About this topic
Summary This category is about probabilistic issues that arise in philosophical examinations of religion. Examples include Pascal's wager, the fining tuning argument, Hume's argument against miracles, and the evidential problem of evil. Another topic of recent interest is the relationship between credences (i.e. subjective probabilities) and faith, religious disagreement, and other topics in religious epistemology. 
Key works Chandler & Harrison 2012 is collection of key articles on this topic.
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55 found
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Probability in the Philosophy of Religion, Misc
  1. The Implausibility and Low Explanatory Power of the Resurrection Hypothesis—With a Rejoinder to Stephen T. Davis.Robert Greg Cavin & Carlos A. Colombetti - 2020 - Socio-Historical Examination of Religion and Ministry 2 (1):37-94.
    We respond to Stephen T. Davis’ criticism of our earlier essay, “Assessing the Resurrection Hypothesis.” We argue that the Standard Model of physics is relevant and decisive in establishing the implausibility and low explanatory power of the Resurrection hypothesis. We also argue that the laws of physics have entailments regarding God and the supernatural and, against Alvin Plantinga, that these same laws lack the proviso “no agent supernaturally interferes.” Finally, we offer Bayesian arguments for the Legend hypothesis and against the (...)
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  2. Is the God Hypothesis Improbable? A Response to Dawkins.Logan Paul Gage - 2020 - In Kevin Vallier & Joshua Rasmussen (eds.), A New Theist Response to the New Atheists. New York: Routledge. pp. 59-76.
    In this chapter, Logan Paul Gage examines the only real attempt to disprove God’s existence by a New Atheist: Richard Dawkins’s “Ultimate 747 Gambit.” Central to Dawkins’s argument is the claim that God is more complex than what he is invoked to explain. Gage evaluates this claim using the main extant notions of simplicity in the literature. Gage concludes that on no reading does this claim survive scrutiny. Along the way, Dawkins claims that there are no good positive arguments for (...)
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  3. Skeptical Theism and Morriston’s Humean Argument From Evil.Timothy Perrine - 2019 - Sophia 58 (2):115-135.
    There’s a growing sense among philosophers of religion that Humean arguments from evil are some of the most formidable arguments against theism, and skeptical theism fails to undermine those arguments because they fail to make the inferences skeptical theists criticize. In line with this trend, Wes Morriston has recently formulated a Humean argument from evil, and his chief defense of it is that skeptical theism is irrelevant to it. Here I argue that skeptical theism is relevant to Humean arguments. To (...)
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  4. Assessing the Resurrection Hypothesis: Problems with Craig's Inference to the Best Explanation.Robert Greg Cavin & Carlos A. Colombetti - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 11 (2):205-228.
    The hypothesis that God supernaturally raised Jesus from the dead is argued by William Lane Craig to be the best explanation for the empty tomb and postmortem appearances of Jesus because it satisfies seven criteria of adequacy better than rival naturalistic hypotheses. We identify problems with Craig’s criteria-based approach and show, most significantly, that the Resurrection hypothesis fails to fulfill any but the first of his criteria—especially explanatory scope and plausibility.
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  5. Salvaging Pascal’s Wager.Elizabeth Jackson & Andrew Rogers - 2019 - Philosophia Christi 21 (1):59-84.
    Many think that Pascal’s Wager is a hopeless failure. A primary reason for this is because a number of challenging objections have been raised to the wager, including the “many gods” objection and the “mixed strategy” objection. We argue that both objections are formal, but not substantive, problems for the wager, and that they both fail for the same reason. We then respond to additional objections to the wager. We show how a version of Pascalian reasoning succeeds, giving us a (...)
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  6. God and the Bayesian Conception of Evidence.David Manley - forthcoming - Religious Studies.
