Physical cosmology purports to establish precise and testable claims about the origin of the universe. Thus, cosmology bears directly on traditional metaphysical claims -- in particular, claims about whether the universe has a creator (i.e. God). What is the upshot of cosmology for the claims of theism? Does big-bang cosmology support theism? Do recent developments in quantum and string cosmology undermine theism? We discuss the relations between physical cosmology to theism from both historical and systematic points (...) of view. (shrink)
The most common charge against sceptical theism is that it is too sceptical, i.e. it committed to some undesirable form of scepticism or another. I contend that Michael Bergmann’s sceptical theism isn’t sceptical enough. I argue that, if true, the sceptical theses secure a genuine victory: they prevent, for some people, a prominent argument from evil from providing any justification whatsoever to doubt the existence of God. On the other hand, even if true, the sceptical theses fail to (...) prevent even the atheist from justifiably accepting it. (shrink)
Well-Being and Theism is divided into two distinctive parts. The first part argues that desire-fulfillment welfare theories fail to capture the 'good' part of ‘good for’, and that objective list welfare theories fail to capture the 'for' part of ‘good for’. Then, with the aim of capturing both of these parts of ‘good for’, a hybrid theory–one which places both a value constraint and a desire constraint on well-being–is advanced. Lauinger then defends this proposition, which he calls the desire-perfectionism (...) theory, against possible objections. -/- In the second part, Lauinger explores the question of what metaphysics best supports the account of well-being defended in the first part. It is argued that there are two general metaphysical routes that might convincingly be taken here, and that each one leads us toward theism. (shrink)
Preprinted in God and the Problem of Evil(Blackwell 2001), ed. William Rowe. Many people deny that evil makes belief in atheism more reasonable for us than belief in theism. After all, they say, the grounds for belief in God are much better than the evidence for atheism, including the evidence provided by evil. We will not join their ranks on this occasion. Rather, we wish to consider the proposition that, setting aside grounds for belief in God and relying only (...) on the background knowledge shared in common by nontheists and theists, evil makes belief in atheism more reasonable for us than belief in theism. Our aim is to argue against this proposition. We recognize that in doing so, we face a formidable challenge. It’s one thing to say that evil presents a reason for atheism that is, ultimately, overridden by arguments for theism. It’s another to say that it doesn’t so much as provide us with a reason for atheism in the first place. In order to make this latter claim seem initially more plausible, consider the apparent design of the mammalian eye or the apparent fine-tuning of the universe to support life. These are often proposed as reasons to believe in theism. Critics commonly argue not merely that these supposed reasons for theism are overridden by arguments for atheism but rather that they aren’t good reasons for theism in the first place. Our parallel proposal with respect to evil and atheism is, initially at least, no less plausible than this proposal with respect to apparent design and theism. (shrink)
In this paper I develop a novel challenge for sceptical theists. I present a line of reasoning that appeals to sceptical theism to support scepticism about divine assertions. I claim that this reasoning is at least as plausible as one popular sceptical theistic strategy for responding to evidential arguments from evil. Thus, I seek to impale sceptical theists on the horns of a dilemma: concede that either (a) sceptical theism implies scepticism about divine assertions, or (b) the sceptical (...) theistic strategy for responding to evidential arguments from evil fails. An implication of (a) is that sceptical theism is at odds with any religious tradition according to which there are certain claims that we can know to be true solely in virtue of the fact that God has told us that they are true. This result will render conceding (a) unattractive to many sceptical theists. (shrink)
Panentheism seems to be an attractive alternative to classical theism. It is not clear, though, what exactly panentheism asserts and how it relates to classical theism. By way of clarifying the thesis of panentheism, I argue that panentheism and classical theism differ only as regards the modal status of the world. According to panentheism, the world is an intrinsic property of God – necessarily there is a world – and according to classical theism the world is (...) an extrinsic property of God – it is only contingently true that there is a world. Therefore, as long as we do not have an argument showing that necessarily there is a world, panentheism is not an attractive alternative to classical theism. (shrink)
Following Hume’s lead, Paul Draper argues that, given the biological role played by both pain and pleasure in goal-directed organic systems, the observed facts about pain and pleasure in the world are antecedently much more likely on the Hypothesis of Indifference than on theism. I examine one by one Draper’s arguments for this claim and show how they miss the mark.
The Rationality of Theism is a controversial collection of brand new papers by thirteen outstanding philosophers and scholars. Its aim is to offer comprehensive theistic replies to the traditional arguments against the existence of God, offering a positive case for theism as well as rebuttals of recent influential criticisms of theism.
