The subject of religious diversity is of growing significance, with its associated problems of religious pluralism and inter-faith dialogue. Moreover, since the European Enlightenment, religions have had to face new, existential challenges. Is there a future for religions? How will they have to change? Can they co-exist peacefully? In this book, Keith Ward brings new insights to these questions. Applying historical and philosophical approaches, he explores how we can establish truth among so many diverse religions. He explains how religions have (...) evolved over time and how they are reacting to the challenges posed by new scientific and moral beliefs. A celebration of the diversity in the world's religions, Ward's timely book also deals with the possibility and necessity of religious tolerance and co-existence. (shrink)
In this book, eminent theologian Keith Ward takes a fresh look at the ancient philosophy of Idealism, connects it with findings in modern science, and shows that a combination of good science, good philosophy, and a passion for truth and goodness, can underpin religious faith. Going back to first principles, he argues for the Idealist view that all knowledge begins with experience. Critically examining the idealism of Plato, Kant, and Hegel, Ward shows how this philosophy is strengthened by a knowledge (...) of modern physics, and how it can lead to a new and vivid presentation of Christian faith. A work of philosophical rigour that makes clear the rational nature of belief in God, this book challenges the easy assumptions of materialism and the relativity of truth that undermine both science and religion. Ward writes in an accessible and readable style that gives new life and practical usefulness to idealist philosophy. (shrink)
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)
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).
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)
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)
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)
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.
It is significant that one of the influential books on the philosophy of morality in recent years was called “The Language of Morals”. The title is significant because it overtly expresses the two-fold short-sightedness of many British moral philosophers in the 20th century. First, it assumes that there is just one language of morality, presumably the same for all human persons, which is distinct and separable from other sorts of language. This is the thesis of the linguistic autonomy of morals; (...) and it ignores the possibility that there are many different sorts of moral language correlated in part with different patterns of culture; and that moral language often cannot be separated out, as an autonomous universe of discourse, from other sorts of language. Second, it assumes that the primary or even sole concern of philosophers is with the language of morality, thus ignoring the behavioural, cultural and experiential aspects of morality which may be equally, or more, important features of the total human phenomenon with which moral philosophers are concerned. These two assumptions, as my statement of them implies, seem to be highly disputable, if not plainly mistaken. It is the main purpose of this paper to throw doubt on them, and consequently on the sorts of philosophy which embody them. (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)
It has often been claimed by philosophical theologians that the concept of God functions as an ‘ultimate explanation’ of the nature of the universe. In recent years, various theologians have regarded this notion of ‘ultimate explanation’ as one which has a central place in religious belief; and they construe the concept of God, at least in part, and sometimes mainly, as a concept which provides such an explanation. On the other hand, from the time of David Hume there has been (...) a long line of eminent philosophers who have found the whole idea of an ultimate explanation—something which completely explains absolutely everything—an incoherent one, analogous to the idea of the square of a circle. I think it worth trying to explore the possibilities and limits of the notion, and attempting to assess its importance for religious belief. First, I will briefly sketch the notion as it is found in recent work, and then offer an analysis of the notion of ‘explanation’ in general. Finally, I will try to ascertain the nature and limits of the notion in religion. (shrink)
‘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)