Analytic theology is often seen as an outgrowth of analytic philosophy of religion. It isn’t fully clear, however, whether it differs from analytic philosophy of religion in some important way. Is analytic theology really just a sub-field of analytic philosophy of religion, or can it be distinguished from the latter in virtue of fundamental differences at the level of subject matter or metholodology? These are pressing questions for the burgeoning field of analytic theology. The aim of this (...) article, then, will be to map out several forms that analytic theology might (and in some cases actually does) take before examining the extent to which each can be thought to be distinct from analytic philosophy of religion. (shrink)
…I see my list on political theology functioning like Wittgenstein’s ladder metaphor in his Tractatus. Once graduate students read and grasp these important texts, they should “throw away the ladder”, so to speak, and deconstruct all they have learned about political theology to illuminate contemporary problems on their own. Once they reach the top, they can throw away the ladder.
Some theorists argue that religion relates to politics in one of two ways: either it asserts its authority over the public sphere or it withdraws from the world in preference for spiritual concerns. In response, this special issue offers an expanded vision of what political theology can contribute to public reflection. Against those who appropriate divine authority in support of a given regime, Jewish and Christian negative theology argues that God is radically elusive. Where resistance movements sometimes struggle (...) to transition from opposition to governance, negative theology models a critique that allows for robust affirmation. Although the tradition does not directly address democratic politics, it demonstrates that a commitment to radical transformation does not rule out the compromise required to enact concrete policies. In this way, negative theology offers resources for addressing the crises that currently threaten democratic politics in the West. (shrink)
Analytic theology seeks to utilize conceptual tools and resources from contemporary analytic philosophy for ends that are properly theological. As a theological methodology relatively new movement in the academic world, this novelty might render it illegitimate. However, I argue that there is much in the recent analytic theological literature that can find a methodological antecedent championed in the fourteenth century known as declarative theology. In distinction from deductive theology—which seeks to extend the conclusions of theology beyond (...) the articles of faith—declarative theology strives to make arguments for the articles of faith. It does it not to provoke epistemic assent to the truth of the articles, but serves as a means of faith seeking understanding. In this paper, examples are drawn from recent analytic discussions to illustrate the manner that analytic theology has been, is, and can be an instance of declarative theology, and thus a legitimate theological enterprise for today. (shrink)
Giorgio Agamben argues that Christian thought provides the paradigm of modern governmental power, which reinforces mundane government by investing it with glory. Agamben claims that Dionysius the Areopagite exemplifies this structure; in his view, Dionysian negative theology serves to sacralize ecclesiastical power. In response, I argue that Dionysius desacralizes every authority, affirming that some things are sacred even as he subjects that affirmation to thoroughgoing critique. Against both dogmatic adherence and pure profanation, Dionysius models a politics that draws on (...) the power of the sacred while holding it open to unpredictable development. (shrink)
Some theorists are suspicious of normative political theology because they believe it undermines critical rationality. In my view, these theorists neglect theological traditions that resist dogmatism through intensified critique. Because authoritarian dogma is not unique to religion, theology offers sophisticated techniques that may be useful for those who are not themselves religious. A normative theology that intensifies critique represents a valuable resource for political reflection, and not only for the faithful.
