This chapter centers around the question of whether theism is rational. We begin by discussing different theories of rationality, and introducing some importantly related epistemic concepts and controversies. We then consider the possible sources of rational belief in God and argue that even if these provide some positive support, the fact of religious disagreement defeats the rationality of theism.
Given plausible assumptions about the nature of evidence and undercutting defeat, many believe that the force of the evidential problem of evil depends on sceptical theism being false: if evil is evidence against God, then seeing no justifying reason for some particular instance of evil must be evidence for it truly being pointless. I think this dialectic is mistaken. In this paper, after drawing a lesson about fallibility and induction from the preface paradox, I argue that the force of (...) the evidential problem of evil is compatible with sceptical theism being true. More exactly, I argue that the collection of apparently pointless evil in the world provides strong evidence for there being truly pointless evil, despite the fact that seeing no justifying reason for some particular instance of evil is no evidence whatsoever for it truly being pointless. I call this result the paradox of evil. (shrink)
Recently there has been a good deal of interest in the relationship between common sense epistemology and Skeptical Theism. Much of the debate has focused on Phenomenal Conservatism and any tension that there might be between it and Skeptical Theism. In this paper I further defend the claim that there is no tension between Phenomenal Conservatism and Skeptical Theism. I show the compatibility of these two views by coupling them with an account of defeat – one that (...) is friendly to both Phenomenal Conservatism and Skeptical Theism. In addition, I argue that this account of defeat can give the Skeptical Theist what she wants – namely a response to the evidential argument from evil that can leave one of its premises unmotivated. In giving this account I also respond to several objections from Trent Dougherty (2011) and Chris Tucker (this volume) as well as to an additional worry coming from the epistemology of disagreement. (shrink)
Skeptical theism combines theism with skepticism about our capacity to discern God’s morally sufficient reasons for permitting evil. Proponents have claimed that skeptical theism defeats the evidential argument from evil. Many opponents have objected that it implies untenable moral skepticism, induces appalling moral paralysis, and the like. Recently Daniel Howard-Snyder has tried to rebut this prevalent objection to skeptical theism by rebutting it as an objection to the skeptical part of skeptical theism, which part he (...) labels “Agnosticism” (with an intentionally capital “A”). I argue that his rebuttal fails as a defense of Agnosticism against the objection and even more so as a defense of skeptical theism. (shrink)
The most common charge against sceptical theism is that it is too sceptical, i.e. it committed to some undesirable form of scepticism or another. I contend that Michael Bergmann’s sceptical theism isn’t sceptical enough. I argue that, if true, the sceptical theses secure a genuine victory: they prevent, for some people, a prominent argument from evil from providing any justification whatsoever to doubt the existence of God. On the other hand, even if true, the sceptical theses fail to (...) prevent even the atheist from justifiably accepting it. (shrink)
This chapter traces how theism was developed by leading 19th and 20th century figures (Schleiermacher, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Rahner, and Tillich) responding to Kant’s Copernican revolution in philosophy. Part one deals with the ontological nature of subjectivity itself and what it reveals about the conditions of the possibility of a subject’s relation to the Absolute. Part two explores the role of subjectivity and interiority in the individual’s relation to God, and part three takes a look at the theme of (...) the “unhappy consciousness,” how its development led to important attacks on theism, and the resources available to theology in countering these attacks. (shrink)
Physical cosmology purports to establish precise and testable claims about the origin of the universe. Thus, cosmology bears directly on traditional metaphysical claims -- in particular, claims about whether the universe has a creator (i.e. God). What is the upshot of cosmology for the claims of theism? Does big-bang cosmology support theism? Do recent developments in quantum and string cosmology undermine theism? We discuss the relations between physical cosmology to theism from both historical and systematic points (...) of view. (shrink)
Arguments from evil purport to show that some fact about evil makes it (at least) probable that God does not exist. Skeptical theism is held to undermine many versions of the argument from evil: it is thought to undermine a crucial inference that such arguments often rely on. Skeptical objections to skeptical theism claim that it (skeptical theism) entails an excessive amount of skepticism, and therefore should be rejected. In this article, I show that skeptical objections to (...) skeptical theism have a very limited scope: only those who reject certain (apparently) popular epistemological theories will be threatened by them. (shrink)
