The Divine Attributes explores the traditional theistic concept of God as the most perfect being possible, discussing the main divine attributes which flow from this understanding - personhood, transcendence, immanence, omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, perfect goodness, unity, simplicity and necessity. It argues that the atemporalist's conception of God is to be preferred over the temporalist's on the grounds of perfect being theology, but that, if it were to be the case that the temporal God existed, rather than the atemporal God, He'd (...) still be 'perfect enough' to count as the God of Theism. (shrink)
T. J. Mawson's highly readable and engaging new introduction to the philosophy of religion offers full coverage of the key issues, from ideas about God's nature and character to arguments for and against His existence. Mawson's conversational style, lively wit, and enlightening examples make Belief in God as pleasurable as it is instructive and thought-provoking. It makes an ideal text for beginning undergraduate courses and for anyone thinking about these most important of questions.
In this paper, I argue that classical theists should think of God as having created morality. In form, my position largely resembles that defended by Richard Swinburne. However, it differs from his position in content in that it evacuates the category of necessary moral truth of all substance and, having effected this tactical withdrawal, Swinburne's battle lines need to be redrawn. In the first section, I introduce the Euthyphro dilemma. In the second, I argue that if necessary moral truths are (...) seen as analytically/logically so, then, pace Swinburne, they cannot be regarded as substantive principles. Thus, seeing necessary moral truths as analytically/logically necessary and independent of God does not threaten God's power or sovereignty and leaves open the possibility that all value is contingent upon His will. In the third section, I turn to consider how the claim that all value is contingent upon God's will might best be understood, arguing that classical theists will want to commit themselves to a relatively strong form of objectivism about moral value (even though this is not needed in order to solve the Euthyphro dilemma). I then give and defend an account of God's creation of contingent moral truths which coheres with what I argue is the most plausible form of this commitment. In the following section, I argue that this account avoids the charge that God is arbitrary in His choice of values and, finally, I argue that it avoids the charge that God may not be said to be good without vacuity. Thus, I conclude that the Euthyphro dilemma does not threaten classical theism. (shrink)
In this paper I seek to show how God's freedom is not reduced or His power diminished by His inability to be less than perfectly good even though ours would be. That ours would be explains why it might prima facie appear to us that there is a ‘conceptual tension’ between some of the claims of traditional theism and reveals some interesting (well, to me anyway) differences between human freedom and divine freedom.
In On Liberty, Mill says that ‘the same causes which make … [a person] a Churchman in London, would have made him a Buddhist or a Confucian in Pekin’. Despite Mill's not having drawn it out, there is an argument implicit in his comments that is germane to both externalist and internalist understandings of the epistemic justification of religious beliefs, even though some of these understandings would not wish to use the term ‘epistemic justification’ to refer to whatever it is (...) that they suggest must be added to true belief for it to count as knowledge. In this paper, we shall articulate this argument; examine how it challenges those religious believers who would wish to claim their religious beliefs as knowledge; and consider what they may do to meet this challenge. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that miracles should not be defined as involving violations of natural laws. They should be defined as signs of particular volitions of the deity or of other supernatural agents. I suggest that one may, without any prior belief in the existence of such supernatural agents, reasonably come to believe that one has witnessed miracles.
I argue for the rational inescapability of value objectivism, the thesis that at least some normative appraisal is not simply a matter of how, subjectively, we feel about the world; it is a matter of how, objectively, the world ought to be. I do this via a two-stage argument, the first stage of which is based around a thought experiment, the second stage of which is based on how those who reject the argument of the first stage must present their (...) doing so to themselves if they are to consider themselves rationally justified. I sketch a way in which this argument might lead one rationally to favour moral objectivism. (shrink)
In this article, I look at recent developments in the field of the Philosophy of the relationship between morality, understood in a realist manner, and the primary object of religious belief in the monotheistic religions, God. Some contemporary solutions to the Euthyphro dilemma and versions of moral arguments for the existence of God are discussed.
