-/- The term “natural religion” is sometimes taken to refer to a pantheistic doctrine according to which nature itself is divine. “Natural theology”, by contrast, originally referred to (and still sometimes refers to) the project of arguing for the existence of God on the basis of observed natural facts. -/- In contemporary philosophy, however, both “natural religion” and “natural theology” typically refer to the project of using all of the cognitive faculties that are “natural” to human beings—reason, sense-perception, introspection—to investigate (...) religious or theological matters. Natural religion or theology, on the present understanding, is not limited to empirical inquiry into nature, and it is not wedded to a pantheistic result. It does, however, avoid appeals to special non-natural faculties (ESP, telepathy, mystical experience) or supernatural sources of information (sacred texts, revealed theology, creedal authorities, direct supernatural communication). In general, natural religion or theology (hereafter “natural theology”) aims to adhere to the same standards of rational investigation as other philosophical and scientific enterprises, and is subject to the same methods of evaluation and critique. Natural theology is typically contrasted with “revealed theology”, where the latter explicitly appeals to special revelations such as miracles, scriptures, and divinely-superintended commentaries and creedal formulations. (See DeCruz and DeSmedt 2015) -/- Philosophers and religious thinkers across almost every epoch and tradition (Near Eastern, African, Asian, and European) have engaged the project of natural theology, either as proponents or critics. The question of whether natural theology is a viable project is at the root of some of the deepest religious divisions: Shi’ite thinkers are optimistic about reason’s ability to prove various theological and ethical truths, for instance, while Sunnis are not; Roman Catholic theologians typically think that reason provides demonstrations of the existence of God, while many Protestant theologians do not. Unlike most of the topics discussed in an encyclopedia of philosophy, this is one over which wars have been fought and throats have been cut. -/- The most active discussions of natural theology in the West occurred during the high medieval period (roughly 1100–1400 C.E.) and the early modern period (1600–1800 C.E.). The past few decades have witnessed a revival of natural theological debate in the public sphere: there are now institutes promoting “Intelligent Design Theory”, popular apologetics courses, campus debates between believers and agnostics, a “New Atheist” movement, Youtube debates between apologists and atheists regarding new books in natural theology (such as the one between Nathan Lewis and Bernie Dehler on the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology), and TED talks by famous atheists on how to resist natural religion (such as the one by Richard Dawkins in February 2002). -/- Among professional philosophers (who aren’t typically part of these more popular debates), arguments over our ability to justify positive or negative answers to religious questions have become fairly technical, often employing sophisticated logical techniques in an effort to advance the discussion instead of retreading the same old ground. The prestigious Gifford Lectures series hosted by a consortium of Scottish universities, however, has tried to feature new but still accessible work in natural theology for over 100 years (it too has a Youtube channel!) -/- In this article, we aim to avoid most the more recent complexities but also explain their origins by focusing on some central developments in the early modern period that helped to frame contemporary natural theological debates. We are focused here only on theoretical arguments (both a priori and a posteriori or empirical ones). It is controversial whether moral arguments are also part of natural theology, but we set them aside here (see also the entry on God, arguments for the existence of: moral arguments). (shrink)
In the replies to my critics that follow I offer a more detailed account of the specific papers that they discuss or examine. The papers that they are especially concerned with are: “The Material World and Natural Religion in Hume’s Treatise” (Ryan) [Essay 3], “Hume’s Skepticism and the Problem of Atheism” (Fosl) [Essay 12], and “Hume’s Philosophy of Irreligion and the Myth of British Empiricism (Gautier) [Essay 16].