In this chapter, I attempt to show that evil exists only if what I call Agent Causal Theism (ACT) is true. According to ACT, human beings are immaterial, conscious agents endued (by God) with a power of self-motion: the power to think, decide, and act for ends in light of reasons, but without being externally caused to do so (even by God himself). By contrast, I argue that there is no space for evil in the worldviews of naturalistic Darwinism (...) or theistic Calvinism. (shrink)
Alvin Plantinga’s religious epistemology has been used to respond to many debunking arguments against theistic belief. However, critics have claimed that Plantinga’s religious epistemology conflicts with skeptical theism, a view often used in response to the problem of evil. If they are correct, then a common way of responding to debunking arguments conflicts with a common way of responding to the problem of evil. In this paper, I examine the critics’ claims and argue that they are right. I then (...) present two revised versions of Plantinga’s argument for his religious epistemology. I call the first a 'religion-based argument' and the second an 'intention-based argument'. Both are compatible with skeptical theism, and both can be used to respond to debunking arguments. They apply only to theistic beliefs of actual persons who have what I call 'doxastically valuable relationships' with God – valuable relationships the goods of which entail the belief that God exists. (shrink)
This article is a response to Stephen Law's article ‘The evil-god challenge’. In his article, Law argues that if belief in evil-god is unreasonable, then belief in good-god is unreasonable; that the antecedent is true; and hence so is the consequent. In this article, I show that Law's affirmation of the antecedent is predicated on the problem of good (i.e. the problem of whether an all-evil, all-powerful, and all-knowing God would allow there to be as much good in the world (...) as there is), and argue that the problem of good fails. Thus, the antecedent is unmotivated, which renders the consequent unmotivated. Law's challenge for good-god theists is to show that good-god theism is not rendered unreasonable by the problem of evil in the same way that evil-god theism is rendered unreasonable by the problem of good. Insofar as the problem of good does not render belief in evil-god unreasonable, Law's challenge has been answered: since it is not unreasonable to believe in evil-god (at least for the reasons that Law gives) it is not unreasonable to believe in good-god. Finally, I show that – my criticism aside – the evil-god challenge turns out to be more complicated and controversial than it initially appears, for it relies on the (previously unacknowledged) contentious assumption that sceptical theism is false. (shrink)
An expansive, yet succinct, analysis of the Philosophy of Religion – from metaphysics through theology. Organized into two sections, the text first examines truths concerning what is possible and what is necessary. These chapters lay the foundation for the book’s second part – the search for a metaphysical framework that permits the possibility of an ultimate explanation that is correct and complete. A cutting-edge scholarly work which engages with the traditional metaphysician’s quest for a true ultimate explanation of the most (...) general features of the world we inhabit Develops an original view concerning the epistemology and metaphysics of modality, or truths concerning what is possible or necessary Applies this framework to a re-examination of the cosmological argument for theism Defends a novel version of the Leibnizian cosmological argument. (shrink)
Natural disasters would seem to constitute evidence against the existence of God, for, on the face of things, it is mysterious why a completely good and all-powerful God would allow the sort of suffering we see from earthquakes, diseases, and the like. The skeptical theist replies that we should not expect to be able to understand God's ways, and thus we should not regard it as surprising or mysterious that God would allow natural evil. I argue that skeptical theism (...) leads to moral paralysis: accepting skeptical theism would undermine our ability to make any moral judgments whatsoever. Second, and more briefly, I argue that skeptical theism would undercut our ability to accept any form of the argument from design, including recent approaches based on fine-tuning. (shrink)
Trent Dougherty has argued that commonsense epistemology and skeptical theism are incompatible. In this paper, I explicate Dougherty’s argument, and show that (at least) one popular form of skeptical theism is compatible with commonsense epistemology.
I discuss Richard Swinburne’s account of religious experience in his probabilistic case for theism. I argue, pace Swinburne, that even if cosmological considerations render theism not too improbable, religious experience does not render it more probable than not.
