Modal basics -- Some solutions -- Theist solutions -- The ontology of possibility -- Modal truthmakers -- Modality and the divine nature -- Deity as essential -- Against deity theories -- The role of deity -- The biggest bang -- Divine concepts -- Concepts, syntax, and actualism -- Modality: basic notions -- The genesis of secular modality -- Modal reality -- Essences -- Non-secular modalities -- Theism and modal semantics -- Freedom, preference, and cost -- Explaining modal status -- Explaining (...) the necessary -- Against theistic platonism -- Worlds and the existence of God. (shrink)
I display the historical roots of perfect being theology in Greco-Roman philosophy, and the distinctive reasons for Christians to take up a version of this project. I also rebut a recent argument that perfect-being reasoning should lead one to atheism.
Latin models of the Trinity begin from the existence of one God, and try to explain how one God can be three Persons. I offer an account of this based on an analogy with time-travel. A time-traveler returning to the same point in time repeatedly might have three successive events in his/her life occurring at that one location in public time. So too, God’s life might be such that three distinct parts of His life are always occurring at once, though (...) without any succession between them, and this might give God the triune structure Christian theology believes He has. (shrink)
William Rowe and others argue that if ours is a possible world than which there is a better, it follows that God does not exist. If this is correct, then if there is no best possible world, it is not so much as possible that God exist. I reject the key premise of Rowe's argument. The key to seeing that it is false, I suggest, is seeing that God is subject to something fairly called moral luck. In this first part (...) of the article, I set up Rowe's argument, indicate my strategy, introduce the notion of moral luck and show how it bears on Rowe's claims. (shrink)
Before Duns Scotus, most philosophers agreed that God is identical with His necessary intrinsic attributes--omnipotence, omniscience, etc. This Identity Thesis was a component of widely held doctrines of divine simplicity, which stated that God exemplifies no metaphysical distinctions, including that between subject and attribute. The Identity Thesis seems to render God an attribute, an abstract object. This paper shows that the Identity Thesis follows from a basic theistic belief and does not render God abstract. If also discusses how one might (...) move from the Identity Thesis to the full doctrine of divine simplicity and shows that the Identity Thesis generates a new ontological argument. (shrink)
Western theism holds that God cannot do evil. Christians also hold that Christ is God the Son and that Christ was tempted to do evil. These claims appear to be jointly inconsistent. I argue that they are not.
I explain the doctrine of divine simplicity, and reject what is now the standard way to explicate it in analytic philosophy. I show that divine simplicity imperils the claim that God is free, and argue against a popular proposal for dealing with the problem.
I give an account of the nature of absolute or metaphysical necessity. Absolute-necessarily P, I suggest, just if it is always the case that P and there never is or was a power with a chance to bring it about, bring about a power to bring it about, etc., that not P. I display both advantages and a cost of this sort of definition.
William Rowe and others argue that if this is a possible world than which there is a better, it follows that God does not exist. I now reject the key premise of Rowe's argument. I do so first within a Molinist framework. I then show that this framework is dispensable: really all one needs to block the better-world argument is the assumption that creatures have libertarian free will. I also foreclose what might seem a promising way around the 'moral-luck' counter (...) I develop, and contend that it is in a way impossible to get around. (shrink)
I explicate and defend leibniz's argument from "eternal truths" to the existence of god. I argue that necessary beings can be caused to exist, Showing how one can apply a counterfactual analysis to such causation, Then argue that if such beings can be caused to exist, They are.
The doctrine that God is omnipotent takes its rise from Scriptural texts which concern two linked topics. One is how much power God has to put behind actions: enough that nothing is too hard, enough to do whatever he pleases. The other is how much God can do: ‘all things’. The link is obvious: we measure strength by what tasks it is adequate to perform, and God is so strong he can do all things. The Christian philosophical theologian who seeks (...) to explicate omnipotence seeks a convincing account of the reality beneath the ‘phenomena’ of Scripture. This article looks briefly at some historic accounts of omnipotence. It emerges that the early history of the concept emphasized strength more than range of action, with range coming to prominence in Aquinas's day. Three recent attempts to define omnipotence are then considered. All are found wanting, but the author draws morals that help him hazard his own definition. (shrink)
William Hasker replies to my arguments against Social Trinitarianism, offers some criticism of my own view, and begins a sketch of another account of the Trinity. I reply with some defence of my own theory and some questions about his.
This paper examines Anselm’s reply to this argument in order to shed light on a number of issues in philosophical theology, including the metaphysics of the Incarnation, the relation between perfect being theology and the doctrines of the Incarnation and the Atonement, the senses in which the Christian God might be impassible, and the nature of God’s perfect rationality and wisdom. (edited).
Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), Benedictine monk and the second Norman archbishop of Canterbury, is regarded as one of the most important philosophers and theologians of the Middle Ages. The essays in this volume explore all of his major ideas both philosophical and theological, including his teachings on faith and reason, God's existence and nature, logic, freedom, truth, ethics, and key Christian doctrines. There is also discussion of his life, the sources of his thought, and his influence on other thinkers. New (...) readers will find this the most convenient, accessible guide to Anselm currently available. Advanced students and specialists will find a conspectus of recent developments in the interpretation of Anselm. (shrink)
Anselm is commonly credited with two a priori arguments for God's existence, the non-modal argument of Proslogion 2 and a modal argument some find in Proslogion 3. But his Reply to Gaunilo contains a third. The argument as Anselm gives it has flaws, but they are not fatal, and its main premise can serve as the basis of a simpler, stronger argument.
Most analytic philosophers hold that if God exists, He exists with broad logical necessity. Richard Swinburne denies the distinction between narrow and broad logical necessity, and argues that if God exists, His existence is narrow-logically contingent. A defender of divine broad logical necessity could grant the latter claim. I argue, however, that not only is God's existence broad-logically necessary, but on a certain understanding of God's relation to modality, it comes out narrow-logically necessary. This piece argues against Swinburne's overall account (...) of modality and rebuts his argument for narrow-logical contingency. (shrink)
I offer part of an account of divine moral perfection. I defend the claim that moral perfection is possible, then argue that God has obligations, so that one part of his moral perfection must be perfection in meeting these. I take up objections to divine obligations, then finally offer a definition of divine deontic perfection.
The Western monotheisms agree that God has created the universe, and that at some point in the past, the universe began to exist. Thus they believe that and are compatible. Yet one can argue that and are incompatible, so that the Western theistic picture of creation is inconsistent. Augustine's Confessions quotes a famous argument that entails~: What was God doing before he made heaven and earth? … if did nothing, why did he not continue in this way … forever …? (...) If any new motion arise in God, or a new will is formed in him, to the end of establishing creation which he had never established previously …, then is not truly … eternal. Yet if it were God's sempiternal will for the creature to exist, why is not the creature sempiternal also? This argument suggests that if God has created the universe, then for any t , God must have been acting before t , and therefore the universe must have existed before t . But if for any t the universe existed before t , then the universe had no first moment of existence, and so is false. (shrink)
This chapter presents and critically discusses the main historical variants of the “ontological argument,” a form of a priori argument for the existence of God pioneered by Anselm of Canterbury. I assess the contributions of Anselm, Descartes, Leibniz, and Gödel, and criticisms by Gaunilo, Kant, and Oppy among others.
In The Metaphysics of Creation and The Metaphysics of Theism, Norman Kretzmann defends an argument for God's existence which he claims to find in Aquinas. I assess this argument's key premise, a principle of sufficient reason, that: ‘PSR2: Every existing thing has a reason for its existence either in the necessity of its own nature or in the causal efficacy of some other beings’. PSR2 requires God's nature to explain His existence. Kretzmann does not tell us how this explanation is (...) supposed to go. I examine such ways as I can envision that God's own nature might explain His existence. None pan out. I argue contra Kretzmann that if God is simple, as Aquinas understood this, His nature does not explain His existence, and while His existence is in itself per se notum (‘self-evident’) this does not entail that it has an explanation. If this is correct, we ought not to read Aquinas as committed to PSR2. Further, if I'm right that it's impossible for ‘the necessity of a thing's nature’ to explain its existence, PSR2 is true only if every existing thing has a reason for its existence in the causal efficacy of some other beings. So, if I'm right, theists ought to steer clear of PSR2, at least read in terms of genuine explanation. I finally offer a weaker reading of ‘a reason for its existence’ which does not generate the problems of the stronger reading Kretzmann seems to have in mind. This too, though, turns out to have its problems. (shrink)
Anselm's "Cur Deus" Homo argues that only by the Incarnation can God save humanity. This seems to sit ill with the claim that God is omnipotent and absolutely free, for this entails that God could save humanity in other ways. I show that features of Anselm's concept of God and treatment of necessity make the claim that the Incarnation is a necessary means of salvation problematic. I then show that for Anselm, all conditions which make the Incarnation necessary for human (...) salvation stem from God's nature and prior choices. If so, the Incarnation's necessity restricts neither God's freedom nor His power. For that the Incarnation is necessary given God's actual choices does not entail that it would have been necessary had God made other choices, or that God could not have made choices which would have made the Incarnation non-necessary. (shrink)