Algunos elementos de la filosofía platónica establecidos en tratados apologéticos de muchos escritores cristianos entre los cuales se encuentra el ateniense Atenágoras y su conocida obra πρεσβεία περὶ χριστιανῶν, cuya versión del helenista y teólogo español Daniel Ruiz será el objeto de estudio en el presente texto, demuestran un especial interés por la exposición de la cosmología. Si bien esta temática hace las veces de un intento por demostrar racionalmente la trascendencia de lo divino y la seguida generación del universo (...) por causa del designio y poder de Dios, no se trata de una exposición meticulosa de las ideas de filósofos que el mismo Atenágoras cita sino más bien de una exégesis cristiana acerca de Platón en la que pareciese que incurrieran tales escritores, al menos por ser este uno de los autores que abogan por la filosofía griega, para realizar una reflexión profunda sobre la fe. (shrink)
The Upanishads reveal that in the beginning, nothing existed: “This was but non-existence in the beginning. That became existence. That became ready to be manifest”. (Chandogya Upanishad 3.15.1) The creation began from this state of non-existence or nonduality, a state comparable to (0). One can add any number of zeros to (0), but there will be nothing except a big (0) because (0) is a neutral number. If we take (0) as Nirguna Brahman (God without any form and attributes), then (...) from where and how did the universe come into existence? -/- The neutral power (0) cannot produce anything without having an element of duality in it. Although Nirguna Brahman is neutral, it has a positive, negative, and neutral pole, constituting its Prakriti or nature. Prakriti has three latent Gunas (modes or qualities): Satva, Rajas, and Tamas. They are related to Gyana Shakti (the power of knowledge) Sankalpa Shakti (the power of ideation), and Kriya Shakti (the power of action). Science says that Atom is the basic element from which the universe evolved. The Atom has three nuclei- electron, pluton, and neutron. The Satva, Rajas, and Tamas in Indian spirituality are nothing but the mystical names for the nuclei of an atom. -/- According to Bhagavata Purana, Prakriti is also constituted of the elements of Time, Karma (action/destiny) and Swabhava (innate nature). Time disturbs the equilibrium of Gunas. From the aspect of Karma is produced an entity called Mahat, in the form of intelligence. Mahat is dominated by Satva and Rajas. From Mahat manifests the next evolute dominated by Tamas with three predominant qualities – Dravya (substance), Kriya (action), as well as intelligence. It forms to become the Ego principle (Ahamkara). -/- Ahamkara has three modes – Satvic, Rajasic and Tamasic. Satvic is Jnana oriented, Rajasic action-oriented and Tamasic Dravya (substance) oriented. From the Tamasic Ahankara, five gross elements are produced (ether, air, fire, water, and earth - Akash, Vayu, Agni, Jal and Prithvi). From the Satvic Ahamkara, guardian deities (the sun and moon, deities of sense organs, and organs of action) and from Rajasic Ahamkara, ten senses (Indriyas), five senses of perception, five organs of action, the faculties of intellect and Prana (life breath) are produced. -/- Bhagavata says that since these energies, elements, and faculties remained disassociated, they were combined to form a Cosmic Egg. The egg floats in the primal waters for a thousand years. Then God enters this Cosmic Egg and manifests himself as the Cosmic Purusha. He is the first nucleus, the God particle equivalent to the number (1) which is the embodiment of everything in the universe. The concept of creation and dissolution in Hinduism can be compared to the waves in an ocean that appear and disappear incessantly. The Manvantaras are such successive episodes of creation emerging from the Cosmic Person, the Manu who is embodied God-Consciousness, God himself. These episodes of creation are measured in Hinduism in terms of Manvantaras, the epochs of Manus. -/- Manu is the ‘First-Born’ (1) of God, the Cosmic Purusha from whom the world has originated. This Cosmic Person (Purusha) has been described as having fourteen biospheres (heavens) that are inhabited by various life forms in the order of evolution of consciousness. If we begin from the human biosphere (Bhuloka), there are ten astral biospheres that a man must transcend to attain liberation or Mukti from the cycle of births and deaths. -/- The number (1) produces the primary numbers up to (9) through the transmutation of the creational energies and qualities. The process can be related to the descent and cyclical evolution of (1) through ten spiritual stages, finally merging with the nondual (0). The number (10) marks the merger of (1) with (0). The Hindu worldview is that all life forms in an episode of creation must evolve to become one with the non-dual state (0) to attain liberation from the cycle of births and deaths in a cyclical process. -/- . (shrink)
In this paper, I examine three significant periods of the cosmological argument which exemplify the importance of contestation: first, Plato’s and Aristotle’s formulation of it, second, Philoponus’ own reactions and influence, third, the contemporary state of such discourses. Contestation has an inestimable role in philosophical development and reflection, as will be demonstrated through the examination of such periods.