Panentheism seems to be an attractive alternative to classical theism. It is not clear, though, what exactly panentheism asserts and how it relates to classical theism. By way of clarifying the thesis of panentheism, I argue that panentheism and classical theism differ only as regards the modal status of the world. According to panentheism, the world is an intrinsic property of God – necessarily there is a world – and according to classical theism the world is (...) an extrinsic property of God – it is only contingently true that there is a world. Therefore, as long as we do not have an argument showing that necessarily there is a world, panentheism is not an attractive alternative to classical theism. (shrink)
In this paper I develop a novel challenge for sceptical theists. I present a line of reasoning that appeals to sceptical theism to support scepticism about divine assertions. I claim that this reasoning is at least as plausible as one popular sceptical theistic strategy for responding to evidential arguments from evil. Thus, I seek to impale sceptical theists on the horns of a dilemma: concede that either (a) sceptical theism implies scepticism about divine assertions, or (b) the sceptical (...) theistic strategy for responding to evidential arguments from evil fails. An implication of (a) is that sceptical theism is at odds with any religious tradition according to which there are certain claims that we can know to be true solely in virtue of the fact that God has told us that they are true. This result will render conceding (a) unattractive to many sceptical theists. (shrink)
Skeptical theism (ST) may undercut the key inference in the evidential argument from evil, but it does so at a cost. If ST is true, then we lose our ability to assess the all things considered (ATC) value of natural events and states of affairs. And if we lose that ability, a whole slew of undesirable consequences follow. So goes a common consequential critique of ST. In a recent article, Anderson has argued that this consequential critique is flawed. Anderson (...) claims that ST only has the consequence that we lack epistemic access to potentially God-justifying reasons for permitting a prima facie “bad” (or “evil”) event. But this is very different from lacking epistemic access to the ATC value of such events. God could have an (unknowable) reason for not intervening to prevent E and yet E could still be (knowably) ATC-bad. Ingenious though it is, this article argues that Anderson’s attempted defence of ST is flawed. This is for two reasons. First, and most importantly, the consequential critique does not rely on the questionable assumption he identifies. Indeed, the argument can be made quite easily by relying purely on Anderson’s distinction between God-justifying reasons for permitting E and the ATC value of E. And second, Anderson’s defence of his position, if correct, would serve to undermine the foundations of ST. (shrink)
Skeptical theism contends that, due to our cognitive limitations, we cannot expect to be able to determine whether there are reasons which justify God’s permission of apparently unjustified evils. Because this is so, the existence of these evils does not constituted evidence against God’s existence. A common criticism is that the skeptical theist is implicitly committed to other, less palatable forms of skepticism, especially moral skepticism. I examine a recent defense against this charge mounted by Michael Bergmann. I point (...) out that the Bergmannian skeptical theist is unable to determine concerning any event or feature of the world whether that feature or event is good or evil all-things-considered. Because of this the skeptical theist must abandon any attempt to act in such a way that the world becomes better rather than worse as a result. These, I claim, are seriously skeptical conclusions, and should cause us to be skeptical about skeptical theism itself. (shrink)
There is no interesting entailment either way between theism and various forms of realism. Taking its cue from Dummett's characterisation of realism and his discussion of it with respect to theistic belief, this paper argues both that theism does not follow from realism, and that God cannot be appealed to in order to secure bivalence for an otherwise indeterminate subject matter. In both cases, significant appeal is made to the position that God is not a language user, which (...) in turn is motivated by an account of understanding as aptitude possession. The resulting picture sits comfortably with the apophatism common within living religious traditions and with the view that the philosophy of religion ought to reorientate itself away from metaphysics towards more practical questions. (shrink)
This paper is a response to Tyler Wunder’s ‘The modality of theism and probabilistic natural theology: a tension in Alvin Plantinga's philosophy’ (this journal). In his article, Wunder argues that if the proponent of the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN) holds theism to be non-contingent and frames the argument in terms of objective probability, that the EAAN is either unsound or theism is necessarily false. I argue that a modest revision of the EAAN renders Wunder’s objection irrelevant, (...) and that this revision actually widens the scope of the argument. (shrink)
One of the most prominent objections to skeptical theism in recent literature is that the skeptical theist is forced to deny our competency in making judgments about the all-things-considered value of any natural event. Some skeptical theists accept that their view has this implication, but argue that it is not problematic. I think that there is reason to question the implication itself. I begin by explaining the objection to skeptical theism and the standard response to it. I then (...) identify an assumption that is prevalent in much of the literature concerning the problem of evil, and show that it is a factor in motivating commitment to the implication I mean to question. I argue that the assumption is false, and that once it is rejected there is room to endorse the skeptical theist's strategy in responding to some arguments from evil without endorsing the putative implication that objectors find unacceptable. (shrink)
