Arguments for Theism

Edited by Daniel Von Wachter (International Academy of Philosophy In The Principality of Liechtenstein)
About this topic
Summary Theism is generally taken to be the view that there is a person who is bodiless, omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, perfectly good, perfectly free, and who is the creator and sustainer of the universe. There are of course  different ways to spell out these attributes, for example some spell out ‘eternal‘ as ‘being outside of time‘, others as ‘everlasting‘. However, those who present arguments for or against the ‘existence of God‘ use the term ‘God’ similarly enough to be discussing the same question. Philosophers rather say that there is no God than using ‘God’ in a very different sense, for example in the sense of something other than a person. Most or all arguments for or against theism, today as well as in the past, are not assumed to make belief in God somehow ‘apodictically‘ certain. However, some arguments are deductive, others inductive.
Key works The most thorough defense of the existence of God is Swinburne 2004, who gives probabilistic, inductive instead of deductive arguments and who rejects the ontological as well as the moral argument from the existence of values or duties. Plantinga 1974 defends the ontological argument, Adams 1979 the moral argument. Mackie 1982 is still a much quoted defense of atheism. Rowe 2010 presents an atheistic position.
Introductions Most anthologies with the title ‘philosophy of religion’ contain articles that give the various arguments, for example Craig 2002 or Davies 2000, and also Meister & Copan 2007, Taliaferro & Meister 2009, and Copan & Moser 2003. A simplified defense of theism with various arguments is Swinburne 1996, Le Poidevin 1996 is an introductory defense atheism.
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  1. The Explanatory Challenge: Moral Realism Is No Better Than Theism.Dan Baras - 2018 - European Journal of Philosophy 26 (1):368-389.
    Many of the arguments for and against robust moral realism parallel arguments for and against theism. In this article, I consider one of the shared challenges: the explanatory challenge. The article begins with a presentation of Harman's formulation of the explanatory challenge as applied to moral realism and theism. I then examine two responses offered by robust moral realists to the explanatory challenge, one by Russ Shafer-Landau and another by David Enoch. Shafer-Landau argues that the moral realist can plausibly respond (...)
  2. Existential Quantifier, Logic and the Christian Trinitarian Monotheism: An Investigation of a Relationship Between Formal Sciences and Philosophy of Religion.Paulo Júnio de Oliveira - 2017 - Revista Brasileira de Filosofia da Religião 4 (2):134-151.
    This article discusses a relation between the formal science of logical semantics and some monotheistic, polytheistic and Trinitarian Christian notions. This relation appears in the use of the existential quantifier and of logical-modal notions when some monotheistic and polytheistic concepts and, principally, the concept of Trinity Dogma are analyzed. Thus, some presupposed modal notions will appear in some monotheistic propositions, such as the notion of “logically necessary”. From this, it will be shown how the term “God” is a polysemic term (...)
  3. The Non-Existence of God.Nicholas Everitt - 2003 - Routledge London.
    Is it possible to prove or disprove God's existence? Arguments for the existence of God have taken many different forms over the centuries: in The Non-Existence of God, Nicholas Everitt considers all of the arguments and examines the role that reason and knowledge play in the debate over God's existence. He draws on recent scientific disputes over neo-Darwinism, the implication of 'big bang' cosmology, and the temporal and spatial size of the universe; and discusses some of the most recent work (...)
  4. Uma Avaliação Do Argumento Ontológico Modal de Plantinga.Domingos Faria - 2016 - Kairos 15 (1):71-84.
    My aim in this paper is to critically assess Plantinga’s modal ontological argument for existence of God, such as it is presented in the book “The Nature of Necessity”. Plantinga tries to show that this argument is valid and it is rational to believe in his main premise, namely “there is a possible world in which maximal greatness is instantiated”. On the one hand, I want to show that this argument is logically valid in both systems B and S5 of (...)
  5. Religious Experience and Special Divine Action.Amber Griffioen - 2017 - The Special Divine Action Project.
    This micro-summary and extended overview for the Special Divine Action Project discusses the connection between divine action and religious experience.
  6. Margaret Cavendish, Feminist Ethics, and the Problem of Evil.Jill Hernandez - 2018 - Religions 9 (4):1-13.
    This paper argues that, although Margaret Cavendish’s main philosophical contributions are not in philosophy of religion, she makes a case for a defense of God, in spite of the worst sorts of harms being present in the world. Her arguments about those harms actually presage those of contemporary feminist ethicists, which positions Cavendish’s scholarship in a unique position: it makes a positive theodical contribution, by relying on evils that contemporary atheists think are the best evidence against the existence of God. (...)