    Contemporary arguments for and against the existence of God are often formulated within a broadly Bayesian framework. Arguments of this sort focus on a specific feature of the world that is taken to provide probabilistic evidence for or against the existence of God: the existence of life in a ‘fine-tuned’ universe, the magnitude of suffering, divine hiddenness, etc. In each case, the idea is that things were more likely to be this way if God existed than if God did not (...)
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  7. On the Plausibility of the Papacy: Scaling the Walls of Contemporary Criticisms.Joseph E. Blado - forthcoming - Heythrop Journal.
    Recently, there has been a resurgence of scholarly criticisms regarding the plausibility of the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Papacy. Broadly speaking, these problems include scholarly criticisms of the scriptural passages which Roman Catholic theologians claim support the papacy, historical discrepancies regarding apostolic succession from the Apostle Peter, and a priori intuitions about the moral nature of those who attain Papal Status. In this paper, I respond to these objections by utilizing Swinburne’s C-inductive strategy (Bayesian Confirmation Theory) – found in (...)
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  8. What Are the Odds That Everyone is Depraved?Scott Hill - 2020 - American Philosophical Quarterly 57 (3):299-308.
    Why does God allow evil? One hypothesis is that God desires the existence and activity of free creatures but He was unable to create a world with such creatures and such activity without also allowing evil. If Molinism is true, what probability should be assigned to this hypothesis? Some philosophers claim that a low probability should be assigned because there are an infinite number of possible people and because we have no reason to suppose that such creatures will choose one (...)
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  9. Belief, Credence, and Faith.Elizabeth Jackson - 2019 - Religious Studies 55 (2):153-168.
    In this article, I argue that faith’s going beyond the evidence need not compromise faith’s epistemic rationality. First, I explain how some of the recent literature on belief and credence points to a distinction between what I call B-evidence and C-evidence. Then, I apply this distinction to rational faith. I argue that if faith is more sensitive to B-evidence than to C-evidence, faith can go beyond the evidence and still be epistemically rational.
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  10. "Utilité de la théologie naturelle pour la connaissance de Dieu aujourd’hui" [Usefulness of Natural Theology for God's Knowledge Today].Philippe Gagnon - 2017 - Connaître : Cahiers de l'Association Foi Et Culture Scientifique (48):83-92.
    In this public debate with Philippe Deterre (research director in immunology at the CNRS) – held at l'Enclos Rey in Paris' 15th district during the biennial Conference of the Réseau Blaise Pascal in March 2017 –, I defended the usefulness of natural theology. I first clarify theology's nature and understanding, then I speak about a tradition that upheld the public and exterior knowledge of God, and make an effort to show the presence of a theme reminiscent of natural theology behind (...)
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  11. Divine Hiddenness: Defeated Evidence.Charity Anderson - 2017 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 81:119-132.
    This paper challenges a common assumption in the literature concerning the problem of divine hiddenness, namely, that the following are inconsistent: God's making available adequate evidence for belief that he exists and the existence of non-culpable nonbelievers. It draws on the notions of defeated evidence and glimpses to depict the complexity of our evidential situation with respect to God's existence.
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  12. Fine-Tuning Fine-Tuning.John Hawthorne & Yoaav Isaacs - 2018 - In Matthew A. Benton, John Hawthorne & Dani Rabinowitz (eds.), Knowledge, Belief, and God: New Insights in Religious Epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 136-168.
  13. A Theological Critique of the Fine-Tuning Argument.Hans Halvorson - 2018 - In Matthew A. Benton, John Hawthorne & Dani Rabinowitz (eds.), Knowledge, Belief, and God: New Insights in Religious Epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 122-135.
    According to the premises of the fine-tuning argument, most nomologically possible universes lack intelligent life; and the fact that ours has intelligent life is best explained by supposing it was created. However, if our universe was created, then the creator chose the laws of nature, and hence chose in favor of lifeless universes. In other words, the fine-tuning argument shows that God prefers universes without intelligent life; and the fact that our universe has intelligent life provides no new evidence for (...)
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  14. What Can God Explain?: Gerard J. Hughes.Gerard J. Hughes - 2011 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 68:51-65.