Many of the arguments for and against robust moral realism parallel arguments for and against theism. In this article, I consider one of the shared challenges: the explanatory challenge. The article begins with a presentation of Harman's formulation of the explanatory challenge as applied to moral realism and theism. I then examine two responses offered by robust moral realists to the explanatory challenge, one by Russ Shafer-Landau and another by David Enoch. Shafer-Landau argues that the moral realist can (...) plausibly respond to the challenge in a way unavailable to theists. I argue that Shafer-Landau's response is implausible as it stands and that once revised, it will apply to theism just as well. I then argue that Enoch's response, to the extent that it is plausible, can be used to defend theism as well. (shrink)
Several theists, including Linda Zagzebski, have claimed that theism is somehow committed to nonvacuism about counterpossibles. Even though Zagzebski herself has rejected vacuism, she has offered an argument in favour of it, which Edward Wierenga has defended as providing strong support for vacuism that is independent of the orthodox semantics for counterfactuals, mainly developed by David Lewis and Robert Stalnaker. In this paper I show that argument to be sound only relative to the orthodox semantics, which entails vacuism, and (...) give an example of a semantics for counterfactuals countenancing impossible worlds for which it fails. (shrink)
Skeptical theism claims that the probability of a perfect God’s existence isn’t at all reduced by our failure to see how such a God could allow the horrific suffering that occurs in our world. Given our finite grasp of the realm of value, skeptical theists argue, it shouldn’t surprise us that we fail to see the reasons that justify God in allowing such suffering, and thus our failure to see those reasons is no evidence against God’s existence or perfection. (...) Critics object that skeptical theism implies a degree of moral skepticism that even skeptical theists will find objectionable and that it undermines moral obligations that even skeptical theists will want to preserve. I discuss a version of the first objection and defend a version of the second. (shrink)
I draw on the literature on skeptical theism to develop an argument against Christian theism based on the widespread existence of suffering that appears to its sufferer to be gratuitous and is combined with the sense that God has abandoned one or never existed in the first place. While the core idea of the argument is hardly novel, key elements of the argument are importantly different from other influential arguments against Christian theism. After explaining that argument, I (...) make the case that the argument is untouched by traditional skeptical theism. I then consider positive skeptical theism, arguing that while DePoe’s view might provide a response to my argument, it entangles the theist in worries about divine deception. Because traditional skeptical theism and DePoe’s positive skeptical theism constitute the most promising extant strategies for answering my argument, the argument constitutes a serious challenge for the Christian theist. My overall aim, then, is to draw on various strands of the skeptical theism literature to present a challenge for all Christian theists, not just those in the skeptical theist camp, while at the same time revealing some important limitations of skeptical theism. (shrink)
Theistic and analytic philosophers of religion typically privilege classical theism and monotheism by ignoring or underestimating the great threat of polytheism. We develop an argument from infinitely many alternatives, which decisively demonstrates that if a monotheistic or polytheistic god-model obtains, it will almost certainly be polytheistic. Probabilistic calculations are performed in order to illustrate the difficulties faced by the monotheistic proponent. After considering possible objections, such as whether there should be limits placed on how many possible god-models could obtain, (...) we conclude that our argument from infinitely many alternatives is sound, and highly unlikely to be overcome. (shrink)
Skeptical theism is a leading response to the evidential argument from evil against the existence of God. Skeptical theists attempt to block the inference from the existence of inscrutable evils to gratuitous evils by insisting that given our cognitive limitations, it wouldn’t be surprising if there were God-justifying reasons we can’t think of. A well-known objection to skeptical theism is that it opens up a skeptical Pandora’s box, generating implausibly wide-ranging forms of skepticism, including skepticism about the external (...) world and past. This paper looks at several responses to this Pandora’s box objection, including a popular response devised by Beaudoin and Bergmann. I find that all of the examined responses fail. It appears the Pandora’s box objection to skeptical theism still stands. (shrink)
In the first section, I characterize skeptical theism more fully. This is necessary in order to address some important misconceptions and mischaracterizations that appear in the essays by Maitzen, Wilks, and O’Connor. In the second section, I describe the most important objections they raise and group them into four “families” so as to facilitate an orderly series of responses. In the four sections that follow, I respond to the objections.
