The book falls into four segments. In the first (Chapter 1), the particular conception of deity that has been predominant in western civilization—the theistic idea of God—is explicated and distinguished from several other notions of the divine. The second segment considers the major reasons that have been advanced in support of the belief that the theistic God exists. In chapters 2 through 4 the three major arguments for the existence of God are discussed, arguments which appeal to facts supposedly available (...) to any rational person, whether religious or not. Chapter 5 considers religious and mystical experience as a source and justification for theistic belief. And in Chapter 6 we examine the role that faith may play in the formation and justification of religious belief. We also consider the important issue of whether belief in God may be entirely rational quite apart from any evidence in its behalf. The third segment undertakes an examination of the problem of evil, which some have thought to provide rational grounds for atheism, the belief that the theistic God does not exist. A number of topics quite central to theistic religion are considered in the fourth segment of the book, chapters 8 through 11. These topics include miracles, the question of life after death, problems in relating the idea of divine foreknowledge to the belief in human freedom, and problems arising from the existence of diverse religions. (shrink)
By taking ‘existence in reality’ to be a great-making property and ‘God’ to be the greatest possible being, Plantinga skillfully presents Anselm’s ontological argument. However, since he proves God’s existence by virtue of a premise, “God (a maximally great being) is a possible being”, that is true only if God actually exists; his argument begs the question of the existence of God.
According to religious pluralism, the profound differences among the chief objects of adoration in the great religious traditions are largely due to the different ways in which a single transcendent reality is experienced and conceived in human life. The most prominent developer and defender of religious pluralism in the twentieth century is John Hick. Hick uses the expression ‘the Real’ to designate the transcendent reality ‘authentically experienced’ as the different gods and impersonal absolutes worshipped in the major religious traditions. A (...) central claim Hick makes is that, apart from some purely formal characteristics, the Real is ineffable in that the intrinsic properties making up its nature are beyond the scope of any human concepts. I explore this central claim and argue that it implies the dubious, if not incoherent, view that the Real in itself has neither one of many pairs of contradictory properties. (shrink)
Thomas Reid developed an important theory of freedom and moral responsibility resting on the concept of agent-causation, by which he meant the power of a rational agent to cause or not cause a volition resulting in an action. He held that this power is limited in that occasions occur when one's emotions or other forces may preclude its exercise. John Martin Fischer has raised an objection – the not enough ‘Oomph’ objection – against any incompatibilist account of freedom and moral (...) responsibility. In this essay I argue that Fischer's not enough ‘Oomph’ objection fails to provide any reasons for rejecting Reid's incompatibilist, agent-causation account of freedom and moral responsibility. (shrink)
This paper concerns the question of whether the principle of sufficient reason (every positive fact has an explanation) entails a crucial premise in the cosmological argument. The premise is: not every being can be a dependent being. (a dependent being is a being whose existence is accounted for by the causal activity of other things). It has been objected that in addition to psr we need the claim that a self-Existent being is possible. I discuss this objection and argue that (...) it is not successful. (shrink)
THE AIM OF THE VOLUME IS TO INTRODUCE STUDENTS TO THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION BY ACQUAINTING THEM WITH THE WRITINGS OF SOME OF THE THINKERS WHO HAVE MADE SUBSTANTIAL CONTRIBUTIONS IN THIS AREA. THIS NEW EDITION EXPANDS THE RANGE OF TOPICS BY INCLUDING AN ENTIRELY NEW CHAPTER ON DEATH AND IMMORTALITY AND A NEW SUBSECTION ON THE MORAL ARGUMENT. THERE IS ALSO SOME NEW MATERIAL ON WITTGENSTEIN AND FIDEISM, RELIGIOUS PLURALISM, AND FAITH AND THE NEED FOR EVIDENCE. ALMOST EVERY CHAPTER (...) HAS BEEN CHANGED BY DELETIONS OR ADDITIONS TO UPDATE THE SELECTIONS AND PROVIDE MORE MATERIAL THAT IS UNDERSTANDABLE TO BEGINNING STUDENTS. (shrink)
In his book The Problem of Evil, Van Inwagen aims to establish that the problem of evil is a failure. My article considers his response to the evidential problem of evil. His response relies on a fundamental assumption: “Every possible world God could have actualized contains patterns of suffering morally equivalent to those of the actual world, or else is massively irregular.” While it may not be unreasonable to suggest that it is logically possible that an omnipotent, omniscient being is (...) unable to actualize a better world, a world with somewhat less, prolonged animal suffering, this hardly amounts to an adequate response to the evidential problem of evil, an argument that endeavors to establish that it is more likely than not that an omniscient, omnipotent being could have created such a world. (shrink)
Michael Bergmann and Jan Cover summarize the essence of their paper as follows: "We argue that divine responsibility is sufficient for divine thankworthiness and consistent with the absence of divine freedom. We do this while insisting on the view that both freedom and responsibility are incompatible with causal determinism." In this response I argue that while it makes sense for believers to be thankful that God exists, it makes no sense for them to thank him for doing the best act (...) he can, given the circumstances. (shrink)