How can we, or should we, talk about God? What concepts are involved in the concept of a Supreme Being? This book is about the search to reconcile modern metaphysics with traditional theism--focusing on the seminal work of Austin Farrer who was Warden of Keble College, Oxford until his death in 1968, and one of the most original and important philosophers of religion of this century. Conti traces the evolution of Ferrar's thought and shows why he preferred a (...) "personalist" approach over Aristotle's metaphysics of "being.". (shrink)
Skeptical theists argue that no seemingly unjustified evil (SUE) could ever lower the probability of God's existence at all. Why? Because God might have justifying reasons for allowing such evils (JuffREs) that are undetectable. However, skeptical theists are unclear regarding whether or not God's existence is relevant to the existence of JuffREs, and whether or not God's existence is relevant to their detectability. But I will argue that, no matter how the skeptical theist answers these questions, it is undeniable that (...) the skeptical theist is wrong; SUEs lower the probability of God's existence. To establish this, I will consider the four scenarios regarding the relevance of God's existence to the existence and detectability of JuffREs, and show that in each—after we establish our initial probabilities, and then update them given the evidence of a SUE—the probability of God's existence drops. (shrink)
Unlike versions of open theism that appeal to the alethic openness of the future, defenders of limited foreknowledge open theism (hereafter LFOT) affirm that some propositions concerning future contingents are presently true. Thus, there exist truths that are unknown to God, so God is not omniscient simpliciter. LFOT requires modal definitions of divine omniscience such that God knows all truths that are logically knowable. Defenders of LFOT have yet to provide an adequate response to Richard Purtill’s argument that (...) fatalism logically follows from the omnitemporality of truth. Hasker believes a distinction between hard and soft facts prevents fatalism, but I argue that his defense fails in light of arguments involving divine necessity. Additionally, I point out that Hasker’s philosophy of language concerning divine names faces problems that cannot be overcome, given the versions of the dilemma of freedom and foreknowledge that motivate LFOT. Thus, contra Hasker, Swinburne, and van Inwagen, open theism necessitates the alethic openness of the future. (shrink)
In May 1998, a distinguished group of philosophers met in Munich to discuss the rationality of theism. This volume is a collection of the papers read at that conference. While in recent years the rationality of theistic belief has been widely discussed, the Munich conference was an event of some moment in the history of philosophical dialogue: for the first time German- and English-speaking philosophers of religion, representatives of both the Continental and the Anglo-Saxon traditions, joined together to grapple (...) with a common philosophical theme. This multiplicity of perspectives brought a unique richness to the analysis of rationality that no one tradition by itself could provide. Readers will find that richness displayed in the pages of this book. Professional philosophers will find here a great deal to stimulate and challenge them; but graduate students, capable undergraduates, and all others with a serious interest in the philosophy of religion will be well rewarded for their efforts to come to grips with these thought-provoking papers. (shrink)
Problems of and explanations for evil -- Neo-cartesianism -- Animal suffering and the fall -- Nobility, flourishing, and immortality : animal pain and animal well-being -- Natural evil, nomic regularity, and animal suffering -- Chaos, order, and evolution -- Combining CDs.
We argue that Michael Peterson's and William Hasker's attempts to show that God and gratuitous evil are compatible constitute miserable failures. We then sketch Peter van Inwagen's attempt to do the same and conclude that, to date, no one has shown his attempt a failure.
This short book offers an alternative reading of the impact of modernity on Christian faith to that advanced by Don Cupitt in his television series and book, The Sea of Faith. Hebblethwaite gives a spirited defense of belief in the objective reality of God and in life after death, as opposed to Cupitt's radically interiorized and expressivist view of religion. As attractive as many may find a denial of the traditional church doctrines in favor of an anti-metaphysical, non-dogmatic expressivist version (...) of Christian faith, Hebblethwaite insists that of far greater importance is the question of objective truth that he focuses his attention. After arguing against Cupitt's response to the modern situation, Hebblethwaite shows how belief shows how belief in an objective God is both possible and highly plausible, despite the impact of modern science and historical criticism. (shrink)
This paper examines of the intersection of theism and philosophy in classical Indian thought, focusing on the rational theology of Nyaya and the revealed theology of Vedanta. I also consider anti-theistic arguments, primarily by classical Buddhists.
An expansive, yet succinct, analysis of the Philosophy of Religion --from metaphysics through theology. Organized into two sections, the text first examines truths concerning what is possible and what is necessary. These chapters lay the foundation for the book’s second part -- the search for a metaphysical framework that permits the possibility of an ultimate explanation that is correct and complete.