Skeptical theists purport to undermine evidential arguments from evil by appealing to the fact that our knowledge of goods, evils, and their interconnections is significantly limited. Michael J. Almeida and Graham Oppy have recently argued that skeptical theism is unacceptable because it results in a form of moral skepticism which rejects inferences that play an important role in our ordinary moral reasoning. In this reply to Almeida and Oppy's argument we offer some reasons for thinking that skeptical theism (...) need not lead to any such objectionable form of moral skepticism. (shrink)
Skeptical theism seeks to defend theism against the problem of evil by invoking putatively reasonable skepticism concerning human epistemic limitations in order to establish that we have no epistemological basis from which to judge that apparently gratuitous evils are not in fact justified by morally sufficient reasons beyond our ken. This paper contributes to the set of distinctively practical criticisms of skeptical theism by arguing that religious believers who accept skeptical theism and take its practical implications (...) seriously will be forced into a position of paralysis or "aporia" when faced with a wide set of morally significant situations. It is argued that this consequence speaks strongly against the acceptance of skeptical theism insofar as such moral "aporia" is inconsistent with religious moral teaching and practice. In addition, a variety of arguments designed to show that accepting skeptical theism does not lead to this consequence are considered, and shown to be deficient. (shrink)
William James advocated a form of finite theism, motivated by epistemological and moral concerns with scholastic theism and pantheism. In this article, I elaborate James’s case for finite theism and his strategy for dealing with these concerns, which I dub the problems of suffering. I contend that James is at the very least implicitly aware that the problem of suffering is not so much one generic problem but a family of related problems. I argue that one of (...) James’s great contributions to philosophical theism is his advocacy for the view that adequate theistic philosophizing is not so much about cracking this family of problems, but finding a version of the problem to embrace. (shrink)
Skeptical theists argue that no seemingly unjustified evil (SUE) could ever lower the probability of God's existence at all. Why? Because God might have justifying reasons for allowing such evils (JuffREs) that are undetectable. However, skeptical theists are unclear regarding whether or not God's existence is relevant to the existence of JuffREs, and whether or not God's existence is relevant to their detectability. But I will argue that, no matter how the skeptical theist answers these questions, it is undeniable that (...) the skeptical theist is wrong; SUEs lower the probability of God's existence. To establish this, I will consider the four scenarios regarding the relevance of God's existence to the existence and detectability of JuffREs, and show that in each—after we establish our initial probabilities, and then update them given the evidence of a SUE—the probability of God's existence drops. (shrink)
Among the things that students of the problem of evil think about is whether explanatory versions of the evidential argument from evil are better than others, better than William Rowe’s famous versions of the evidential argument, for example. Some of these students claim that the former are better than the latter in no small part because the former, unlike the latter, avoid the sorts of worries raised by so-called “skeptical theists”. Indeed, Trent Dougherty claims to have constructed an explanatory version (...) that is “fundamentally immune to considerations pertaining to skeptical theism”. I argue that he has done no such thing. (shrink)
On the assumption that theistic religious commitment takes place in the face of evidential ambiguity, the question arises under what conditions it is permissible to make a doxastic venture beyond oneâs evidence in favour of a religious proposition. In this paper I explore the implications for orthodox theistic commitment of adopting, in answer to that question, a modest, moral coherentist, fideism. This extended Jamesian fideism crucially requires positive ethical evaluation of both the motivation and content of religious doxastic ventures. I (...) suggest that, even though the existence of horrendous evil does not resolve evidential ambiguity in favour of atheism, there are reasonable value commitments that would preclude those who hold them from satisfying extended Jamesian fideist conditions for committing themselves to classical theism. I then begin a discussion of a possible revisionary theistic alternative (in the Christian tradition) which â one might hope â may meet those conditions. An earlier, shorter, version of this paper was delivered as a keynote address at the APA Pacific 2007 Mini-Conference on Models of God. (shrink)