An analysis of Scripture uncovers a new model of God’s election and predestination of souls, which fits under the umbrella of the Calvinist theologies, but where this model involves an answer to the long-standing question of why God chose some, rather than all. It will be explored how before souls were elected (or condemned), God looked at them and knew them in a pre-election state, which God used to predestine each soul in physical reality. This analysis reveals why it could (...) be no other way but where God only would choose some, rather than all souls during the physical embodiment stage of the soul, and the vexing centuries-old Calvinist question of why God elected some not all has an answer. (shrink)
We review the spiritual cosmology of the 20th-century Indian mystic and yogi Sri Aurobindo. Our aim is twofold. First to furnish a basic philosophical understanding of Aurobindo’s vision, and secondly, that of making a comparative analysis with present scientific knowledge that could furnish an alternative metaphysical interpretation of the physical world. The rationale of our study is to question whether the observation of the physical world from the standpoint of the mystic experience could suggest some new theoretical framework for the (...) metaphysical ontology of the world itself. Taking perspectives from the states of consciousness described by mystics may furnish us with a deeper understanding of the material and metaphysical character of physical categories such as matter, energy, force, space, time, and space-time. This is an introductory overview of Aurobindo’s relevance for physical sciences and the conceptual foundations of physics, with particular attention paid to quantum physics. (shrink)
This paper provides a new first cause argument by showing that atomism, i.e. the thesis that each composite object is composed of simple objects, together with causalism, understood in this paper as the thesis that every object is a cause or has a cause, logically imply the existence of a first cause if some additional general premises regarding the interplay between parthood, composition and causation are accepted. Thus it is shown that a commitment to atomism, causalism and the additional premises (...) result in a commitment to there being a first cause. (shrink)
After presenting the “first and more manifest way” of proving the existence of God by reason alone in Summa Theologiae Ia, 2, 3, Saint Thomas Aquinas continues this project by turning in the “Second Way” to what he somewhat enigmatically calls “the nature of the efficient cause.” The greatest obstacle to understanding his Second Way, though, is determining precisely what Aquinas means by “the nature of the efficient cause” and “an order of efficient causes,” and how the Second Way is (...) distinct from the First and Third Ways. This paper shows that instead of purporting to demonstrate God's existence as the cause of metaphysical being, as is commonly supposed, Aquinas is actually searching for the ultimate cause of immanent activity in rational beings. It argues for this reading both from textual evidence internal to the Second Way and in the First Way. (shrink)
Socratic dialogue written for use as an undergrad or highschool resource in the Philosophy of Religion. This dialogue covers the standard formulation and objections to Aquinas' Second Way. Unpublished at this time - to be updated and included in book (in progress).