Natural disasters would seem to constitute evidence against the existence of God, for, on the face of things, it is mysterious why a completely good and all-powerful God would allow the sort of suffering we see from earthquakes, diseases, and the like. The skeptical theist replies that we should not expect to be able to understand God’s ways, and thus we should not regard it as surprising or mysterious that God would allow natural evil. I argue that skeptical theism (...) leads to moral paralysis: accepting skeptical theism would undermine our ability to make any moral judgments whatsoever. Second, and more briefly, I argue that skeptical theism would undercut our ability to accept any form of the argument from design, including recent approaches based on fine-tuning. (shrink)
The universe appears fine-tuned for life. Bayesian confirmation theory is utilized to examine two competing explanations for this fine-tuning, namely design (theism) and the existence of many universes, in comparison with the ’null’ hypothesis that just one universe exists as a brute fact. Some authors have invoked the so-called ’inverse gambler’s fallacy’ to argue that the many-universes hypothesis does not explain the fine-tuning of ’this’ universe, but flaws in this argument are exposed. Nevertheless, the hypothesis of design, being simpler, (...) is arguably of higher prior probability and, therefore, to be preferred. The hypothesis of the single brute-fact universe is disconfirmed. (shrink)
One of the deepest assumptions of Judaism and its offspring, Christianity, is that there is an important difference between human persons and everything else that exists in Creation. We alone are made in God’s image. We alone are the stewards of the earth. It is said in Genesis that we have “dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps (...) upon the earth.” It is difficult to see how a traditional theist could deny the significance of the difference between human persons and the rest of Creation. We human persons are morally and ontologically special. (shrink)
In recent years skeptical theism has gained currency amongst theists as a way to escape the problem of evil by invoking putatively reasonable skepticism concerning our ability to know that instances of apparently gratuitous evil are unredeemed by morally sufficient reasons known to God alone. After explicating skeptical theism through the work of Stephen Wykstra and William Alston, I present a cumulative-case argument designed to show that skeptical theism cannot be accepted by theists insofar as it crucially (...) undermines epistemic license to the very theism it is invoked to defend. I also argue that attempts to defend a theism-friendly moderate version of skeptical theism either fail to halt the spread of damaging skepticism, or lack philosophical validity. (shrink)
Skeptical theism contends that, due to our cognitive limitations, we cannot expect to be able to determine whether there are reasons which justify God’s permission of apparently unjustified evils. Because this is so, the existence of these evils does not constituted evidence against God’s existence. A common criticism is that the skeptical theist is implicitly committed to other, less palatable forms of skepticism, especially moral skepticism. I examine a recent defense against this charge mounted by Michael Bergmann. I point (...) out that the Bergmannian skeptical theist is unable to determine concerning any event or feature of the world whether that feature or event is good or evil all-things-considered. Because of this the skeptical theist must abandon any attempt to act in such a way that the world becomes better rather than worse as a result. These, I claim, are seriously skeptical conclusions, and should cause us to be skeptical about skeptical theism itself. (shrink)
Skeptical theists purport to undermine evidential arguments from evil by appealing to the fact that our knowledge of goods, evils, and their interconnections is signi cantly limited. Michael J. Almeida and Graham Oppy have recently argued that skeptical theism is unacceptable because it results in a form of moral skepticism which rejects inferences that play an important role in our ordinary moral reasoning. In this reply to Almeida and Oppy's argument we offer some reasons for thinking that skeptical (...) class='Hi'>theism need not lead to any such objectionable form of moral skepticism. (shrink)
Sceptical theists--e.g., William Alston and Michael Bergmann--have claimed that considerations concerning human cognitive limitations are alone sufficient to undermine evidential arguments from evil. We argue that, if the considerations deployed by sceptical theists are sufficient to undermine evidential arguments from evil, then those considerations are also sufficient to undermine inferences that play a crucial role in ordinary moral reasoning. If cogent, our argument suffices to discredit sceptical theist responses to evidential arguments from evil.
Most a posteriori arguments against the existence of God take the following form: (1) If God exists, the world would not be like this (where 'this' picks out some feature of the world like the existence of evil, etc.) (2) But the world is like this . (3) Therefore, God does not exist. Skeptical theists are theists who are skeptical of our ability to make judgments of the sort expressed by premise (1). According to skeptical theism, if there were (...) a God, it is likely that he would have reasons for acting that are beyond our ken, and thus we are not justified in making all-things-considered judgments about what the world would be like if there were a God. In particular, the fact that we don't see a good reason for X does not justify the conclusion that there is no good reason for X. 1 Thus, skeptical theism purports to undercut most a posteriori arguments against the existence of God. What follows is an account of the nature of skeptical theism, an application of skeptical theism to both the argument from evil and the argument from divine hiddenness, and a review of the cases for and against skeptical theism. (shrink)
Skeptical theism claims that the probability of a perfect God’s existence isn’t at all reduced by our failure to see how such a God could allow the horrific suffering that occurs in our world. Given our finite grasp of the realm of value, skeptical theists argue, it shouldn’t surprise us that we fail to see the reasons that justify God in allowing such suffering, and thus our failure to see those reasons is no evidence against God’s existence or perfection. (...) Critics object that skeptical theism implies a degree of moral skepticism that even skeptical theists will find objectionable and that it undermines moral obligations that even skeptical theists will want to preserve. I discuss a version of the first objection and defend a version of the second. (shrink)
