Using philosophical and theological reflection, this book explores the rational grounding for Christian faith, inquiring into the basis for believing the Christian revelation, and using the answers to give an account of Christian faith itself. Setting the discussion in the context of the history of views on revelation, Divine Faith makes an original contribution to historiography and draws out hitherto unnoticed affinities between Catholic and Protestant thought. Re-examining the question from the beginning by asking how it is that the Christian (...) revelation is made, Lamont then looks at the fundamental philosophical issues concerning the nature of knowledge and the reasonableness of belief in testimony that are crucial to an understanding of Christian belief. Through theological considerations on the relations of grace and the church, and new advances in the philosophy of belief in testimony and how God speaks to communicate the Christian religion, this book offers an original and powerful account of the nature of Christian belief. (shrink)
The paper corrects misrepresentations of Aquinas's understanding of divine simplicity, argues that the reasons he gives for divine simplicity are persuasive ones, and suggests how Aquinas's account of the Trinity can be used to explain how God can be said to exist necessarily. It gives an account of Aquinas's conception of form and individualised form, and shows how Plantinga's criticism of Aquinas's position on divine simplicity rests on a misunderstanding of Aquinas's notion of form. It describes and makes the case (...) for Aquinas's argument that God must be absolutely simply because he is the uncaused cause of all effects, and any real composition in things constitutes an effect. It shows that Brian Davies is mistaken in claiming that Aquinas does not hold God's existence to be logically necessary. It applies Frege's conception of existence to Aquinas's account of God's simplicity and his psychological analogy for the Trinity, in order to explain how God's existence can coherently be said to be logically necessary. (shrink)
The paper considers the objections to Christianity raised by David Lewis, which accuse Christians of immorality on the grounds of their worshipping a monstrous being who punishes finite evils by the infinite punishment of hell. It distinguishes between the objection that God is a monster because such punishment would be unjust, and the objection that even if damnation is just, God is a monster because he wills or allows the dreadful evil of hell by creating beings that can be justly (...) damned. It asserts that Aquinas’s defence of the traditional Christian doctrine of hell provides an answer to this objection. The traditional doctrine is that those who die having committed serious sins for which they have not repented will be punished by endless mental and physical suffering in hell. Aquinas argues that the endless punishment of the damned is just because the damned endlessly and freely choose evil, and that it is good because the punishment of impenitentsinners, while bad for the sinners, is good absolutely speaking. The basis for his claim that the damned freely choose evil forever is his understanding of practical reason as ultimately motivated by a choice of a particular kind of life to live, and his view that all motivations that are independent of practical reason have a physical basis. The basis for his claim that the punishment of the damned is a good thing absolutely considered is his teleological view of good and evil. The paper defends these bases and their application to the question of damnation. (shrink)
The paper considers Renee Descartes’ assertion that believing that God exists because the Bible says so, and believing that what the Bible says is true because God says it, involves circular reasoning. It argues that there is no circularity involved in holding these beliefs, and maintains that the appearance of circularity results from an equivocation. It considers a line of argument that would defend the rationality of holding these beliefs, but does not try to prove its soundness.
The paper considers the criticisms that Eleonore Stump has made of Richard Swinburne's account of Christian's revelation, as set out in his book "Revelation: From Metaphor to Analogy." It argues that Stump's criticisms of Swinburne's theory of biblical interpretation are misguided, but that her criticism of his deistic picture of revelation contains a crucial insight. Direct theories of revelation, which see God as communicating propositions directly to believers, are superior to deistic ones, which see God as communicating propositions only to (...) an original group who then hand on the propositions to everyone else. Stump's suggested alternative to a deistic picture is flawed. A better theory would result from incorporating Swinburne's account of the Church into a direct theory, and holding that God communicates propositions directly to believers in the teaching of the Church. This position combines the insights to be found in Stump and Swinburne, while avoiding their mistakes. (shrink)
Peter Geach has claimed that St. Thomas Aquinas's first and second ways are instances of composition arguments, which argue from the parts of a thing having a property to the whole thing having that property. Such arguments are not universally valid, but are valid fr some properties. The paper examines composition arguments and the literature on them, and argues that a valid composition argument can be given for the existence of an uncaused cause of all effects.