The open secret of analytic philosophy of religion since its 20th century revival has been that it is for the most part a revival of philosophical theology, and particularly Christian philosophical theology. More recently, Christian analytic philosophers and theologians sympathetic to them have transformed this open secret into a research program by explicitly thematizing the use of analytic philosophical tools for the particular work of Christian theology. Dubbing this work as “analytic theology” (AT) Oliver Crisp and (...) Michael Rea have succeeded in inaugurating AT as a distinct subregion in the philosophy of religion. Besides prompting a spate of first-rate philosophical work theorizing a variety of Christian theological commitments, the advent of AT has also prompted a good deal of meta-theological reflection: Is AT more conducive for certain conceptions of Christian theology than others? Among the various kinds of theology produced by AT, liberation theology is notably absent. In this paper, I offer a diagnosis of why that might be, outline an argument for analytic engagement with liberation theology, and sketch what such an engagement might consist in. (shrink)
This paper explores the “cultural-linguistic” dimensions of Hans Frei’s theology. I make the case that several of the pragmatic and sociological concerns usually identified as distinctive marks of Frei’s later theology of the 1980s are, in fact, central to his work as far back as the early 1960s. Moreover, I demonstrate that such “cultural-linguistic” insights present important continuous threads in the development of his theology from early to late. Attending to this dimension illuminates the trajectory of Frei’s (...) thinking as consistently Wittgensteinian in sensibility, and deeply indebted to his career-long conversation with Karl Barth’s theology. If successful, this reading should clarify the ways in which Frei’s early work is more innovative, and his later work less derivative, than is often recognized. (shrink)
The threat of ecological collapse is increasingly becoming a reality for the world’s populations, both human and nonhuman; addressing this global challenge requires enormous cultural creativity and demands a diversity of perspectives, especially from the humanities. Theology and Ecology Across the Disciplines draws from a variety of academic disciplines and positions in order to explore the role and nature of environmental responsibility, especially where such themes intersect with religious or theological viewpoints. Covering disciplines such as history, philosophy, literature, politics, (...) peace studies, economics, women’s studies, and the ecological sciences as well as systematic and moral theology, the contributors emphasize how these positions have begun to develop distinct perspectives on urgent ecological issues, as well as pointing toward specific practices at the local and international level. This volume provides a multidisciplinary point of departure for urgent conversations on environmental responsibility that resist simplistic solutions. Rather, the contributors highlight the complex nature of modern ecology, and suggest creative ways forward in the situation of an apparently intractable global problem. (shrink)
In Kierkegaard and the Staging of Desire: Rhetoric and Performance in a Theology of Eros Carl S. Hughes develops an original approach to Søren Kierkegaard’s religious writings. As is well known, Kierkegaard published these religious writings under his own name. Some interpreters take this to mean that he no longer relies on the poetics of indirect communication that underlies his pseudonymous works. According to them, the religious writings ﬁnally formulate Kierkegaard’s true views in a direct and unambiguous way. Others (...) have suggested that these religious writings are just as indirect as all the others. Hughes belongs to the second camp. In his illuminating book, he convincingly shows that the indirect method of writing is not undermining the religious content of Kierkegaard’s works, as is feared by many interpreters from the ﬁrst camp, but is essential for sustaining it. That is why Hughes believes that Kierkegaard’s indirect mode of writing is of vital importance for contemporary theology as a discipline. (shrink)
Sarah Coakley’s God, Sexuality, and the Self constitutes a major intervention in the debate over the role of religion in the modern world. Coakley criticizes Christians who reject modernity altogether, arguing that Christian thought should remain in conversation with secular sources. At the same time, she claims that only theology can solve difficulties of widespread concern - for instance, concerning gender and sexuality. Where this suggests that theology is still superior, I argue that the strict distinction Coakley draws (...) between theology and the secular is at odds with the momentum of her approach. On Coakley’s own terms, theology cannot claim superiority over the secular because the boundary between them is necessarily blurry. (shrink)
In this article I offer an extended, critical review of the analytic theology project. In the first part of the article, I investigate the origins and rise of analytic theology. I also offer some initial insights into the nature of analytic theology, based on some of what its chief proponents understand analytic theology to be. In the second part of the article, I summarize and evaluate some of the major contributions that already have been made within (...) analytic theology. In the third and final section of the article, I evaluate the analytic theology project as a whole, testing its compatibility with certain methods and movements within the Christian theological tradition. Based on this discussion, I then begin to narrate the advantages of construing analytic theology more narrowly, as a dogmatic project committed to articulating and defending Christian doctrine in rational pursuit of genuine theological knowledge and truth. My final claim is that analytic theologians should continue to engage in bold, speculative inquiry into the nature of the divine as well as related divine matters, and thus remain committed to developing and defending theology as a dogmatic and speculative enterprise. By doing so, analytic theologians will help fortify and elevate the contemporary theological enterprise as a whole. (shrink)
In this chapter, I hope to show, by referring to two specific literary examples, that works of literature can demonstrate the possibility of Natural Theology and can prompt their readers’ thinking along Natural Theological lines by allowing them to have experiences which mirror the structure of those dealt with by Natural Theology.