    In this paper, I shall be arguing for what I hope is a modern version of a very traditional view, which is that God can explain two very basic phenomena: the first is the existence of the universe as we know it: the second is the particular way in which the universe is organised. I shall also, though briefly, try to counter the view that the totally unwelcome features of our universe make it impossible to reconcile the universe as it (...)
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  15. God and Design: The Teleological Argument and Modern Science. [REVIEW]David A. Pailin - 2004 - Religious Studies 40 (3):386-388.
  16. Mellor's ‘Bridge–Hand’ Argument: B. L. HEBBLETHWAITE.B. L. Hebblethwaite - 1986 - Religious Studies 22 (3-4):473-479.
    In his article ‘God and Probability’, 1 Hugh Mellor introduced the notion of the ‘bridge-hand fallacy’, allegedly committed by those who think they can appeal to probabilities in arguments for design. I should like to give this notion another airing, partly because of its recent criticism in two interesting books - R. G. Swinburne' The Existence of God and D. J. Bartholomew's God of Chance - and partly because it seems worth asking how it fares in relation to the most (...)
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  17. Is Hume Really a Reductivist?Michael Welbourne - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 33 (2):407-423.
    Coady misrepresents Hume as a reductivist about testimony. Hume occasionally writes carelessly as if what goes for beliefs based on induction will also go for beliefs obtained from testimony. But, in fact, he has no theory of testimony at all, though in his more considered remarks he rightly thinks, as does Reid, that the natural response to a bit of testimony is simply to accept the information which it contains. The sense in which we owe the beliefs we get from (...)
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  18. Evidence, Miracles, and the Existence of Jesus: Comments on Stephen Law.Robert Greg Cavin & Carlos A. Colombetti - 2014 - Faith and Philosophy 31 (2):204-216.
    We use Bayesian tools to assess Law’s skeptical argument against the historicity of Jesus. We clarify and endorse his sub-argument for the conclusion that there is good reason to be skeptical about the miracle claims of the New Testament. However, we dispute Law’s contamination principle that he claims entails that we should be skeptical about the existence of Jesus. There are problems with Law’s defense of his principle, and we show, more importantly, that it is not supported by Bayesian considerations. (...)
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  19. Hume and Newton: The Philosophical Discussion of a Scientific Paradigm.Jaime de Salas - 1991 - Philosophy and Theology 6 (1):21-38.
    I argue that, while Hume’s approach to Newton is sometimes critical and sometimes not, Hume’s position with regard to newtonian method is coherent overall. Rather than speaking of two Humes, from an humean perspective we should rather speak of two Newtons: the positivist and the theologian.
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  20. Jesuit Civil Wars: Theology, Politics and Government Under Tirso González. [REVIEW]Thomas McCoog - 2013 - Heythrop Journal 54 (3):517-518.
  21. One Book, the Whole Universe: Plato’s Timaeus Today, Eds. Richard D. Mohr and Barbara M. Sattler. [REVIEW]Jason W. Carter - 2012 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 86 (1):170-173.
  22. Is Hume's Critique of Induction Self‐Defeating?Charles Cassini - 2013 - Heythrop Journal 60 (2).
  23. Probability and Evolution. Why the Probability Argument of Creationists is Wrong.Josef Schurz - 2007 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 38 (1):163-165.
    Evolution is a time process. It proceeds in steps of definite length. The probability of each step is relatively high, so self organization of complex systems will be possible in finite time. Prerequisite for such a process is a selection rule, which certainly exists in evolution. Therefore, it would be wrong to calculate the probability of the formation of a complex system solely on the basis of the number of its components and as a momentary event.
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  24. Is Christianity Probable? Swinburne's Apologetic Programme.William Hasker - 2002 - Religious Studies 38 (3):253-264.