The goal of this paper is to defend open theism vis-à-vis its main competitors within the family of broadly classical theisms, namely, theological determinism and the various forms of non-open free-will theism, such as Molinism and Ockhamism. After isolating two core theses over which open theists and their opponents differ, I argue for the open theist position on both points. Specifically, I argue against theological determinists that there are future contingents. And I argue against non-open free-will theists that (...) future contingency is incompatible with the future’s being epistemically settled for God. This paper is a follow-up to the author’s Rhoda (Religious Studies, 2008) which was delivered during the APA Pacific 2007 Mini-Conference on Models of God. (shrink)
Some evidential arguments from evil rely on an inference of the following sort: 'If, after thinking hard, we can't think of any God-justifying reason for permitting some horrific evil then it is likely that there is no such reason'. Sceptical theists, us included, say that this inference is not a good one and that evidential arguments from evil that depend on it are, as a result, unsound. Michael Almeida and Graham Oppy have argued (in a previous issue of this journal) (...) that Michael Bergmann's way of developing the sceptical theist response to such arguments fails because it commits those who endorse it to a sort of scepticism that undermines ordinary moral practice. In this paper, we defend Bergmann's sceptical theist response against this charge. (shrink)
According to the much-discussed argument from divine hiddenness, God's existence is disconfirmed by the fact that not everyone believes in God. The argument has provoked an impressive range of theistic replies, but none has overcome – or, I suggest, could overcome – the challenge posed by the uneven distribution of theistic belief around the world, a phenomenon for which naturalistic explanations seem more promising. The ‘demographics of theism’ confound any explanation of why non-belief is always blameworthy or of why (...) God allows blameless non-belief. They also cast doubt on the existence of a sensus divinitatis: the awareness of God that Reformed epistemologists claim is innate in all normal human beings. Finally, the demographics make the argument from divine hiddenness in some ways a better atheological argument than the more familiar argument from evil. (Published Online April 7 2006). (shrink)
In a recent Analysis article, Quentin Smith argues that classical theism is inconsistent with certain consequences of Stephen Hawking's quantum cosmology.1 Although I am not a theist, it seems to me that Smith's argument fails to establish its conclusion. The purpose of this paper is to show what is wrong with Smith's argument. According to Smith, Hawking's cosmological theory includes what Smith calls "Hawking's wave function law." Hawking's wave function law (hereafter, "HL") apparently has, among its consequences, the following (...) claim. (1) The unconditional probability that a universe like this one - i.e., a universe with the metric hij and matter field Φ - should begin to exist is 95%.2 Smith then argues that the theist who accepts HL must also accept that the following sentence was once true.3.. (shrink)
Received wisdom has it that a plausible explanation or theodicy for Gods permission of at least some instances of natural evil is not beyond the reach of the theist. In this paper I challenge this assumption, arguing instead that theism fails to account for any instance, kind, quantity, or distribution of natural evil found in the world. My case will be structured around a specific but not idiosyncratic conception of natural evil as well as an examination of three prominent (...) theodicies for natural evil. In contrast, however, to much contemporary discussion, my assessment of these theodicies will be grounded in the prior conviction that a successful theodicy for moral evil is available. (shrink)
God is traditionally taken to be a necessarily existing being who is unsurpassably powerful, knowledgeable, and good. The familiar problem of actual evil claims that the presence of gratuitous suffering in the actual world constitutes evidence against the existence of such a being. In contrast, the problem of possible evil claims that the possibility of bad worlds constitutes evidence against theism. How? It seems plausible to suppose that there are very bad possible worlds. But if God exists in every (...) world, then God exists in those, too. And if God exists in very bad worlds, some say, God is culpable for not ensuring that they are better. In what follows, I consider this argument, survey some responses, and offer a novel solution. Along the way, I argue that theists should maintain that the actual world is a multiverse featuring all and only universes worthy of being created and sustained by God, and – more controversially – I suggest that theists should embrace modal collapse: the claim that this multiverse is the only possible world. (shrink)
God is traditionally taken to be a perfect being, and the creator and sustainer of all that is. So, if theism is true, what sort of world should we expect? To answer this question, we need an account of the array of possible worlds from which God is said to choose. It seems that either there is (a) exactly one best possible world; or (b) more than one unsurpassable world; or (c) an infinite hierarchy of increasingly better worlds. Influential (...) arguments for atheism have been advanced on each hierarchy, and these jointly comprise a daunting trilemma for theism. In this paper, I argue that if theism is true, we should expect the actual world to be a multiverse comprised of all and only those universes which are worthy of creation and sustenance. I further argue that this multiverse is the unique best of all possible worlds. Finally, I explain how his unconventional view bears on the trilemma for theism. (shrink)
I argue that Traditional Christian Theism is inconsistent with Truthmaker Maximalism, the thesis that all truths have truthmakers. Though this original formulation requires extensive revision, the gist of the argument is as follows. Suppose for reductio Traditional Christian Theism and the sort of Truthmaker Theory that embraces Truthmaker Maximalism are both true. By Traditional Christian Theism, there is a world in which God, and only God, exists. There are no animals in such a world. Thus, it is (...) true in such a world that there are no zebras. That there are no zebras must have a truthmaker, given Truthmaker Maximalism. God is the only existing object in such a world, and so God must be the truthmaker for this truth, given that it has a truthmaker. But truthmakers necessitate the truths they make true. So, for any world, at any time at which God exists, God makes that there are no zebras true. According to Traditional Christian Theism, God exists in our world. In our world, then, it is true: there are no zebras. But there are zebras. Contradiction! Thus, the conjunction of Traditional Christian Theism with Truthmaker Necessitation and Truthmaker Maximalism is inconsistent. (shrink)
Here’s what I intend to do. First, I want to summarize the paper as I see it. Then, as a philosopher is expected to do, I’ll present some questions and disagreements—both substantive and methodological—with Open Theism. Finally, despite the fact that I am an outsider, I want to comment on the debate over Open Theism within certain evangelical circles.