Atheism Considered is a systematic presentation of challenges to the existence of a higher power. Rather than engage in polemic against a religious worldview, C.M. Lorkowski charitably refutes the classical arguments for the existence of god, pointing out flaws in their underlying reasoning and highlighting difficulties inherent to revealed sources. In place of a theistic worldview, he argues for adopting a naturalistic one, highlighting naturalism’s capacity to explain world phenomena and contribute to the sciences. Lorkowski demonstrates that replacing theism with (...) naturalism, contra popular assumptions, sacrifices nothing in terms of ethics or meaning. Instead, morality ultimately proves more important than religion and does not rely on it. Appropriate for classroom use, this book is meant to cultivate understanding, tolerance, and fruitful dialogue between believers and nonbelievers. (shrink)
This paper articulates a way to ground a relatively high prior probability for grand explanatory theories apart from an appeal to simplicity. I explore the possibility of enumerating the space of plausible grand theories of the universe by using the explanatory properties of possible views to limit the number of plausible theories. I motivate this alternative grounding by showing that Swinburne’s appeal to simplicity is problematic along several dimensions. I then argue that there are three plausible grand views—theism, atheism, and (...) axiarchism—which satisfy explanatory requirements for plausibility. Other possible views lack the explanatory virtue of these three theories. Consequently, this explanatory grounding provides a way of securing a nontrivial prior probability for theism, atheism, and axiarchism. An important upshot of my approach is that a modest amount of empirical evidence can bear significantly on the posterior probability of grand theories of the universe. (shrink)
I argue that the conjunction of (1) a moderate realist stance with respect to universals, (2) dispositionalism, and (3) a traditional view of the instantiation relation as two‐valued (i.e., the notion that all universals are either instantiated or uninstantiated) points to the truth of theism.
For naturalism, fed on recent cosmological speculations, mankind is in a position similar to that of a set of people living on a frozen lake, surrounded by cliffs over which there is no escape, yet knowing that little by little the ice is melting, and the inevitable day drawing near when the last film of it will disappear, and to be drowned ignominiously will be the human creature’s portion. The merrier the skating, the warmer and more sparkling the sun by (...) day, and the ruddier the bonfires at night, the more poignant the sadness with which one must take in the meaning of the total situation. —William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience1. (shrink)
This article explores Karl Rahner’s conception of the “Liturgy of the World” in light of the theme for the 2019 Annual Convention of the Catholic Theological Society of America, “Another World is Possible: Violence, Resistance and Transformation.” Employing Rahner’s hermeneutics of worship, violence can be conceived as a denial of this cosmic liturgy, transformation as conversion to it, and resistance as the stance opposing the denial. Resistance entails solidarity with all humanity in liturgical participation and in action for social justice. (...) Metz’s political-theological critique of Rahner, with assistance from Bruce Morrill’s analysis of Metz’s work for liturgical theology, and Rahner’s reference to Teilhard’s “Cosmic Mass,” taken today in light of contemporary cosmology with assistance from Roger Haight’s non-dualistic approach to models of God, are among the implications to be considered for engaging Rahner’s vision in ongoing efforts at liturgical renewal. (shrink)
Samuel Clarke (1675–1729) profoundly shaped early eighteenth-century European philosophy with an a priori demonstration of the existence of God and influential defenses of substance dualism and human freedom. Throughout his works, he defended absolute space, the passivity of matter, and constant divine activity in the world, which jointly provided a metaphysical basis for the quickly popularizing Newtonian thought.
Both individually and collectively, the five essays in this groups are brilliant. Each of the authors has worked with extraordinary care and success to represent my position, and they all succeed. The essays work to expound my thought in a progressive order. Bin Song's lays out my approach to comparison, setting it within the larger whole of my philosophy. David Rohr's explores in depth my epistemology and shows its relevance to my philosophy as a whole and also to its application (...) to Christian sermons. Michael Raposa's works through my specific claims about how "praying the ultimate" is its real meaning. Andrew Irvine's carries that thought through to religionless religion, asking: What if that is really... (shrink)
