The object of attitudes valorized in the major religious traditions is typically regarded as maximally great. Conceptions of maximal greatness differ but theists believe that a maximally great reality must be a maximally great person or God. Theists largely agree that a maximally great person would be omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, and all good. They do not agree on a number of God's other attributes, however. We will illustrate this by examining the debate over God's impassibility in western theism and a (...) dispute over God's relation to the space time world in Indian theism. The entry concludes by examining some concepts of limited deities. (shrink)
The doctrine of the spiritual senses has played a significant role in the history of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox spirituality. What has been largely unremarked is that the doctrine also played a significant role in classical Protestant thought, and that analogous concepts can be found in Indian theism. In spite of the doctrine’s significance, however, the only analytic philosopher to consider it has been Nelson Pike. I will argue that his treatment is inadequate, show how the development of the (...) doctrine in Puritan thought and spirituality fills a serious lacuna in Pike’s treatment, and conclude with some suggestions as to where the discussion should go next. (shrink)
Although philosophical theologians have sometimes claimed that human beings are necessarily dependent on God, few have developed the idea with any precision. Jonathan Edwards is a notable exception, providing a detailed and often novel account of humanity’s essential ontological, moral, and soteriological dependence on God.
Eric Wielenberg and I agree that basic moral truths are necessarily true. But Wielenberg thinks that, because these truths are necessary, they require no explanation, and I do not: some basic moral truths are not self-explanatory. I argue that Wielenberg’s reasons for thinking that my justification of that claim is inadequate are ultimately unconvincing.
In a series of influential articles published in the 1980s, Thomas Morris argued that the most promising approach to many issues in the philosophy of religion is “perfect being theology.” A philosopher who adopts it begins by construing God as a maximally perfect being and then fills the conception in by using his or her modal intuitions and intuitions concerning what properties are and are not perfections. While I am sympathetic with Morris’s program, two aspects seem problematic. More justification is (...) needed for construing God as a maximally perfect being, and the appeal to intuitions needs more support than Morris provides for it. I will comment on both difficulties. (shrink)
Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) is widely acknowledged to be America's most important and original philosophical theologian. His work as a whole is an expression of two themes — the absolute sovereignty of God and the beauty of God's holiness. The first is articulated in Edwards' defense of theological determinism, in a doctrine of occasionalism, and in his insistence that physical objects are only collections of sensible “ideas” while finite minds are mere assemblages of “thoughts” or “perceptions.” As the only real cause (...) or substance underlying physical and mental phenomena, God is “being in general,” the “sum of all being.” -/- Edwards' second theme is articulated in accounts of God's end in creation, and of the nature of true virtue and true beauty. God creates in order to manifest a holiness which consists in a benevolence which alone is truly beautiful. Genuine human virtue is an imitation of divine benevolence and all finite beauty is an image of divine loveliness. True virtue is needed to discern this beauty, however, and to reason rightly about “divine things.”. (shrink)
Rowe argues that if for every good world there is a better, then God is not morally perfect since no matter what world God were to create he could have done better than he did. I contend that Rowe’s argument doesn’t do justice to the role grace plays in the theist’s doctrine of creation, and respond to five new criticisms of my position that Rowe offers in Can God be Free?
The philosophy of religion as a distinct discipline is an innovation of the last two hundred years, but its central topics--the existence and nature of the divine, humankind's relation to it, the nature of religion and its place in human life--have been with us since the inception of philosophy. Philosophers have long critically examined the truth of (and rational justification for) religious claims, and have explored such philosophically interesting phenomena as faith, religious experience and the distinctive features of religious discourse. (...) The second half of the twentieth-century has been an especially fruitful period, with philosophers using new developments in logic and epistemology to mount both sophisticated defenses of, and attacks on, religious claims. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion contains newly commissioned chapters by 21 prominent experts who cover the field in a comprehensive but accessible manner. Each chapter is expository, critical, and representative of a distinctive viewpoint. The Handbook is divided into two sections. The first, "Problems," covers the most frequently discussed topics, among them arguments for God's existence, the problem of evil, and religious epistemology. The second is called "Approaches" and contains four essays assessing the advantages and disadvantages of different methods of practicing philosophy of religion. The Handbook offers contributors of high stature who present substantive and in-depth treatment of the most central topics. It is a must-have reference for anyone with an interest in philosophy and religion. (shrink)
Richard Gale has mounted the most effective attack on religious experience’s cognitive credentials in recent decades. This article explains why I am nonetheless not persuaded by it. I argue that: (1) Contrary to Gale, mystical experiences do take an objective accusative, and are therefore presumptively cognitive. (2) The tests for the veridicality of religious experience are more like those for sense experiences than Gale allows. (3) Gale’s “big” or “deep” disanalogy (viz., that “there are no analogous dimensions [to space-time] in (...) which the apparent object of a religious experience could be housed” and, as a result, no way to distinguish between religious experiences that are of numerically one and the same religious object and religious experiences “that are of merely qualitatively similar ones”) is not as devastating as he thinks. (4) Gale’s critique of my and Alston’s attempt to defuse attacks on the cognitively of religious experience by appealing to categoreal differences between the apparent objects of religious experience and sense experience is unsuccessful. (shrink)
This third edition of Philosophy of Religion offers a wide variety of readings designed to introduce students to important issues in the philosophy of religion. The authors have coupled new readings--including essays by Robert M. Adams, Peter Van Inwagen, and William P. Alston--with readings from classical philosophers, thus offering instructors and students an even more comprehensive and well-focused textbook. Many of the essays are particularly accessible to beginning philosophy students. New essays cover religious pluralism, teleological and moral arguments for God's (...) existence, and the problem of evil. Philosophy of Religion, 3/e is an excellent choice for use as a main text or as a supplement for introductory courses in philosophy and religion. (shrink)
Section I argues that theistic religions incorporate metaphysical systems and that these systems are explanatory. Section II defends these claims against D. Z. Phillips''s objections to the epistemic realism and correspondence theory of truth which they imply. I conclude by raising questions about the status of Phillips''s own project.
Stace and others maintain that mystical consciousness reveals the identity of selves and, therefore, provides a justification for altruism. Zaehner argues that some types of mystical consciousness apparently reveal the identity of such opposites as good and evil, and Danto holds that mystical consciousness involves a transcendence of all distinctions, including moral distinctions. Thus, for both Zaehner and Danto mysticism undercuts morality. The author attempts to show that these positions are defective and suggests that there are no important epistemic or (...) logical connections between mystical consciousness and morality. (shrink)