Anselmian theists claim (a) that there is a being than which none greater can be conceived; and (b) that it is knowable on purely—solely, entirely—a priori grounds that there is a being than which none greater can be conceived. In this paper, I argue that Anselmian Theism gains traction by conflating different interpretations of the key description ‘being than which no greater can be conceived’. In particular, I insist that it is very important to distinguish between ideal excellence and (...) maximal possible excellence. At the end of my paper, I illustrate the importance of this distinction by applying my discussion to the recent defence of Anselmian Theism in Nagasawa (Philos Q 58:577–591, 2008). (shrink)
The topic of "Psychoanalysis and Theism" suggests two distinct questions. First, what is the import, if any, of psychoanalytic theory for the truth or falsity of theism? And furthermore, what was the attitude of Freud, the man, toward belief in God? It must be borne in mind that psychological explanations of any sort as to why people believe in God are subject to an important caveat. Even if they are true, such explanations are not entitled to beg the (...) following different question: Is religious belief justified by pertinent evidence or argument, whatever its motivational inspiration? Freud's usage, as well as stylistic reasons of my own, prompt me to use the terms "religion" and "theism" more or less interchangeably, although in other contexts the notion of religion is, of course, more inclusive. (shrink)
The evidential argument from evil seeks to show that suffering is strong evidence against theism. The core idea of the evidential argument is that we know of innocent beings suffering for no apparent good reason. Perhaps the most common criticism of the evidential argument comes from the camp of skeptical theism, whose lot includes William Alston, Alvin Plantinga, and Stephen Wykstra. According to skeptical theism the limits of human knowledge concerning the realm of goods, evils, and the (...) connections between values, undermines the judgment that what appears as pointless evil really is pointless. For all we know the suffering of an innocent being, though appearing pointless, in fact leads to a greater good. In this paper I argue that no one who accepts the doctrines of skeptical theism has a principled way of avoiding moral skepticism. (shrink)
According to Michael Almeida and Graham Oppy, adherents of skeptical theism will find their sense of moral obligation undermined in a potentially ‘appalling’ way. Michael Bergmann and Michael Rea disagree, claiming that God’s commands provide skeptical theists with a source of moral obligation that withstands the skepticism in skeptical theism. I argue that Bergmann and Rea are mistaken: skeptical theists cannot consistently rely on what they take to be God’s commands.
Anselmian theists, for whom God is the being than which no greater can be thought, usually infer that he is an omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent being. Critics have attacked these claims by numerous distinct arguments, such as the paradox of the stone, the argument from God's inability to sin, and the argument from evil. Anselmian theists have responded to these arguments by constructing an independent response to each. This way of defending Anselmian theism is uneconomical. I seek to establish (...) a new defence which undercuts almost all the existing arguments against Anselmian theism at once. In developing this defence, I consider the possibility that the Anselmian God is not an omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent being. (shrink)
In this paper I show that two arguments for the inconsistency of skeptical theism fail. After setting up the debate in Introduction section, I show in The initial debate section why Mylan Engel’s argument (Engel 2004) against skeptical theism does not succeed. In COST section I strengthen the argument so that it both avoids my reply to Engel and parallels Jon Laraudogoitia’s argument against skeptical theism (Laraudogoitia 2000). In COST* section, I provide three replies—one by an evidentialist (...) theist, one by a closure-denying theist, and one by a necessitarian theist, and argue that the necessitarian’s reply successfully rebuts the inconsistency charge. I conclude that skeptical theism which accepts God’s necessary existence is immune to both kinds of arguments for its inconsistency. (shrink)
A THEIST NEEDS A THEODICY, AN ACCOUNT FOR EACH KNOWN KIND OF EVIL OF HOW IT IS PROBABLE THAT IT SERVES A GREATER GOOD, IF HIS BELIEF IN GOD IS TO BE RATIONAL--UNLESS EITHER HE HAS OTHER EVIDENCE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD WHICH OUTWEIGHS THE COUNTEREVIDENCE FROM EVIL, OR HE HAS FOUND THE RESEARCH PROGRAMME OF THEODICY PROGRESSIVE. IT IS NOT ENOUGH, CONTRARY TO WYKSTRA AND PLANTINGA, TO CLAIM THAT GOD MAY BE PURSUING GREATER GOODS BEYOND OUR UNDERSTANDING. HOW (...) EVIDENCE FUNCTIONS HERE IS WELL CAPTURED BY THE PROBABILITY CALCULUS. (shrink)
In this paper I question the claim that the increasingly popular position known as ‘free-will theism’ or ‘the open view of God’ supports a rich religious life. To do this I advance a notion of ‘religious adequacy’, and then argue that free-will theism fails to be religiously adequate with respect to one of the principal practices of the religious life – petitionary prayer. Drawing on current work in libertarian free-will theory, I consider what are likely the only two (...) lines of defence free-will theists might use in response to my argument. I argue that these defences either fail or have features that make them unacceptable to free-will theists. I then suggest that this failure with petitionary prayer is an instance of a larger problem for free-will theism, that the position's distinctive views often differ more dramatically from the common beliefs and practices of most believers than is usually recognized or acknowledged. I conclude that free-will theism can support a rich religious life only for those who make the requisite changes in belief and practice, including changing their expectations about petitionary prayer. (shrink)
Contemporary science presents us with the remarkable theory that the universe began to exist about fifteen billion years ago with a cataclysmic explosion called "the Big Bang." The question of whether Big Bang cosmology supports theism or atheism has long been a matter of discussion among the general public and in popular science books, but has received scant attention from philosophers. This book sets out to fill this gap by means of a sustained debate between two philosophers, William Lane (...) Craig and Quentin Smith, who defend opposing positions. Craig argues that the Big Bang that began the universe was created by God, while Smith argues that the Big Bang has no cause. Alternating chapters by the two philosophers criticize and attempt to refute preceding arguments. Their arguments are based on Einstein's theory of relativity and include a discussion of the new quantum cosmology recently developed by Stephen Hawking and popularized in A Brief History of Time. (shrink)
Introduction -- Overview -- Theism, simplicity, and properly anthropocentric metaphysics -- Materialism and dualism -- The power, knowledge, and motives of the primordial God -- The existence of the primordial God -- God changes -- Understanding evil -- The Trinity -- The Incarnation -- Concluding remarks.