Panentheism, a frequently discussed view in recent theological debate, claims that the world is ‘in God’ but that God is ‘more than’ the world. Different theories of the structure of the world produce distinct panentheist views. According to the hunky structure, the world is composed of an infinite number of layers and lacks an ungrounded level. To depict this model, I employ the concepts of ‘grounding’ and ‘emergence.’ The outcome is that if the world is hunky and material reality emerges (...) from such a structure, the world can be in God, but the model of God the Creator is dismissed. (shrink)
I examine a tension between temporal and spatial conceptualization of the genesis of the cosmos to show how chronological characterization of ‘beginnings’ occludes ontological interpretation of our existential orientations, to help my audience distinguish symbolic expressions of wonder that the cosmos exists from explanations for it. I bring together resources from multiple intellectual and religious traditions to perform a philosophy of religions that goes beyond the narrowness, intellectualism, and insularity of institutionalized philosophy of religion. I turn to Ibn Rushd, Tillich, (...) Pamela Sue Anderson, and Sara Ahmed to expose problems of confusing symbols with concepts. I bring Aristotle, Nagarjuna, Maimonides, Kant, Wittgenstein, and Nasr together in conversation about the notion of a ‘beginning.’ Through this, I seek to shift questions of cosmic linearity to questions of spatial symbols of inclusivity and suggest that our orientation toward chronology distracts us from inclusive ontologies, inadvertently getting us stuck in imagistic representation of a closed cosmos rather than critical conceptualization of open symbols for an inclusive cosmos. (shrink)
Erasmus and Verhoef suggest that a promising response to the infinite God objection to the Kalām cosmological argument include showing that abstract objects do not exist; actually infinite knowledge is impossible; and redefining omniscience as : for any proposition p, if God consciously thinks about p, God will either accept p as true if and only if p is true, or accept p as false if and only if p is false. I argue that there is insufficient motivation for showing (...) and and that is problematic as a definition of omniscience. (shrink)
This book develops a novel argument which combines the Kalam with the Thomistic Cosmological Argument. It approaches an ongoing dispute concerning whether there is a First Cause of time from a radically new point of view, namely by demonstrating that there is such a First Cause without requiring the controversial arguments against concrete infinities and against traversing an actual infinite (although the book presents original defenses of these arguments as well). This book also develops a novel philosophical argument for the (...) Causal Principle, namely that ‘everything that begins to exist has a cause’, and offers a detailed discussion on whether a First Cause of time can be avoided by a causal loop. It also addresses epistemological issues related to the Cosmological Argument which have been relatively neglected by recent publications, and demonstrates (contra Hawking et al) the continual relevance and significance of philosophy for answering ultimate questions. -/- . (shrink)
Two different versions of the ending of the first additament to C. S. Peirce's 1908 article, "A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God," appear in the Collected Papers but were omitted from The Essential Peirce. In one, he linked the hypothesis of God's Reality to his entire theory of logic as semeiotic, claiming that proving the latter would also prove the former. In the other, he offered a final outline of his cosmology, in which the Reality of God as (...) Ens necessarium is indispensable to both the origin and order of our existing universe of Signs. Exploring these passages, as well as the unpublished manuscript drafts of the article, provides important insights into the key concepts of instinct and continuity within Peirce's comprehensive system of thought. (shrink)
The possible existence of extraterrestrials has provoked more than five centuries of theological speculation on how these beings, if they exist, relate to God. A certain stream of thought present in these debates argues that the eventual discovery of aliens would obligate human Christians to evangelize them for the salvation of their souls. Current research into humanity's prehistory suggests that, if this ever actually happens, it will have been partially facilitated by humanity's remarkable capacity for interspecies empathy—an ability that seems (...) to be genetic in nature and which stems from our species' ancient experience with dogs. In light of the above, recommendations are made concerning future potential exomissionary screening criteria and a concluding section touches on the role of animals in God's work. (shrink)
Neoplatonism is alive and well today. It expresses itself in New Thought and the mind-cure movements derived from it. However, to avoid many ancient errors, Neoplatonism needs to be modernized. The One is just the simple origin from which all complex things evolve. The Good, which is not the One, is the best of all possible propositions. A cosmological argument is given for the One and an ontological argument for the Good. The presence of the Good in every thing is (...) Spirit. Spirit sits in the logical center of every body; it is surrounded by the regulatory forms of that body. Striving for the Good, Spirit seeks to correct the errors in its surrounding forms. To correct the errors in biological texts, modern Neoplatonists turn to the experimental method. This Neoplatonism is pantheistic not because of some theoretical definition of God but rather because of its practical focus on the shaping of Spirit. (shrink)