  7. The God of Philosophy: An Introduction to Philosophy of Religion.Roy Jackson - 2011 - Routledge.
    For centuries philosophers have argued about the existence and nature of God. Do we need God to explain the origins of the universe? Can there be morality without a divine source of goodness? How can God exist when there is so much evil and suffering in the world? All these questions and many more are brought to life with clarity and style in The God of Philosophy. The arguments for and against God's existence are weighed up, along with discussion of (...)
  8. Two Sorts of Natural Theology.Martin Jakobsen - forthcoming - Studia Theologica 72 (2).
    Usually, natural theology is understood as the project of providing arguments for the existence of God. This project is endorsed by Moreland and Craig. McGrath, on the other hand, says that this project fails. In the first part of this article, I show how McGrath’s dismissal of arguments for the existence of God follows from his view of natural theology. In the second part, I argue that McGrath’s natural theology contains an accurate critique of Moreland and Craig’s way of doing (...)
  9. In Defense of Emergent Individuals: A Reply to Moreland.Joshua Johnson - 2014 - Faith and Philosophy 31 (1):91-104.
    J. P. Moreland has recently raised a number of metaphysical objections to the theory of Emergent Individuals that is defended by Timothy O’ Connor, Jonathan Jacobs, and others. Moreland argues that only theism can provide a sufficient explanation for human consciousness, and he considers the theory of Emergent Individuals to offer a competing naturalistic explanation that must be refuted in order for his argument to be successful. Moreland focuses his objections on the account of emergence advocated by the defenders of (...)
  10. Harmonia Philosophica.Spyridon Kakos - 2018 - Athens, Greece: Harmonia Philosophy Publications.
    The goal of this book is to show that dogmatism, under any form, is wrong. And even though dogmatism had for a long time been associated with religion, things have drastically changed in the last centuries. Nowadays science has replaced religion in the throne of doctrinaire thinking and the poison of materialism has dominated human intellect to a great extend. In this work one can read how separate opinions on crucial philosophical matters can be merged into one single "truth", if (...)
  11. The Totality of Predicates and the Possibility of the Most Real Being.Srećko Kovač - 2018 - Journal of Applied Logics - The IfCoLog Journal of Logics and Their Applications 5 (7):1523-1552.
    We claim that Kant's doctrine of the "transcendental ideal of pure reason" contains, in an anticipatory sense, a second-order theory of reality (as a second-order property) and of the highest being. Such a theory, as reconstructed in this paper, is a transformation of Kant's metatheoretical regulative and heuristic presuppositions of empirical theories into a hypothetical ontotheology. We show that this metaphysical theory, in distinction to Descartes' and Leibniz's ontotheology, in many aspects resembles Gödel's theoretical conception of the possibility of a (...)
  12. Is God the Best Explanation? A Dialogue.Felipe Leon & Joshua L. Rasmussen Josh - forthcoming - Palgrave.
  13. Mark Foreman, Prelude to Philosophy: An Introduction for Christians. [REVIEW]Michael McFall - 2014 - Philosophia Christi 16.
  14. The God of Metaphysics by Timothy Sprigge.Leemon B. McHenry - 2007 - Process Studies 36 (1):146-150.
  15. The God of Metaphysics by Timothy Sprigge. [REVIEW]Leemon B. McHenry - 2007 - Process Studies 36 (1):146-150.
  16. Deep Desires.David Mcpherson - forthcoming - Religious Studies:1-15.
    This article seeks to get clear on an important feature of a theistic way of life: namely, the appeal to ‘deep desires’ as part of an ethical and spiritual life-orientation. My main thesis is that such appeals should primarily be seen as pertaining to our acquired second nature and the space of meaning it makes possible, rather than first nature or innateness. To appeal to the ‘depth’ of a desire, on this account, is to say something about its normative importance: (...)
  17. What Is God?Jacob Needleman - 2009 - New York, USA: Tarcher/Penguin.
  18. Analityczna filozofia religii i teologia filozoficzna / Analytic Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology.Marek A. Pepliński - 2016 - In Janusz Salamon (ed.), Przewodnik po filozofii religii. Nurt analityczny. Kraków: WAM. pp. 437-458.