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)
Abstract. Although the Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR), a current approach to the scientific study of religion, has exerted an influence in the study of religion for almost twenty years, the question of its compatibility or incompatibility with theism has not been the subject of serious discussion until recently. Some critics of religion have taken a lively interest in the CSR because they see it as useful in explaining why religious believers consistently make costly commitments to false beliefs. Conversely, (...) some theists have argued for the compatibility of religious belief with basic CSR results. In this article, we contribute to the incipient discussion about the worldview relevance of the CSR by arguing that while a theistic reading of the field only represents one interpretative option at most, antitheistic claims about the incompatibility of the CSR with theism look like they may be harder to maintain than first appearances might suggest. (shrink)
On the assumption that theistic religious commitment takes place in the face of evidential ambiguity, the question arises under what conditions it is permissible to make a doxastic venture beyond oneâs evidence in favour of a religious proposition. In this paper I explore the implications for orthodox theistic commitment of adopting, in answer to that question, a modest, moral coherentist, fideism. This extended Jamesian fideism crucially requires positive ethical evaluation of both the motivation and content of religious doxastic ventures. I (...) suggest that, even though the existence of horrendous evil does not resolve evidential ambiguity in favour of atheism, there are reasonable value commitments that would preclude those who hold them from satisfying extended Jamesian fideist conditions for committing themselves to classical theism. I then begin a discussion of a possible revisionary theistic alternative (in the Christian tradition) which â one might hope â may meet those conditions. An earlier, shorter, version of this paper was delivered as a keynote address at the APA Pacific 2007 Mini-Conference on Models of God. (shrink)
In this paper I outline and discuss the central claims and arguments of J. L. Mackie’s The Miracle of Theism. Mackie argues, in essence, that none of the traditional theistic arguments is successful taken either one at a time or in tandem, that the theist does nothave a satisfactory response to the problem of evil, and that on balance the theistic hypothesis is much less probable than is its denial. He then concludes that theism is unsatisfactory and rationally (...) unacceptable. I argue that he is mistaken in nearly all of his major contentions. (shrink)
The anthropic principle or the associated anthropic coincidences have been used by philosophers such as John Leslie (1989), William Lane Craig (1988) and Richard Swinburne (1990) to support the thesis that God exists. In this paper I shall examine Swinburne's argument from the anthropic coincidences. I will show that Swinburne's premises, coupled with his principle of credulity and the failure of his theodicy in The Existence of God, disconfirms theism and confirms instead the hypothesis that there exists a malevolent (...) creator of the universe. (shrink)
David Ciocchi has charged that ‘open’ or free-will theism is religiously inadequate. This is it is because it is unable to affirm the ‘presumption of divine intervention in response to petitionary prayer’ (PDI), a presumption Ciocchi claims is implicit in the religious practice of ordinary Christian believers. I argue that PDI and Ciocchi's other assumptions concerning prayer are too strong, and would upon reflection be rejected by most believers. On the other hand, God as conceived by free-will theism (...) has extensive resources for answering petitionary prayers, including prayers whose fulfilment depends on the free responses of other persons. (shrink)
I defend the position that the appearance of a conflict between common-sense epistemology and skeptical theism remains, even after one fully appreciates the role defeat plays in rational belief. In particular, Matheson’s recent attempt to establish peace is not fully successful.
