Horia George Plugaru | January 1, 2013 |
In this paper Horia Plugaru argues that if the traditional theistic God were to exist, then there are strong reasons to think that there would exist only deities. If the argument succeeds, then God would have no rational grounds for creating our present world, which contains nondeities. But since the present world clearly exists, it follows that God does not exist. After offering a formal presentation of the argument, Plugaru defends its crucial first premise before responding to five potential objections to the argument.
Many people hold on to supernatural beliefs because they feel that certain psychological needs could not be met without them—in particular, they feel that they would not be able to have any hope without such beliefs. However, nonbelief need not be the "recipe for despair" that it is often assumed to be; in fact, not only can it leave ample room for hope, but it can help people hope in a realistic, psychologically healthy way when it comes to important things in life. Because nonbelievers can hope for most of the things that people generally hope for, dispelling the myth that nonbelief is a recipe for despair can go a long way toward making nonbelief psychologically acceptable to those who might otherwise resist it.
In this paper Ryan Stringer makes the case for a logical inconsistency between the existence of evil or suffering and the existence of an eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, completely free, perfectly rational, and maximally good God. In essence, Stringer argues that because God is maximally good, the reality existing before the creation of the natural world, consisting as it does only of God and perhaps morally neutral necessary things or necessarily coexisting things, will be maximally good. Furthermore, as a maximally good being, God would never introduce any evil or anything that could produce evil into existence, for that would only serve to make reality worse. But there is in fact evil in the world; therefore God does not exist. Stringer considers several objections to the argument, but finds that none of them succeed.
In "Religion and the Queerness of Morality," philosopher George Mavrodes contends that morality provides good grounds for adopting religious belief because in a world where religion fails, morality is odd or absurd. Since morality is not in fact odd or absurd in the actual world, Mavrodes argues, we do not live in a world where religion fails. In this paper Ryan Stringer examines the claim that in a world where religion fails, morality is odd or absurd, and finds it to be unsubstantiated. Moreover, Mavrodes provides no grounds for thinking that morality is not in fact odd or absurd in the actual world, and it is plausible to think that it actually is.
Stephen Sullivan | November 17, 2012 |
Former Catholic priest and Boston Globe columnist James Carroll's Practicing Catholic enlightens us about the evolution of Catholic teachings on salvation for non-Catholics, the growing support for progressive Catholic attitudes under Pope John XXIII, and the reactionary backsliding that has occurred under John Paul II and Benedictus XVI (Joseph Ratzinger). But Carroll barely defends his own pro-life stance on abortion and ignores altogether the moderate position that Catholic liberals have defended for decades. In theology, his view that God is unknowable conflicts with his claim that evidence-transcendent faith can count as knowledge, and he never explains (without begging the question) how faith that willfully goes beyond available evidence can be cognitively rational, let alone constitute knowledge. Nevertheless, though his faith is not cognitively rational because it is not well-grounded in evidence, it may well be practically rational to the extent that it plays an important role in his own overall well-being.
The Acceptance of Evolutionary Theory among Students Enrolled in a Master’s Degree Program for Educators
Randal R. Kight | September 17, 2012 |
Surveys have found that many high school biology teachers in the United States either reject evolution, emphasize creationism or intelligent design over evolution in their courses, or refrain from discussing evolution in their courses altogether. But few surveys have examined the rate of acceptance of evolution among educators who teach courses other than high school biology. This paper aims to measure the level of acceptance of evolution among graduate students in a master's degree program in education, offering recommendations for similar future research.
Jason Thibodeau | March 23, 2012 |
Despite the power and influence of the Euthyphro dilemma, many apologists maintain that theism alone has the resources to account for objective moral properties. These authors dispute the commonly held view that the argument of the Euthyphro demonstrates that morality must be independent of God (especially as this argument is applied to theories that ground morality in the character of God as opposed to His commands). They argue in addition that regardless of the outcome of that debate, a nontheistic worldview is not compatible with belief in objective morality. In this paper I demonstrate that the argument that there is no viable atheistic account of the ground of morality depends upon the mistaken assumption that theism itself has the kind of moral theory that atheism allegedly lacks.
Luke Tracey | January 1, 2012 |
A Logical Argument from Evil and Perfection (2012) Luke Tracey The purpose of this paper is to advance an argument from evil against the existence of God as standardly conceived by philosophers of religion—that is, God conceived of as a perfect being. Because this argument is logical rather than evidential, I begin by framing it […]
In this paper Ryan Stringer critiques a response to atheistic arguments from evil that has been called "skeptical theism." He starts by formulating a simple atheistic argument from evil and briefly justifying its two premises. Then he defends the argument against a skeptical theist's potential response. First, he indirectly defends his argument by arguing that skeptical theism is both intrinsically implausible and has problematic consequences, which makes it an unreasonable response. Second, he directly defends his argument by presenting arguments supporting its second premise. Stringer concludes that skeptical theism does not undermine his argument.