  19. Cele teologii naturalnej i filozoficznej a preferowane wartości poznawcze / Aims of Natural and Philosophical Theology and the Preferred Epistemic Values.Marek A. Pepliński - 2004 - Przegląd Religioznawczy 212 (2):3-11.
    In philosophical literature terms: „natural theology” (or „rational theology”) and „philosophical theology” are used as exchangeable. The author argues that natural and philosophical theology are different philosophical disciplines. It is possible to point out a philosophic theology, different from natural theology, the former aims are not only supposed to show that God exists but to unifícate, interpret and explain (understand) religious faith and her tasks are not primary apologetic. The author considers that the aims of the latter discipline are bound (...)
  20. Atheism and Agatheism in the Global Ethical Discourse: Reply to Millican and Thornhill-Miller.Janusz Salamon - 2015 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 7 (4):197--245.
    The paper enunciates a new pluralistic interpretation of first-order religious belief capable of accommodating the epistemological challenge of religious diversity and also immune to falsification by any future science, since grounded in the human axiological consciousness. Such axiologically grounded religious belief is termed ‘agatheism’, since it is stipulated that agatheistic belief identifies God, the Absolute or the ultimate reality religiously conceived with the ultimate good that must be postulated — as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas and Kant agree — as the (...)
  21. Proofs of God in Early Modern Europe.Lloyd Strickland - 2018 - Waco, TX, USA: Baylor University Press.
    Proofs of God in Early Modern Europe offers a fascinating window into early modern efforts to prove God’s existence. Assembled here are twenty-two key texts, many translated into English for the first time, which illustrate the variety of arguments that philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries offered for God. These selections feature traditional proofs—such as various ontological, cosmological, and design arguments—but also introduce more exotic proofs, such as the argument from eternal truths, the argument from universal aseity, and the (...)
  22. Incarnate Arguments and Natural Signs. [REVIEW]Leigh Vicens - 2016 - Syndicate Theology 3.
Arguments from Miracles
  1. Hume and Miracles.Matthew C. Bagger - 1997 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 35 (2):237 - 251.
    "Hume and Miracles" relates Hume’s essay "Of Miracles" to the Port-Royal ’Logic’ and John Locke. It argues that Hume did not, as is often supposed, intend to suggest that well-attested miracle reports defeat themselves by undermining the laws of nature they defy. Instead, Hume argues that the specifically ’religious’ nature of the testimony relating to miracle claims rules out their acceptance because of the frequency of fraud in religious matters. Hume’s views are too austere because one might wish to reject (...)
  2. Miracles as Evidence for Theism.David Basinger - 1990 - Sophia 29 (1):56 - 59.
    In an ongoing dialogue, Robert Larmer and I have been discussing whether the undisputed occurrence of certain conceivable events would require all honest, thoughtful individuals to acknowledge that God has intervened in earthly affairs. I argue that there is no reason to believe that a nontheist who acknowledged certain healings to be strong evidence for theism but did not see such evidence as outweighing what she viewed as the stronger counterevidence, and thus remained a nontheist, could justifiably be accused of (...)
  3. Turin Shroud, Resurrection and Science: One View of the Cathedral.Tristan Casabianca - 2017 - New Blackfriars 98 (1073):709-721.
    In a topic as controversial as the Turin Shroud, it is always surprising to note that there remains a large area of consensus among scholars who hold opposite opinions on the origin of this piece of fabric. According to the consensus view, neither science nor history can prove that the Turin Shroud shows signs of the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. However, the reasons provided for this important claim are not convincing, especially in light of recent developments in historiography and (...)
  4. The Shroud of Turin, the Resurrection of Jesus and the Realm of Science: One View of the Cathedral.Tristan Casabianca - 2014 - Workshop on Advances in the Turin Shroud Investigation.
    In a topic as controversial as the shroud of Turin, it is always surprising to notice that there still exists a large area of consensus among scholars holding opposite opinions on the topic. According to the consensus view, neither science nor history can ever prove that the Turin Shroud shows signs of the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. However, the reasons given for such an important claim are not convincing, especially in regard of recent developments in historiography and analytic philosophy.
  5. The Shroud of Turin: A Historiographical Approach.Tristan Casabianca - 2013 - Heythrop Journal 54 (3):414-423.
    Criteria of historical assessment are applied to the Turin Shroud to determine which hypothesis relating to the image formation process is the most likely. To implement this, a ‘Minimal Facts’ approach is followed that takes into account only physicochemical and historical data receiving the widest consensus among contemporary scientists. The result indicates that the probability of the Shroud of Turin being the real shroud of Jesus of Nazareth is very high; historians and natural theologians should therefore pay it increased attention.