"Jewish Nothing-elsism" is the school of thought according to which there is nothing else besides God. This school is sometimes and erroneously interpreted as pantheistic or acosmic. In this paper I argue that Jewish Nothing-elsism is better interpreted as a form of “panentheistic priority holism”, and still better interpreted as a form of “idealistic priority monism”. On this final interpretation, Jewish Nothing-elsism is neither pantheist, panentheist, nor acosmic. Jewish Nothing-elsism is Hassidic idealism, and nothing else. Moreover, I argue that Jewish (...) Nothing-elsism follows from some very basic assumptions common to almost every theist. All theists should be Nothing-elsers. (shrink)
Despite its philosophical interest, Susanna Newcome’s Enquiry Into the Evidence of the Christian Religion (1728, revised 1732) has received little attention from commentators. This paper seeks to redress this oversight by offering a reconstruction of Newcome’s innovative argument for God’s existence. Newcome employs a cosmological argument that differs from Thomist and kalām version of the argument. Specifically, Newcome challenges that idea that the causal chains observed in nature can exist independently. She does this through an appeal to findings from Newtonian (...) natural philosophy that suggest that the universe has entropic tendencies. This suggests that the continued operations of nature are dependent on a cause external to the universe. Newcome identifies this external cause with God. Various strengths and weaknesses of Newcome’s argument are discussed and an attempt is made to situate the argument within her broader epistemic framework and the larger context of Newtonian physico-theology. The paper also explores what is known of Newcome’s biography and intellectual milieu. (shrink)
For well over a century the dominant narrative covering the major thinkers and themes of early modern British philosophy has been that of “British Empiricism”, within which the great triumvirate of Locke-Berkeley-Hume are taken to be the dominant figures. Although it is now common to question this schema as a way of analyzing and understanding the period in question, it continues to command considerable authority and acceptance. (One likely reason for this is that no credible or plausible alternatives structures or (...) schemas of analysis have suggested themselves.) Be this as it may, the analysis of the rival systems of Clarke, Berkeley and Hume makes clear that this narrative, however deeply entrenched it may be, is wholly misleading and both distorts and obscures key themes and figures in the period in question. (shrink)
Modern scientific cosmology pushes the boundaries of knowledge and the knowable. This is prompting questions on the nature of scientific knowledge, and the emergence of the new field “Philosophy of Cosmology.” One central issue is what defines a “good” model. I discuss how “good” models are conventionally chosen, and how those methods operate in data-sparse situations: enabling the implicit introduction of value judgments, which can determine inference and lead to inferential polarization, e.g., on the question of ultimate explanation. Additional dimensions (...) for comparing models are needed. A three-legged comparison is proposed: evidence, elegance and beneficence. This explicitly considers the categories of criteria that are always at least implicitly used. A tentative path to an implementation of the proposed model comparison framework is presented. This extends the Bayesian statistical framework. Model comparison methodology is fertile ground for dialogue between the sciences and the humanities. The proposed framework might facilitate such a dialogue. (shrink)
Without doubt, St Thomas Aquinas was the greatest of the medieval philosophers. Aquinas was a prolific writer and he made contributions to virtually every area of Philosophy and Theology. His account of the existence of God is perhaps the best known aspect of his work. This is especially true of the celebrated five arguments he adduced in demonstration of the existence of God. In exploring Aquinas’ Five ways, which some commentators regard as Aquinas’ substantive contribution to Philosophy of religion, our (...) contention is that they demonstrate the possibilities as well as the limits of natural theology, so far as while Aquinas does not deny that natural reason can establish the existence of God he nonetheless maintains that there are aspects of God’s nature that can be known only through the means of divine revelation. Consequently unless we take into account the double emphasis on the possibilities and limits of natural theology, we are sure underestimate the contemporary relevance of Aquinas’ Five ways. -/- . (shrink)