Transreligious theologians are posed with a number of difficult questions. First, how can I understand the beliefs and practices of a worldview I do not share? Then, once I begin to construct and synthesize truth claims, how normative are the source traditions? Finally, how do we transreligious theologians judge truth claims as better and worse? By offering answers to these questions using a model of critical interreligious appropriation, we may find a basis for a critical transreligious theology that avoids (...) naïve syncretisms and pernicious incommensurability. (shrink)
This volume collects for the first time in a single volume all of Kant's writings on religion and rational theology. These works were written during a period of conflict between Kant and the Prussian authorities over his religious teachings. His final statement of religion was made after the death of King Frederick William II in 1797. The historical context and progression of this conflict are charted in the general introduction to the volume and in the translators' introductions to particular (...) texts. All the translations are new with the exception of The Conflict of the Faculties, where the translation has been revised and re-edited to conform to the guidelines of the Cambridge Edition. As is standard with all the volumes in this edition, there are copious linguistic and explanatory notes, and a glossary of key terms. (shrink)
[from the publisher's website] Questions about the existence and attributes of God form the subject matter of natural theology, which seeks to gain knowledge of the divine by relying on reason and experience of the world. Arguments in natural theology rely largely on intuitions and inferences that seem natural to us, occurring spontaneously—at the sight of a beautiful landscape, perhaps, or in wonderment at the complexity of the cosmos—even to a nonphilosopher. In this book, Helen De Cruz and (...) Johan De Smedt examine the cognitive origins of arguments in natural theology. They find that although natural theological arguments can be very sophisticated, they are rooted in everyday intuitions about purpose, causation, agency, and morality. Using evidence and theories from disciplines including the cognitive science of religion, evolutionary ethics, evolutionary aesthetics, and the cognitive science of testimony, they show that these intuitions emerge early in development and are a stable part of human cognition. -/- De Cruz and De Smedt analyze the cognitive underpinnings of five well-known arguments for the existence of God: the argument from design, the cosmological argument, the moral argument, the argument from beauty, and the argument from miracles. Finally, they consider whether the cognitive origins of these natural theological arguments should affect their rationality. (shrink)
Philosophy in the English-speaking world is dominated by analytic approaches to its problems and projects; but theology has been dominated by alternative approaches. Many would say that the current state in theology is not mere historical accident, but is, rather, how things ought to be. On the other hand, many others would say precisely the opposite: that theology as a discipline has been beguiled and taken captive by 'continental' approaches, and that the effects on the discipline have (...) been largely deleterious. The methodological divide between systematic theologians and analytic philosophers of religion is ripe for exploration. The present volume represents an attempt to begin a much-needed interdisciplinary conversation about the value of analytic philosophical approaches to theological topics. Most of the essays herein are sympathetic toward the enterprise the editors are calling analytic theology; but, with an eye toward balance, the volume also includes essays and an introduction that try to offer more critical perspectives on analytic theology. (shrink)
Natural theology's name can be misleading, for it sounds like what is being done is a kind of theology, not philosophy. But natural theology is better understood to be primarily philosophical rather than theological for it is, most generally, the ...
A concept of Pagan Theology has been producing a number of discussions throughout the last decade and particularly in the last few years both inside and outside Pagan community. In this paper, the author analyzes three aspects of the phenomenon of Pagan Theology and discussions emerged around it. The first aspect is the genesis of the idea of Pagan Theology. It includes an examination of academic and religious roots of this research programme. The second aspect is a (...) view on Pagan Theology from the perspective of the academia. While for some scholars Pagan Theology appears to be a legitimate field of study and/or research programme in Pagan Studies, others describe it is an attempt of Pagan intervention in the academia. Finally, the third aspect is a discussion on Pagan Theology emerged among Pagans, whose reflections of this topic are very ambiguous too. In spite of this fact, the author concludes that the idea of Pagan Theology was a necessary stage of development, both in the conceptualization of contemporary Paganism itself and in Pagan Studies at the same time. (shrink)
Recent authors, emphasizing Newman’s distaste for natural theology—especially William Paley’s design argument—have urged us to follow Newman’s lead and reject design arguments. But I argue that Newman’s own argument for God’s existence (his argument from conscience) fails without a supplementary design argument or similar reason to think our faculties are truth-oriented. In other words, Newman appears to need the kind of argument he explicitly rejects. Finding Newman’s rejection of natural theology to stem primarily from factors other than worries (...) about cogency, however, I further argue that there is little reason not to pursue design arguments in order to save the argument from conscience. (shrink)