    Richard Swinburne's tetralogy on Christian doctrine, together with his earlier trilogy on the philosophy of theism, is one of the most important apologetic projects of recent times. This paper focuses on some difficulties with this project that stem from Swinburne's use of confirmation theory. Arguably, the problem of dwindling probabilities, pointed out by Plantinga, has not been solved. The paper is principally focused, however, on the ways in which Swinburne's confirmation theory contributes to his comparative neglect of the personal, existential (...)
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  25. Miracles; An Exercise in Logical Mapwork.Ian T. Ramsey - 1954 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 4 (16):349-350.
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  26. Fine Tuning and the Varieties of Naturalism.Gregory E. Ganssle - 2011 - Religious Studies 47 (1):59-71.
    Naturalism has been characterized both as a claim about what exists and as a commitment to a certain methodology . The fine-tuning argument for God's existence presents a significant challenge to each way of characterizing naturalism. The claim naturalist faces the fact that the best response to the fine-tuning argument requires the existence of many universes that are not clearly naturalistic themselves. Method naturalism faces the challenge that it does not have the resources to ground the preference of the many-world (...)
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  27. Is the No-Minimum Claim True? Reply to Cullison: Jeff Jordan.Jeff Jordan - 2011 - Religious Studies 47 (1):125-127.
    Is the no-minimum claim true? I have argued that it is not. Andrew Cullison contends that my argument fails, since human sentience is variable; while Michael Schrynemakers has contended that the failure is my neglect of vagueness. Both, I argue, are wrong.
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  28. THOMAS, E. E. -The Non-Rational Character of Faith. [REVIEW]J. Laird - 1926 - Mind 35:394.
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  29. William Wood: Blaise Pascal on Duplicity, Sin, and the Fall: The Secret Instinct: Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013, Viii + 226 Pages, $125.00.Jeff Jordan - 2014 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 76 (3):331-334.
    William Wood’s study, Blaise Pascal on duplicity, sin, and the fall, is an in-depth exploration of Pascal’s views of sin, human fallenness, and self-deception. While Wood is a tutorial fellow in Theology at Oriel College, Oxford University, his book engages work in analytic philosophy, as well as historical theology. Concisely put, according to Pascal, sin is a kind of idolatry, with some created thing replacing God as the sinner’s highest good. This replacement involves a turning away from the truth, as (...)
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  30. The Decision of Faith: Can Christian Beliefs Be Freely Chosen?Kevin Kinghorn - 2005 - T & T Clark.
    Christian theologians have historically described a 'saving faith in God' as containing a fundamental element of 'belief'. However, philosophers present strong arguments exist that we are not capable of freely deciding which beliefs we will hold. Rather, we simply find ourselves believing things as the evidence before us seems to dictate. So, if belief is indeed involuntary, and if certain beliefs are requisite for Christian faith, then how can the matter of one's salvation rest on whether one has freely put (...)
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  31. Is Petitionary Prayer Superfluous?Isaac Choi - 2016 - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion 7:32-62.
    Why would God institute the practice of efficacious petitionary prayer? Why would God not simply give us what we need before we ask? I examine recently proposed solutions to this puzzle and argue that they are inadequate to explain why an omniscient and perfectly good God would act differently in response to prayer. I propose that God has reasons to not always maximize a creature’s good, even in a sinless world, and that petitionary prayer functions as a means to reward (...)
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  32. Evil and Evidence.Matthew A. Benton, John Hawthorne & Yoaav Isaacs - 2016 - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion 7:1-31.
    The problem of evil is the most prominent argument against the existence of God. Skeptical theists contend that it is not a good argument. Their reasons for this contention vary widely, involving such notions as CORNEA, epistemic appearances, 'gratuitous' evils, 'levering' evidence, and the representativeness of goods. We aim to dispel some confusions about these notions, in particular by clarifying their roles within a probabilistic epistemology. In addition, we develop new responses to the problem of evil from both the phenomenal (...)
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  33. Search, Rest, and Grace in Pascal.Jennifer L. Soerensen - 2014 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 76 (1):19-40.
