ’I’ refers to my body, and so what seems conceivable is not metaphysically possible. My response to this objection is that ’I’ is an informative designator and so necessarily we know to what it refers, and it does not refer to my body. (shrink)
In introducing the papers of the symposiasts, I distinguish between statistical, physical, and evidential probability. The axioms of the probability calculus and so Bayes’s theorem can be expressed in terms of any of these kinds of probability. Sober questions the general utility of the theorem. Howson, Dawid, and Earman agree that it applies to the fields they discuss--statistics, assessment of guilt by juries, and miracles. Dawid and Earman consider that prior probabilities need to be supplied by empirical evidence, while Howson (...) considers that there are no objective constraints on prior probabilities. I argue that simplicity is a crucial determinant of prior probability. Miller discussed how Bayes’s theorem can be interpreted so as to apply to physical probability. (shrink)
The first six articles in this issue of THINK have the theme . Here, Richard Swinburne argues that the existence of God is not a precondition of there being moral truths, but his existence does impact on what moral truths there are.
In response to Michael Bradley, I summarize my account of the criteria by which the various data of natural theology increase the probability of theism and together make it probable. I explain the sense in which a simpler theory leaves less to be explained, justify my claim that God’s perfect goodness is entailed by his other divine properties, and show that not merely is theism simpler than Bradley’s ’Epicurean hypothesis’, but that the ’mixed’ data of natural theology are more to (...) be expected given theism than given the ’Epicurean hypothesis’. (shrink)
Armstrong's theory of laws of nature as relations between universals gives an initially plausible account of why the causal powers of substances are bound together only in certain ways, so that the world is a very regular place. But its resulting theory of causation cannot account for intentional causation, since this involves an agent trying to do something, and trying is causing. This kind of causation is thus a state of an agent and does not involve the operation of a (...) law. It is simpler to suppose that non-intentional causing is also causing by substances (and not events) in virtue of their powers to act. That raises again the question of why their powers are bound together only in certain ways. The most probable answer is that God, the simplest kind of person there could be, brings this about because it is necessary for the existence of finite rational creatures such as ourselves. (shrink)
In his ’Logic and Theism’ Sobel claims that the allocation of prior probabilities to theories is a purely subjective matter. I claim that there are objective criteria for determining prior probabilities of theories (dependent on their simplicity and scope); and if there were not, science would be a totally irrational activity. I reject Sobel’s main criticism of my own cumulative argument for the existence of God that I argue illegitimately from each datum raising the probability of theism to the conjunction (...) of all data raising that probability, since I explicitly adopted a procedure which does not commit that fallacy. (shrink)
Theism is a far simpler hypothesis, and so a priori more probably true, than naturalism, understood as the hypothesis that the existence of this law-governed universe has no explanation. Theism postulates only one entity (God) with very simple properties, whereas naturalism has to postulate either innumerable entities all having the same properties, or one very complicated entity with the power to produce the former. If theism is true, it is moderately probable that God would create humanoid beings and so humanoid (...) bodies; but laws of nature would have to have very special properties if they are to bring about the existence of humanoid bodies. Given laws of the present form, the constants of the laws and variables of the boundary conditions of the universe would need to be extremely fine-tuned. So the evidence of the existence of humanoid bodies adds further to the probability of theism as against naturalism. (edited). (shrink)
I give a detailed defence against Grunbaum’s 2004 attack on my Bayesian argument for the existence of God from various features of the universe (its conformity to simple laws, the laws being such as to lead to the evolution of humans, etc.). Theism postulates the simplest possible stopping point for explanation of the various features which I mention, and is such that it makes the accounts of those features more probable than they would be otherwise.
The hypothesis that Jesus rose bodily from the dead is rendered probable in so far as: (1) evidence makes it probable that there is a God, (2) God has reason to become incarnate - to provide atonement for our sins, to identify with our suffering, and to reveal teaching (and so to lead a particular kind of human life, including teaching that he was divine and making atonement, a life culminated by a super-miracle such as his resurrection from the dead), (...) (3) there is evidence of a modest degree of probability to be expected if Jesus was the only prophet in human history who led a life of the above kind, which was culminated in the right sort of way. So, given other evidence that there is a God (and a priori reason to suppose that he would become incarnate),and other evidence about the life of Jesus and other prophets, only a modest amount of historical witness testimony to the Resurrection is necessary in order to show that it occurred. (shrink)
This paper responds to a number of articles critical of my paper, "Arguments from Design" in the first issue of ’Think’, by Norman, Bostrom, Dawkins, and Schick. It claims that the hypothesis that God sustains the laws of nature remains the simplest and so most probably true explanation of the existence and character of laws of nature.
This paper comments on the other papers in this special issue of ’Faith and Philosophy’ on natural theology. It claims that most people today need both bare natural theology (to show that there is a God) and ramified natural theology (to establish detailed doctrinal claims), and that Christian tradition has generally claimed that cogent arguments of natural theology (of both kinds) are available. Plantinga’s "dwindling probabilities" objection against ramified natural theology is shown to have no force when different pieces of (...) evidence are fed into the arguments at different stages. But showing the cogency of arguments of natural theology involves the lengthy process of helping people to see the correctness of certain moral views. (shrink)
I analyze different accounts of laws of nature: the Hume-Lewis regularity account, the Armstrong-Tooley relations between universals account, and my preferred account in terms of the powers and liabilities of individual substances. On any account it is most unlikely a priori that a universe would be governed by simple laws of nature. But if there is a God, it is quite probable that he will choose to create free agents of limited power, and to put them in a universe governed (...) by simple laws of nature, in order that their purposes may have their intended effects. Hence, the operation of simple laws of nature confirms the existence of God. (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)
Hard materialism claims that the only events are physical events, involving the instantiation of physical properties in physical substances. This however omits all the mental events to which we have privileged access. Soft materialism claims that the only events are physical events and mental events involving the instantiation of mental properties in physical substances. But a list of such events would not tell us which persons had which bodies. Only dualism, which holds that the essential part of each person is (...) a mental substance, a soul, enables us to say which person occupies which body, and so to give a full description of the world. (shrink)