Robert Merrihew Adams has been a leader in renewing philosophical respect for the idea that moral obligation may be founded on the commands of God. This collection of Adams' essays, two of which are previously unpublished, draws from his extensive writings on philosophical theology that discuss metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical issues surrounding the concept of God--whether God exists or not, what God is or would be like, and how we ought to relate ourselves to such a being. Adams studies (...) the relation between religion and ethics, delving into an analysis of moral arguments for theistic belief. In several essays, he applies contemporary studies in the metaphysics of individuality, possibility and necessity, and counterfactual conditionals to issues surrounding the existence of God and problems of evil. (shrink)
Philosophical theology is aimed primarily at theoretical understanding of the nature and attributes of God and of God's relationship to the world and its inhabitants. During the twentieth century, much of the philosophical community had grave doubts about our ability to attain any such understanding. In recent years the analytic tradition in particular has moved beyond the biases that placed obstacles in the way of the pursuing questions located on the interface of philosophy and religion. The result has been (...) a rebirth of serious, widely-discussed work in philosophical theology. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology attempts both to familiarize readers with the directions in which this scholarship has gone and to pursue the discussion into hitherto under-examined areas. Written by some of the leading scholars in the field, the essays in the Handbook are grouped in five sections. In the first, articles focus on the authority of scripture and tradition, on the nature and mechanisms of divine revelation, on the relation between religion and science, and on theology and mystery. The next section focuses on philosophical problems connected with the central divine attributes: aseity, omnipotence, omniscience, and the like. In Section Three, essays explore theories of divine action and divine providence, questions about petitionary prayer, problems about divine authority and God's relationship to morality and moral standards, and various formulations of and responses to the problem of evil. The fourth section examines philosophical problems that arise in connection with such central Christian doctrines as the trinity, the incarnation, the atonement, original sin, resurrection, and the Eucharist. Finally, Section Five introduces readers to work that is being done in Jewish, Islamic, and Chinese philosophical theology. (shrink)
I display the historical roots of perfect being theology in Greco-Roman philosophy, and the distinctive reasons for Christians to take up a version of this project. I also rebut a recent argument that perfect-being reasoning should lead one to atheism.
One not infrequently hears rumors that the robust practice of natural theology reeks of epistemic pride. Paul Moser’s is a paradigm of such contempt. In this paper we defend the robust practice of natural theology from the charge of epistemic pride. In taking an essentially Thomistic approach, we argue that the evidence of natural theology should be understood as a species of God’s general self-revelation. Thus, an honest assessment of that evidence need not be prideful, but can (...) be an act of epistemic humility, receiving what God has offered, answering God’s call. Lastly, we provide criticisms of Moser’s alternative approach, advancing a variety of philosophical and theological problems against his conception of personifying evidence. (shrink)
The paper proposes a novel understanding of how Aristotle’s theoretical works complement each other in such a way as to form a genuine system, and this with the immediate (and ostensibly central) aim of addressing a longstanding question regarding Aristotle’s ‘first philosophy’—namely, is Aristotle’s first philosophy a contribution to theology, or to the science of being in general? Aristotle himself seems to suggest that it is in some ways both, but how this can be is a very difficult question. (...) My answer is in some respects a version of one that goes back at least to the middle ages—i.e., that first philosophy is concerned with the gods (and to that extent offers a theology) because the gods are causes and principles of beings precisely insofar as they are beings. The more original aspect of my position lies in my claim that the sort of tension found in the Metaphysics is likewise to be found in many of Aristotle’s physical works. Thus, for example, the De caelo is (I argue) concerned generally with natural beings (= beings susceptible of change), but its discussions are focused largely on the heavenly bodies and the Aristotelian elements insofar as they admit of change with respect to place. Here I claim that the particular objects of discussion are dealt with precisely because they are causes and principles of natural beings as such. Something similar goes, I claim, for the De generatione et corruptione, the general concern of which is a particular species of natural being—i.e., natural beings susceptible of generation and corruption. In this way, I argue, Aristotle successively deals in his theoretical works with those causes and principles of (say) a horse which attach to it insofar as it is a being, those causes and principles of a horse which attach to it insofar as it is a natural being, those causes and principles of a horse which attach to it insofar as it is a perishable natural being, and so on for the lower genera under which the species horse is subsumed. (shrink)