In this paper I argue that the denial of middle knowledge and emphasis on human freedom characteristic of open theism makes the traditional concept of hell even more morally problematic than it would otherwise be. But these same features of open theism present serious difficulties for the view that all will necessarily be saved. I conclude by arguing that the most promising approach for open theists is to adopt a version of contingent, as opposed to necessary, universalism. (Published (...) Online April 7 2006). (shrink)
Skeptical theism seeks to defend theism against the problem of evil by invoking putatively reasonable skepticism concerning human epistemic limitations in order to establish that we have no epistemological basis from which to judge that apparently gratuitous evils are not in fact justified by morally sufficient reasons beyond our ken. This paper contributes to the set of distinctively practical criticisms of skeptical theism by arguing that religious believers who accept skeptical theism and take its practical implications (...) seriously will be forced into a position of paralysis or "aporia" when faced with a wide set of morally significant situations. It is argued that this consequence speaks strongly against the acceptance of skeptical theism insofar as such moral "aporia" is inconsistent with religious moral teaching and practice. In addition, a variety of arguments designed to show that accepting skeptical theism does not lead to this consequence are considered, and shown to be deficient. (shrink)
This paper examines the relationship between the classical theistic conception of God and modal realism. I suggest that realism about possible worlds has unwelcome consequences for that conception. First, that modal realism entails the necessity of divine existence eludes explanation in a way congenial to a commitment to both modal realism and classical theism. Second, divine knowledge is dependent on worlds independent of the creative role and action of God, thereby suggesting a limitation on the nature of divine knowledge (...) and on the nature of God's creative role. Third, modal realism indicates the existence of real, albeit non-actual, worlds of appalling evil threatening the classical conception of divine omnipotence and benevolence. (Published Online July 10 2006). (shrink)
In this paper I consider three necessary conditions for a proposition counting as a theory: that the proposition be posited for its explanatory power; that it derive its feasibility from the extent to which it provides such explanatory power; and that it be empirically falsifiable. I then argue that some propositions might fail as theories because they do not satisfy the first two conditions, yet still satisfy the third condition. Such propositions I label falsifiable non-theories. I offer folk psychology (the (...) proposition that beliefs, desires, and other intentional phenomena exist and play essential motivational and causal roles in many human actions) as a paradigm example of a falsifiable non-theory. I then argue that theism is in an analogous position. Like folk psychology, it fails to satisfy the first two conditions above for most theists. However, the empirical implications that theism has do make it susceptible to falsification. I demonstrate such falsifiability by an extreme scenario from Keith Yandell. Then I argue that recent work by Paul Draper demonstrates how a well articulated empirical argument from evil might threaten just such falsification. (shrink)
THIS PAPER IS A DISCUSSION OF MACKIE’S HUMEAN ARGUMENT THAT MIRACLES CANNOT PLAY A ROLE IN A CASE FOR THEISM. I ARGUE THAT MACKIE IS MISTAKEN IN CONTENDING THAT MIRACLES CANNOT FORM PART OF A CASE FOR THEISM. IF THERE IS EVIDENCE THAT CERTAIN EVENTS DEVIATE FROM THE ORDINARY COURSE OF NATURE, AND IF AFFIRMING THE EXISTENCE OF GOD WOULD RENDER THAT EVIDENCE MORE COMPREHENSIBLE THAN OTHERWISE, THEN IT MUST BE ADMITTED THAT EVIDENCE THAT THESE EVENTS HAVE OCCURRED (...) IS EVIDENCE THAT GOD EXISTS. (shrink)
Recent iterations of Alvin Plantinga’s “evolutionary argument against naturalism” bear a surprising resemblance to a famous argument in Descartes’s Third Meditation. Both arguments conclude that theists have an epistemic advantage over atheists/naturalists vis-à-vis the question whether or not our cognitive faculties are reliable. In this paper, I show how these arguments bear an even deeper resemblance to each other. After bringing the problem of evil to bear negatively on Descartes’s argument, I argue that, given these similarities, atheists can wield a (...) recent solution to the problem of evil against theism in much the way Plantinga wields the detailsof evolutionary theory against naturalism. I conclude that Plantinga and Descartes give us insufficient reason for thinking theists are in a better epistemic position than atheists and naturalists vis-à-vis the question whether or not our cognitive faculties are reliable. (shrink)
Discussions of the intersection of general relativity and thephilosophy of religion rarely take place on the technical levelthat involves the details of the mathematical physics of generalrelativity. John Earman's discussion of theism and generalrelativity in his recent book on spacetime singularities is anexception to this tendency. By virtue of his technical expertise,Earman is able to introduce novel arguments into the debatebetween theists and atheists. In this paper, I state and examineEarman's arguments that it is rationally acceptable to believethat (...) class='Hi'>theism and general relativity form a mutually consistent oreven mutually supportive pair. I conclude that each of hisarguments is unsound. (shrink)
Book Information The Rationality of Theism. The Rationality of Theism P. Copan and P. Moser , eds., London : Routledge , 2003 xi + 292 , £70 ( cloth ), £20.99 ( paper ) Edited by P. Copan; and P. Moser . Routledge. London. Pp. xi + 292. £70 (cloth:), £20.99 (paper:).