Commentators almost universally agree that Locke denies the possibility of thinking matter in Book IV Chapter 10 of the Essay. Further, they argue that Locke must do this in order for his proof of God’s existence in the chapter to be successful. This paper disputes these claims and develops an interpretation according to which Locke allows for the possibility that a system of matter could think (even prior to any act of superaddition on God’s part). In addition, the paper argues (...) that this does not destroy Locke’s argument in the chapter, instead it helps to illuminate the nature of it. The paper proceeds in two main stages. First, Locke denies that matter can produce thought. A distinction between two senses of “production” shows that this claim is compatible with the existence of thinking matter. Second, Locke denies that God could be a system of randomly moving particles. Most commentators take this to mean that such a system could not think. But Locke is better interpreted as denying that such a system could have the wisdom and knowledge of God. (shrink)
In reply to certain cosmological arguments for theism, critics regularly argue that the causal principle ex nihilo nihil fit may be false. Various theistic counter-replies to this challenge have emerged. One type of strategy is to double down on ex nihilo nihil fit. Another, very different strategy of counter-reply is to grant for the sake of argument that the principle is false, while maintaining that sound cosmological arguments can be formulated even with this concession in place. Notably, one can employ (...) a weaker opening premise formulated in modal terms, proceeding for instance from the proposition that for any contingent object coming into existence it is at least possible that it have a cause. My aim here is to try out a related strategy for weakening the relevant opening premise. Granting that it is possible for a contingent object to come into existence out of nothing without a cause, I proceed from the extremely modest claim that the obtaining of exceptionless longstanding contingent regularities demands an explanation. As such, the contingent regularity that empirically accessible macro-level contingent objects do not pop into existence causelessly demands explanation. And as it turns out, that explanation will have to be in terms of an object or objects possessed of at least some of the traditional divine attributes. (shrink)
This article studies the issue of natural knowledge of God in the Bible verses which speak most explicitly about it: Romans 1,18-32. 'Natural knowledge' means here knowledge accessible to all men by virtue of their innate forces, possible even for those who have not partaken in the biblical revelalion. St. Paul's passage is compared with Wisdom 13-15, which shares many doctrinal points with it. The Pauline discourse, though inserted into a theological reasoning within the perspective of faith, represents a truly (...) philosophical discussion for the social context in which it occurs. St. Paul presents his approach to God's reality with rational consistence, by emphasizing the central role of human freedom in this itinerary. (shrink)
In this article, I discuss Leibniz's interpretation of the cosmological argument for the existence of God. In particular, I consider whether Leibniz's position on this point was developed partly in reference to Spinoza's position. First, I analyze Leibniz's annotations from 1676 on Spinoza's Letter 12. The traditional cosmological argument, as found in Avicenna and Saint Thomas for example, relies on the Aristotelian assumption that an actual infinite is impossible and on the idea that there can be no effect without a (...) cause. From these premises, the argument concludes that God must be the uncaused first cause of all things. In Letter 12, Spinoza follows Chasdai Crescas and rejects this proof. Instead, he develops a variant of the cosmological argument which depicts God as the self-caused ground of all causes or things. In his annotations, Leibniz agrees with Spinoza about the inadequacy of the traditional argument, but remains ambiguous as to Spinoza's conception of God as a self-caused being. Next, I turn to Leibniz's comments from 1678 on Spinoza's Ethics. Here, Leibniz develops an original interpretation of the cosmological argument based entirely on the consideration of conceptual relations. Leibniz's argument depicts God as an uncaused being conceived through itself which is the condition of conceivability of all things. I argue that Leibniz developed this argument in deliberate opposition to Spinoza's conception of God as the self-caused ground of all causes or things. (shrink)