In this paper I consider two books of Vladimir Shokhin, a distinguished philosopher in Russia, on philosophy of religion and philosophical theology as one project aimed at drawing the demarcation between these two disciplines. In what follows I will present Shokhin’s project and show briefly how it fits in with the current discussion on the topic, then, draw some consequences from his position, and make some critical notes, and at the end I will briefly present some my views on (...) the problem of drawing clear lines of demarcation between philosophy of religion and philosophical theology on the basis of the following questions: what is the topic of the disciplines, what are their methods, what are their guiding lines, and who may exercise them? (shrink)
Which Trinity? : the doctrine of the Trinity -- In contemporary philosophical theology -- Whose monotheism? : Jesus and his Abba -- Doctrine and analysis -- "Whoever raised Jesus from the dead" : Robert Jenson on the identity of the Triune God -- Moltmann's perichoresis : either too much or not enough -- "Eternal functional subordination" : considering a recent evangelical proposal -- Holy love and divine aseity in the theology of John Zizioulas -- Moving forward : theses (...) on the future of Trinitarian theology. (shrink)
Radical Orthodoxy is a new wave of theological thinking that seeks to re-inject the modern world with theology. The group of theologians associated with Radical Orthodoxy are dissatisfied with conteporary theolgical responses to both modernity and postmodernity Radical Orthodoxy is a collection that aims to reclaim the world by situating its concerns and activities within a theological framework. By mapping the new theology against a range of areas where modernity has failed, these essays offer us way out of (...) the impasses that postmodernity represents. (shrink)
This paper aims to counter the recent opinion that there is a peculiar epistemology in the reformed Church which made it negative to natural theology. First, it is shown that there was an early and unanimous adoption of natural theology as the culmination of physics and the beginning of metaphysics by the sixteenth and seventeenth century philosophers of good standing in the reformed Church. Second, it is argued that natural theology cannot be based on revelation, should not (...) assume a peculiar analysis of knowledge and must not pass over demonstration. (shrink)
In this public debate with Philippe Deterre (research director in immunology at the CNRS) – held at l'Enclos Rey in Paris' 15th district during the biennial Conference of the Réseau Blaise Pascal in March 2017 –, I defended the usefulness of natural theology. I first clarify theology's nature and understanding, then I speak about a tradition that upheld the public and exterior knowledge of God, and make an effort to show the presence of a theme reminiscent of natural (...)theology behind attempts at the good life. I then ask whether natural theology would only exist for the Christian. In the reply to my opponent's own reaction, I insist on the incongruity of separating our knowledge of God from our knowledge of science's wonderful discoveries, I ask whether nature could be said to be crafty and "ingenious," and I conclude by building a case for the return of God in public conversation, as part of an effort that our world needs in terms of finding back its compass, and restoring an ideal of living rationally. (shrink)
This article approaches Judaism through Rabbi Bradley S. Artson’s book, God of Becoming and Relationships: The Dynamic Nature of Process Theology. It explores his understanding of how Jewish theology should and does cohere with central features of both process theology and Robert S. Hartman’s formal axiology. These include the axiological/process concept of God, the intrinsic value and valuation of God and unique human beings, and Jewish extrinsic and systemic values, value combinations, and value rankings.
This book is the culmination of Heinrich Meier's acclaimed analyses of the controversial thought of Carl Schmitt. Meier identifies the core of Schmitt's thought as political theology--that is, political theorizing that claims to have its ultimate ground in the revelation of a mysterious or supra-rational God. This radical, but half-hidden, theological foundation unifies the whole of Schmitt's often difficult and complex oeuvre, cutting through the intentional deceptions and unintentional obfuscations that have eluded previous commentators. Relating this religious dimension to (...) Schmitt's support for National Socialism and his continuing anti-Semitism, Meier compels the reader to come to terms with the irreconcilable differences between political theology and political philosophy. His book will give pause to those who have tended to gloss over the troubling aspects of some of Schmitt's ideas. With editions in German, French, Italian, and now English, Meier's two books on Schmitt have dramatically reoriented the international debate about Carl Schmitt and his significance for twentieth-century political thought. "Standing far above the rest . . . is Heinrich Meier's new study, Die Lehre Carl Schmitts , which covers all of Schmitt's writings. . . . Meier's work has forced everyone to take a second look at the assumptions underlying Schmitt's better-known writings and reconsider some that have been ignored."--Mark Lilla, reviewing the German edition in The New York Review of Books. (shrink)