The standard conception of God is that of a necessary being. On a possible worlds semantics, this entails that God exists at every possible world. According to the modal realist account of David Lewis, possible worlds are understood to be real, concrete worlds—no different in kind from the actual world. Some have argued that Lewis’s view is incompatible with classical theism (e.g., Sheehy, 2006). More recently, Ross Cameron (2009) has defended the thesis that Lewisian modal realism and classical (...) class='Hi'>theism are in fact compatible. I argue that this is not the case. Modal realism, I argue, is equipped to accommodate necessary beings in only one of three ways: (1) By way of counterpart theory, or (2) by way of a special case of trans-world identity for causally inert necessary beings (e.g., pure sets), or else (3) causally potent ones which lack accidental intrinsic properties. However, each of these three options entails unacceptable consequences—(1) and (2) are incompatible with theism, and (3) is incompatible with modal realism. I conclude that (at least) one of these views is false. (shrink)
Theistic and analytic philosophers of religion typically privilege classical theism by ignoring or underestimating the great threat of alternative monotheisms.  In this article we discuss numerous god-models, such as those involving weak, stupid, evil, morally indifferent, and non-revelatory gods. We find that theistic philosophers have not successfully eliminated these and other possibilities, or argued for their relative improbability. In fact, based on current evidence – especially concerning the hiddenness of God and the gratuitous evils in the world – (...) many of these hypotheses appear to be more probable than theism. Also considering the – arguably infinite – number of alternative monotheisms, the inescapable conclusion is that theism is a very improbable god-concept, even when it is assumed that one and only one transcendent god exists.  I take ‘theism’ to mean ‘classical theism’, which is but one of many possible monotheisms. Avoiding much of the discussion around classical theism, I wish to focus on the challenges in arguing for theism over monotheistic alternatives. I consider theism and alternative monotheisms as entailing the notion of divine transcendence. (shrink)
A common view among nontheists combines the de jure objection that theism is epistemically unacceptable with agnosticism about the de facto objection that theism is false. Following Plantinga, we can call this a “proper” de jure objection—a de jure objection that does not depend on any de facto objection. In his Warranted Christian Belief, Plantinga has produced a general argument against all proper de jure objections. Here I first show that this argument is logically fallacious (it makes subtle (...) probabilistic fallacies disguised by scope ambiguities), and proceed to lay the groundwork for the construction of actual proper de jure objections. (shrink)
Open Theist theologians argue that their view of divine foreknowledge and providence is the correct interpretation of the Bible, and suggest some biblical evidence to support this claim. Among these theologians, Gregory A. Boyd’s case is the most systematic, and also the most comprehensive and rigorous. Taking into consideration (1) the main philosophical claims of Open Theism and its main rivals, namely Calvinism and Molinism, and (2) Open Theist theologians’ interpretative principles for the Bible, the biblical evidence for Open (...)Theism suggested by Boyd can be classified into three groups according to their strength. I will argue that the first group of themes has no evidential value for Open Theism, since these themes can be interpreted just as plausibly from a Calvinist or Molinist perspective. By contrast, the second group of themes has some evidential value and thus constitutes prima facie evidence for Open Theism, since these themes make most sense under an Open Theist interpretation. However, these themes also make some sense on a Molinist reading. The third group of themes, I argue, has most evidential value for Open Theism, since it seems hard to reconcile these themes either with Calvinism or Molinism. (shrink)
Anselmian theists claim (a) that there is a being than which none greater can be conceived; and (b) that it is knowable on purely—solely, entirely—a priori grounds that there is a being than which none greater can be conceived. In this paper, I argue that Anselmian Theism gains traction by conflating different interpretations of the key description ‘being than which no greater can be conceived’. In particular, I insist that it is very important to distinguish between ideal excellence and (...) maximal possible excellence. At the end of my paper, I illustrate the importance of this distinction by applying my discussion to the recent defence of Anselmian Theism in Nagasawa (Philos Q 58:577–591, 2008). (shrink)
According to Michael Almeida and Graham Oppy, adherents of skeptical theism will find their sense of moral obligation undermined in a potentially ‘appalling’ way. Michael Bergmann and Michael Rea disagree, claiming that God’s commands provide skeptical theists with a source of moral obligation that withstands the skepticism in skeptical theism. I argue that Bergmann and Rea are mistaken: skeptical theists cannot consistently rely on what they take to be God’s commands.
