This article offers an argument for a form of panentheism in which the divine is conceived as both ‘God the World’ and ‘God the Good’. ‘God the World’ captures the notion that the totality of everything which exists is ‘in’ God, while acknowledging that, given evil and suffering, not everything is ‘of’ God. ‘God the Good’ encompasses the idea that God is also the universal concept of Goodness, akin to Plato’s Form of the Good as developed by Iris Murdoch, which (...) is inextricably conjoined with God the World because it is the nature of the world which determines the nature of perfect Goodness. This form of ‘conjoined’ panentheism yields a concept of divine personhood which includes both divine agency and human/divine engagement. God the Good is an agent of change by providing human persons with a standard of Goodness against which to measure the goodness of their own actions, while God the World provides the physical embodiment through which God acts. Human engagement with the divine may take a number of forms and may lead to moral action, the means by which the divine acts upon the world and changes it for the better. (shrink)
To claim that the divine is a person or personal is, according to Swinburne, ‘the most elementary claim of theism’. I argue that, whether the classical theist’s concept of the divine as a person or personal is construed as an analogy or a metaphor, or a combination of the two, analysis necessitates qualification of that concept such that any differences between the classical theist’s concept of the divine as a person or personal and revisionary interpretations of that concept are merely (...) superficial. Thus, either the classical theist has more in common with revisionary theism than he/she might care to admit, or classical theism is a multi-faceted position which encompasses interpretations which some might regard as revisionist. This article also explores and employs the use of a gender-neutral pronoun in talk about God. (shrink)
Dombrowski and Murdoch offer versions of the ontological argument which aim to avoid two types of objection – those concerned with the nature of the divine, and those concerned with the move from an abstract concept to a mind-independent reality. For both, the nature of the concept of God/Good entails its instantiation, and both supply a supporting argument from experience. It is only Murdoch who successfully negotiates the transition from an abstract concept to the instantiation of that concept, however, and (...) this is achieved by means of an ontological argument from moral experience which, in a reversal of the Kantian doctrine, depends ultimately on a form of the cosmological argument. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that, although Alvin Plantinga’s Felix Culpa theodicy appears on only two pages of his recent book Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism (2011) (i.e. 58-59), it is of pivotal importance for the book as a whole. Plantinga argues that there is superficial conflict but deep concord between science and monotheism, and that there is superficial concord but deep conflict between science and naturalism. I contend that the weakness of the Felix Culpa theodicy (...) lends support to the view that there is more than superficial conflict between science and monotheism, and offer an alternative response to the challenge of evil which suggests that there might be, after all, concord between science and (religious) naturalism. (shrink)
Iris Murdoch's concept of Good is a central feature of her moral theory; in Murdoch's thought, attention to the Good is the primary means of improving our moral conduct. Her view has been criticised on the grounds that the Good is irrelevant to life in this world (Don Cupitt), that the notion of a transcendent, single object of attention is incoherent (Stewart Sutherland), and that we can only understand what goodness is if we see it as an attribute of a (...) theistic, trinitarian God (Christoph Schwöbel). The paper argues that, with some clarification and development of Murdoch's view, these objections are by no means fatal to her position. (shrink)
The claim that God is a person or personal is, perhaps, one of the most fundamental claims which religious believers make about God. In Hinduism, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are represented in person-like form. In the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament God walks in the Garden of Eden , experiences emotions , and converses with human beings . In the New Testament, God communicates with his people, usually by means of angels or visions , and retains the ability to speak audibly, as (...) he does to Paul on the Damascus road . And, in the Qur'an, Allah is said to have a face and two hands , to see, and to sit on a throne . Many believers today would still claim that, among other things which God can do, he loves those who believe in him and responds to their prayers. -/- In this article, I consider several ways in which God has been understood to be a person or personal and argue that, if God’s person-like characteristics must be understood in a metaphorical sense, we cannot draw a clear line between a personal God and an impersonal Absolute. (shrink)
Feminist philosophers of religion such as Grace Jantzen and Pamela Sue Anderson have endeavoured, firstly, to identify masculine bias in the concepts of God found in the scriptures of the world’s religions and in the philosophical writings in which religious beliefs are assessed and proposed and, secondly, to transform the philosophy of religion, and thereby the lives of women, by recommending new or expanded epistemologies and using these to revision a concept of the divine which will inspire both women and (...) men to work for the flourishing of the whole of humankind. It is argued, firstly, that the philosophies of Jantzen and Anderson are by no means as different from each other as they might, at first, appear. Secondly, it is suggested that their epistemologies are not distinctively feminist, and that the classical divine attributes of the Abrahamic faiths do not necessarily privilege the masculine. Perhaps the only way in which a philosophy of religion might be distinctively feminist is by emphasising the inclusion of women. This might mean being more open to concepts of the divine which are not, even in a metaphorical sense, masculine, and enhancing awareness of the ways in which abstract arguments about the divine could be relevant to the practical aspects of human life which have traditionally been the preserve of women. Insofar as these are increasingly also the responsibility of men, however, a feminist philosophy of religion might now be more appropriately characterised as an inclusivist philosophy of religion. (shrink)
This Element presents key elements from the writings on religion of twelve philosophers working in or influenced by the continental tradition. It argues for a hybrid methodology which enables transformational religious responses to the problems associated with human existence to be supported both by reasoned argument and by revelation, narrative philosophy, and experiential verification.
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