Emmanuel Levinas was a significant contributor to the field of philosophy, phenomenology and religion. A key interpreter of Husserl, he stressed the importance of attitudes to other people in any philosophical system. For Levinas, to be a subject is to take responsibility for others as well as yourself and therefore responsibility for the one leads to justice for the many. He regarded ethics as the foundation for all other philosophy, but later admitted it could also be the foundation for (...) class='Hi'>theology. Michael Purcell outlines the basic themes of Levinas' thought and the ways in which they might be deployed in fundamental and practical theology, and the study of the phenomenon of religion. This book will be useful for undergraduate and graduate students in philosophy, theology and religious studies, as well as those with a theological background who are approaching Levinas for the first time. (shrink)
We argue there is a deep conflict in Paul Moser’s work on divine hiddenness. Moser’s treatment of DH adopts a thesis we call SEEK: DH often results from failing to seek God on His terms. One way in which people err, according to Moser, is by trusting arguments of traditional natural theology to lead to filial knowledge of God. We argue that Moser’s SEEK thesis commits him to the counterfactual ACCESS: had the atheist sought after God in harmony with (...) how God reveals himself, she would have had access to filial knowledge of God. By failing to incorporate arguments or propositional evidence for God’s existence, Moser’s account leaves the doubting seeker without any evidential reason to think that either SEEK or ACCESS is true. Without this rational motivation in place, the doubting seeker is unlikely to seek after God in the way ACCESS describes. We argue that natural theology provides an evidential epistemic aid to motivate persons to seek God the way ACCESS describes. Thus, Moser is mistaken. Such arguments can be evidentially helpful in coming to know God. In conclusion, we explain how our reply naturally fits how we form and maintain trusting interpersonal relationships with others. (shrink)
We respond to Swinburne’s reply to our critique of his argument for the Resurrection by defending the relevance of our counterexamples to his claim that God does not permit grand deception. We reaffirm and clarify our charge that Swinburne ignores two crucial items of Negative Natural Theology (NNT)—that God has an exceptionally weak tendency to raise the dead and that even people with exemplary public records sometimes sin. We show, accordingly, that our total evidence makes it highly probable that (...) Jesus was not sinless, incarnate, or resurrected and that God has permitted massive deception regarding these defining Christian dogmas. (shrink)
This is an analysis of the interpretation of Christian theology that is found in G. W. F. Hegel's Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion. Hodgson argues that these lectures are among the most valuable resources from the nineteenth century for theology as it faces the challenges of modernity and postmodernity. The author is also editing and translating the critical edition of the lectures, which are being published concurrently by Oxford University Press.
According to Richard Gelwick, one of the fundamental implications of Polanyi’s epistemology is that all intellectual disciplines are inherently heuristic. This article draws out the implications of a heuristic vision of theology latent in Polanyi’s thought by placing contemporary theologian David Brown’s dynamic understanding of tradition, imagination, and revelation in the context of a Polanyian-inspired vision of reality. Consequently, such a theology will follow the example of science, reimagining its task as one of discovery rather than mere reflection (...) on a timeless body of divine revelation. The ongoing development of a theological tradition thus involves the attempt to bring one’s understanding of the question of God to bear on the whole of the human experience. The pursuit of theology as a heuristic endeavor is a bold attempt to construct an integrated vision of nothing less than the entirety of all that is, without absolutizing one’s vision, and without giving up on the question of truth. (shrink)
Over the past sixty years, within the analytic tradition of philosophy, there has been a significant revival of interest in the philosophy of religion. More recently, philosophers of religion have turned in a more self-consciously interdisciplinary direction, with special focus on topics that have traditionally been the provenance of systematic theologians in the Christian tradition. The present volumes Oxford Readings in Philosophical Theology, volumes 1 and 2 aim to bring together some of the most important essays on six central (...) topics in recent philosophical theology. Volume 1 collects essays on three distinctively Christian doctrines: trinity, incarnation, and atonement. Volume 2 focuses on three topics that arise in all of the major theistic religions: providence, resurrection, and scripture. (shrink)
My project is to examine and critically discuss the role of simplicity in Swinburne’s probabilistic natural theology. After describing that role and the details of his theory of simplicity, I challenge Swinburne’s view that the criterion of simplicity is a fundamental criterion for evaluating causal explanations, proposing instead that what is right about that criterion can be derived from a more fundamental criterion of “coherence.” I close by exploring the implications of my proposal for Swinburne’s natural theology.