In addition to evidential and logical arguments for atheism, there is a lesser-known third kind of argument. Modal arguments for atheism conclude that atheism is necessarily true on the basis of a mere possibility claim. In this paper Ryan Stringer considers how modal arguments for atheism contribute to the philosophical defense of atheism, concluding that modal arguments for atheism either (a) positively support atheism or (b) at least undermine modal arguments for theism.
Why Religion is Persuasive: How Religious Rhetoric Taps into Intuitions Underlying Religious Thought
Adam Lewis | January 8, 2011 |
Many of our intuitions were not cobbled together by evolution for discerning truth, but for building approximations of reality that were useful to our ancestors. A number of skewed ways of thinking are well known to psychologists. Just as human beings are biologically "prewired" to learn language from their social environment, thinking in terms of the supernatural may also be inborn. Our biases might therefore explain why empirically vacuous claims about gods, souls, afterlives, and so on are rhetorically effective: they fit well with people's prescientific intuitions. In this paper Adam Lewis explores how these intuitions shape beliefs about gods as supernatural agents, drawing on examples from the Koran, before finally considering their impact on beliefs about the soul and related afterlife beliefs.
Don McIntosh | January 1, 2011 |
In Chapter Four of Science, Confirmation, and the Theistic Hypothesis, Keith Parsons defends the dictum that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence as part of a general critique of miracle claims which aims to defend naturalism as a rational operating philosophy against potential defeaters. In this defense of miracle claims Don McIntosh argues, first, that for any unknown the burden of proof falls equally upon naturalists and supernaturalists; second, to repudiate all miracle claims in one fell swoop with a mere presumption of naturalism renders naturalism unfalsifiable and unscientific; and third, estimating the prior probability of miracles introduces an element of subjectivity that makes any general probabilistic argument against them suspect. These points leave open the possibility of confirming specific miracle claims on the basis of historical evidence and eyewitness testimony.
Keith M. Parsons | January 1, 2011 |
If God is all-powerful, then he can prevent evil; and if he is as good as can be, then he will prevent it. Why, then, does evil exist? The existence of evil implies that either God is not all-powerful, or he is not perfectly good. And if the traditional God must be both, then the existence of evil entails that such a God does not exist. Unless, of course, God has some morally sufficient reason for permitting evil—to prevent even greater evils, perhaps, or to enable some greater good. But examples of apparently pointless evils could be multiplied indefinitely, and some evils are so egregiously awful that no conceivable attendant good would be great enough to justify permitting them. But perhaps there are attendant goods that we, with our finite minds, simply cannot conceive. Perhaps; but this solution comes at a price. If we can have no inkling of what God would permit to happen, then we can equally have no inkling of whether God does, or even could, exist.
Dan Ferrisi | January 1, 2011 |
(2011) Dan Ferrisi Review: Kevin Nelson. 2010. The Spiritual Doorway in the Brain: A Neurologist’s Search for the God Experience. New York, NY: Dutton. 326 pp. Those who are spiritually inclined diverge sharply from those with a strictly rationalist perspective over an afterlife, “the immortal soul,” and near-death experiences. Nevertheless, it seems probable that all […]
In this paper Ryan Stringer assesses a modal version of the cosmological argument that is motivated by the so-called "questions of existence." He begins by formulating the argument before offering a critical assessment of it. Specifically, he argues that it not only fails as a proof of the existence of God, but that it is not even rationally acceptable. He concludes that it does not provide rational justification for belief in God.
In this paper Ryan Stringer discusses arguments from perfection, both for and against the existence of God. He begins with a simple argument from perfection for the existence of God and argues that it is unsuccessful. Then he defends two kinds of arguments from perfection against the existence of God. The first ones are inductive and thus present atheism as a tentative conclusion, while the second one is deductive and thus purports to conclusively demonstrate atheism based on the logical inconsistency between God's existence and the imperfect world in which we live.
Ryan Stringer | September 25, 2010 |
If God is omniscient, it seems that he would have to know what it is like to learn. However, in order to know what it is like to learn, one must have learned something. This entails that at one time we were in a state of not-knowing a thing that was learned, then experienced what it is like to learn. But if God is essentially omniscient, he always is and has been omniscient, so was never in a state of not-knowing. Because being in a state of not-knowing is necessary to know what it is like to learn, we would seem to have to say that God does not know what it is like to learn. But this contradicts the original claim that he does know this based on his omniscience. Thus, it seems that God's omniscience generates a contradiction. Consequently an omniscient God cannot exist.
Richard Schoenig | August 9, 2010 |
In this paper Richard Schoenig argues that Christianity "can't live with" its doctrine of original sin insofar as it is implausible and morally indefensible, and that Christianity "can't live without" the doctrine because it has, in the course of nearly 2000 years, become so entrenched within Christianity that removing it at this stage could be fatal to the host.