    For Pascal, how are human beings related, or how do they relate themselves, to the summum bonum in this life? In what sense do they share in it, and how do they come to share in it? These are questions that emerge in many ways in Pascal’s writing, significantly in his concept of repos. To answer these questions, especially by elucidating what repos is for human beings in this life, I would like to begin with Graeme Hunter’s “Motion and Rest (...)
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  34. The Believing Primate.E. J. Lowe - 2012 - Faith and Philosophy 29 (2):243-247.
  35. The No-Minimum Argument, Satisficing, and No-Best-World: A Reply to Jeff Jordan.Chris Dragos - 2013 - Religious Studies 49 (3):421-429.
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  36. Zu Bolzanos Wahrscheinlichkeitslehre.Georg J. W. Dorn - 1987 - Philosophia Naturalis 24 (4):423–441.
    Bolzano hat seine Wahrscheinlichkeitslehre in 15 Punkten im § 14 des zweiten Teils seiner Religionswissenschaft sowie in 20 Punkten im § 161 des zweiten Bandes seiner Wissenschaftslehre niedergelegt. (Ich verweise auf die Religionswissenschaft mit 'RW II', auf die Wissenschaftslehre mit 'WL II'.) In der RW II (vgl. p. 37) ist seine Wahrscheinlichkeitslehre eingebettet in seine Ausführungen "Über die Natur der historischen Erkenntniß, besonders in Hinsicht auf Wunder", und die Lehrsätze, die er dort zusammenstellt, dienen dem ausdrücklichen Zweck, mit mathematischem Rüstzeug (...)
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  37. Probability in the Philosophy of Religion.Jake Chandler & Victoria S. Harrison (eds.) - 2012 - Oxford University Press.
    Probability theory promises to deliver an exact and unified foundation for inquiry in epistemology and philosophy of science. But philosophy of religion is also fertile ground for the application of probabilistic thinking. This volume presents original contributions from twelve contemporary researchers, both established and emerging, to offer a representative sample of the work currently being carried out in this potentially rich field of inquiry. Grouped into five parts, the chapters span a broad range of traditional issues in religious epistemology. The (...)
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  38. Believing in God.Robin Attfield - 1972 - Sophia 11 (2):1-4.
  39. Learning Not to Be Naïve: A Comment on the Exchange Between Perrine/Wykstra and Draper.Lara Buchak - 2014 - In Trent Dougherty & Justin McBrayer (eds.), Skeptical Theism: New Essays. Oxford University Press.
    Does postulating skeptical theism undermine the claim that evil strongly confirms atheism over theism? According to Perrine and Wykstra, it does undermine the claim, because evil is no more likely on atheism than on skeptical theism. According to Draper, it does not undermine the claim, because evil is much more likely on atheism than on theism in general. I show that the probability facts alone do not resolve their disagreement, which ultimately rests on which updating procedure – conditionalizing or updating (...)
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  40. Faith as a Mustard Seed.Dale Jacquette - 2012 - Forum Philosophicum: International Journal for Philosophy 17 (2):141-173.
  41. Theism and Christianity.Steven M. Duncan - manuscript
    In this essay, I investigate the implications for the discussion of theism in philosophy of religion for the beliefs of ordinary Christians and conclude that, in light of its historical development, those implications are minimal.
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  42. Can It Be Rational to Have Faith?Lara Buchak - 2012 - In Jake Chandler & Victoria Harrison (eds.), Probability in the Philosophy of Religion. Oxford University Press. pp. 225.
    This paper provides an account of what it is to have faith in a proposition p, in both religious and mundane contexts. It is argued that faith in p doesn’t require adopting a degree of belief that isn’t supported by one’s evidence but rather it requires terminating one’s search for further evidence and acting on the supposition that p. It is then shown, by responding to a formal result due to I.J. Good, that doing so can be rational in a (...)