Nihilism is the logic of nothing as something, which claims that Nothing Is. Its unmaking of things, and its forming of formless things, strain the fundamental terms of existence: what it is to be, to know, to be known. But nihilism, the antithesis of God, is also like theology. Where nihilism creates nothingness, condenses it to substance, God also makes nothingness creative. Negotiating the borders of spirit and substance, theology can ask the questions of nihilism that other disciplines (...) do not ask: Where is it? What is it made of? Why is it so destructive? How can it be made holy, or overcome? Genealogy of Nihilism rereads Western history in the light of nihilistic logic, which pervades two millennia of Western thought and is coming to fruition in our present age in a virulently dangerous manner. From Parmenides to Alain Badiou, via Plotinus, Avicenna, Duns Scotus, Ockham, Descartes, Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Heidegger, Sartre, Lacan, Deleuze and Derrida, a genealogy of nothingness can be witnessed in development, with devastating consequences for the way we live. Conor Cunningham's elaborate and sophisticated theology, spanning the disciplines of philosophy, science and popular culture, permits us to see not simply how modernity has formulated its philosophies of nothing, but how these philosophies might be transfigures by the crucial difference theology makes, and so be reconcilable with life and the living - with the very gift which being is. (shrink)
In this paper I aim at explaining how analytic philosophical theology developed into a thriving field of research. In doing so, I place analytic philosophical theology into a larger intellectually narrative that is deeply influenced by the philosophy of Enlightenment. This larger framework shows that analytic philosophical theology aims at providing answers to concerns raised by a philosophical tradition that shaped fundamentally the making of our modern Western secular world.
The tradition of negative theology has very deep roots which go back to the Late Greek Antiquity and the Early Christian period. Although Dionysius is usually regarded as “the Father” of negative theology, yet he has not initiated a revolution in the religious philosophy, but rather brought together various elements of thinking regarding the knowledge of God and built a system which is a synthesis of Platonic, neo-Platonic and Christian ideas. The aim of this article is to illustrate (...) the views of some more modern theologians on the nature, types and levels of apophaticism in the Greek Patristic tradition, trying to establish the role that negation can play in facilitating man’s attaining to the knowledge of God. (shrink)
Breaking with a Puritan past -- A mother's concern -- Turmoil and diversity in the English Reformation -- The influences and the options available in English -- Reformation theology -- Intellectual trends : patristics and hebrew -- Millennialism and the belief in a providential age -- Bacon's break with the godly -- Bacon's turn toward the ancient faith -- The formative years -- Bacon and Andrewes -- The Meditationes sacrae and Bacon's turn away from calvinism -- Bacon's confession of (...) faith -- In the beginning : the creation of nature and the nature of the fall the instauration as an event in sacred history -- The ages of the world and the chain of causes -- Creation as a pattern for human learning -- Humanity in the garden -- Knowledge and the fall -- Knowledge as a support for the faith -- Human effort as the key to recovery -- On the way of salvation : Bacon's twofold via salutis -- Bbacon and original sin -- Patterns in divine action and prophecies of instauration -- The instauration in the history of providence -- Bacon's providential age -- The conditions for instauration -- In the autumn of the world : features of the age of instauration -- Irenaeus and Francis Bacon on the golden age -- Inaugurated eschatology in Bacon's instauration -- Laborers in the fields of instauration : orders and offices -- Rebuilding the temple of nature -- Human agency and the instauration -- The problem of confusing the two books -- The possibility of immortality -- Bacon's circle and his legacy -- Bacon's literary circle -- Tobie Matthew (1577-1655) -- William Rawley (1588-1667) -- Henry Wotton (15681639) -- Thomas Bushell (1594-1674) -- John Selden (1584-1654) -- George Herbert (1593-1633) -- Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) -- Thomas Bodley (1545-1613) -- Conclusions regarding Bacon's literary circle -- The reform of learning in the Civil War and the commonwealth the restoration and the Royal Society -- The Enlightenment transformation of Bacon's memory. (shrink)
This paper examines the cognitive foundations of natural theology: the intuitions that provide the raw materials for religious arguments, and the social context in which they are defended or challenged. We show that the premises on which natural theological arguments are based rely on intuitions that emerge early in development, and that underlie our expectations for everyday situations, e.g., about how causation works, or how design is recognized. In spite of the universality of these intuitions, the cogency of natural (...) theological arguments remains a matter of continued debate. To understand why they are controversial, we draw on social theories of reasoning and argumentation. (shrink)