  6. The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology.William Lane Craig & J. P. Moreland (eds.) - 2009 - Wiley-Blackwell.
  7. Of Miracles and Special Effects.Hent de Vries - 2001 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 50 (1-3):41 - 56.
  8. Review Of: O. Gingerich: God’s Universe. [REVIEW]Yiftach J. H. Fehige - 2008 - Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy 11:232-234.
  9. Hume, Miracles, and the Paranorrnal.William Grey - 1993 - Cogito 7 (2):100-105.
  10. On Hume's Philosophical Case Against Miracles.Daniel Howard-Snyder - 2003 - In Christopher Bernard (ed.), God Matters: Readings in the Philosophy of Religion. Longman Publications.
    According to the Christian religion, Jesus was “crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again”. I take it that this rising again—the Resurrection of Jesus, as it’s sometimes called—is, according to the Christian religion, an historical event, just like his crucifixion, death, and burial. And I would have thought that to investigate whether the Resurrection occurred, we would need to do some historical research: we would need to assess the reliability of (...)
  11. Butler and Hume on Religion: A Comparative Analysis.Anders Jeffner - 1966 - Diakonistyrelsens.
    TOPICS DISCUSSED INCLUDE THE ARGUMENT FROM DESIGN, THE THEOLOGICAL IMPORTANCE OF THE NEW NATURAL SCIENCES, ARGUMENTS FROM MIRACLES, THE MEANING OF STATEMENTS ABOUT GOD, THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE IDEA OF GOD AND VARIOUS APOLOGETIC ARGUMENTS, AND ETHICAL AND META-ETHICAL THEORIES. (BP, EDITED).
  12. Miracles As Evidence for God.Robert Larmer - 1999 - In God and Argument. Univ Ottawa Pr.
  13. David Hume, 'of Miracles'.K. T. Maslin - 1995 - Cogito 9 (1):83-89.
  14. The Argument From Miracles: A Cumulative Case for the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.Timothy McGrew & Lydia McGrew - 2009 - In William Lane Craig & J. P. Moreland (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Blackwell. pp. 593--662.
  15. Hume, Miracles, and Probabilities: Meeting Earman's Challenge.Peter Millican - manuscript
    The centrepiece of Earman’s provocatively titled book Hume’s Abject Failure: The Argument against Miracles is a probabilistic interpretation of Hume’s famous ‘maxim’ concerning the credibility of miracle reports, followed by a trenchant critique of the maxim when thus interpreted. He argues that the first part of this maxim, once its obscurity is removed, is simply trivial, while the second part is nonsensical. His subsequent discussion culminates with a forthright challenge to any would-be defender of Hume to ‘point to some thesis (...)
  16. Review of The Resurrection of God Incarnate. [REVIEW]N. N. - 2005 - Faith and Philosophy 22 (2):235-238.
    Whether or not Jesus rose bodily from the dead remains perhaps the most critical and contentious issue in Christianity. Until now, argument has centered upon the veracity of explicit New Testament accounts of the events following Jesus� crucifixion, often ending in deadlock. In Richard Swinburne�s new approach, though, ascertaining the probable truth of the resurrection requires a much broader approach to the nature of God and to the life and teaching of Jesus.
  17. Miracles and Good Evidence.Douglas Odegard - 1982 - Religious Studies 18 (1):37-46.
    EVEN IF ’MIRACLE’ MEANS A VIOLATION OF A LAW OF NATURE, A CASE CAN BE MADE FOR THINKING THAT MIRACLES ARE POSSIBLE, DETECTABLE, AND COMPATIBLE WITH SCIENCE. THE CASE WORKS BY DEFINING A LAW-VIOLATION AS AN EVENT OF A KIND THAT IS EPISTEMICALLY IMPOSSIBLE UNLESS THERE IS GOOD EVIDENCE OF A GOD’S PRODUCING AN INSTANCE. HUMAN AND NON-HUMAN OBJECTIONS ARE CONSIDERED AND ANSWERED.
