The causes of violence -- The corruptibility of all things human -- Religion and war -- Faith and reason -- Life after death -- Morality and the Bible -- Morality and faith -- The enlightenment, liberal thought and religion -- Does religion do more harm than good in personal life? -- What good has religion done?
I argue that the co-existence of omnipotence, omniscience, and total evil forms an inconsistent triad. An omniscient being will know what it is like for anyone to feel pain, and since pain is undesirable, will not freely create pains which it would have to share. An omnipotent being would choose to be rational, and a purely rational being would choose what it believes to be good. It would in fact choose to be of supreme value, and thus would necessarily contain (...) all compossible values, including those of friendship and love. Therefore an omnipotent omniscient being cannot be evil. (shrink)
David Hume’s arguments against believing reports of miracles are shown to be very weak. Laws of nature, I suggest, are best seen not as exceptionless rules but as context-dependent realizations of natural powers. In that context miracles transcend the natural order not as "violations" but as intelligible realizations of a divine supernatural purpose. Miracles are not parts of scientific theory but can be parts of a web of rational belief fully consistent with science. (edited).
I will be concerned with only one problem about truth which is raised by the diversity of religions which exist in the world. The problem is this: many religions claim to state truths about the nature of the universe and human destiny which are important or even necessary for human salvation and ultimate well-being. Many of these truths seem to he incompatible; yet there is no agreed method for deciding which are to he accepted; and equally intelligent, informed, virtuous and (...) holy people belong to different faiths. It seems, therefore, that a believing member of any one tradition is compelled to regard all other traditions as holding false beliefs and therefore as not leading to salvation. Since each faith forms a minority of the world's population, all religious believers thus seem committed to saying that most intelligent, virtuous and spiritually devoted people cannot know the truth or attain salvation. This is a problem, because it is in tension with the belief, held by many traditions, that the supremely real being is concerned for the salvation of all rational creatures. How can this he so if, through no fault of their own, most creatures cannot come to know the truth and thereby attain salvation? (shrink)
The concept of the 'social Trinity', which posits three conscious subjects in God, radically revised the traditional Christian idea of the Creator. It promoted a view of God as a passionate, creative and responsive source of all being. Keith Ward argues that social Trinitarian thinking threatens the unity of God, however, and that this new view of God does not require a 'social' component. Expanding on the work of theologians such as Barth and Rahner, who insisted that there was only (...) one mind of God, Ward offers a coherent, wholly monotheistic interpretation of the Trinity. Christ and the Cosmos analyses theistic belief in a scientific context, demonstrating the necessity of cosmology to theological thinking that is often overly myopic and anthropomorphic. This important volume will benefit those who seek to understand what the Trinity is, why it matters and how it fits into a scientific account of the universe. (shrink)
Continuing Keith Ward's series on comparative religion, this book deals with religious views of human nature and destiny. The beliefs of six major traditions are presented: the view of Advaita Vedanta that there is one Supreme Self, unfolding into the illusion of individual existence; the Vaishnava belief that there is an infinite number of souls, whose destiny is to be released from material embodiment; the Buddhist view that there is no eternal Self; the Abrahamic belief that persons are essentially embodied (...) souls; and the materialistic position that persons are complex material organisms. Indian ideas of rebirth, karma, and liberation from samsara are critically analysed and compared with semitic belief in the intermediate state of Sheol, Purgatory or Paradise, the Final Judgement and the resurrection of the body. The impact of scientific theories of cosmic and biological evolution on religious beliefs is assessed, and a form of 'soft emergent materialism' is defended, with regard to the soul. In this context, a Christian doctrine of original sin and atonement is presented, stressing the idea of soterial, as opposed to forensic, justice. Finally, a Christian view of personal immortality and the 'end of all things' is developed in conversation with Jewish and Muslim beliefs about judgement and resurrection. (shrink)
Religion is an important social force, both for good and evil, in the modern world. This book considers the main ways in which religion and society interact, and the ways in which the major world religions need to adapt themselves in the modern world. The author, a Christian theologian, describes the major types of religious community in the world, and proposes a radical vision of the church as a person-affirming, world-transforming society in the emerging global community of many faiths and (...) cultures. (shrink)
Why Plato was not a world-hating totalitarian -- Why Aquinas' "five ways" are not so bad after all -- Why does everybody hate Cartesian dualism? -- Why kicking stones cannot refute Bishop Berkeley -- Why David Hume is odder than you think -- David Hume's un-natural theology -- How Kant did not undermine all possible arguments for God -- Whatever happened to Hegel? -- Why Schopenhauer was not quite an Atheist -- Was Nietzsche a bad thing? -- Materialism and its (...) discontents. (shrink)
What is it to be ‘morally serious’? In one sense, it is quite obvious that a man who stands by his moral principles with difficulty and in face of many obstacles, even to the extent of giving his life rather than denying these principles, is a morally serious person. He might be contrasted with a man who gives up or modifies his moral principles whenever their implementation becomes difficult, or threatens to harm his interests; and this person might be called (...) morally frivolous. That is what moral seriousness is; but still, one might ask, what is it to be a morally serious man? What does it involve to be such a man? Is it just a sort of pathological obstinacy; even, perhaps, a misplaced conservatism in face of the facts, which clings to the principles it knows, whatever the cost? One cannot rule out such a possibility. But the martyr and the hero do not consider themselves to be merely obstinate. In the face of risk and even certain suffering, they typically regard it as of supreme importance to be obstinate in sustaining their principles. Something more is felt to be at stake than mere defence of the status quo. (shrink)
A CONSIDERATION OF J C MACKIE’S CLAIM THAT IT IS NEVER REASONABLE TO ACCEPT TESTIMONY TO THE OCCURRENCE OF A MIRACLE. I ARGUE THAT THIS CLAIM FAILS; BUT, BY EXAMINING THE CONCEPT OF MIRACLE AS A SAVING DISCLOSURE OF GOD, I SHOW WHY THE RATIONALITY OF ACCEPTING MIRACLES ON TESTIMONY IS UNLIKELY TO BE NEUTRALLY ESTABLISHABLE.
‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth’. For millions of Jews, Christians and Muslims this has been a fundamental article of belief. Nor is it unknown in the classical Indian traditions. The Upanishads, taken by the orthodox to be ‘heard’, not invented, and to be verbally inerrant, state: ‘He desired: “May I become many, may I procreate” … He created this whole universe’. The belief that everything in the universe is brought into being by an act of (...) will or desire on the part of one uniquely uncreated being is widespread and fundamental in religion. Historians of religion generally suppose that it is a rather late belief in the Biblical tradition, having developed from an earlier stage at which Jahweh was one tribal deity among others. By the time of the major prophets, however, the notion was firmly established that there is only one God, creator of everything other than himself. Christian theologians always seem to have had a great interest in conceptual problems, and the idea of creation has proved a very fruitful one for generating philosophical puzzles. Those puzzles are still of great theoretical interest, and I shall consider some of them with reference to the work of Augustine and, to a lesser extent Thomas Aquinas. Their views have been so influential that they may fairly be called ‘classical’, in Christian theology. (shrink)