In a recent article, David Kyle Johnson has claimed to have provided a ‘refutation’ of skeptical theism. Johnson’s refutation raises several interesting issues. But in this note, I focus on only one—an implicit principle Johnson uses in his refutation to update probabilities after receiving new evidence. I argue that this principle is false. Consequently, Johnson’s refutation, as it currently stands, is undermined.
In recent years skeptical theism has gained currency amongst theists as a way to escape the problem of evil by invoking putatively reasonable skepticism concerning our ability to know that instances of apparently gratuitous evil are unredeemed by morally sufficient reasons known to God alone. After explicating skeptical theism through the work of Stephen Wykstra and William Alston, I present a cumulative-case argument designed to show that skeptical theism cannot be accepted by theists insofar as it crucially (...) undermines epistemic license to the very theism it is invoked to defend. I also argue that attempts to defend a theism-friendly moderate version of skeptical theism either fail to halt the spread of damaging skepticism, or lack philosophical validity. (shrink)
Drawing an analogy between modal structuralism about mathematics and theism, I o er a structuralist account that implicitly de nes theism in terms of three basic relations: logical and metaphysical priority, and epis- temic superiority. On this view, statements like `God is omniscient' have a hypothetical and a categorical component. The hypothetical component provides a translation pattern according to which statements in theistic language are converted into statements of second-order modal logic. The categorical component asserts the logical possibility (...) of the theism struc- ture on the basis of uncontroversial facts about the physical world. This structuralist reading of theism preserves objective truth-values for theistic statements while remaining neutral on the question of ontology. Thus, it o ers a way of understanding theism to which a naturalist cannot object, and it accommodates the fact that religious belief, for many theists, is an essentially relational matter. (shrink)
Concerns both about the nature of free will and about the credibility of theistic belief and commitment have long preoccupied philosophers. This is just to make the obvious point that philosophical questions about whether we enjoy free will and about whether God exists are truly perennial. In addition, there can be no denying that the history of philosophical inquiry into these two questions has been dynamic and, at least to some degree, integrated. In a great many cases, classical answers to (...) the one have influenced classical answers to the other—and in a variety of ways. Without pretending to be able to trace the historical integrations of answers to these perennial questions, there is no real question that these philosophical interrelations exist and are worthy of further exploration. (shrink)
Inductive arguments from evil claim that evil presents evidence against the existence of God. Skeptical theists hold that some such arguments from evil evince undue confidence in our familiarity with the sphere of possible goods and the entailments that obtain between that sphere and God’s permission of evil. I argue that the skeptical theist’s skepticism on this point is inconsistent with affirming the truth of a given theodicy. Since the skeptical theist’s skepticism is best understood dialogically, I’ll begin by sketching (...) the kind of argument against which the skeptical theist’s skepticism is pitched. I will then define ‘skeptical theistic skepticism’, offer a precise definition of ‘theodicy’, and proceed with my argument. (shrink)
Skeptical theists purport to undermine evidential arguments from evil by appealing to the fact that our knowledge of goods, evils, and their interconnections is significantly limited. Michael J. Almeida and Graham Oppy have recently argued that skeptical theism is unacceptable because it results in a form of moral skepticism which rejects inferences that play an important role in our ordinary moral reasoning. In this reply to Almeida and Oppy’s argument we offer some reasons for thinking that skeptical theism (...) need not lead to any such objectionable form of moral skepticism. (shrink)
Paul Draper has argued that the scientific evidence for the dependence of mental states upon brain states provides a good reason for thinking that theism is very probably false because the extreme metaphysical dualism implied by theism makes it antecedently likely, if God exists, that minds should be fundamentally non-physical entities. However, Draper's argument assumes that what makes God's mind a mind is the immaterial stuff it is made of. But that assumption is potentially faulty. Why? Because, if (...) functionalism is true, then all conceivable minds are fundamentally functional entities identified by what they do, rather than by what they are made of. (shrink)