Paul Helm presents a new, expanded edition of his much praised 1988 book Eternal God , which defends the view that God exists in timeless eternity. Helm argues that divine timelessness is grounded in the idea of God as creator, and that this alone makes possible a proper account of divine omniscience.
Boethius and Augustine of Hippo are two of the fountainheads from which the long tradition of regarding God’s existence as timelessly eternal has flowed, a tradition which has influenced not only Christianity, but Judaism and Islam, too. But though the two have divine eternality in common, I shall argue that in other respects, in certain crucial respects, they differ significantly over how they articulate that notion.
How do we form and modify our beliefs about the world? It is widely accepted that what we believe is determined by evidence, and is therefore not directly under our control; but according to what criteria is the credibility of the evidence established? Professor Helm argues that no theory of knowledge is complete without standards for accepting and rejecting evidence as belief-worthy. These standards, or belief-policies, are not themselves determined by evidence, but determine what counts as credible evidence. Unlike single (...) beliefs, belief-policies are directly subject to the will, and therefore to the possibility of weakness of will and self-deception. Helm sets out to interpret standard epistemological positions in terms of belief-policies, and to illustrate their operation in the history of philosophy. He establishes connections between belief-policies, responsibility for beliefs, and the desirability of toleration, before reassessing fideism in the light of his argument. (shrink)
Peter Byrne has presented arguments against the effectiveness of two 'defensive strategies' deployed in my books Eternal God and The Providence of God respectively. These strategies were originally presented to support the cogency of 'theological compatibilism' by arguing against the claims that it is inconsistent with human responsibility, and that it entails that God is the author of sin. In this present article the author offers a number of clarifications to his original thesis and argues that Byrne's arguments do not (...) succeed in their aim of undermining the two strategies. (shrink)
An exploration of the consequences of various ideas in the thought of John Calvin, and the influence of his ideas on later theologians. The emphasis is on philosophical ideas within Calvin's theology, dealing in turn with epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical issues. Helm provides a fresh perspective on Calvin's theological context and legacy.
In Part One Paul Helm provides a general discussion of these themes, seeking both to contextualize the debate and to engage with contemporary philosophical discussion of the relation between faith, reason and understanding. Part Two contains five case studies that illustrate the work of seminal figures in the tradition. They include treatments of Augustine on time and creation, Anselm on the ontological argument and the necessity of the atonement, Jonathan Edwards on the nature of personal identity and John Calvin and (...) the ’sensus divinitatis’, focusing on the way in which Calvin has been appealed to by contemporary reformed epistemology. (shrink)
The paper discusses two conceptions of divine freedom. The first, Hugh McCann’s, proposes that God is a timelessly eternal act, whose agency is not deliberative and who, in that act, creates himself and the contents of his will. God is such an act. Following discussion of this view, its costs and benefits, a more traditional account of God’s freedom, in which he possesses vestigial alternativity, the freedom to choose an alternative should there have been a sufficient reason to do so.
It is widely held that Locke propounded a theory of personal identity in terms of consciousness and memory. By ‘theory’ here is meant a set of necessary and sufficient conditions indicating what personal identity consists in. It is also held that this theory is open to obvious and damaging objections, so much so that it has to be supplemented in terms of bodily continuity, either because memory alone is not sufficient, or because the concept of memory is itself dependent upon (...) considerations of bodily continuity. Alternatively it has been suggested that Locke's theory could be modified by allowing that for the purposes of personal identity ‘remember’ should be regarded as a transitive relation. So if A remembers the experiences of B but not those of C, and B remembers the experiences of C, then A, B and C can be regarded as belonging to the same unit of consciousness. (shrink)
In his Survival and Disembodied Existences Terence Penelhum presents two arguments against the possibility of disembodied survival. The first is that the memory criterion of personal identity is parasitic upon bodily identity and the second is the more fundamental contention that the notion of a disembodied person is unintelligible. Penelhum's claim is not that it is impossible as such to speak of disembodied intelligence, or perception, or even agency, but that the problem of construing the identity of disembodied individuals is (...) overwhelmingly difficult. With regard to the idea of resurrection Penelhum argues that it is intelligible but that the question of whether or not an individual is someone who has been resurrected, or not, is one which no evidence could conclusively settle. It calls for a decision rather than for the production of conclusive evidence. ‘When resurrection is predicted it is always open to a critic to deny that what is predicted has to be accorded that title.’. (shrink)
The paper begins by describing two episodes of personal grief recounted by Augustine in the Confessions, that at the death of an unnamed friend and thatat the death of his mother, Monica. It is argued that Augustine intended to show that the earlier fried, and an early phase of his grief for his mother, were sinful. However, contrary to arecent account of Augustine's grief, it is argued (by an examination of the later phase of his grief for his mother) that (...) Augustine does not hold that it is wrong to grieve at the death of a loved one, provided that one grieves for the right reason. (shrink)
The article examines a central methodological tenet of Grace Jantzen's Becoming Divine. In this book she turns her back on what she calls Anglo-American philosophy of religion in favour of what she calls a continental approach. I argue that for her, belief is as indispensable in religion and in the philosophy of religion as it is for the Anglo-American philosophy of religion which she rejects. Further, the only argument that she offers for her position is a genetic argument for the (...) origins of religious belief. Consistently with her position, she does not consider any empirical evidence relevant to this causal claim. However, the logic of such genetic claims is that for every empirically grounded genetic argument for A there is a corresponding genetic argument for not-A. So if such an argument invalidates A, it also invalidates not-A. (shrink)
In recent years the doctrine that God exists in a timeless eternity has achieved something of the status of philosophical heterodoxy, if not of downright heresy. The arguments against the idea of God's timeless eternity come from two sources. The first of these is Professor Kneale's paper ‘Time and Eternity in Theology’ in which, alluding to the famous definition of eternity by Boethius as ‘the complete possession of eternal life at once’ Professor Kneale confesses ‘I can attach no meaning to (...) the word “life” unless I am allowed to suppose that what has life acts… life must at least involve some incidents in time and if, like Boethius, we suppose the life in question to be intelligent, then it must involve also awareness of the passage of time’. (shrink)
The two books make a notable contribution in drawing together many of the philosophical problems about time, and the associated literature. The expositions are also valuable for their interdisciplinary strengths, especially in the history and philosophy of science and (to a lesser extent) in theology, and for the clarity and thoroughness of Craig's approach. However, the two books do not present, as might at first appear, a side by side exposition of the respective strengths and weaknesses of the A-series and (...) the B-series views of time. They are, rather, one interconnected defence of the A-series view. Some of the strengths and weaknesses of Craig's exposition and defence of the A-series view are noted. (shrink)
I argue on three distinct grounds that the contrast between speaking and revealing is nothing like so sharp as Wolterstorff maintains in Divine Discourse. Speaking may be revealing: in speaking a person may reveal much about himself. Putative divine speaking can only be made intelligible given a background of what I refer to as INIS revelation, and in revealing, or more exactly, in having revealed, God may still speak.
The paper begins by describing two episodes of personal grief recounted by Augustine in the Confessions, that at the death of an unnamed friend and thatat the death of his mother, Monica. It is argued that Augustine intended to show that the earlier fried, and an early phase of his grief for his mother, were sinful. However, contrary to arecent account of Augustine's grief, it is argued that Augustine does not hold that it is wrong to grieve at the death (...) of a loved one, provided that one grieves for the right reason. (shrink)