One of the most difficult and perplexing tenets of classical theism is the doctrine of divine simplicity. Broadly put, this is generally understood to be the thesis that God is altogether without any proper parts, composition, or metaphysical complexity whatsoever. For a good deal more than a millennium, veritable armies of philosophical theologians – Jewish, Christian and Islamic – proclaimed the truth and importance of divine simplicity. Yet in our own time, the doctrine has enjoyed no such support. Among many (...) otherwise orthodox theists, those who do not just disregard it completely explicitly deny it. However, in a couple of recent articles, William E. Mann has attempted to expound the idea of divine simplicity anew and to defend it against a number of criticisms. He even has gone so far as to hint at reaffirming its importance, suggesting that the doctrine may have a significant amount of explanatory power and other theoretical virtue as part of an overall account of the nature of God, by either entailing or in other ways providing for much else that traditional theists have wanted to say about God. In this paper, I want to take a close look at Mann's formulation of the doctrine and at a general supporting theory he adumbrates in his attempt to render more plausible, or at least more defensible, various of its elements and implications. As Mann has made what is arguably the best attempt to defend the doctrine in recent years, I think that such an examination is important and will repay our efforts. (shrink)
In recent years, there has been a striking resurgence of interest in the traditional Judeo-Christian concept of God. This anthology contains a representative sample of some of the best contemporary philosophical work on this central religious idea, covering such topics as the existence of God, the physical nature of God, and the "divine attributes"--goodness, omnipotence, omniscience, eternity, immutability, and simplicity.
For the past decade and a half, Robert Adams has been making some of the most original and important contributions to the contemporary philosophical literature on religious belief. This book brings together fourteen of his previously published articles, with updated notes, and presents with them two new, previously unpublished pieces. It will be found useful by specialists as well as by students of philosophical theology. The clarity, technical command, insightful creativity, and even wisdom to be found in these essays will (...) surely aid in stimulating important future contributions to the field. Some of the papers brought together here are meant by the author to contribute to a cumulative case for the existence of God. In an illuminating introduction, Adams expresses his view that "theistic belief makes possible certain attractive positions in such fields as ethics, epistemology, and the philosophy of mind". Other papers explore from within the lineaments of the religious consciousness. (shrink)