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  43. Rational Faith and Justified Belief.Lara Buchak - 2014 - In Timothy O'Connor & Laura Frances Callahan (eds.), Religious Faith and Intellectual Virtue. Oxford University Press. pp. 49-73.
    In “Can it be rational to have faith?”, it was argued that to have faith in some proposition consists, roughly speaking, in stopping one’s search for evidence and committing to act on that proposition without further evidence. That paper also outlined when and why stopping the search for evidence and acting is rationally required. Because the framework of that paper was that of formal decision theory, it primarily considered the relationship between faith and degrees of belief, rather than between faith (...)
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  44. God, Mind, and Logical Space: A Revisionary Approach to Divinity.István Aranyosi - 2013 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
    In God, Mind and Logical Space István Aranyosi takes the reader on a journey for the mind by revisiting the fundamental questions and the everlasting debates in philosophy of religion, ontology, and the philosophy of mind. The first part deals with issues in ontology, and the author puts forward a radical view according to which all thinkable objects and states of affairs have an equal claim to existence in a way that renders existence a relative notion. In the second part (...)
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  45. Multiple Universes and the Surprisingness of Life: A Response to Roger White's Conclusions on Design Arguments.Kevin Kinghorn - 2005 - Philosophia Christi 7 (2):483 - 490.
    In his essay, "Fine-Tuning and Multiple Universes", Roger White examines the extent to which a multiple-universe hypothesis lessens the ’surprisingness’ that our universe should be life-sustaining. White offers two main conclusions. His first conclusion -- that the existence of our world is not itself evidence for the existence of multiple universes -- is sound. However, his second conclusion is that, on the hypothesis that multiple universes exist, the further hypothesis of an intelligent designer does not lesson the surprisingness that our (...)
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  46. Marucci, Franco. The Fine Delight That Fathers Thought: Rhetoric and Medievalism in Gerard Manley Hopkins.Joseph W. Koterski - 1996 - Review of Metaphysics 50 (1):170-171.
    The poetic joy voiced in this book's title reflects the hope in God of a poet who sacrificed his art not long after his conversion, but then received back the use of his native talents with even deeper inspiration. As a young Jesuit, Gerard Manley Hopkins offered up the use of his creative abilities in frustrating silence as part of his quest to make a complete donation of himself to God. Only years later did a well-attuned alertness to the stirrings (...)
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  47. Kant and Fine Art: An Essay on Kant and the Philosophy of Fine Art and Culture.Robert E. Wood - 1991 - Review of Metaphysics 44 (4):846-848.
    This is a richly suggestive book but, like Immanuel Kant's own work, it is not easy to bring into focus. Its basic argument is "that aesthetic necessity is justified through the relation of fine art to morality" as a practical relation between subjects and not simply on epistemological grounds. The work has the distinctive merit of drawing heavily upon the total corpus of Kant's works, especially the more neglected works collected in English in On History which deal with the development (...)
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  48. God and Probability.D. H. Mellor - 1969 - Religious Studies 5 (2):223 - 234.
    My object in this paper is to consider what relevance, if any, current analyses of probability have to problems of religious belief. There is no doubt that words such as ‘probable’ are used in this context; what is doubtful is that this use can be analysed as other major uses of such words can. I shall conclude that this use cannot be so analysed and hence, given the preponderance of the other uses that can, that it is misleading.
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  49. God and Probability.R. L. Sturch - 1972 - Religious Studies 8 (4):351 - 354.
    Mr D. H. Mellor, in his article of this title in Religious Studies, Vol. 5 (December 1969), distinguishes three senses of words such as ‘probable’ which might be used in a religious context, especially in that of attempted theistic proofs: statistical, subjective, and inductive probability. In each case he concludes that it is misleading to use these words in such contexts at all. With his discussion of the second I do not wish to quarrel; but there seem to me to (...)
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  50. Bayes, God, and the Multiverse.Richard Swinburne - forthcoming - Philosophical Explorations.
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