  18. Miracles, Evidence, Evil, and God: A Twenty-Year Debate.Christine Overall - 2006 - Dialogue 45 (2):355-366.
    This paper is the latest in a debate with Robert Larmer as to whether the occurrence of a miracle would provide evidence for the existence of God or against the existence of God. Whereas Larmer’s view is categorical (miracles occur and are evidence for the existence of God), mine is hypothetical (if the events typically described as miracles were to occur -- although I do not believe they do -- they would be evidence against the existence of God). The reason (...)
  19. Miracles as Evidence Against the Existence of God.Christine Overall - 1985 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 23 (3):347-353.
    AN ASSUMPTION IN DEBATES ABOUT THE PHILOSOPHICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF MIRACLES IS THAT IF A MIRACLE (A VIOLATION OF NATURAL LAW OR A PERMANENTLY INEXPLICABLE EVENT) WERE TO OCCUR, IT WOULD BE EVIDENCE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF THE CHRISTIAN GOD. THE PAPER EXPLORES RESERVATIONS BY SEVERAL PHILOSOPHERS ABOUT THIS CONNECTION BETWEEN GOD AND MIRACLES, AND PRESENTS ARGUMENTS TO SHOW THAT IF A MIRACLE WERE TO OCCUR THERE WOULD BE GOOD REASON TO DENY THAT GOD EXISTS.
  20. Review of Robert J. Fogelin, A Defense of Hume on Miracles, Princeton[REVIEW]Terence Penelhum - 2004 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2004 (1).
  21. Proofs of Miracles and Miracles as Proofs.Richard L. Purtill - 1976 - Christian Scholar’s Review 6.
    AS AGAINST HUME’S VIEW THAT "A MIRACLE CAN NEVER BE PROVED SO AS TO BE THE FOUNDATION OF A SYSTEM OF RELIGION" I ARGUE THAT THE POSSIBILITY OF MIRACLES CAN BE DEFENDED ON PHILOSOPHICAL GROUNDS, THAT THERE IS HISTORICAL EVIDENCE FOR THE OCCURRENCE OF CERTAIN MIRACLES AND THAT SUCH MIRACLES CAN IN FACT GIVE GROUNDS FOR THE PREFERENCE OF ONE SYSTEM OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF OVER ANOTHER.
  22. Miracles and the Case for Theism.Victor Reppert - 1989 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 25 (1):35 - 51.
    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 (...)
  23. Hume on Miracles: Interpretation and Criticism.James E. Taylor - 2007 - Philosophy Compass 2 (4):611–624.
    Philosophers continue to debate about David Hume’s case against the rationality of belief in miracles. This article clarifies semantic, epistemological, and metaphysical questions addressed in the controversy. It also explains the main premises of Hume’s argument and discusses criticisms of them. The article concludes that one’s evaluation of Hume’s argument will depend on one’s views about (a) the definitions of ’miracle’ and ’natural law’; (b) the type of reasoning one ought to employ to determine the probability that a particular miracle (...)
  24. Miracles and God's Existence.J. C. Thornton - 1984 - Philosophy 59 (228):219 - 229.
    THE AUTHOR ARGUES THAT THE HUMEAN "A PRIORI" ATTACK ON MIRACLES IS INTENDED TO SHOW THE INCOHERENCE OF THE NOTION OF A WELL-ATTESTED MIRACULOUS EVENT (NOT THE INCOHERENCE OF THE CONCEPT OF A MIRACLE). THOUGH THIS TYPE OF ATTACK CAN BE PRESENTED IN A POWERFUL FORM, IT SUFFERS FROM AN UNDULY NARROW ASSUMPTION CONCERNING THE NATURE OF EVIDENCE AND EXPLANATION, FOR IT "IS" POSSIBLE TO DESCRIBE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH IT WOULD BE REASONABLE TO CONCLUDE THAT A MIRACLE HAS OCCURRED. HOWEVER, (...)
  25. Of Miracles and Evidential Probability: Hume’s “Abject Failure” Vindicated.William L. Vanderburgh - 2005 - Hume Studies 31 (1):37-61.
    This paper defends David Hume's "Of Miracles" from John Earman's (2000) Bayesian attack by showing that Earman misrepresents Hume's argument against believing in miracles and misunderstands Hume's epistemology of probable belief. It argues, moreover, that Hume's account of evidence is fundamentally non-mathematical and thus cannot be properly represented in a Bayesian framework. Hume's account of probability is show to be consistent with a long and laudable tradition of evidential reasoning going back to ancient Roman law.
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