" All major religious traditions are equal in respect of making common reference to a single transcendent sacred reality. All major traditions are likewise equal in respect of offering some means or other to human salvation. All traditions are to be seen as containing revisable, limited, accounts of the nature of the sacred: none is certain enough in its particular dogmatic formulations to provide the norm for interpreting the others." P. Byrne, Prolegomena to Religious Pluralism, p. 12. In this paper, (...) I argue that of the three claims that constitute the form of Religious Pluralism outlined by Peter Byrne in his Prolegomena to Religious Pluralism, the first is something proponents of the theory can't think of themselves as having the resources to defend; the second is something that is in danger of being rendered trivial by the definition of religions offered; however, if one makes it non-trivial, it becomes implausible ; and, even if the first half of the third is right, the second half is wrong. (shrink)
In this paper, I evaluate the adequacy of various multiverse hypotheses relative to classical theism in explaining the fine tuning of the universe to life and the fine tuning of our life to the universe. I conclude that, despite its rational attractiveness in explaining the fine tuning of the universe to us in a more conclusive and arguably simpler manner than the God hypothesis, due to its failure to explain the continuing fine tuning of us to the universe, we should (...) discard even the explanatorily strongest multiverse hypothesis, what I call the ’maximal multiverse’ hypothesis, and instead believe in the God hypothesis. (shrink)
On Classical Theism, God is ontologically distinct from the physical universe which He has created; He needn't have created any universe at all; and He could exist even if the universe didn't. By contrast, the universe couldn't have existed if God didn't and it needs God to sustain it in existence from moment to moment. Classical Theism is thus committed to the universe not being identical to God. I shall argue that Classical Theism is committed to seeing the universe as (...) God's body . It follows that it is also committed to the falsity of theories which identify people with their bodies or state that of necessity people depend on their bodies for their continued existence. (shrink)
This paper constitutes a suggested route through the well-trodden minefield that is Mill's proof of Utilitarianism. A deductive course—tramping gamely straight across from an egoistic psychological hedonism to a disinterested ethical hedonism—would seemingly be the most hazardous route across the terrain. Thus, it has become standard policy amongst guides to advise readers of Utilitarianism that this is a route which Mill neither needs nor attempts to take. I shall argue that in travelling down this route one can avoid the dangers (...) with which it is usually associated and I shall tentatively suggest that one may find oneself following Mill's footsteps in doing so. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that if the libertarian free will defence were seen to fail because determinism were seen to be true, then another solution to the problem of evil would present itself. I start by arguing that one cannot, by consideration of agents' choices between morally indifferent options, reach any conclusion as to these agents' moral qualities. If certain forms of consequentialism were false, determinism true, and if there were a God who chose to create this universe, then (...) His choice would have been between such options. Consideration of the general nature of the universe God putatively chose to create would not then license any conclusion as His moral qualities. (shrink)
Bennett has said that 'Voluntarism casts no useful light on those aspects of the Meditations that have received the most attention: the truth rule, divine veracity, the relation between those, the Cartesian Circle'. In this paper, I shall draw together various strands from recent Descartes scholarship to argue that this is entirely false. When Descartes's voluntarism is understood as central to his epistemological project, not only does it allow us to make more sense of what he says on all these (...) issues, but also it allows us to see what he says as, on certain assumptions, unassailable. The only difficulty that then remains is that these assumptions are widely held to be necessarily false. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that a necessary condition of one’s perceiving God is that an experience of the right phenomenological sort be caused in one ‘directly enough’ by God and - bypassing the issue of what is necessary for an experience to be of the right phenomenological sort - discuss some difficulties in finding reasons for thinking that God has or has not ‘directly enough’ caused any such experience.
This paper provides a comment on Brian Zamulinksi's article in Religious Studies, 39 , 43–60. Contrary to Zamulinski's claim that religions are not truth-oriented but function as fictions, it is contended that they could not serve the purpose he assigns them unless their adherents regarded them as true. Religions must therefore be truth-oriented. The substantive question is whether any of them are true, and Zamulinski's paper provides no new method for addressing this question.
In this paper, I consider various arguments to the effect that natural evils are necessary for there to be created agents with free will of the sort that the traditional free-will defence for the problem of moral evil suggests we enjoy – arguments based on the idea that evil-doing requires the doer to use natural means in their agency. I conclude that, despite prima facie plausibility, these arguments do not, in fact, work. I provide my own argument for there being (...) no possible world in which creatures enjoying this sort of freedom exist yet suffer no natural evil, and conclude that the way is thus open for extending the free-will defence to the problem of natural evil. (shrink)
Many of those who come to a belief in the God of classical theism do so solely as a result of having had an experience which they believe it is reasonable for them to interpret as a revelation of His existence directly and graciously given to them by God Himself. I shall argue that – at least in the first instance – such people should probably not think of themselves as knowing that there is a God if they are also (...) traditional libertarians and believe in Robert Nozick's theory of knowledge. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider what difference knowledge of outcomes – both past and future – might make to the rationality of praying for them on a traditional theistic model. More specifically, I address four questions: (1)‘Could it be rational to pray for outcomes one knows will obtain?’; (2)‘Could it be rational to pray for outcomes one knows will not obtain?’; (3)‘Could it be rational to pray for outcomes one knows have obtained?’; (4)‘Could it be rational to pray for outcomes (...) one knows have not obtained?’. I argue that, on certain common theistic assumptions, the answer to all of these questions is yes. (Published Online January 15 2007). (shrink)