In this book Timothy O’Connor combines an investigation of modal epistemology with a fresh look at the traditional contingency version of the cosmological argument. The connection between the two parts is that he defends the practice of hypothesizing necessities for explanatory purposes, resisting those accounts that link possibility too closely to conceivability. This provides the context in which he asks the existence question, ‘Why do the particular contingent objects there are exist and undergo the events they do?’. Wisely avoiding the (...) Principle of Sufficient Reason he argues that the existence question is answered by, and only by, positing a necessary being that is a se in the sense of not depending on any other being.Another important feature of O’Connor's treatment is that he does not accept the difficult scholastic doctrine of divine simplicity, instead relying on the weaker thesis that the essential divine attributes are mutually entailing. Yet again he resists the thesis of the immutability of God, allowing that a necessary being can have accidental attributes and hence can change by acquiring knowledge of the free acts and/or random events that occur. In addition he combines the cosmological argument with the argument from fine-tuning so that the latter is used to support the thesis that the …. (shrink)
The stated aim of this investigation is to clarify and critically examine the philosophical concepts inherent in the cosmological argument: he aspires to investigate the argument rather than to either refute critics or support defenders. He treats both the thirteenth century versions of Aquinas and Duns Scotus and the eighteenth century versions developed by Samuel Clarke and Leibniz, but attaches greater importance and spends more time with the latter, finding them both more sophisticated and more fruitful for investigation. The eighteenth (...) century forms make no use of "what many philosophers would regard as a strange and perhaps nonexistent kind of causal series" and, according to the author, are more relevant because modern objections, e.g. those of Hume and Russell, aim at the eighteenth century forms. (shrink)
The third volume of The History of European Philosophy in the Fifteenth Century deals with the question of "being." In the closing paragraph, Stefan Swiezawski remarks: "Studies on the transformation and distortion of St. Thomas's doctrine on being, especially in regard to its existential element, are fundamentally important for understanding the factual historical development of Thomism as well as for understanding modern Christian thought. They are also of utmost importance for understanding the mainspring and resultant trends which have shaped the (...) direction of philosophical reflection in Europe during the last several centuries". The fourth volume of his opus magnum under review here, touches upon the problematics of God. It is this volume which serves as the best example of all those deviations and distortions which come from a mistreatment of the philosophy of being. Moreover, fifteenth century philosophy, in the disguise of metaphysics, can be seen as "a century of theology which in a more differentiated form and restless way" professed and used "pluralism of the conception of theology as a science". (shrink)
The title of this volume is somewhat misleading. Though the author begins his argument with a cursory account of medieval Islamic thought and of dialectical theology or kaläm, his subsequent exposition of the way three medieval thinkers adapted the basic features of kaläm tenets to their own arguments on behalf of God's existence is far less detailed or nuanced than his investigation of the shortcomings in nineteenth and twentieth century Western materialist explanations of the universe grounded in modern mathematics and (...) physics. Similarly misleading are the titles of the two appendices, for these are really detailed critiques of two bodies of literature the author repudiates lest his contention that "the universe had a beginning because an actual infinite cannot be formed by successive addition" be infirmed. Kaläm receives such a prominent billing here only because that contention and the reasoning behind it defended throughout this volume can be derived from the writings of certain authors associated with the movement. In other words, this book is less a scholarly investigation of kaläm doctrines than an attempt to identify a general set of arguments purporting to prove God's existence embraced by some of those who are traditionally called mutakallimün or dialectical theologians and to defend the soundness of those arguments against the skepticism of modern science. (shrink)
In George Nakhnikian’s interesting and stimulating paper, “Quantum Cosmology, Theistic Philosophical Cosmology, and the Existence Question” (present issue) he addresses the fundamental issue of whether it is metaphysically possible or justifiable to believe that our universe began to exist without a cause, divine or otherwise. His conclusion is negative, and he argues that, contrary to my views, quantum cosmology is consistent with theism. In this paper, I shall evaluate Nakhnikian’s arguments.
Quentin Smith has argued that quantum-cosmological theory is incompatible with theism. The two claims that Smith argues render theism inconsistent with Hawking’s theory are that of the initial creation of the universe by God and His continued conservation of it. His primary argument is that divine decision and Hawking’s wave function entail contradictory probabilities that the universe begin to exist and continue to evolve in a certain way. I attempt to refute the argument by providing a schema that accommodates probabilities (...) conditioned on divine decision as well as those conditioned on the wave function with respect to these two issues. (shrink)