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141. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Timothy O’Connor Theism and Ultimate Explanation: The Necessary Shape of Contingency
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Twentieth-century analytic philosophy was dominated by positivist antimetaphysics and neo-Humean deflationary metaphysics, and the nature of explanation was reconceived in order to fit these agendas. Unsurprisingly, the explanatory value of theism was widely discredited. I argue that the long-overdue revival of a modalized, broadly neo-Aristotelian metaphysics and an improved perspective on modal knowledge dramatically changes the landscape. In this enriched context, there is no sharp divide between physics and metaphysics, and the natural end of the theoretician’s quest for a unified explanation of the universe is God, an absolutely necessary, transcendent, and personal source of all contingent reality.
142. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Thomas D. Senor On the Tenability of Brute Naturalism and the Implications of Brute Theism
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Timothy O’Connor’s book Theism and Ultimate Explanation offers a defense of a new version of the cosmological argument. In his discussion, O’Connor argues against the coherence of a brute fact “explanation” of the universe and for the claim that the God of theism cannot be logically contingent. In this paper, I take issue with both of these arguments. Regarding the former, I claim that contrary to what O’Connor asserts, we have no good reason to prefer an account according to which the universe is explained via a necessary being to that of a naturalist who thinks that the universe is contingent and ultimately unexplained. Regarding the latter, I argue that the possibility of a logically contingent God is fully consistent with traditional theism.
143. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Hugh McCann Modality and Sovereignty: On Theism and Ultimate Explanation
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Two important aspects of O’Connor’s Theism and Ultimate Explanation are explored. The first is whether God’s existence should be considered ontologically necessary. I suggest that although existence is essential to God, it is not a matter of ontological necessity. The second is whether prior to creating God deliberates about what universe or universes to create. I argue that he does not, that to say he does is to mistake creation for a kind of manufacturing. Implications of these claims regarding divine sovereignty are briefly discussed.
144. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Graham Oppy The Shape of Causal Reality: A Naturalistic Adaptation of O’Connor’s Cosmological Argument
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In Theism and Ultimate Explanation, Tim O’Connor sets out and defends a cosmological argument from contingency. In my paper—which might have been titled “Naturalism and Ultimate Explanation: The Necessary Shape of Contingency”—I argue that, even if you grant O’Connor his various controversial assumptions about modality and causality, the argument that he sets out provides stronger support for naturalism than it does for theism. In particular, I claim that considerations about theoretical and ontological parsimony favour a naturalistic necessary shape for contingency over a theistic necessary shape for contingency.
145. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Michael J. Almeida O’Connor’s Permissive Multiverse
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I distinguish restrictive and permissive multiverse solutions to the problems of evil and no best world. Restrictive multiverses do not admit a single instance of gratuitous evil and they are not improvable. I show that restrictive multiverses unacceptably entail that all modal distinctions collapse. I consider Timothy O’Connor’s permissive multiverse. I show that a perfect creator minimizes aggregative suffering in permissive multiverses only if the actual universe is not included in any actualizable multiverse. I conclude that permissive multiverses do not offer a credible solution to the problems of evil and no best world.
146. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
R. Scott Smith Intentionality and Our Fashionable Philosophies: Constructivist Implications for Naturalism, Physicalism, Moderate Nominalism, and Postmodern Epistemologies
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Many understand intentionality as the ofness or aboutness of mental states yet disagree about it metaphysically. I will argue that (1) intentionality seems best understood as an abstract universal; (2) it is needed to have factual knowledge of reality, yet (3) metaphysical treatments (or uses) of intentionality by several fashionable philosophies land us in constructivism. I will focus on Daniel Dennett’s treatment of intentionality and then extend my findings to other naturalist and physicalist views, postmodern epistemologies, and nominalism. I also will sketch show how we use intentionality to know reality before suggesting an implication for epistemic externalism.
147. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Timothy O’Connor Is God’s Necessity Necessary?: Replies to Senor, Oppy, McCann, and Almeida
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I briefly defend the following claims in response to my critics: (1) We cannot make a principled division between features of contingent reality that do and features that don’t “cry our for explanation.” (2) The physical data indicating fine-tuning provide confirmation of the hypothesis of a personal necessary cause of the universe over against an impersonal necessary cause, notwithstanding the fact that the probability of either hypothesis, if true, would be 1. (3) Theism that commits to God’s necessary existence makes more sense than theism that denies it. (4) God is likely to have created an infinity of universes, and this conclusion helps with (though does not solve) the many problems of evil.
148. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Gregory L. Bock Understanding David Hume’s Argument against Miracles: Establishing a Religion on the Testimony of a Miracle
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The proper interpretation of Hume’s argument against miracles in Section 10 of An Inquiry concerning Human Understanding has been heavily debated. In this paper, I argue that Hume’s main argument has the intended conclusion that there can never be a sufficient justification for believing that a miracle has occurred on the basis of testimony sufficient to make it a basis for a religion. I also consider and argue against other common readings.
149. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Travis Dumsday Divine Hiddenness and the Responsibility Argument: Assessing Schellenberg’s Argument against Theism
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J. L. Schellenberg’s “problem of divine hiddenness” has generated much discussion. Swinburne has replied with his “responsibility argument,” according to which God allows some nonresistant nonbelief in order to foster the good of human responsibility, with some people tasked with leading others to belief in God. Schellenberg has supplied detailed replies to Swinburne. My goal is to provide a new formulation of the responsibility argument that defuses Schellenberg’s objections.
150. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Mark Nowacki, Jared Poon Against Voluntarism: Or, Why a Free Will Is Subject to Natural Necessity
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The will, while free, is nonetheless subject to natural necessity: when presented with its object, the will necessarily chooses that which reason judges to be better. A presumption in favor of this view, which we call intellectualism, is established by eliminating its main rival, namely, an indifference theory of the will, which we call voluntarism. William of Ockham, who holds a sophisticated indifference theory, is adduced as an example. Criticisms leveled against Ockham apply, mutatis mutandis, to other voluntarist-inspired accounts.
151. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Bruce Reichenbach Rethinking the Basis of Christian-Buddhist Dialogue: Understanding Metaphysical Realism and Nonrealism Issues
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Interreligious dialogue presupposes that discourse functions the same for both parties. I argue that what makes Christian-Buddhist dialogue so difficult is that whereas Christians have a realist view of theoretical concepts, Buddhists generally do not. The evidence for this is varied, including the Buddha’s own refusal to respond to metaphysical questions and the Buddhist constructionist view of reality. I reply to two objections, that Buddhists do conduct metaphysical debate, and that the Buddha adopted a correspondence rather than a pragmatic theory of truth. In the end I develop the implications of this realist/nonrealist dichotomy for commencing and conducting interreligious dialogue.
152. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Patrick T. Smith The Enduring Challenge of Religious Skepticism: An Evaluation of a Recent Model
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J. L. Schellenberg has provided a rigorous and robust philosophical defense of religious skepticism through various modes of reasoning and employs an epistemic defeat strategy that appeals to unrecognized evidence. He contends on this framework that reason requires religious skepticism. This essay focuses on Schellenberg’s basic epistemic defeat strategy. I argue that his methodology is problematic because his key skeptical argument rests on an equivocation on the notion of total evidence, which makes it difficult to implement his epistemic defeat strategy in favor of his claim that reason requires us to be religious skeptics.
153. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Marie George An Aristotelian-Thomist Responds to Edward Feser’s “Teleology”
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I argue that Edward Feser misconstrues the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition on issues relevant to the arguments for God’s existence that proceed from finality in nature because he misapplies the A-T view that ordering to an end is inherent in natural things: (1) Feser speaks as if human action in no way serves as a model for understanding action for an end in nature; (2) he misreads, and ultimately undermines, the Fifth Way, by substituting intrinsic end-directedness in place of end-directedness; (3) he overlooks striking similarities between Paley’s argument from design and the Fifth Way. He also fails to consider the role of the good in the Fifth Way.
154. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Craig J. Hazen Editor’s Introduction
155. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Paul Gould The Problem of God and Abstract Objects: A Prolegomenon
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How does God relate to abstract objects, if there be any? Any adequate solution to this question quickly leads to deep waters philosophical and theological. In this essay, I attempt to bring clarity to the debate related to the problem of God and abstract objects by first explicating as precisely as possible the problem and then by imposing some order into the debate by classifying various contemporary answers to the problem.
156. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Richard Davis God and the Platonic Horde: A Defense of Limited Conceptualism
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In this paper I shall argue two things. First, it is plausible to think that Conceptualism holds with respect to propositions; in any event, it does a much better job than its closest competitors (Platonism and Nominalism) in accounting for the truthbearing nature of propositions. Secondly, it is wholly implausible (so I say) to take the added step and equate properties and relations with divine concepts. Here I offer additional reasons, beyond “divine bootstrapping,” for theists to resist this tempting reduction. Thus, a limited Conceptualism emerges as the most natural and defensible way for a theist to think about God’s relation to abstract objects.
157. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Keith Yandell God and Propositions
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If there are abstract objects, they necessarily exist. The majority view among contemporary philosophers of religion who are theists is that God also necessarily exists. Nonetheless, that God has necessary existence has not been shown to be true, or even (informally) consistent. It seems consistent—at least is does not seem (informally) inconsistent—but neither does its denial. Arguments that necessary existence is a perfection, and God has all perfections, assume that Necessitarian Theism is true, and hence consistent. Thus they do not provide reason to believe that Necessitarian Theism is true. Nonnecessitarian (“plain”) theism is on a philosophical par with Necessitarian Theism and can accommodate abstract objects all the while avoiding theological and philosophical refutation.
158. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
William Lane Craig A Nominalist Perspective on God and Abstract Objects
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A metaphysically robust, as opposed to lightweight, Platonism with respect to uncreatable abstract objects is theologically unacceptable because it fatally compromises creatio ex nihilo and divine aseity. The principal argument for Platonism is the so-called Indispensability Argument based on the ontological commitments required by singular terms and existential quantifiers in true sentences. Different varieties of Nominalism challenge each of the argument’s premises. Fictionalism accepts the assumed criterion of ontological commitment but rejects the truth of the relevant sentences. Neutralism accepts the truth of the relevant sentences but denies the assumed criterion of ontological commitment. Both of these perspectives, but especially the last, are plausible routes available for the Christian theist.
159. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
James N. Anderson, Greg Welty The Lord of Noncontradiction: An Argument for God from Logic
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In this paper we offer a new argument for the existence of God. We contend that the laws of logic are metaphysically dependent on the existence of God, understood as a necessarily existent, personal, spiritual being; thus anyone who grants that there are laws of logic should also accept that there is a God. We argue that if our most natural intuitions about them are correct, and if they are to play the role in our intellectual activities that we take them to play, then the laws of logic are best construed as necessarily existent thoughts—more specifically, as divine thoughts about divine thoughts. We conclude by highlighting some implications for both theistic arguments and antitheistic arguments.
160. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Hugh G. Gauch, Jr. Natural Theology’s Case for Jesus’s Resurrection: Methodological and Statistical Considerations
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An important 2003 book by Richard Swinburne and 2009 chapter by Timothy and Lydia McGrew develop the case for the bodily resurrection of Jesus as a project in ramified natural theology featuring public evidence. This paper imports a model for full disclosure of arguments from natural science to specify natural theology’s methodological and statistical requirements. Four matters need further clarification in this project’s ongoing development: the strength of the evidence, hypotheses being tested, dependence on generic natural theology, and range of evidence considered relative to apostolic precedents. The related historiographical method of Michael Licona is also discussed.