Ryan Stringer | April 26, 2010 |
Supposing that atheism is true, is it important to defend its truth? Ryan Stringer emphatically answers in the affirmative. Stringer argues that if atheism is rationally held to be true, that alone is sufficient reason to defend it, for truth and rational belief are intrinsic goods, and it is generally noble to try to change others' minds when they seem to hold false beliefs. In addition, Stringer considers a number of secondary, supplementary reasons for defending atheism. These range from fighting religiously motivated mistreatment, developing beneficial public policies, redirecting resources going to religious institutions to benefit those in need, understanding our place in the world, and fostering thinking freely as rational and autonomous beings, among other things. Stringer wraps up by considering whether anything indispensable to the good life is lost when we abandon traditional theistic belief for atheism, concluding that the purported benefits of theistic belief over atheism typically evaporate on closer inspection.
Gabe Czobel | January 31, 2010 |
(2010) Gabe Czobel 1. The Argument 2. Where the Argument Fails 2.1 The Premises 2.2 Simplicity 2.3 Which God? 3. Conclusion Richard Swinburne is an icon of rational theism. He has been praised as being “perhaps the most significant proponent of argumentative theism today” and “one of the foremost rational Christian apologists.” These, among many […]
Jeffrey T. Allen | December 31, 2009 |
(2009) Jeffrey T. Allen In his recent work Darwin and Intelligent Design, evolutionary geneticist and philosopher Francisco J. Ayala argues that (i) intelligent design theory (ID) is “bad” science and “bad” theology, and (ii) religion and science are epistemologically independent of one another. The present work will focus on showing that if ID is scientifically […]
Evan Fales | December 31, 2009 |
Animadversions on Kitzmiller v. Dover: Correct Ruling, Flawed Reasoning (2009) Evan Fales In his December 20, 2005 opinion on the legality of teaching intelligent design in the classroom (Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School Board), Judge John Jones correctly found against Dover, but did so by employing mistaken premises. To the extent that Judge […]
Gerald M. Woerlee | October 29, 2009 |
Since the publication of Raymond Moody's Life After Life in 1975, several investigators have performed outstanding studies of the incidence and properties of near-death experiences. Unfortunately, many authors have enticed readers to accept uncritical supernaturalistic or paranormal explanations for NDEs, causing many good studies to languish unread by mainstream scientists. Despite over 30 years of public interest and scientific endeavor, many promising lines of research have not even been touched upon, while others have not been followed up. This article considers a select inventory of the gaps in our current knowledge of the causes and genesis of the NDE, with particular emphasis on whether NDEs represent scientific confirmation of life after death, or simply manifestations of brain function. The latter is implied by what is germane to the NDE itself, the psychological and sociocultural influences on NDEs, and what it would take to make it possible for something to leave the body during out-of-body experiences and see and hear events going on in the physical world.
Stephen Sullivan | October 16, 2009 |
In Religion and Morality, Christian philosopher William J. Wainwright provides a thorough, thoughtful, and generally rigorous and fair-minded discussion of the relationship between religion and morality. He considers moral arguments for God's existence, divine command theories of morality, and possible tensions between "human morality and religious requirements," among other things. In this review Stephen Sullivan focuses his remarks on several of Wainwright's debatable claims concerning the divine command theory of ethics and the Euthyphro question, offering a few additional criticisms about Wainwright's methodology.
On Paul's Theory of Resurrection: The Carrier-O'Connell Debate. Richard and Jake agreed to have four independent judges read and assess their debate upon its completion. Below those judges and their assessments will be presented, according to the The Rules We Followed, especially rules (7) and (8). Those judges present their assessments below. Total Assessment
Jeffrey T. Allen | January 1, 2009 |
A crucial premise of William Lane Craig's kalam cosmological argument (KCA) is that the universe began to exist. Craig supplements the KCA itself with a secondary argument for this crucial premise. That secondary argument, in turn, presumes that an actual infinite cannot exist. In this essay, Jeffrey T. Allen argues that if an omniscient God exists, the premise that an actual infinite cannot exist is false, as an omniscient God would need to know an infinite number of truths about himself. Thus Craig's defense of his KCA appears to entail a premise that contradicts the conclusion of his KCA. As long as Craig does not offer some alternative defense of the KCA premise that the universe began to exist, and unless he can justify limiting to the physical world his KCA premise that whatever begins to exist has a cause, he must either concede that it is false that an actual infinite cannot exist, or else that God does not exist.
(2009) Preface | One | Whitewash | Why
Preface | One | Whitewash | Why (2009) An Ex-Believer Looks at the Synoptic Gospels and Their Evangelical Christian Whitewashers Chapter One: Approaching the Synoptic Gospels Before turning to the synoptic Gospels, two preliminary topics need to be discussed. The first is New Testament criticism, the second is the doctrine of the inspiration of the […]
Preface | One | Whitewash | Why (2009) An Ex-Believer Looks at the Synoptic Gospels and Their Evangelical Christian Whitewashers Preface This book is not written for scholars and is not offered as a contribution to scholarship. My goal is not to break new ground, but simply to present the results of mainstream New Testament […]
Preface | One | Whitewash | Why (2009) An Ex-Believer Looks at the Synoptic Gospels and Their Evangelical Christian Whitewashers Introduction: The Evangelical Christian Whitewash of the Synoptic Gospels By “the evangelical Christian whitewash” I mean the ongoing attempt by evangelical Christian theologians and apologists to deny that there are errors, contradictions, inconsistencies, and other […]