In this paper I argue that traditional theism, in its theory, history, and practice has implications for the philosophy of nature. Namely, nature should be designed around aesthetic or meaningful principles and nature should be engineered in order to fulfil a fairly well defined set of purposes. If theism is true, we should be able to study nature objectively as a teleological system. After all, the teleological structure of nature is more important to us as spiritual beings than (...) its mechanisms. Since a teleological philosophy of nature is no longer viable, traditional theism is untenable. (Published Online July 10 2006). (shrink)
In this paper I argue that there need be nothing circular in a Christian theist’s defending herself against the potential defeater presented by Paul Draper’s  formulation of the problem of evil, nothing circular in defending herself by appeal to the fact that she believes as a result of the promptings of the Sensus Divinitatis (SD) or the Internal Instigation of the Holy Spirit (IIHS). David Silver  has argued that there is an illegitimate circularity proposed for such a theist (...) by Alvin Plantinga in Warranted Christian Belief . The way out of the circle, thinks Silver, would be by adopting a kind of evidentialism: making an appeal to evidence that is independent of the reasons she has for holding theistic belief in the first place. (shrink)
The cosmic singularity provides negligible evidence for creation in the finite past, and hence theism. A physical theory might have no metric or multiple metrics, so a ‘beginning’ must involve a first moment, not just finite age. Whether one dismisses singularities or takes them seriously, physics licenses no first moment. The analogy between the Big Bang and stellar gravitational collapse indicates that a Creator is required in the first case only if a Destroyer is needed in the second. The (...) need for and progress in quantum gravity and the underdetermination of theories by data make it difficult to take singularities seriously. The singularity exemplifies the sort of gap that is likely to be closed by scientific progress, obviating special divine action. The apparent irrelevance of cardinality to practices of counting infinite sets in classical field theory and Fourier analysis is noted. Introduction The Doctrine of Creation and Its Warrant Cardinality and Sizes of Infinity Modern Cosmology and Creation Tolerance or Intolerance toward Singularities? Leibniz against Incompetent Watchmaker? Induction from Earlier Theories' Breakdown? Stellar Collapse Implies Theistic Destroyer Stacking the Deck for GTR Quantum Gravity Tends to Resolve Singularities Vicious God-of-the-Gaps Character Fluctuating or Inaccessible Warrant Big Bang Cosmology Not Especially Congenial to Faith CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
This paper is a critical review of Howard Sobel’s ’Logic and Theism’. I discuss his analyses of ontological arguments, cosmological arguments, teleological arguments, and arguments from evil, and comment upon his accounts of Pascal’s wager and Hume on miracles. My overall judgment is that this is the very best book on arguments about the existence of God that has yet appeared.
Some evidential arguments from evil rely on an inference of the following sort: ?If, after thinking hard, we can't think of any God-justifying reason for permitting some horrific evil then it is likely that there is no such reason?. Sceptical theists, us included, say that this inference is not a good one and that evidential arguments from evil that depend on it are, as a result, unsound. Michael Almeida and Graham Oppy have argued (in a previous issue of this journal) (...) that Michael Bergmann's way of developing the sceptical theist response to such arguments fails because it commits those who endorse it to a sort of scepticism that undermines ordinary moral practice. In this paper, we defend Bergmann's sceptical theist response against this charge. (shrink)
Open theists agree that God lacks what is normally called “comprehensive” foreknowledge, but why believe this? Open theists answer in three ways, which I call the narrow road, the wide road, and the shortcut to open theism. Here I argue that (1) the narrow road faces a difficulty concerning the doctrine of divine omniscience which doesn’t arise for the wide road, (2) the wide road is well-motivated and appealing, given certain philosophical commitments, (3) the shortcut is too simple to (...) work, and (4) William Lane Craig’s objections to the wide road fail. I conclude with some observations about the state of the dispute between open theists and their critics. (shrink)
Philip Quinn’s “On Finding the Foundations of Theism” is both challenging and important. Quinn proposes at least the following four theses: (a) my argument against the criteria of proper basicality proposed by classical foundationalism is unsuccessful, (b) the quasi-inductive method I suggest for arriving at criteria of proper basicality is defective, (c) even if belief in God is properly basic, it could without loss of justification be accepted on the basis of other propositions, and (d) belief in God is (...) probably not nowadays properly basic for intellectually sophisticated adults, There is much to be said about each of these four theses; I shall say just a bit about them. I take the fourth claim to be the most important and devote the most space to it. (shrink)
Arguments strong enough to justify skeptical theism will be strong enough to justify the position that every claim about God is empirically unfalsifiable. This fact is problematic because that position licenses further arguments which are clearly unreasonable, but which the skeptical theist cannot consistently accept as such. Avoiding this result while still achieving the theoretical objectives looked for in skeptical theism appears to demand an impossibly nuanced position.
In his presidential address to the APA, ‘‘How to be an Anti-realist’’ (1982, 64–66), Alvin Plantinga argues that the only sensible way to be an antirealist is to be a theist.1 Anti-realism (AR) in this context is the epistemic analysis of truth that says, (AR) necessarily, a statement is true if and only if it would be believed by an ideally [or sufficiently] rational agent/community in ideal [or sufficiently good] epistemic circumstances. Plantinga demonstrates, with modest modal resources, that AR entails (...) that necessarily, ideal epistemic circumstances obtain. It is a contingent matter whether ideal epistemic circumstances obtain for worldly agents and communities. Hence, the lesson, according to Plantinga, is that an anti-realist should be a theist. In the present paper we evaluate whether anti-realism entails that necessarily ideal epistemic circumstances obtain. A more careful analysis of Plantinga’s argument appears in section 1. We notice that Plantinga’s interpretation of anti-realism harbors an ambiguity of quantifier scope and that only on the less plausible placement of the quantifiers does AR obviously entail that necessarily ideal epistemic circumstances obtain. In section 2 we evaluate an alternative version of Plantinga’s argument developed by Michael Rea. Rea’s argument gets the quantifiers straight, but depends on logical resources that the anti-realist has independent reason to reject. After evaluating Rea’s argument we conclude that an anti-realist need not be a theist and is not committed to the necessary existence of.. (shrink)